Buyer Beware: Boondogs Rescue

©Bailing Out Benji 2022
All research and information was done by  Bailing Out Benji and must be cited as such when shared or quoted!
To view the rest of our research, click here.

In recent years, there has been a massive movement across the country calling for cities and states to pass legislation banning the retail sale of dogs, cats and rabbits in pet stores from commercial breeders (puppy mills). This effort was started to end the puppy mill to pet store pipeline with the goal of causing the largest and worst puppy mills in the midwest to downsize and close. Once these laws and ordinances are passed, former puppy-selling stores must now get their puppies, kittens and sometimes rabbits from rescues and shelters to help the homeless animals in their communities, as opposed to aiding in the pet overpopulation problem. To date, more than 420 localities have passed their version of this ordinance, as well as six states. 

Bailing Out Benji’s role in passing these ordinances is to provide our research to local advocates and policy makers so they can not only see what is happening inside of puppy mills, but they can see data on how local puppy stores are playing a key role in keeping the industry alive. Because of growing public awareness and the passing of these ordinances, it has become a lot harder for puppy mills and breeders with violations to sell through stores. This caused the birth of the nationwide puppy-laundering scheme through the creation of sham rescues. 

Sham rescues are now being created by USDA dog breeders and puppy brokers in order to falsely label commercially bred puppies as “rescues” in order to still sell puppies through retail stores in communities where it has been outlawed. These breeding facilities are getting rescue names and business licenses, even sometimes taking the additional step to become an official 501c3 charity, all with the intent of selling mislabeled puppies to stores. Litters of puppies are often split up in transport, half being sold as rescues and the other half being sold as commercially bred puppies, ignoring the fact that they were born at the same place. This is a new trend in the commercial dog breeding world, one that our nonprofit organization is leading the way on investigating and ending.

Our investigations into two sham rescues in Iowa ( Hobo K9 Rescue and Rescue Pets Iowa ) led to the Iowa Attorney General shutting them down, and our investigation into a sham Missouri rescue ( Pet Connect Rescue ) led to lawsuits and the passage of a stronger statewide bill in California. Other investigations that we have done (Dogs to the Rescue Ohio) have led to major news networks covering the story. We are also beyond honored that our research was used in Sony’s new investigative series “Smoke Screen: Puppy Kingpin“, a podcast that does a deep dive into the sham rescue world. 

Our work is never done, it seems, as every time we help shut down one of these fake rescues, another one pops up. 

Interestingly enough, we didn’t uncover this latest sham rescue through government health records. 

We learned it through a press release that the owner of Petland Oklahoma City and Petland Tulsa put out themselves

An excerpt from Petland's press release.

On June 14, 2022 Petland put out a press release to announce that they “are excited to announce their new partnership with Oklahoma rescue, Boondogs Rescue, to support local adoptions.” To be clear, Petland would still be offering commercially bred puppies for sale but, according to this press release, they will now be offering space to a local rescue. 

Except that local rescue was founded by a USDA commercial dog breeder in Oklahoma. A dog breeder that also sells puppies to pet stores across the country. Janet Donnelly of Inola, Oklahoma is the owner of both her breeding facility and the newly formed Boondogs Rescue. 

A quick public records request showed us that the addresses for the ‘rescue’ and the commercial dog breeding facility were one and the same. We have redacted the private addresses for the sake of this article. 

Donnelly's USDA license and her shelter license.
The most recent animal count on Donnelly's property.

While neither Tulsa, OK or Oklahoma City, OK have humane pet store ordinances yet, Petland’s announcement and partnership with this sham rescue seemed very important to point out. To date we have never seen a Petland store use sham rescues or be an active part of the puppy laundering scheme. If you would like to see which breeders Petland Oklahoma City and Petland Tulsa obtain animals from, you can click here

Historically, when ordinances have been passed, Petland has either complied and stopped selling puppies or they relocate to another state. Carl Swanson, owner of both Petland Oklahoma locations, had his Illinois stores affected by the local and state ordinances that were passed. 

A few CVIs we have connected Donnelly's breeding facility to pet stores and puppy brokers across the country.

At this time, Boondogs Rescue is not an active 501c3, so no donations are tax deductible. They have solely taken steps to become an Oklahoma state licensed rescue.  In the aforementioned press release, Petland did say that “The relationship with Boondogs Rescue began during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic when Oklahoma Petland stores donated truckloads of dog food to Boondogs Rescue. Both organizations are grateful for the opportunity to further develop the relationship.” According to the documents we obtained from the state of Oklahoma, Donnelly first applied to be a rescue on August 4, 2021- more than a year and a half after the start of the pandemic.

We are currently awaiting another public records request to determine where Boondogs Rescue is obtaining their dogs, beyond Donnelly’s own breeding facility. 

Meanwhile, the ‘rescue’ dogs have already made their way to the social media channels of Petland Tulsa. 

The Nationwide Puppy Laundering Scheme has affected thousands of customers who thought that they were adopting puppies from legitimate rescues. Many lawsuits have happened in the past and even more are coming down the line. This type of operation is the definition of consumer and charity fraud. 

If you are a customer of Petland Tulsa or Petland Oklahoma and you believe that you purchased a “rescue puppy” and want to know more about where it was born, please feel free to email us below. We also suggest filing a complaint with the Oklahoma Attorney General about the potential mislabeling of your “rescue” puppy. 

©Bailing Out Benji 2022
All research and information was done by  Bailing Out Benji and must be cited as such when shared or quoted!
To view the rest of our research, click here.

Stop Assuming the Worst

Written by Becky Monroe

We Need to Stop Assuming the Worst so We CAN Make the World Better for Animals

The other day I was scrolling Tik Tok and a video of a couple relinquishing their dog to a shelter popped up. I believe the point of the video was to show the heartfelt pain the woman experienced giving up her dog, but the comments that followed were anything but empathetic.

According to the brief description given, the woman had cancer and they just weren’t able to manage her illness and care for the dog. The woman also happened to have numerous tattoos which led to comments like, “If you can afford all of those, you can afford your dog.”

People also being snarky and saying how they beat cancer AND kept their dog

I didn’t read every comment, but I saw enough to know that the negativity was overwhelming and so very disappointing to me.

I don’t know the woman. I don’t know her story. Not a single person commenting knew her whole story. Yet, so many were willing to judge and throw stones instead of encourage and bless or even attempt to slightly understand her situation.

The photo above shares a similar story on Wisconsin Humane’s Facebook page. We commend how they handled this situation. 

I relinquished a dog once. We had adopted him from a Golden Retriever rescue and when I found myself getting divorced and going through a lot, we had to give him back to the rescue. It was what I had to do at that point in my life. I am not proud of it, especially as an animal welfare advocate, but I also think it made me more compassionate and understanding that not everything in life is black and white. Often, you have to make difficult choices you never thought you would.

In the last few years I have heard a lot of commentary about rescues – many suggesting how “judgy” they are.

Adoption procedures aside, I do think that animal welfare advocates can come off as judgmental. And I will be honest, I have found myself to be that way numerous times.

Let’s take an easy one… you are walking around the park and you see a dog owner with a retractable leash. Most of us will have that instant reaction, “Idiot.”

It is just something that has been engrained in our animal loving blood. Retractable leashes are awful. They are dangerous. “All the good dog owners know this.”

I think sometimes we are often so disgusted that we don’t even bother to try and educate the dog owner and explain in a nice way why they might want to consider a different leash.

I don’t know exactly what it is, but I venture to guess that when you spend not just years in the field of animal welfare, but you actually lose a part of your soul in it, it gets harder to empathize with people whom you have determined, in a generalized way, to all be assholes.

It is the truth. We have seen so many people let so many animals down or treat them cruelly that it is hard to have faith in genuine human kindness anymore.

I get that – 100%.

However, I strongly believe that if we don’t re-evaluate our approach, we will lose on so many opportunities to make things better for animals and people.

As much as our experience has shown us the selfish, greedy, mean behavior of people, the reality remains that they are not the majority and we shouldn’t assume the worst of individuals based on generalities.

I think no matter what your passion, education, specialty, occupation is you become entrenched by it. Over time you learn so much more about it than most other people ever will know. However, that knowledge and experience we gather often becomes our weakest attribute because it causes us to be less understanding, less tolerant, less willing to teach because we assume everyone else knows what we know and is purposely or selfishly doing “it” wrong.

How could they not know what we know?

Here is the thing – while we scroll social media and are inundated with reasons not to use a retractable leash, the rest of the population is NOT. They don’t see the memes that call out retractable leashes on a daily basis.

While we see in our feed hundreds of dogs a week being rescued from puppy mills and taken to safety, the rest of the population does not.

While we see a local shelter advertising adoption fees are waived because they are overcrowded, the rest of the population does not.

While we see numerous cases a day of families being taken advantage of at pet stores by buying sick, poorly bred puppies and then financing them for unspeakable interests rates, the rest of the population does not.

This means that all these things that rile us… that stir us to our core… are NOT something most people know anything about, but we often act like they should.

Instead of gently educating, our passion and our desire to protect the animals causes us to scream. I think we need to re-assess this.

There will always be bad people or ignorant people who don’t care, but we need to acknowledge them as a minority not the majority.

We need to look out at our communities with the hope that people want to do the right thing when given the facts and the opportunity.

If we really want to change the world for animals, we have to embrace this chance to teach and to share and to empathize with people and what they are going through. We have to trust that they want to do what is right and kind.

I say it often… people like us were given a heart that is both a blessing and a curse. We feel so much for animals that often empathizing with humans is difficult. But in order to ensure we create a kinder, gentler world for all animals, we need to embrace humans like we do the animals who come into our care. We need to be patient. We need to be compassionate. We need to fully realize that they are doing the best they can right now and as they know better, they will do better.

If we continue to assume the worst of people and choose to be disgusted instead of hopeful, we will fail the animals. This life is a journey for all of us with the intent of making each of us better humans and the world a better place. We are each here to make a difference. We can’t let the negativity get in our way of teaching others how to be humane and showing everyone the beauty in animals. 

Meet the Survivors: Lacy

Written by Becky Monroe

Lacy and Willow in the boat

Lacy’s mom, Sarah, wrote in the interview that she read a quote somewhere that said, “Everyone thinks they have the best dog and none of them are wrong.” The quote is by W.R. Purche and sure is fitting for these mill survivor blogs.

Each time I sit down to start a new story about a mill survivor, I find myself in tears. Tears for what they have endured, but also tears of joy. The love these once unwanted dogs experience with their forever families is so heartwarming and so inspiring and Lacy’s story is no exception.

I wiped tears numerous times as I felt the love and compassion Lacy’s short life was filled with in the end.

Lacy, a yellow Labrador Retriever was rescued by the Greater Dayton Lab Rescue (https:// www.gdlrr.org) in Ohio around the age of 5 from a puppy mill. She had been living in a foster home for about six months when Sarah and Eric adopted her.

Six months seems like a long time to be in foster care, but Sarah attributed it to Lacy’s age, her extremely shy temperament and her breathing issues.

At the time Sarah and Eric were trying to find a gentle companion for their then 13 year old white German Shepherd after their chocolate Lab passed away.

Lacy was a great match. 

Lucy at the beginning

In rescue, Lacy was named Gracie, but her adoptive family had started a tradition of naming their dogs after plants. It started with Lily then Dahlia and so on. Lacy would be short for Queen Anne’s Lace. She was called all sorts of versions of it: Lacy Mae, Lacy Mayday parade, Lacy’s Thanksgiving parade, Party Lacy… etc…

I, personally, love that this family plants the plant the dog is named after when they pass as a memorial to cherish for years to come. How perfect.

According to her foster family, out of the 42 dogs who had come through their care (bless them for fostering so many) Lacy was the most shy and nervous they had ever seen.

“In the beginning, everything was fear-inducing for Lacy. She was absolutely terrified of hats and doorways,” Sarah explained to me.

Lacy also was afraid of being on a leash, going new places, noises and car rides. And while she had mental obstacles, she also had physical limitations due to bad genetics, lack of vet care and the harsh environment she spent her first five years of life in.

Over time, as Lacy was seen by varying vets, they all agreed that her genetic ailments and the complications that came with them, could have been prevented if she could have had basic care from the start.

Sarah explained that Lacy was their first mill survivor. However, both Lily and Dahlia were given to them by people who had purchased the dogs at a local pet store which was later busted for using puppy mills to supply their store with puppies. 

Lacy and Lily cuddling

It was fortunate for Lacy to have Lily to help Lacy begin to overcome all that was scary to her. Sadly, Lily passed away only three months after Lacy joined the family. Lily was over 13 years old.

But before Lily passed, Lacy knew to always be gentle with her. Lily’s hip dysplasia kept her from doing a lot in her older years. Lacy would stay with Lily wherever she was in the house and lay and cuddle with her. That was comforting to everyone.

Knowing Lacy would do better in a home with another dog, they adopted Willow, a five month old Husky.

Willow helped Lacy to learn to play and to be confident.

To foster Lacy’s confidence, she went to the dog park almost every day to help her be more social. The other dog owners got to know Lacy really well and soon everyone not only knew her triggers and how best to make her comfortable, but Lacy melted their hearts and had them all wrapped around her paw!

Willow was great at looking out for Lacy in the dog park and whenever they went for walks. Willow would turn around and always make sure Lacy and Sarah were keeping up.

Lacy did have breathing issues, so they always had to be aware of her limitations. They kept things to short walks and always just let her do as much as she was comfortable with. When things got more difficult, they got a dog stroller for her and that opened up a lot more opportunities for her to get out and explore at her pace without causing too much strain on her.

She also happened to love wearing clothes, so that helped protect her skin from all the pollen that caused her issues. 

In time, Lacy’s shyness became sassiness and she exuded this sweet, happy personality. One of her nicknames was “happy cow” because when she would run, she looked a lot like a bouncy calf with legs flying everywhere!

“She would even do this flying leap with all four paws off the ground to try and catch tennis balls,” Sarah described.

She also happened to be a full-on bed hog. Sarah said that when they went camping they shared a tiny air mattress. Not only is Eric 6’10” but now they had Lacy snuggled in between them.

“She would let out a deep sigh every time she snuggled up between us as if she couldn’t believe we were in her way and taking up all the room on HER bed.”

The few times they ever had to get stern with her in an effort to keep her from eating stuff she shouldn’t, she would make this face like there is no way you can actually be mad at me and start wagging her tail and prancing around. Confirming she could get away with almost anything!

While she started off as really shy and nervous, her personality blossomed in time. Sarah described some of Lacy’s funny habits such as how she would make these goofy deep breathing noises when she got excited or when she wanted food. She said the noises Lacy would make actually sounded like, “Oooh – what you got there?” 

She brought large plastic dog dishes into the living room and played with them. She took on the robotic vacuum as a playmate in typical Lab fashion. She had the goofiness of a Lab and made everyone smile.

Sadly, Lacy’s days of being a joyful, playful Lab were cut short and she passed on Christmas Eve of 2021. Her life had finally just begun and it was time to say goodbye.

When I asked what had Lacy taught them, Sarah said, “First and foremost she taught us just how horrible puppy mills are. Almost everyone knows that puppy mills are bad, but loving a puppy mill breeder dog shows you the depth of the mill’s cruelty. Lacy taught everyone she met how to find happiness and pure joy after being through hell. Her resilience was inspiring and many people who knew her were just as proud as a we were to see her fight her way out of the darkness over the three years we had her.” 

What would Lacy want to tell other humans?

“End puppy mills now. Don’t support pet stores – they probably use mills. Know that if you buy a dog without meeting the parents that they are most likely a mill dog and there is a breeder dog suffering deeply behind the scenes. Give puppy mill survivors a chance at a new life through adoption and be patient there is a personality under all that trauma. They just need time to know they’re safe and loved to show it.”

Lacy spent most of her days just being spoiled. But, she did go to a lot of places in the unfairly short time they had her and told everyone they met about her being a puppy mill breeder dog. “Our goal was never to shame anyone but to just let them know to spread the word around to anyone they knew that  puppy mills are all around Ohio and to do research into how to spot mills. And, hopefully, in the future adopt or rescue their next pet,” expressed Sarah as to what accomplishments Lacy achieved.

Sarah also commented on the question,”What is special about this dog?” with the following, “Dogs have this amazing quality where their existence makes our lives better and they instinctively want to bond with humans which makes puppy mills even more sickening. To treat animals as machines for profit and deny them of at least a humane life when they are totally dependent on us for their physical and emotional care should have never been legal in the first place, let alone that puppy mills are still a booming business today.” 

Despite the sadness that surrounds both puppy mills and the survivors who find freedom, they do go on to teach us important life lessons as Sarah summed up here,” I have learned that you can pull yourself out of a dark spot when shown love and given a safe place to recover. Even if the bad things that have happened to have caused layers of damage you can still find a way to be happy in spite of it all.”

Lacy was certainly a beautiful testament to the healing power of love and compassion, dancing and prancing her way into the hearts of all who met her. Her life started awful but ended surrounded by people who loved and adored her. Thank you to Sarah and Eric for helping Lacy to overcome her fears and for allowing Lacy to experience so much in her short time of freedom. Run free Lacy – Run free! 

This very special collage above shows just how sassy and confident Lacy became. Lacy decided to sneak into the tub to get the peanut butter her sister didn’t eat during bath time.

**Just a reminder – if you would like to share your Mill Survivor’s story with our supporters, I would love to publish it on Tails and Truths! Just email me at bmonroe@bailingoutbenji.com.**

Misguided Assumptions That Hinder Animal Welfare

 

Misguided Assumptions That Hinder Animal Welfare

Written by Becky Monroe

Well, it is only Tuesday, but it has been an eye-opening week already. Yesterday, I was on the beach in the morning when I saw two young children with their mom. The two young kids, both under 5, were chasing the small shore birds we call Snowy Plovers.

Snowy Plovers are protected on the island as they are becoming rare, but the state run commission, Florida Fish and Wildlife (and all wildlife animal agencies), teach not to chase all birds as they are typically on the beach resting between flights or nesting for the season.

I am not a confrontational person in anyway. Heck, my voice, at its loudest, can barely be heard across a small table. But, certain things like chasing birds and puppy mills, will get me to respond.

I made eye contact with the mom and gently said to the boy, “You should not chase birds.”

To which his mother looked at me and said, “They have only chased three.”

I thought to myself, “Well, as far as I know, the only right number is zero.”

When I got home, I went on Facebook and posted in a few groups what had taken place and used it as a friendly reminder that chasing birds is not acceptable and in fact, harmful to the birds.

There is scientific evidence to prove this and that can be found here

Snowy Plovers at Ocean Beach / Photo by Lee Karney

One of the FB pages I chose for my post is a community page for people who love our island. Within seconds, numerous people were agreeing with me and sharing their own stories.

Numerous comments have been made now on that page and while not all of them are 100% in agreement, it wasn’t until this morning one was made that just sent me into a tailspin.

His first comment was to say that my concern was a first world problem for a rich person. His second comment was that if kids playing on a beach was my only problem, I was lucky and that I shouldn’t shame families who are having fun.

Needless to say, I had a few replies for him.

However, his commentary really got me thinking about these two separate but often made assumptions and how they apply to animal welfare, in general. 

The first one which implied that only rich people care about animals is not only ignorant, but unfounded.

I have had the beautiful opportunity to help at low cost clinics in the challenged neighborhoods of Chicago thanks to the organization Lost Dogs IL. Each time I went, I was reminded that income does not in any way suggest how much someone loves his or her pet.

Most of the pet owners at these events got in line hours before we opened and often walked miles in any kind of weather to get there — just so their pets could get the things they needed.

For some, it wasn’t even the cost it was the availability of resources in their area. When the resources were there, they made sure to utilize them to benefit their pets.

I did a story years ago about homeless people and their pets. I was able to get in contact with the group, Pets of the Homeless. They shared with me how they help provide food and veterinary care to the pets of the homeless because they know, despite the obvious circumstances, those pets are loved and cared for better than many living in suburban America.

What could make a dog happier than spending every single day hanging with his human? 

I think between my volunteer opportunities and my own research, hearing what that man was saying in response to my Facebook post made me even angrier as I know that income and compassion do not slide together on any scale.

And, I think assumptions like this one have also made adopting a pet more difficult for those with financial hardships. This judgement that if you can’t afford the adoption fee, you can’t afford the pet is heard in the animal welfare community a lot.

I would only argue that with so many dogs and cats being euthanized simply due to lack of space, surely those animals would be grateful to join a family and feel love regardless of that family’s income level.

At the very minimum, I think it is critical to be aware of these types of broad judgments that not only are inaccurate but can create a very negative impact on the number of animals rescued and adopted. 

On a recent episode of "Truth, Lies and Puppy Mills" Bailing Out Benji discussed ways we can all collectively do better to address and support both human AND animal well being

His second comment that suggested I shouldn’t shame a family who is just having fun (chasing birds) is also one that relates to domestic pets.

How many Facebook posts have you seen showing a child riding a dog or pulling his ears or laying on him? These posts usually have a meme stating, “This is not cute.”

Like the birds who deserve to be left in peace, domestic animals also should not have to tolerate any type of behavior that is stressful, painful, or irritating.

Sure it might make the child happy to ride the dog, but it is important that children learn at a young age to respect animals as sentient beings. We don’t have the right to put our pleasure above their well-being.

Those children on the beach could have been swimming in the ocean, building a sandcastle, playing catch or flying a kite. There are many fun activities to do on a beach. Chasing innocent birds should not be considered one of those activities.

It angers and saddens me to believe that some people really don’t get it. They don’t see animals in the way that I do (or you do). Since I was a child, I have felt genuine empathy and compassion for animals. It is near impossible for me to understand a person who does not.

This man reminded me that our job of educating others on animal welfare whether they are domestic or wild is never ending.

I have often said that it is both a blessing and curse to be born with a heart for animals. A blessing because we get to share this amazing connection to animals. A curse because it can really hurt when other people don’t share our kindness. 

We have to always remember that these animals we love so dearly don’t have a voice and even when it feels uncomfortable to speak up or when words exchanged get personal, we have to keep speaking up for them.

If we choose to be silent not only are we wasting the precious gift we were given, we are letting down the animals we hold so close to our hearts and allowing others to continue to mistreat them.

 

We have to be their voice. Always. 

Meet the Survivors: Trixie and Trudie

Written by Becky Monroe

This week we spotlight two adorable Toy Poodles: Trixie and Trudie who were rescued not just from a puppy mill, but from one of the HSUS’s Horrible One Hundred puppy mills. Blue Moon Kennel is one of the most notorious mass breeding facilities. Lucky for Trixie and Trudie they found a way out.

Their owner, Lisa, adopted them from Safe Haven Bichon and Friends rescue in Wisconsin. Safe Haven acquired them at an auction in Missouri.

Their story has a few bumps in the road. Lisa was originally their foster home for 8 months. She patiently worked with them so they could join a family as “normal dogs.” Eventually a nice woman wanted to adopt them and brought them to Illinois. Unfortunately, four years later she had to downsize and was not able to take Trixie and Trudie with her. Lisa said she was an amazing mom to the girls and Lisa still sends pics and keeps her updated on them regularly. “She adored them,” Lisa expressed. 

Pictured below: photos of Bichons, possibly Trixie and Trudie, taken at Blue Moon Kennel.

Lisa stepped up to foster them right away and in time adopted them herself. They have been part of Lisa’s family for nearly 5 years and are about eleven years old.

Lisa wasn’t new to the struggles of puppy mill survivors. Trixie and Trudie joined her Bichons, Frida and Heidi, who were also rescued from a large USDA breeder in Wisconsin. As well as little Lucy, a miniature Poodle who came from a puppy mill in Missouri.

Lisa knows the ups and downs of taking in these survivors and the struggles they work through. Between Frida, Heidi and Lucy, Lisa had a lot of previous experience to offer the two new Poodles.

Lucy’s puppy mill experience proved detrimental to her upbringing. To this day, she is still fearful of open spaces and the cold. Lots of things are still scary for her, but she, too continues to grow and has learned it is okay to play with Lisa and that not all humans are out to hurt you.

As for Trixie and Trudie they are still working on potty training, but have made a lot of progress along the way. The pair are precious to Lisa and she is just grateful they are back in her life. 

Between the girls’ first mom and her rescued poodles and Lisa’s pack, Trixie and Trudie have had many teachers to help them acclimate to the good life. Lisa said both girls are very obedient and LOVE to go for car rides. Lisa’s Bichon, Frida, was a wonderful mother figure to them and to all the dogs who came through the house. She offered a calmness to the others’ anxieties and with Frida’s passing that is still sadly missed today.

Lisa believes Frida’s spirit has gone on to live in Trixie and that when Frida passed she helped Trixie (and Trudie) to find their way back to Lisa.

The poodle pair are the same breed, same age, but very different personalities. From the beginning, Trixie has wanted love and been loving and cuddly and friendly, while Trudie has always been shy and reserved. But, together they are just the perfect peas in a pod.

Interesting how their experience in a puppy mill shaped their lives so differently, but, luckily, they have each other to face life with. It seems from the beginning they were a bipolar bonded pair. Lisa explained that Trudie has a bad habit of attacking Trixie when there is excitement in the household. She really will show her dominance, but at the same time they like to snuggle together and play and are best friends.

It is unknown if the two are related in any way. While the same breed, Trudie stands taller and has a deeper chest, while Trixie is shorter and could become plump if given the opportunity. Perhaps they were littermates – we will never know.

Both are full of energy and have adapted to all of the homes they went to, but lucky to land at Lisa’s as their forever one and remain together.

Originally, Lisa owned a home-bred Bichon and when that dog passed, she started thinking about adopting a rescued Bichon. Eventually, she found herself on petfinder.com and found Frida and Safe Haven Bichon and Friends Rescue. The rest is history as Lisa has become emerged in animal rescue and fostering. 

Lisa said that above all else she has learned how resilient dogs are, especially mill survivors. Despite everything they have been through, they continue to make progress and eventually are able to trust and to show love and affection.

When asked about tips for living with a mill survivor, Lisa offered this, “Never expect perfection (or even close) and to adopt them for what YOU can do for them. Learn to love all that they are because of where they come from. They have been failed by humans but now have a chance to be reborn into a whole new life.”

She also added, ”They would probably do best not being the only dog in the house.” 

It is true: puppy mill survivors tend to learn much quicker when they have another already trained dog in the household.

Trixie and Trudie help get the word out about puppy mills. They attended the Great Iowa Pet Expo and shared their stories and educated the public on the truth about pet stores and puppy mills.

If the Poodle pair could tell humans one thing, what would it be?

“Dogs deserve to be treated with compassion and kindness – no exceptions.”

Absolutely, Trixie and Trudie. We are so glad that you were given a second chance (kind of even a third) and now have lives full of love, compassion and kindness. 

**If you would like to share your Mill Survivor’s story with our supporters, I would love to publish it on Tails and Truths! Just email me at bmonroe@bailingoutbenji.com.**

Meet the Survivors: Tashi

Written by Becky Monroe 

Tashi is a Lhasa Apso who was rescued around the age of 3 or 4 who is now a whopping 15 years old!

Like so many, Tashi’s life did not start out well. She was a breeding dog in a Missouri puppy mill her first few years of life. Lucky for her, it seems breeding was not her thing, so a puppy miller released her to rescue.

Tashi’s mom, Mindy, saw Tashi up for adoption on the Internet and immediately knew she had to have her. She explained how Tashi’s soulful eyes drew her in. She put an application in right away.

Tashi hadn’t done well in the kennel part of the rescue organization, so a volunteer fostered her in their home which gave her some time to adjust.

Never having a puppy mill survivor before, Tashi’s behaviors were new to Mindy, but she was prepared to work them all out.

Tashi’s biggest struggles came from over-sensory stimulation like loud noises, too many noises, lots of people.

As Mindy explained, “It seemed like so many things were new to her and it just took time for her to feel safe and comfortable.” 

Tashi eventually overcame most of her insecurities thanks to all the patience and love Mindy showed her. Mindy said that they still don’t go into certain situations with lots of people, but that is just fine with her.

Mindy has enjoyed all the big milestones Tashi has reached like her first tail wag, her first time demanding a treat and wanting to go on a walk.

“It’s been so rewarding to watch her blossom from a frightened, insecure dog to a loving, sweet girl,” Mindy shared.

Mindy said she has learned a lot from Tashi about how well dogs can adjust when they are given love, patience, proper care and nutrition.

Tashi has come a long way from a puppy mill. She has her own social media where she educates others on puppy mills. Check out her facebook page, with over 3000 followers! Way to go Tashi – raising awareness with your adorable sweetness! 

Tashi would like to tell humans: “Please give the frightened animals a chance (when adopting). In time, they will learn to trust and be wonderful family members.”

Tashi has taught Mindy a few things, too. She knows now that she will always adopt pets who need a second chance — especially the ones who didn’t get a great start in life.

Mindy explained how it is so rewarding to see the milestones they achieve once they are in a loving environment.

She summed it all up best with this, “Tashi is my best friend. I feel she has a deep sense of appreciation for the life she has now.” The life you always deserved, Tashi!

We are so glad you found it with Mindy – who also happens to be a wonderful volunteer in Colorado for Bailing Out Benji! 

**Just a reminder – if you would like to share your Mill Survivor’s story with our supporters, I would love to publish it on Tails and Truths! Just email me at bmonroe@bailingoutbenji.com.**

Right now, they need your voice!

Written by Becky Monroe

Across the country, the pet industry is grasping to hold on.

They are appealing and fighting legislation across the states and cities, using all the money and power they can muster to win and stay in business.

They have gone so far as to create faux organizations that appear to be humane, so that they can confuse voters and get them to think legislation that is bad for animal welfare is actually good.

In Florida, Petland started an organization called “FL Pet Protections” in order to create confusion. They put in bill SB994 and called it “The Pet Protection Act,” yet it is anything but protective of animals. In fact, the bill itself would prohibit future humane ordinances that prevent pet stores from selling mass bred animals.  Right now Petland is also pushing for SB620, a bill that would punish cities that pass any ordinance that affects a business’ profits by more than 15%. This bill would stop all future humane ordinance work. 

In Illinois, a similar story unfolded. The pet stores in Illinois created a similar faux group titled “Protect our Pets Illinois” and pushed for a repeal bill that would undo the statewide law that requires them to partner with rescues and shelters.

Just days before the effective date of the state law that would prohibit pet stores from selling mass bred dogs and cats statewide, the pet industry sued the state and filed an emergency injunction to stop it. Thankfully the judge denied their temporary restraining order and the stores have to go humane.  

They are desperate and willing to do anything because the truth is finally catching up with them.

They try to say that “we” are taking away the only income they know. They argue that they have every right to earn a living.

I think what is important to dissect here is that “we” are not a competitor. Unlike Apple versus Android or Facebook versus Twitter, we are not here to compete and gain market share.

They are fighting to stay in business and make money – to profit from the helpless dogs they keep as prisoners. And “we” are doing everything we can to free those dogs and get them the life they always deserved.

Please read the paragraph again because it is critical in this fight against the puppy industry. 

They keep dogs in heinous, cruel environments while breeding them both carelessly and inhumanely- all to make money.

We want to end this cruelty. I think, sometimes, where things get confusing for people is that they believe that this cruel world of mass breeding is already illegal and that we are, perhaps, overextending our demands on people just trying to make a living.

Factory breeding of dogs is NOT illegal. Puppy mils are NOT illegal.

Our goal is to make them illegal, but we can’t do it without your help and your friend’s help and your neighbor’s help.

Many people have told me for years, “I don’t know how you do it. I could never go into a mill auction and rescue a dog – it would break my heart.”

i understand, but what if I told you that you can save a mill dog by staying in the comfort of your own home. You can change the lives of thousands of dogs across the country, by never leaving your house. 

Not everyone realizes what it takes to make change, In our country, much if it happens through legislation.

The people we vote into office at both the state and federal levels matter. And it is really important to know who they are and to be in contact with them – especially when issues that mean something to you come into play. 

Right now, it is very likely that there is a bill floating around your state legislature that will either help or hurt animals. Without ever having to step foot in a shelter or see a helpless dog who will make you sad, YOU CAN STILL MAKE A HUGE DIFFERENCE!

We need voters to contact their legislators and let them know what they want for the animals.

We are up against a business that will stop at nothing to keep operating. They have millions of dollars to spend on lobbyists, commercials, social media, etc.

We, as a whole, do not have the funds they do because we are non-profits. We don’t work to make money. We work to create a kinder, more humane world.

Our biggest asset is our voice and our voice is only as loud as the supporters we have. You are a supporter and we need you now more than ever.

I believe we are on the precipice of real change for the first time ever concerning the pet stores and puppy mills, but that also means that they are on edge and doing whatever they can to stop us.

Help us put an end to puppy mills. Help us end the money driven cruelty.

You don’t need to expose yourself to a shelter. You don’t need to donate a dime. You just need to contact your legislators and tell them you don’t want pet stores selling mass bred puppies or kittens and you want to see puppy mills be a thing of the past.

Bailing Out Benji prides itself on staying current with important animal welfare legislation. For a look at what needs your voice visit us here

I know it might seem a bit scary to contact a legislator, but keep in mind they work for you and your vote. Their number one job is to listen to their constituents. Phone calls, letters, emails to them do not have to be masterpieces, they can be short and to the point. Just simply tell them how you feel about the issue or the bill at hand.

If you do like to write, one other thing you can do to help animals from your living room is submit a letter to the editor of your local paper describing current legislation and how it will affect the animals. This helps spread the word about the issue and prompts other people to get involved.

Your voice matters and for the animals – it is the only voice they have. 

We recently sat down with Amy Jesse, the Policy Director of the HSUS Stop Puppy Mills Campaign to talk about the bills and ordinances that are being discussed across the country. You can listen here or watch on YouTube! 

 

And please don’t forget to sign up for our action alerts! We will let you know what is happening in your city and state, so you can easily get involved! 

**Just a reminder – if you would like to share your Mill Survivor’s story with our supporters, I would love to publish it on Tails and Truths! Just email me at bmonroe@bailingoutbenji.com.**

Meet the Survivors: Tippy

Written by Becky Monroe

I took a bit of liberty with this blog because while Tippy’s owner, Susan, sent in his information, I happened to have been there the very moment Tippy was saved at a puppy mill auction back in 2009.

I had asked Susan to attend with me and she convinced her husband, Bill, to tag along. Bill might not have called himself an animal advocate, but between being married to Susan, the ultimate animal rescuer, and the fact he had a huge heart for animals – I would definitely say that Bill would do anything to help an animal in need.

Knowing that I and Susan would likely be emotional at the auction, Bill made this point of making light of it all. He kept teasing me and making jokes to lighten the mood.

So, that day Bill, Susan and I walked around the auction grounds individually. Each of us making notes of the dogs we might bid on. Neither Susan or Bill had any intention of getting a dog for their home, but they were considering helping to get other dogs out for rescues and local shelters. 

Once we re-grouped, before the auction started, Bill had fallen in love with this poorly bred Long Hair Chihuahua named Tippy. He was just this frail little dog – nothing particular about him.

But, Bill’s heart opened up the minute he met him. There was no way the Taney family was going home without Tippy. Interestingly, most dogs at the auction never had names – only cattle numbers, but Tippy did and he proudly still calls himself that today.

Tippy was 3 at the auction and will be turning 17 later this year. When he arrived at his new home, he joined quite the pack of hounds: Beagles and Bassets. To this day, Susan feels like Tippy thinks he is a hound. He loves hunting rabbits and ground squirrels just like his hound siblings. He was always right behind them in the chase.

Like most mill survivors, Tippy had emotional and behavioral issues. Susan had done a lot of work with laboratory Beagles used in research and experiments, so she was familiar with what Tippy was going through as he became a cherished house pet and not a breeding commodity. 

Tippy never wanted to be picked up which was hard for Bill and Susan. Here they finally had this pocket size pup, but he had no desire in being carried around.

It takes time for Tippy to trust people. Even after a lot of time, he still might not trust completely and there could be some trigger that would just set him off.

House training was never something Tippy got the hang of, so belly bands became his best friend.

Tippy also suffers from alopecia (hair loss) and often wears cute t-shirts and sweaters to hide his nakedness. While Tippy might not have true accomplishments, he formed an amazing bond with his Basset sister, Ellie. Susan explained that she has had multiple dog households for decades and has never seen a bond like the one Ellie and Tippy had. “It was just incredible,” she said.

Sadly, just recently, Ellie crossed rainbow bridge and now Tippy lives life as an only dog. An only spoiled dog. 

For me, Tippy represents the bond Susan and I formed after taking her to her first dog auction. She had been in animal welfare and did many humane law enforcement cases. She was even familiar with puppy mills, but never a dog auction.

After the one where she rescued Tippy, her and I attended one more in Wisconsin, which would, thankfully, be the last legal one in the state.

I will forever believe that dog auctions change you. Something about them reaches deep into your core and alters how you see the rest of the world. I am grateful I got to share those life-changing moments with Susan and Bill and that Tippy was fortunate to find his freedom with them and live the life he always deserved. 

**Just a reminder – if you would like to share your Mill Survivor’s story with our supporters, I would love to publish it on Tails and Truths! Just email me at bmonroe@bailingoutbenji.com.**

Pundit Accountability and Dogs

Written by Becky Monroe

 

My Own Pundit Accountability 

A few weeks ago, I was reading The New York Times and the columnist referred to the phrase “pundit accountability.” He explained that it is when writers and experts should be willing to be transparent when they get things wrong. In his case, it was varying issues of COVID.

On the same day I read the article, a friend on facebook posted a meme that said, “There are NO responsible breeders.”

The two things have stuck with me and led me to write this week’s blog.

Fourteen years ago, after I attended my first puppy mill auction and found myself in the trenches making sense of the AKC, the USDA, legislators, and even the biased media at the time… I hated breeders. I mean ALL breeders. I was so disgusted by this cruel world of mass breeding that I was mad at everyone for allowing it to exist.

In fact, there might even be some trace of my writings that suggested I would favor a complete moratorium on breeding until every dog got a home. Between my work at the county animal control and my involvement in puppy mill rescue, I had simply become undone. To me, the world, and I mean the world, was just a cruel and evil place for animals. I truly believed that absolute measures needed to be put in place in order to make things better. 

Becky rescued Thorp from a puppy mill auction in Wisconsin

Honestly, if I am taking on my own pundit accountability then I would also suggest there has likely been a time or two or three that I have posted a meme similar to the one suggesting there are no good breeders.

However, while we are still in the trenches trying to make things better for breeding dogs and there are days I still find the world of mass breeding the most hideous thing on Earth, today I come with much broader perspective and am willing to be transparent about why I was wrong to say there are no responsible breeders.

My early raw emotions have simmered over the years and I have learned to listen and then RESPOND not react. And through my experiences have opened up myself to the opinions and expertise of many more people all while fine tuning my own opinions about these emotional issues we find ourselves in, in animal welfare.

I do believe there are good breeders. I have met them. I know friends who have gone to good breeders to obtain a dog. They saw the parents. They picked the puppy. The breeder was involved through the whole process. No one met in a parking lot. The breeder didn’t have 20 different breeds of dogs to choose from. Everything was legit and went as it should.

This really can happen. These breeders DO care about their breeding dogs and treat them like family pets. They put a lot of hard work and money INTO the dogs because they care about them and improving the breed in ways that make the dog thrive, not in ways that make the breed more popular on social media such as flatter snouts or smaller in size or mixing everything with a poodle.

When you talk to a good breeder it is obvious how much they love their dogs and how important keeping that breed in good standing means to them.

In a recent episode of the podcast “Truths, Lies and Puppy Mills” titled “Adopt or Shop Responsibly” we interview a reputable breeder and she explains in great detail the goals of preservation breeding as well as how her dogs are treated like family – not breeding stock.

I am proud of the fact that Bailing Out Benji has fostered relationships with reputable breeders and sees them as partners in the fight against puppy mills and not enemies. The reality is we do both want the same things and it is far better to work together.

There are also two other reasons I have come to support reputable breeders. The first one is simply that without breeders, dog breeds of all kinds would begin to vanish. Even today, there are many breeds one could never or very rarely find to adopt.

For example, search for an Afghan Hound or a Coton de Tulear and see what you find. There are so many breeds that are unavailable to adopt. Yet, there are wonderful families out there who want to add these breeds to their lives.

When you become a part of the animal welfare world, it seems unjust to want a certain breed. I feel like we are kind of taught to take the neediest dog and love him unconditionally and be happy about it.

I have done this many times. 

But, not everyone can do this. In fact, not every home is suitable for the neediest dog. There are many homes that just need a well-adjusted, good natured dog in order to be successful. Many times these dogs are hard to find in rescue, so people should have the opportunity to purchase one from a reputable breeder.

It took me years to watch a dog show after attending the puppy mill auctions. The mere letters “A” “K” “C” made me want to vomit. However, despite my feelings about them, there is something so miraculous about watching all the different breeds of dogs at one show. From a giant Great Dane to a sassy Shih Tzu, my heart melts for all of them.

I believe that all of us who end up advocating for dogs are infatuated with ALL dogs. Sure we have favorite breeds, but put us at a party and it doesn’t matter what kind of dog is there, we seek it out.

Good breeders are our only hope of maintaining this vast array of dogs who are healthy and emotionally and behaviorally balanced. Without them, the diversity of breeds disappears.

My second reason for supporting good breeders is filled with controversy. Let me explain.

A little over a year ago, I found myself searching to adopt a dog. We had lost 3 dogs in about a year due to old age. They were 17, 16 and 15 – two had come from puppy mills and the youngest one came from Chicago Animal Control after being hit by a car. Their beginnings to life were all rough. Living as long as they did was pretty amazing.

We were left with Alice, our 9 year old Shih Tzu rescued at a puppy mill auction. She has one eye, no teeth and her tongue hangs out. She had never lived a day in her life without another dog. We knew she was sad when she found herself an only dog.

We began the search. I filled out at least 20 applications and never heard back from anyone.

Becky's Alice

Most of the time, after filling out the application, I would see the dog was taken off petfinder or the website.

I searched all kinds of sites. I looked on shelter pages, facebook rescue pages, you name it.

On paper, I think we look pretty good. We are both retired. We have a fenced yard. We don’t have small children. We have so much experience with rescue dogs. I mean I really don’t know where things went wrong. We have outstanding references.

But NOTHING.

Now, as an animal advocate, I was willing to play this game, but I can’t imagine many other people playing along for so long. It is a frustrating, emotionally draining experience.

You see a dog in need, you fall in love, you apply, you hear nothing.

And it wasn’t just one or two or even three rescue organizations, it was dozens who ignored my applications.

In desperation, I found myself on breeder sites. Initially, I looked to see if they had any retired breeding dogs I could adopt, but when they didn’t I started to look at upcoming litters or any available puppies.

I didn’t want a puppy and I really didn’t want to BUY a dog, but Alice was miserable living all alone and we hadn’t had such a quiet home in forever. 

Becky spreading the word about her book "Bark Until Heard"

Eventually, I made contact with a rescue in Davies, FL and we adopted a 4 year old French Bulldog who was found on the streets of Miami with mammary cancer.

At first they overlooked our application, but then I took a crazy chance and sent a copy of my book in hopes of winning them over. That is how we finally made an impact. I am not super proud of my tactics, but hey it was pretty much a do or die situation at that point.

We finally adopted Agatha Rose months after we started looking to rescue.

Not many people have that kind of time or patience. And certainly not everyone has an animal advocacy book up their sleeve to send to a rescue to get noticed.

Animal adoption has become a ridiculously difficult process. It was for me and so many other great people I know who are perfect homes for dogs.

It is because of this, that I will continue to support reputable breeders. People need options. Families with small children should be able to have a dog.

I always say that most of us in this animal world are here because we grew up with a dog. Yet, today, families with kids under (insert age) are unable to adopt from many rescues. How sad that so many kids could go most of their childhood without a family pet.

Meet Agatha Rose!

I know there are rescues building arguments against my words. I understand how concerned you are to place the dog in the right, forever home. I know how many people have let you down in the past. I get it is an emotionally draining job.

I have done it. I have fostered dogs and placed them in homes. I have shed tears just on transports after having a dog only two days. I understand and respect the difficulty of it all.

However, all the rules and attitudes and the slow process is what leads people to pet stores, so I think it is important that we educate people on what their other options really are.

We need to support the good breeders and make sure that when people have exhausted rescue possibilities or are in need of a certain breed, they know where to go next. They know there are breeders out there that WE believe are humane.

There was a day I would have said, “In a perfect world, all dogs are adopted.”

However, if that were true, soon there would be no more dogs. And I cannot think of a more imperfect world than one without dogs in it. 

Bailing Out Benji has done two interviews with reputable breeders through our podcast “Truth, Lies and Puppy Mills”.

You can access them on any podcast app or watch through the Youtube links below. The episodes are #8 and #59. 

 

Follow our efforts and support our work! 

Meet the Survivors: Lui

Written by Becky Monroe

Meet Luis or Lui for short!

It was a fateful, quick decision when Nancy saw a puppy mill survivor in immediate need posted by HavaHeart Rescue. She and her husband had only been volunteers of HavaHeart a few weeks but she knew she needed to help.

Their Shih Tzu, Taz who was rescued from APA, had crossed Rainbow Bridge a month earlier and Nancy felt like it would be good start fostering because they wanted another dog soon. It was also during the pandemic and they felt like it was a perfect time to have a dog in their lives.

Lui, named to honor his Cuban roots, was listed as a purebred Havanese by the breeder. He was a little over 2 years old when he was rescued from the mill as a breeder release.

Eventually, Nancy would have a DNA test done on Lui only to find that he was actually:

      • 42% Havanese
      • 15% Chihuahua
      • 15% Shih Tzu
      •  13% Basset Fauve de Bretagne

She thought it was interesting that a breeder would list Lui as a purebred Havanese when that wasn’t the case at all. 

They agreed to take Lui in as a foster, but had never taken in a puppy mill survivor before and had no idea what to expect.

Lui came to them on a Sunday evening.

He was terrified.

His crate was full of vomit.

His coat was nasty and shaved down to his skin and he smelled awful.

It was as though he had never been bathed his whole life. But, as Nancy said, “He was free.”

She described how he stared at them from his crate just trembling with fear. As they took him from the crate and placed him on the grass, his little paws were rough and sore and his eyes were so sad and vacant.

They were amazed when they realized he had no idea what grass was. He just kept lifting his paws off of it.

For the longest time, Lui refused to eat out of a bowl and would only eat if the kibble was placed directly on the floor.

Nancy had dogs all of her life, but never one like Lui. He was so unlike any dog she had experienced.

Lui is full of love and is eager to be the best dog he can be, but he has so many fears. People, noise, other dogs, cars and wheels all scare him.

At first, the outside and the grass overwhelmed him, but now he loves to run zoomies around the yard.

Nancy and her family have tried numerous things to help Lui acclimate to normal dog life. They tried dog parks to help him socialize, but they didn’t pan out. He went to a training facility to learn to be around other dogs without fear and that helped some. He is also on Fluoxetine (doggy prozac) and wears a sentry calming collar- both of which Nancy believe have helped him cope. 

Lui was made an official part of their family only a month after they began fostering him and he has now been living a beautiful life for almost a year and a half.

He has traveled with them to the Smokies and to Northern Michigan. And, he has flown twice to Florida to enjoy the beach life. He is a great traveler!

While Lui has presented them with challenges, they have learned new ways to manage. He has taught them to be quick, to be aware and to try and channel their inner canine to help him learn, accept and love other humans in return. 

What do you think Lui would want to tell other humans?

“Lui is sweet. First, he would say, ’Thank you’ with a lick and a look with his huge brown eyes. He would then ask for humans to be patient and quiet so he can learn and absorb all he can. Lastly, he would ask that they just love him back like he wants to love them.”

Lui is learning to accept people, so he can join Nancy on spreading the truth about puppy mill atrocities. She said, “People are shocked when they see his before and after pictures.”

Lui will make a heartwarming little billboard to show the truth about puppy mills and pet stores. Not to mention the reality of canine registries. Far from a purebred Havanese – Lui is what most of us would call a mutt!

A lovable mutt for certain!

Nancy ended with, “We love Lui and are so proud of how far he has come. We are along for the journey and are happy to know he is all ours.”

Welcome to your new life Lui – sounds like you won the lottery! 

**Just a reminder – if you would like to share your Mill Survivor’s story with our supporters, I would love to publish it on Tails and Truths! Just email me at bmonroe@bailingoutbenji.com.**