It is becoming more apparent through mainstream media that there are many inhumane practices in breeding animals to be bought as a loving household pet. Puppy Mills are places where dozens of dogs are kept in confined, inhumane quarters, and are forced to breed constantly, with little to no care for their personal health and often times are found in squalid conditions. When an older female dog cannot produce as many puppies as in her younger years, she is either killed or placed in a kill shelter. In some of the more severe kill shelters, the turn over for these sweet pets is about a week before they are euthanized. These dogs and cats are usually chosen at a young age to be puppy mill mothers by their looks. A cute, small version of a pure bred dog is often chosen to be a “puppy mill mom”, and spends the next decade constantly breeding the tiny tea cup pups we long to have. The only human contact is usually to have her puppies taken away, or to be randomly hosed off before she is fit to be bred again.
So these lovely little ladies and studs are usually discarded, as was my 13 year old Australian Silky Terrier (almost uncanny to the Yorkshire Terrier) named Ribbon. Ribbon was a puppy mill mom at a young age in rural Kentucky, where she had spent the last 11 years of her life breeding constantly. When her last few litters were only one pup at a time, the owner of her puppy mill did what unfortunately is most common, they surrendered her to a kill shelter. But my dear readers, this was not your regular drop off station. She was thrown into a “drop off box” which consists of a small door leading down a ventilation shaft slide, where she slid into a basement room with other discarded animals of all different species. The animals who survived the night are put up for adoption for the week. Since no one at this particular shelter works weekends, the animals are all routinely euthanized every Friday afternoon. Ribbon was one of the lucky ones. A kind volunteer at the kill shelter took my deathly skinny pup and put up her picture on a website for other volunteers who rescue abused animals. Could they find her a home? Almost one thousand miles a way, a volunteer from Loyal Rescue in Peterborough, Ontario fell in love with her adorable face and sad story, and offered to take her. Unfortunately, Ribbon was not fit to cross the border. She had a lump that looked like cancer, and she was so skinny she could barely move.
Whether or not you believe in miracles is your personal choice, but something miraculous happened that week. A kind volunteer in rural Kentucky found Ribbon free veterinarian care. It was discovered she had breast cancer. The veterinarian removed the cancer, and gave her the okay to go over the border into Canada. Dozens of volunteers drove Ribbon hundreds of miles to the city just northeast of Toronto, where I saw her on petfinder.com and adopted her. Along with me she joins my husband Matthew and her sister Evie, another puppy mill mom from the recent bust in Montreal Quebec. Ribbon, who was severely underweight and who could barely walk, is now a spry dog who is reliving her lost youth. Although now she still doesn’t “walk”, she prefers to run everywhere she goes. Ribbon and her toothless sister (another condition both dogs face due to the neglect of health and well-being while at the puppy mill) now play in my backyard without a care in the world. A sweet first memory of the two dogs was the first time they saw snow. They thought it was tiny bugs and were snapping at the delicate snowflakes. Once they realized the nature of the white stuff, they pranced in the snow like two puppies would. I guess you can teach old dog new tricks after all!
I am happy to say that Ribbon is now an ideal weight for the first time in her life, and she happily has a belly full of food everyday. She learned how to function in her first home quickly, and loves to stare out the window for hours watching anything and everything that is outside, and I have a life long companion who is just as good as any store bought dog.
If you are looking for a new addition to your family, I encourage anyone who is considering a dog to adopt from petfinder.com, a shelter, or a family who can no longer care for a pet. Another great option is to see a registered breeder where you can visit the family on site. If you still find love in a store bought dog, ask where they come from. The only way to end the abuse of puppy mills is not to feed into the industry. I could only wish for all of you, to have such a loyal and trustworthy companion as I have had the pleasure of having for the last two years. If this story can teach anyone anything, other then the strength and will to live from a very small dog, is that there are still so many good people in this world. To the countless strangers who devoted their time to drive my dog to safety without compensation and the veterinarian who cared for and saved Ribbon’s life without compensation or recognition, I thank all of these nameless people from the bottom of my heart. Not only did you all save a dogs life, but you rejuvenated myself and hopefully my readers that there are so many good people, willing to do selfless acts of kindness for the silenced creatures of the puppy mill world.