Do you remember what you were doing 10 years ago today? Me either. I was 10 years old and probably in school. It was a Monday. But less than 3 miles from my house, out there is a shed. What was happening inside that shed on that day is why we are celebrating today. 10 years ago today a little girl Maltese was born, who two and a half months ago came to be known as Alivia. For the next 9 years, her life would be a living hell. Born in a small wire cage, where her mother lived all of her life, Alivia would do the same. Day in and day out, every day, all day long, she would spend her life just pacing back and forth in that small cage she lived in. Of course, most of her time she would spend being pregnant or nursing her puppies, because she was bred at every heat cycle. But one day just two and a half months ago Alivia, never known as a name, only a number, her life was turned upside down. On February 11th, 2017 Alivia was finally freed from that hell she had known all of her life. And now today we celebrate her first birthday in freedom. Happy Birthday Alivia!
Editor's note: Alivia came from the same place as Betty, who is now 14 years old and rescued last year. What if Betty is Alivia's mother? We'll never know, but it makes you wonder. Hmmm...
While everyone is ohhhing and ahhhing over our little Beatrice, we need to remember a few things. Number one, why does she exist? The exact reason Beatrice exists is because of the oohing and ahhing. Because selling old dogs or dogs that are not physically appealing doesn't make money. Beatrice's only purpose of being born was to make someone money. And you know what? Who can walk into a Pet Store... and see such a face and walk out without that puppy? (ME!) Not many. More than likely being labeled as a 'Teddy Bear' because she is MUTT (Shih Tzu, Bichon, Maltese), who doesn't want a little 'Teddy Bear' puppy? Second, why is a puppy with a retired breeder dog rescue? There is a trend here. Puppies are only released to rescue when they are sick/dying or have genetic/physical abnormalities. The only two puppies we have ever gotten were Elle and Paislee, both whom have passed away. Breeders can't sell puppies with obvious illness, injury, etc. to a broker. We're pretty thankful that the breeder did give Beatrice up instead of killing her. Most puppies born at puppy mills that are sick or injured are just killed. Now think about all the puppies that will never see the light of day. They never even get a chance. But people won't stop. They won't stop buying, so the millers won't stop supplying. Third, can you imagine the heartbreak for Beatrice's mom? Her last baby was just suddenly ripped away from her on Tuesday. Now that little Bichon/Maltese lays all alone on that cold wire cage, until her next heat cycle, when she is bred and it will happen all over again. Please help us change this. It's very simple, DON'T buy puppies/kittens from pet stores or online and do not shop at pet stores that sell puppies/kittens. As for Beatrice, we will be starting her in puppy classes at embark next week. As for the person/family who will eventually adopt Beatrice, just like the people we choose for our retired breeders, we will of course be looking for very patient and loving people, who will continue her socialization and puppy classes and who are interested in the actual cause and not just adopting a cute puppy. My hope for each of our dogs, just as I do with Juniper is that you adopt just for the pure joy of giving them life, to educate others and to help end this cruel and inhumane industry in which one million breeding dogs suffer in every year.
We thank you for your inquiry and are happy to address your concerns. As a rescue organization that deals primarily with the rescue of retired puppy mill breeder dogs, we have found that, oftentimes, education is the key to understanding our dogs as well as our cause. One of the first questions we like to ask our potential adopters is: “Do you know what a puppy mill is?” because the answer to that question will give great insight into what to expect from a dog that you may adopt from our organization.
A puppy mill is a large-scale commercial dog breeding facility where profit is given priority over the well-being of the dogs. Puppy mills usually house dogs in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions without adequate veterinary care, food, water or socialization. In order to maximize profits, female dogs are bred at every opportunity with little-to-no recovery time between litters. Puppy mill puppies, often as young as eight weeks of age, are sold to pet shops or directly to the public over the Internet, through newspaper ads and at swap meets and flea markets.
In a puppy mill, dogs are often kept in cages with wire flooring that injures their paws and legs—and it is not unusual for cages to be stacked in columns. When female breeding dogs reach a point of physical depletion and can no longer reproduce, they are often killed.
Because puppy mills focus on profit, dogs rarely receive veterinary care. So, breeder dogs often have rotten teeth or no teeth due to years of no dental care and may even have mammary tumors due to overbreeding. Because mill dogs spend many years in a cage being repeatedly bred without veterinary care, upon rescue, they are often found to have serious internal problems, as well as parasites and other diseases. These dogs spend an average of 7-8 years confined to a small, cold wire cage with no socialization so they often suffer from fear, anxiety and other behavioral problems.
The average cost of veterinary bills for one mill dogs is $500. The level of veterinary care required makes it cost-prohibitive for many rescues to take in mill dogs. In addition to internal health issues that a rescue needs to address, mills dogs generally have serious external issues that require immediate treatment which include extensive grooming, severe matting, overgrown nails, lacerations, and untreated injuries.
Mill dogs are almost always in very poor physical and emotional condition; they need immediate and substantial veterinary care. Though most of our mill dog rescues are seniors, our adoption rates are set to allow us to provide the care needed once they are freed- regardless of their age. Those that choose to adopt our rescue dogs understand that our fees are in place to allow us to give that animal the care it deserves. Our adoption fees also allow us to care for future rescued breeder dogs because our mission is to rescue, rehabilitate and re-home as many dogs as we can.
In a lot of ways, though these mill dogs are often considered “seniors”, they are puppies at heart- because they have never had the chance to be a puppy! With our fosters – and in their new, loving adopted homes- they will feel the grass on their feet for the first time . . . learn to walk the stairs for the first time . . . sleep on a soft bed for the first time! Rescuing a senior dog that has never known happiness is not an easy endeavor, however, the love and joy you will gain – the bond you will form- will be one of the greatest gifts imaginable!
Our goal is to give these dogs a second chance a life. A chance they were denied. We commend you for making the choice to adopt, rather than shop for a loving companion. By making this choice, you are not only saving a life we have already rescued, but you are helping save the life of future puppy mill breeders.
Stacy Block (Currently, mom of two puppy mill dogs)
What I wish everyone would understand...
I will use my beautiful princess Juniper 👑 as an example and I promise you will not regret reading this, you may not even be able to finish reading it without tears, I may not be able to finish writing it without tears...you see where I'm going with this...
When we first started rescuing mill dogs I thought it was the most amazing thing in the world, I still do and I will not stop believing that. (Crying already, ahhh) For me, it goes a lot deeper than 'just rescuing' them. I spend my days, nights and weekends researching, watching documentaries, writing letters to our government officials that will never be returned and dreaming about the beautiful refuge we will have some day and what a beautiful place it will be for all of our precious mill dogs. So I may have a deeper connection with them and understand them better than others. I know where a majority of the puppy mills around here are. When I get a clue or a tip, I just want to dig deeper, to find more. I used to spend hours researching and reading USDA inspection reports before the government removed them from their website. On a regular basis I watch YouTube videos from the Thorp Dog Auctions and I often wonder if some of these dogs are now with us, or have been. I hope you can start to see where I am going with this. It's hard for people to understand without literally living and breathing this every single second of every single day, but I hope I am providing you with some insight. From the very second I lay my eyes on that list of dogs, the connection is already made. Once I confirm the dogs we can take, I go home (usually at work when this happens) and I grab my black folder and I flip through the pages to my name sheets, picking out names and imagining how they will look. Then I push, I push for more fosters, more donations, I want to help more dogs. On Friday night I sit at work and wonder about them. I wonder what they are thinking, if they know, if they can feel it. I imagine what their life is like in that moment. Then I spend my 20 minute drive home in the dark continuing to think and to wonder but I cry the entire way home. I get home and I start getting out a folder for each one, carefully selecting a color of folder, an intake sheet, a medical exam sheet and medical intake sheet. I then start rummaging through all of our supplies, still wondering what the dogs will be like and I start picking out new things for each of them. I pick out a blanket, a collar, tag and new toys. All the things they have never had. I get our towels for each, some nice smelling shampoo, Frontline and microchips. I prepare the area they will be staying in during their short time with us before going to their foster home. I get my camera all ready and set it on the table for the next morning. I go to bed and anticipate the mornings arrival. In the morning, I barely drag myself outta bed, throw on some old clothes, I call them my 'cats and clorox' 😹 clothes because they are usually stained and I only wear them when I know I will be getting dirty and smelly working with the dogs. If you have ever smelled a puppy mill dog straight out of the mill you will understand. It is a smell that I cannot stand. A mix of urine and saw dust. You will never be able to fully get the smell out of your clothes without washing them several times. And then I wait. When I see them pull up I go running outside. I get to see them for the first time. I start taking photos of them huddled and shaking in the backs of the kennels. One by one we slowly get them out of the kennels and into our arms. Fast forward, once we have all of the dogs and now we are on our way to the vet to get their vaccinations. When we get that done then we go home and unload them all into the yard and for the first time, they are finally free. Some run and hide, some fearfully approach you. Most of the time they are running in their little pack and smelling and peeing in as many different places as possible. I take as many photos as I can and lately videos, to show you all. Then one by one we take them in and get them bathed, groomed, do intake, give them names, check for microchips and tattoos. After they are done being groomed then they can go in their little area, with nice, soft, clean blankets and beds, clean food, water and treats and some new toys. Then one by one we begin to get them off to their foster homes. When Juniper and the other 5 arrived it was much the same as what I'm telling you except it was at night after our bake sale and we took them all to a fosters house where volunteers were waiting to help get them cleaned up. But there was one thing that was much different from the usual times. When I laid eyes on Juniper (then she didn't have a name yet) I knew she was the one. The one I had waited these few years for. Oh how I had longed for the day when I would get to have my very own puppy mill dog. You see 'having' a puppy mill dog is like nothing else in this world. Getting to have a puppy mill dog or more like a puppy mill dog getting to have you, is a privilege. I repeat, it.is.a.privilege. and it should be treated as such. These dogs are not replaceable, there are no other dog just like them in all of the world. You can search the world and you may find similar looking dogs but you will never find one with the personality, the behaviors or the physiological damage they harbor. When you decide that you would like to have one of these precious beings as your own, you need to understand that you get them and their baggage. BUT you should love them regardless! Puppy mill dogs are 8,9,10,11,12,13 years old, they have lived all those years but yet they are completely clueless of the world, they know nothing. I love Juniper and I love her baggage. I get to teach her, help her and we get to learn together. We get to LIVE together. Yes, sometimes she pees on the floor or the rug. Yes, she is scared of fast movements. Yes, she is scared of me watching her while she eats. No, she does not 'love' me. No, she does not like it when I try to give her kisses. No, she does not play with toys. Do not go into this with expectations. If you have expectations for your new puppy mill dog, please back up and rethink. I don't have any expectations of Juniper and never will. I let her live and learn at her own pace. Do I expect her to sometime in her life play with a toy? No, because she will if she wants to and she won't if she doesn't want to. Will I love her anyways? Of course! Will I continue to buy her toys? Of course! 😹 Am I lucky that she will actually take treats from me and she enjoys them? Yes! And at this point, some of you may be questioning, why would you want a dog like that? I want 'a dog like that because I can't wait for our adventures. For Juniper to see the Easter Bunny this Saturday, to go for her first walk, to go to the beach and see the water, to meet new friends and to watch her grow and learn and love.🌼 Try to understand this, for 7 1/2 years Juniper lived 2.7 miles from my house. Every.single.day for 7 1/2 long years. Juniper lived in an elevated wire cage with multiple dogs in the same cage, in a shed. She was identified by not a name, but a metal chain collar and tag around her neck. Juniper was not provided with proper nutrition or veterinary care. She was underweight when she arrived and last week needed FIVE teeth extracted, leaving her very few. I understand her age and condition and understand her breed and as she gets older, medical conditions will develop. And I take responsibility for that. But I also remember for 7 1/2 years she had absolutely no veterinary care. Every single night while I lay in my bed, watching TV while drifting off to sleeping in my heated or air conditioned house she lay on wire, in her own urine and feces cramped in a cage with other dogs. For all those years, her only job was to be a prisoner of greed, producing puppies for profit. Puppies that were poorly bred, more than likely sick, who would grow up to have behavioral and health issues offered for sale in a fancy looking pet store for thousands of dollars. I now have to live with the thought of every time I drove by there my little JuniBear was in there. She was suffering. How many other dogs are suffering just like her? But they never get a chance at freedom? Most times the words, and for the ones who will never see the light of day just make me burst into tears. But I need you to read those words and THEY need you to read those words. And they need you to pass it on. To tell others, tell your friends, tell your family, tell the world. I just want to scream from the rooftops and I want everyone to hear me. To hear me giving the puppy mill dogs a voice. I may never meet some of them, but that doesn't mean I don't feel for them. So for the ones who have found freedom, who are still waiting (our 9 year old little boy Cavalier, being freed next Saturday 💓) and for those who will never see the light of day...I will never stop fighting for you.