A few years ago, the shelter I volunteered with rescued dogs at a Missouri puppy mill auction. The puppy mill, which was once Missouri’s largest, was being forced to close and they were selling their “stock.” The dogs were in terrible condition, yet they still charged insane amounts for the dogs to be saved.
Staff and volunteers worked hard at assessing, bathing, grooming and setting up warm, soft places for the dogs to rest. Several were sent immediately for emergency veterinary care. Filthy, matted fur was shaved and gently scrubbed away to treat skin conditions. Many were suffering with previously untreated eye infections. Two suffered with eye infections so bad they were beyond saving. One was listed as having a “missing eye.” The eye wasn’t missing; it was destroyed by infection and buried beneath decaying tissue. Many were without teeth and two dogs suffered with dental infections so serious that their jaw bones had disintegrated, and the teeth that were left were so decayed they also had to be pulled. One Maltese, also toothless, had also lost use of his right back legs. He was unable to bear weight and sensory tests brought no response. Eye infections, lame limbs, ear infections, skin infections, mammary masses, curled, infected nails, emaciation-misery inflicted upon these dogs all in the name of greed.
I will never forget the sights, smells, and emotion we faced with helping these sweet, innocent dogs. I photographed the dogs as they arrived to start their new lives and helped in bathing and getting them settled into their new comfy beds. As I snapped before and after photos, I was overwhelmed. (I won’t be sharing the graphic “before” photos, but I’m happy to share two survivors, below.) As much as I love photographing dogs, these were the most heart breaking faces and images I had ever seen through my lens. The heartbreak we felt was nothing compared to the misery the dogs had felt during their time being used and abused as “tools” to make greedy humans money.
Some were terrified, having never felt a human touch or a soft bed. Some couldn’t get enough of the cuddles and happily snuggled into their new soft, warm beds. While they are all now thriving with proper nutrition, veterinary care and loving homes, there are thousands more like them suffering in puppy mills across the country.
- 99% of puppies that are sold in pet stores come from puppy mills.
- Approximately 2.5 million puppies are born in puppy mills annually and more than 400,000 breeding stock dogs are imprisoned in these kennels.
- An estimated 3 to 4 million dogs die in shelters every year.
- Most dogs in puppy mills do not receive veterinary care, leaving illnesses and injuries untreated. They are left to suffer.
- Puppy mill dogs are kept in cramped, filthy cages, where they are forced to urinate and defecate, never to touch grass, and never able to exercise.
- Puppy Mill dogs do not know the joys of human interaction. They don’t know what it is like to be petted, loved, respected. All they know is fear and pain.
Puppy Mill Action Week is May 4-10. The Humane Society International has designated the week before Mother’s Day Puppy Mill Action Week.
Remember the mothers who have suffered in puppy mills by supporting The Puppy Mill Project at their Mothers in the Mills 2015 Benefit May 9 at Moonlight Studios in Chicago.
Learn more about The Puppy Mill Project and how you can help stop puppy mills by visiting them online:
We are participating in the Puppy Mill Action Week Blog Hop hosted Dolly the Doxie and Fidose of Reality. Please visit the blogs participating to learn more about puppy mills, buying pets from pet stores, licensed and respectable breeding, how you can help and more.