By Kathy Mordini
What happens to the dogs when stronger laws go into effect regulating puppy mills? In Ohio, animal advocates are starting to find out. In a few months, Ohio’s Puppy Mill Bill becomes law. Dog breeders in the state will be able to skirt the new regulations if they sell fewer than 60 dogs or puppies annually. So, instead of complying with the new laws that would require breeders to offer basic necessities and care, breeders are getting rid of the dogs to come in under the limit.
In early January, animal advocates in Ohio put out a call to rescues in the neighboring state of Indiana. Four puppy mills had decided to release dogs so they could become smaller operations. Some breeders were just putting the dogs down. In this case, the dogs were being offered to rescues.
In a couple of days, transports were arranged, and rescues from Indiana and beyond stepped up to take in the dogs. At one point, the rescues had hoped to save 150–200 dogs—an enormous number for many of these small organizations. When one breeder backed out, the number settled at 123. The dogs were rolled out in crates down country roads to freedom.
Now, the real work begins.
Rescuing a dog from a puppy mill isn’t a normal rescue. These dogs have been caged for life and bred repeatedly for profit. There are no games of fetch in the yard, no cuddles and pets, no veterinary care, and no proper diet. If that isn’t bad enough, many have been physically abused.
A run in the yard, a walk on a leash, and playtime with a family are brand new things for dogs released from puppy mills. The basics of a dog’s life need to be learned as adults. Most of these dogs received their first ever bath and grooming after their rescue, freeing them of the matted fur, fleas, feces, and dirt that had become a part of their everyday life.
What can you do?
Many of the rescues that stepped up this past week are very small organizations. Some have experience with puppy mill rescues and others are new to the scene. They all could use some help.
You just need to look at Natalie’s Second Chance Dog Shelter’s Facebook page to get an understanding of the scope of medical issues some of the dogs face. There is Hayley with a heart murmur, Toni with a deformed foot, Belinda who has severely limited vision, and Aspen who has tumors. Then, there is Bailey who had a uterus that was so infected, puss was leaking out and she cowered at being touched. Had Bailey not been spayed when she was, she may have been dead in a short period of time. Another pregnancy would have killed her.
If you’d like to help out, here’s a rundown of the groups. Indiana rescues that took in dogs are:
2×2 Rescue in Merrillville
Homeward Bound Animal Welfare Group in Mishawaka
Heartland Small Animal Rescue Group in South Bend
Pals for Paws in Kokomo
Natalie’s Second Chance Dog Shelter in Lafayette
Rescue Farm in Poland
Illinois organizations that rescued dogs are:
Magnificent Mutts in Hillside
There will be many more calls for help in the weeks to come as more breeders dump dogs to get under the new limit.
Another way to cut down on the puppy mill supply is to never purchase a puppy or kitten from a pet store, the Internet, or from a newspaper ad. These dogs and cats come from puppy mills. And, if demand dries up, there will no longer be a need for the supply.
Learn more about puppy mills and their connection to pet stores and online pet sales at ThePuppyMillProject.org.
Kathy Mordini is an animal lover who has counted rescue pets as a member of her family since she was a child. As a writer, she is passionate about advocating for homeless pets and the rescues that give these pets a second chance. She also volunteers for The Puppy Mill Project. Read her pet rescue columns on the Examiner and her pet care columns on Doggy Woof.