Did you know that the adorable little puppy you see in the pet store, or the dogs you see advertised for sale online, on Craigslist, or in your local newspaper, all likely come from a puppy mill?
by Suzanne Lawter, Director of Community Outreach
When you or someone you know buys a dog from one of these sources, it supports the cruel and inhumane practices of puppy mills. Most people would never intentionally support this, and most don’t understand the horrific conditions and level of abuse these dogs are forced to endure. Puppy mill operators hide behind professional-looking websites and pretty pictures on their Facebook page, and they sell through retail storefronts that appear legitimate. As a rescue, our mission is to save these dogs in need and educate our community about important animal welfare issues, like puppy mills.
We are asking for your support in sharing this information with your friends and family about the hundreds of thousands of dogs suffering every day in puppy mills so we can stop it.
The term “puppy mill” is broadly used to refer to inhumane commercial dog breeding operations, large and small. What they have in common is the belief that dogs are a commodity, and their only goal is to breed and sell as much of their product as possible. The result is that these dogs are severely neglected and live in squalor, receive only enough food and attention to keep them alive, and are in constant fear and pain.
These poor pups spend their entire lives locked up in tiny, crowded cages, and those who aren’t left out in the heat and freezing cold have most likely never seen the light of day. These dogs are abused their entire life so that your local pet store stays stocked with a fresh supply of puppies. It’s sad and unthinkable, but it’s true, and it’s happening right in our back yard.
Mutts Matter Rescue regularly takes in puppy mill survivors, and recently played a key role in helping shut down a breeding facility in Page County, Virginia, less than two hours away from Washington D.C. We were informed about some dogs in need by a concerned citizen, and took several of them into the rescue. Because they were in such bad shape and so clearly abused, these pups’ stories would eventually be used as evidence in the effort to force the breeder to shut down.
These dogs were suffering from years of neglect; their bodies were covered in fecal matter, and their fur was matted to the point that they had limited mobility. Their nails had grown into the bottoms of their paw pads, several had open wounds, and their muscles had atrophied from never leaving their cages. They were terrified of human touch, and clearly in a lot of pain. Mutts Matter worked with our veterinary partner to treat these sweet dogs, and document the severity of their condition and the botched medical procedures that had been performed on them, likely by untrained individuals.
Mutts Matter partnered with Animal Rescue Corps (ARC), a non-profit animal protection organization that works with law enforcement to target industries that profit from animal cruelty by exposing them and shutting them down. ARC handles the investigation, retrieval, triage, and relocation of the animals, and then works with rescues like Mutts Matter who rehabilitate and find these pups safe, loving homes.
On July 3rd, 2014, ARC assisted the Page County Sheriff’s Office and Animal Control in the rescue of 132 dogs from the property. We’re happy to report that the operation was a success, and these deserving dogs are now in the hands of several local rescues, receiving the medical care they need and experiencing human kindness for the first time as they settle into their foster homes.
Mutts Matter took in 31 dogs from this Virginia puppy mill, and we are committed to rehabilitating and finding a great home for each one. As you can imagine, these dogs have not been properly cared for and need significant medical care and costly medications to nurse them back to health. If you would like to help, and have a few extra dollars to donate towards their care, we would appreciate any support you could offer. We receive no money from ARC for the care and vetting of these dogs and are relying on the generous support of our community.
The great news is that these dogs are so incredibly resilient and will finally have the loving family and life they deserve. With a little help, love, and patience, these pups will be able to leave their past behind and become wonderful family pets. Our hope is that readers will share this story to help us spread the word, and that potential adopters will consider a dog who has been rescued from a puppy mill, because they are not broken, and can be just as loyal and loving as any other dog. It’s an enriching experience to help those in need, and that goes for our four-legged friends as well as our neighbors.