What is going on with puppy mills?

Written by Becky Monroe 

 

“What the Heck is Going on with Puppy Mills and What Can You do to Help?”

This blog will be done in two parts

Part 1 

A couple weeks ago, a rescue I volunteer for posted one of my blogs about puppy mills and a woman genuinely asked, “Is there anyone trying to stop puppy mills?”

To many of us who follow and support Bailing Out Benji this question might seem preposterous, but I knew the woman was sincere and really didn’t know.

In light of September being Puppy Mill Awareness Month, I thought this would be a great time to talk about a few things: who is trying to stop puppy mills and how, what can individuals do to help and what opportunities are there right here at Bailing Out Benji that people can get involved in to help make a difference. The latter of them will be featured in my next blog.

Who is trying to end puppy mills is probably the easier of the first two questions to answer. There are thousands of people working every day to change the lives of dogs in puppy mills. They could be individuals just doing their part to educate strangers or foster mill survivors whenever they can.

They tend to be groups of animal advocates under the names like Bailing Out Benji, HSUS, ASPCA, National Mill Dog Rescue, Best Friends, Justice for Libre, and so very many more.

Advocacy groups that educate citizens and lobby politicians to create both awareness and change for the puppy mill industry. Many of these groups have been advocating for decades. Sadly, puppy mills are not something new to our country or the world. In fact, puppy mills were introduced around World War II as a way for farmers to earn money. What they have morphed into is a multi-billion dollar industry filled with greed and cruelty. 

To a person who hasn’t been along for the decades of advocating, one might find it hard to understand why the fight to end puppy mills has dragged on for so long without a true end in sight. I mean it would seem obvious to most dog loving Americans that puppy mills are cruel and should be absolved.

I don’t know if there has ever been an actual poll done, now I am thinking we should do one… But, I do believe the majority of the population when presented with the actual facts of puppy mills would agree that they should not exist or, at the very least, exist much differently with far better conditions for the dogs and a much more effective regulatory system governing them

 

So, where do things go wrong?

There are many facets to the puppy mill issue. Dogs in mass breeding facilities are considered agricultural animals. They do not get the same protections afforded pets. Because of this, what we call Big Ag, the major corporations who produce meats like Tyson, Smithfield, Cargill, have a large stake in animal production. If the dogs in mass breeding facilities are regulated to have larger cages, better conditions, more humane treatment, Big Ag fears that would imply pigs, chickens and cows would soon be required to have the same thing. To these businesses that means more money would be required to raise and produce their products and ultimately, could lead to less profit. 

In a multi-trillion dollar industry, that can mean billions of dollars lost.

Big Ag is one of the most predominant fighters when it comes to legislation to improve the conditions for puppy mills. They spend millions of dollars fighting animal advocacy groups (who do not have millions to spend) and lobby their politicians tirelessly to overturn any legislation passed in favor of the dogs.

They are a tough enemy to beat.

The American Kennel Club who claims to be the “Dogs’ Champion” is also one of the predominant groups we see sitting on the other side of the issue fighting against us. 

The AKC does what?

They register every puppy born. (There are other registries such as APRI and ACA, ACR, etc..) For every puppy registered, the AKC, as well as the others, charge a fee. You can imagine the amount of money brought into these organizations by the breeding of dogs, just the AKC, alone, registers a million puppies a year.

If puppy mills ceased to exist, so would a large share of their registration money.

Now, many of us have spent our lives believing that an AKC registered dog meant something, as if the AKC papers proved in some way that the dog was raised in a good home and its parents were happy and healthy.

The sad truth is that they do not mean any of those things. Years ago, after I bought my first dog at an auction for $65 and he came with AKC papers, I learned the hard truth. My dog was sick, matted, afraid for his own life most of the time. He didn’t know what grass was or how to play with a toy or go upstairs. He had had minimal vet care at best and was over 4 years old when I got him and his AKC papers.

I reached out to the AKC numerous times and each time they explained to me that they do not have the resources to inspect every breeder and ultimately, rely only on the paperwork any breeder or backyard breeder or puppy miller sends in. The AKC has no idea where all these puppies come from or the conditions they endure or worse, the condition their parents are in. And if I am being downright frank, they don’t care. 

So, when advocacy groups lobby for legislation to end puppy mills or even city ordinances to shut down stores that sell mass bred puppies, registry organizations like the AKC, APRI and the others fight back hard because they rely on the dollars of all the registrations of these terribly bred puppies. It comes down to money.

Of course there are others who fight against us. The obvious is the pet store industry who needs the puppies to sell and profit from. There are also what I call “ownership groups.” These organizations fight because they don’t want anyone telling them how to own a dog. Setting up regulations for puppy mills implies regulating conditions all dogs should live in and these groups of people have zero tolerance for being told what to do — even though they argue that their dogs mean everything to them.

The answer to that woman’s heartfelt question is, “Yes, lots of people are doing lots of things and have been doing them for lots of years, but we are up against a relatively strong army fighting hard against us at every step.” 

In the last few years, there has been a change of direction. Instead of fighting to improve the conditions of the puppy mills and constantly being stonewalled by Big Ag and the others, animal advocates chose a new path: the pet store and the point of sale.

If the actual purchase of a puppy can be stopped then in turn the demand will lessen and puppy mills will cease to exist. There are two main issues addressed at the point of the purchase. One was to eliminate the selling of mass bred dogs and to only allow pet stores to “sell” puppies or dogs obtained from shelters and rescues.

This type of law has been passed in five states as of today with numerous cities across the United States passing their own similar ordinances. 

Animal welfare advocates wanted to also address the point of sale and to expose the deceptive ways in which pet stores finance the sale of a puppy. Because pet stores charge exorbitant prices for basically mutts (AKA “Designer Dogs”), sometimes in the upper numbers of $5000.00, most consumers are forced to finance their new, fuzzy family member.

The interest rates were unimaginable and the sales techniques were nothing short of consumer fraud, so as a consumer protection issue, pet stores were forced to change their business practices and were exposed for the manipulation and deception they were engaging in.

Both of these issues have mounted to over 400 humane ordinances across the country with 5 states enacting humane laws to make it illegal for pet stores to continue selling mass bred puppies and/or to continue such unlawful business practices that were ultimately ruining the consumer’s personal financial situation.

Everyone who has fought to end puppy mills still wants to see puppy mills go away. They want to see pet stores enact humane business models and only sell rescued puppies and dogs. They will continue to pass these laws and ordinances until we have achieved 100% compliance across the country.

I have always said and will continue to say that while the fight is hard we have one huge thing going for us. We fight out of love and passion. We believe with our hearts that these dogs deserve so much better. None of this is about money for us and that is why I know we will win.

If you are passionate about helping change the lives of dogs in puppy mills, there are so many ways you can get involved. In my next blog in this series, I will talk about all the opportunities available. 

These dogs need us to be their champions. I hope you will join us in our mission. 

Tails and Truths would like to continue to showcase mill survivor transformations as a way to put faces to the thousands of dogs still prisoners in breeding facilities. If you would like to share your mill dog’s story, please email me at bmonroe@bailingoutbenji.com

Make a donation below to help our nonprofit continue our important work fighting puppy mills. 

Follow Bailing Out Benji on social media! 

Sign up below to receive an email whenever a new blog is posted. 
 

Meet the Survivors: Leine

Written by Becky Monroe

Meet Leinekugel (AKA Leine)

It seems so appropriate that the first mill survivor I introduce during September, the month of Puppy Mill Awareness, is Leine because his owner, Carol, was the very first puppy mill rescuer I ever met.

Carol went on to teach me so much about not just the cruel business of puppy mills and puppy mill auctions, but also the delicate way in which you earn a mill survivor’s trust and build their confidence to be a well-adjusted, happy dog.

Almost 14 years ago, at a puppy mill auction, Carol and her group bought 12-15 dogs and one of them was Leine for $45. She offered to foster any of them but Leine because he was a Miniature Pinscher and “she wasn’t a fan of that breed.”

Leine spent two weeks in the shelter as she hoped he would find his own foster home. As it turned out, Leine was in the absolute worst emotional state and as fate would have it, Leine would find his way to Carol’s home (and never leave).

At just over a year of age, Leine’s underside was heavily scarred and emotionally he carried scars that included tremendous fear, anxiety and obsessive pacing. As a dog trainer, Carol had had so much experience working with all kinds of dogs, but Leine was a true challenge. He was one of THE most fearful dogs she ever worked with. He would lose his bowel and bladder around people for months. She often questioned his actual quality of life and wondered if she had done the right thing saving him. 

Patience, time, love and confidence building with NO pressure helped develop Leine into the most well-rounded dog. Carol emphasized that she worked at his speed and never put any expectations on Leine.

Eventually, Leine’s true colors started to show. He was really a silly and feisty dog with so much love to give. He made his way to becoming a certified therapy dog! Leine loves kids and other dogs and is constantly stealing hearts.

Carol explained that you can never underestimate the power of time to heal a dog who has suffered trauma. Using techniques that teach confidence building, counter conditioning and putting in the work can help a dog achieve real success.

Leine is now 15 years old and still doing well. He has worked with so many kids and along the way always educates on puppy mills. If Leine could tell us anything he would say, “Give us a chance. Put in the work. Trauma is real and we experienced it and have the symptoms and challenges from surviving it just like humans.” 

Carol summed up her experience with Leine, “When we rescue mill dogs, they can learn there is more to life. They don’t have to live in fear forever or be haunted by or defined by their past. Please get help from a professional trainer, if you need it. Be patient and teach the dog life is great and they can move beyond their early trauma.”

Leine is still a warrior. Diagnosed with kidney failure two years ago, he is still running and going strong.

A true testament to the saying, ”We don’t always get the dogs we want, we get the dogs we need.” Leine has taught Carol so much about enjoying life to the fullest and never taking a single day for granted. 

 

Tails and Truths would like to continue to showcase mill survivor transformations as a way to put faces to the thousands of dogs still prisoners in breeding facilities. If you would like to share your mill dog’s story, please email me at bmonroe@bailingoutbenji.com

Make a donation below to help our nonprofit continue our important work fighting puppy mills. 

Follow Bailing Out Benji on social media! 

 
Sign up below to receive an email whenever a new blog is posted. 
 

Born with a Heart for Animals

Written by Becky Monroe

Charlotte Maxwell-Jones, founder of Kabul Small Animal Rescue, plays with rescued dogs in Kabul, Afghanistan, in 2019. (Kabul Small Animal Rescue)

Born with a Heart for Animals

 

I had other plans for this week’s blog, but yesterday I learned the tragic news that Charlotte Maxwell- Jones, founder of Kabul Small Animal Rescue, had to make a gut wrenching, possible life threatening decision to stay in Afghanistan with her rescued dogs or flee the country without them.

I felt like I had to give her this week’s time – I can’t think of a single thing more deserving.

When I spoke to a friend about how sick and saddened I was over this news, she said, “How do you know her?”

I do not know Charlotte at all. I have never met her. I knew little of her work until recently.

But, I know her heart and I cannot begin to fathom how shattered it must be after all of her attempts to leave Kabul with all her animals and staff tragically failed.

I cannot begin to understand the situation in Kabul. The fear, the terror, the chaos, the death and destruction, the fate that lies ahead… that I will never be able to envision or truly relate to.

I can in my own small way relate to what it is like to have to leave helpless animals behind. For every auction I attended, there are dogs whose faces I still see when I close my eyes.

When I worked at Animal Control and held the head of the dogs and cats we euthanized, I can still see their tails wag as I walked them into the room or felt them purr before placing them on the table. Those are moments I will never forget.

I have a dear friend, Peggy, whom I met through a pet store protest. We have kept in touch for the last few years and yesterday we just kept messaging each other our heartbreak.

It is hard for others to understand these hearts we are born with. Often, we can be criticized for loving animals more than people.

Our conversation ended with us agreeing on this statement, “Sometimes I resent the heart I was born with and other days I am grateful for it.”

I wonder what kind of day this is for Charlotte?

There are a thousand political things I could say. Faults I could find. Blame I would like to place, but truthfully, right now in this moment, none of that matters.

What I feel is the most important thing of all is that as animal advocate, we pray for Charlotte and her staff and the animals left behind.

I think we need to all take a moment to breathe and to recognize the immense compassion Charlotte represents. The absolute willingness to not only follow her heart and her passion but to ultimately risk her own life in the name of animal rescue. It is apparent she just couldn’t betray her mission or the souls she has tried for so long to save.

The critics will chime in that she chose animals over her own life as if that was her choice to make.

I believe Charlotte was born with a heart only a small population of people will ever come to understand. Like many of us, we never chose animals by conscious choice. We just feel in our souls a duty to protect them, to provide better for them. We will choose them every single time because we don’t know another way.

I saw this poem the other day and it certainly encompasses Charlotte Maxwell-Jones and the work she does and will hopefully continue to do:

To Love a Rescuer…

To love a rescuer you must love all of her.

You must love the scars covering her body from panicked and hurt animals she was trying to help.

You must love her fractured heart, that has been broken so many times she no longer even takes the time to mend the pieces.

To love a rescuer, you must embrace her grit and determination, and know that although she fights a war she can never win, she can and does win a few battles.

You must love the tears she will shed over those she lost.

You must give her comfort that she refuses to accept, as she blames herself for things she could have never foreseen.

To love a rescuer you must acknowledge the rage she feels towards the world at times, and know that anger is driven by a love of life too few have.

You must give her space and room to cry and mourn for the losses that others have caused out of carelessness or cruelty.

To love a rescuer you must understand her passion to heal and save is a calling, not a choice.

You must accept that to save animals is part of her soul and without that she could never be happy.

To love a rescuer you must be patient. You must accept her work comes first. She will forgo sleep, forgo food, forgo her life for animals in need. She will work tirelessly until her body and mind fail her completely and she cannot go on.

To love a rescuer, you must be strong.

You must not be threatened by her focus and love of animals. You must accept that the things you love about her, the strength and convictions and loyalty are also what drives her sense of duty to animals in need; you cannot have one without the other.

To love a rescuer you must never ask her to choose, because she will, and it will not be you. –Author Unknown

My thoughts and prayers go to Charlotte,  her staff, the animals in her care and to all those left in Afghanistan. It is my genuine hope that somehow kindness and love will prevail under these heinous times.

May those willing to sacrifice in the name of their passion – in the name of those with no voice – in the name of those who are helpless, give us the courage to follow our desire to make the world a better place for ALL those who live in it.

As of August 30th, an update on Kabul Small Animal Rescue and Charlotte was provided by SPCA International. Please keep them all in your thoughts and prayers in the tumultuous days ahead. 

Buyer Beware: Little Paw Animal “Rescue”

©Bailing Out Benji 2021

This research was done by Bailing Out Benji and must be cited as such when shared or quoted. 

In recent years, advocates across the country have been pushing for stronger regulation regarding puppy mill sales in their cities and states. These humane ordinances are being worked on in nearly every state across the country and they explicitly prevent pet stores from partnering with puppy mills or puppy mill brokers for puppy and kitten sales. 

The most recent state to pass legislation like this was Illinois. The bill passed in May 2021 and was signed into law in August 2021. The stores have 180 days to transition to a humane pet store model and partner with legitimate shelters or rescues for pet adoptions or they will be forced to close their doors. As you can imagine, the 20 or so pet stores in Illinois were not happy. They spent exorbitant amounts of money on lobbyists and advertising to get this bill defeated and later vetoed but in the end, the public support for this won out. The bill was signed into law. 

At present, several pet stores have already opened locations in the state of Indiana and others are looking to relocate to Wisconsin. One pet store owner, who has been at the center of controversy for years, has a different plan.

Lane Boron of Pocket Puppies (Chicago and Arlington Heights) is looking to be the next ‘rescue’ in the nationwide puppy laundering scheme that has already been exposed and litigated in numerous states. Boron has been a key player in the sham rescue world since its inception. 

When Chicago passed a humane ordinance in 2014, Boron first sued the city, lost the suit, and then partnered with his longtime puppy supplier, JAKS Puppies in Iowa, to start the country’s first ever shame rescue. Without going too into detail, Hobo K9 was immediately discovered as a front for JAKS and after our reporting and subsequent lawsuit in California and an expose by the Chicago Tribune. Both of the fake rescues set up by JAKS were shut down and fined by the Iowa Attorney General in 2020 and were forbidden from reopening another nonprofit rescue. Be sure to click on the hyperlinks to learn more about that story. 

Once Hobo K9 and Rescue Pets Iowa shuttered their doors, Pocket Puppies proceeded to just sell directly from puppy mills and ignore the stronger city ordinance that was passed in Chicago this year. The visits from Chicago Animal Care and Control resulted in 37 violations and thousands of dollars in fines. Each violation reportedly carries a fine from $500 to $1,000. Additional fines were filed by the City of Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection. Boron finally shut his pet store doors and was looking for a new opportunity. 

 

Sham Rescue: Little Paw Rescue Foundation

Lane Boron had already secured his sham rescue name and license number in 2018, just in case he needed to rely on it. To our knowledge, his rescue was never actually used and it is currently ‘not in good standing’ with the State of Illinois. Fast forward to August 2021, the time has come for Lane to become a rescue fully and continue selling puppies from commercial breeders. 

Pocket Puppies has always had a second location in Arlington, Heights (1457 E. Palatine Rd.) which sold puppies from commercial breeders, like his Chicago location. Now that the state of Illinois has passed this bill, Boron has approached the Arlington Heights city council and Planning Commission in order to have his business be recognized as a rescue. Except Boron has no plans to actually help homeless animals. 

How do we know that he plans running his rescue the same way that he did his store?

From his own words, of course!

Below is the correspondence Boron sent to the commission to describe his business model. As you can see from the highlighted areas, Boron plans to source exclusively from ‘transport companies’ and will not be taking in owner surrenders. As you know, transport companies are not sources for animals. This is Lane Boron’s personal loophole to the state bill. He isn’t sourcing from commercial breeders or commercial brokers- instead he will be sourcing directly from the transport vans that deliver those commercially bred puppies from stores. This information can be independently verified through the Arlington Heights Website. 

 

According to the Illinois Department of Agriculture Pocket Puppies sourced their puppies from the following facilities in 2020 and 2021:

  • Alisa Breedlove, Breedlove’s Unique Kennel. Waynesville, Missouri- 119 adult breeding dogs and 56 puppies.
  • Barbara Poor, B&J Kennels. Novelty, Missouri- a puppy broker with 19 adult breeding dogs on their property. 
  • Bob Mackey, TLC Breeds. Sayre, Oklahoma- 253 adult breeding dogs and 82 puppies. 
  • Brittani and Jesse Hedgpeth, Empire Pets. Iberia, Missouri- 31 adult breeding dogs. The Hedgbeths also own a transport company, Transport Central, with Josh and Kallie Bateman. The Batemans have been named one of the worst puppy mill transport companies in the country twice due to violations. Hedgpeth is also related to Allison Hedgbeth who operates the sham rescue “Mother Dog Rescue” in Iberia, Missouri. 
  • Debra Marris. Okemah, Oklahoma- is not licensed by the USDA. 
  • Dorace Burton, Grace Kennel. Lebanon, Missouri- 37 adult breeding dogs and 34 puppies. 
  • June Kaiser, Doggies Down Under Kennel. Brumley, Missouri- 69 adult breeding dogs. 
  • Kim Gray. Lebanon, Missouri- 5 adult breeding dogs. 
  • Larry Harris- Keota, Oklahoma- is not licensed by the USDA. 
  • Marcee Bryant and John Bryant, Puppy Junction. Seneca, Missouri- 93 adult breeding dogs and 30 puppies. This facility skipped their 2021 USDA inspection. 
  • Pam Owen. Lebanon, Missouri- 57 adult breeding dogs. 
  • Pauline Thomas, Nature’s Best Pet Shop. Lebanon, Missouri- 13 adult breeding dogs. 
  • Rhonda Pope, Pope Kennel. Freeburg, Missouri- 109 adult breeding dogs and 55 puppies. 
  • Sherri Gillum, Lakeview Kennels. Unionville, Missouri- 42 adult breeding dogs and 27 puppies. 
  • Susie Reid, Cedar Woods Kennel. Lebanon, Missouri- 56 adult breeding dogs and 28 puppies. 

Clearly, several of the facilities currently supplying Pocket Puppies appear to be large commercial breeders and not rescues. It is also very concerning that one of the facilities (Empire Pets) also owns a transport company and has ties to a fake rescue. 

What can you do? 

Right now we need advocates to contact the Arlington Heights City Council as well as the Arlington Heights Planning and Community Development Committee and politely urge them to not allow this sham operation to begin business in clear defiance of the state bill. 

Planning and Community Development Director: 

Charles Perkins: planningmail@vah.com, 847.368.5200

Arlington Heights Village Board:

Fill out this online form.  

You can also file a complaint with the Illinois Attorney General’s Office and share this information with them. 

As always, we will continue monitoring this situation and will be working behind the scenes to make sure this pet store is not allowed to operate a sham rescue in the state of Illinois. 

©Bailing Out Benji 2021

This research was done by Bailing Out Benji and must be cited as such when shared or quoted. 

 

Make a donation below to help our nonprofit continue our important work fighting puppy mills. 

 

Follow Bailing Out Benji on social media! 

 
Sign up below to receive puppy mill news and action alerts for your community. 

Buyer Beware: Daniel Gingerich, Maple Hill Puppies

Iowa currently has more than 400 active puppy mills with over 17,000 adult breeding dogs trapped. This one state exports tens of thousands of puppies and kittens annually to pet stores across the country, as well as online websites. Iowa was even the first to start the nationwide ‘puppy laundering scheme’, where puppy mills became licensed rescues to scam the public into thinking they were adopting. This is why Iowa is notoriously known as one of the worst puppy mill states in the nation. 

One of those breeders is Daniel Gingerich of Maple Hill Puppies (42-A-1632) located in Seymour, Iowa. Gingerich has been USDA licensed since 2019 and has had 15 inspections in the last 3 years- yet only 4 of those were violation free. This is clearly a problematic facility, as the lax USDA regulations only require a facility to be inspected once every 2-3 years. 

As you can see from his most recent USDA inspection, Gingerich has at least 530 dogs and puppies on his property. Unfortunately, the USDA doesn’t have a ‘magic number’ for how many employees licensed facilities need to have per number of animals, so we can’t tell you how many employees are at the facility caring for the animals daily.

What we can tell you is that Maple Hill Puppies had 89 USDA violations in 2021That number includes 11 ‘Direct’ violations and 1 ‘Critical’ violation, all pertaining to direct animal care.

 The violations on Gingerich’s most recent USDA inspection include: 

-Dogs that are severely emaciated

-Dogs that are struggling to defecate and have severe diarrhea 

-Dogs with green discharge in their eyes

-Dogs that are extremely matted

-Hiding dogs from the inspector at previous inspections

-Dead dogs on the property 

-Dogs in severe heat distress

-Dogs left without water

You can review that report in full here: PST_Inspection_Report_DANIEL GINGERICH

Sadly, there are 7 more failed inspection reports with even more violations from 2021 alone. You can view all of his 2021 inspection reports here: Daniel Gingerich 2021. We warn you. The records are heartbreaking to read.

In 2020, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed the Community and Pet Protection Act (HF737), which strengthened Iowa’s Animal Cruelty and Neglect Code. Sadly, it stopped short of making animal torture a first-offense felony. Under the new animal cruelty code in Iowa, Gingerich should face some hefty fines and even potentially jail time- if charges are ever brought forward. 

Currently Gingerich’s license is still shown as ‘Active’ on the USDA’s website and they are still registered as a federal breeding facility on the Iowa Department of Agriculture’s website. 

In August 2021, Daniel Gingerich auctioned off hundreds of his animals at a puppy mill auction in Wheaton, Missouri. Several of those animals were injured and ill, including Eleanor, who suffered unimaginable pain when she received surgery from the breeder and not from a veterinarian. 

The Pet Store Connection: 

What is even more heartbreaking is that this puppy mill supplies puppies to more than a dozen pet stores in Florida and New York that we know about. The pet stores in these states claim that they do not source their animals from puppy mills and their customers are often not given any breeder name or paperwork until after they buy the puppy. Several of the pet stores even testified in 2020 and 2021 against humane ordinances that would require them to not source animals from puppy and kitten mills. All of the stores spoke out against state bills in both New York and Florida that would have prohibited them from partnering with animal mills for puppy and kitten sales. 

Bailing Out Benji is known for our work researching the puppy mill industry and connecting these facilities to the pet stores and online websites they sell through. In order to do this, we file public records requests all over the country and make all of the information public, so the customer can do their research before they buy. 

Through our research, we have been able to connect Daniel Gingerich’s breeding operation to more than a dozen pet stores in Florida and New York,  as well as through the website ‘PuppyFind’. These puppies have traveled anywhere from 18 to 25 hours in the back of transport vans just to be sold in glass cages in a pet store to unsuspecting customers. 

Gingerich sold to the following pet stores in 2020 and 2021: 

      1. Astoria Pets ( US Pets )- 3150 Steinway Street, Astoria, NY 11103
      2. Chews A Puppy- 11167 W Colonial Dr, Ocoee, FL 34761
      3. Epic Puppies- 9541 SW 40th St, Miami, FL 33165
      4. Glamorous Puppies- 8150 SW 8th St SUITE 123, Miami, FL 33144
      5. Heavenly Puppies- 301 N Federal Hwy, Boca Raton, FL 33432
      6. Hey Pets- 31-42 40th Rd, Flushing, NY 11354
      7. Honey Pets- 13678 W State Rd. Davie, Florida
      8. King of Pet Grooming and Puppy Sales- 14707 SW 42nd St Ste 403. Miami, FL 33185
      9. The Left Paw- 411 Jericho Turnpike, New Hyde Park, NY 11040
      10. LI Puppy Sales- 4011 Jericho Turnpike, New Hyde Park NY 11040
      11. Lil Rascals- 10035 Gulf Center Dr #105, Fort Myers, FL 33913
      12. Love My Puppy 1395 W Palmetto Park Rd Boca Raton, FL 33486
      13. Luxury Puppies-  8981 SW 40th St, Miami, FL 33165
      14. Luxury Puppy (Luxury Puppies 2 U)- 2081 Hempstead Turnpike, East Meadow, NY 11554
        189 Merrick Rd, Amityville, NY 11701
      15. Nessy’s Puppies of Kendall-  8690 SW 137th Ct, Miami, FL 33183
      16. NYC Breeders- 1622 Hart Place, Brooklyn, New York 11224
      17. Petland  Bradenton- 3530 53rd Ave W, Bradenton, FL 34210
      18. Pet Kingdom- 4650 S Cleveland Ave, Fort Myers, FL 33907
      19. Puppy Paradise- 2082 Flatbush Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11234
      20. Puppy Secret- 11924 SW 8th St, Miami, FL 33184
      21. Puppies World of Miami- 9690 NW 41st, Miami, Florida
      22. Quality Doggies- 8335 SW 40th St, Miami FL
      23. Roberto’s Pet Shop- 18244 NW 41st PlMiami Gardens, FL 33055
      24. Shake-A-Paw- 285 S Broadway, Hicksville, NY 11801 ,  Atlantic Ave, Lynbrook, NY 11563
      25. Vanity Pups (AKA Happy Puppy Kennels, Inc)- 3813 Bell Blvd, Bayside, NY 11361
      26. Westchester Puppies and Kittens-  26 S Central Ave, Hartsdale, NY 10530
      27. Zoo-Rama 2566 E Tremont Ave, Bronx, NY 10461

As noted above, this breeding facility also sells puppies online through Puppyfind.com

 

This is why passing humane pet store ordinances on the local and state level are extremely crucial. Pet stores will always say that they don’t buy from puppy mills, but that is rarely- if ever- the truth. If this outrages you, please contact us about helping you get a humane ordinance passed in your city. It is up to all of us to shut off this puppy mill to pet store pipeline, in order to help save the parent dogs who are tapped behind in the breeding cages. 

We will continue monitoring this situation and will keep our supporters updated on what is happening with the animals, if the facility’s license gets revoked and if charges are being brought against this breeder.

We are certain that Maple Hill Puppies will wind up on the HSUS Horrible Hundred Puppy Mill list in 2022. 

 

Follow Bailing Out Benji on social media! 

 

Make a donation below to help our nonprofit continue our important work fighting puppy mills. 

 
Sign up below to receive emails about puppy mill news and action alerts in your community. 

Meet the Survivors: Stella Marie

Written by Becky Monroe

Meet: Stella Marie Rose This week we get to meet an adorable Frenchie named Stella. Her family chose to foster to adopt through an organization called HavaHeart Rescue located in Missouri.

Stella was originally found as a stray dog, but based on her condition she was believed to be a breeding dog who was dumped after she was no longer useful. She was thought to be about 5 – which also tends to be an average age for breeding dogs to be disregarded.

Stella faced numerous medical conditions when she was rescued. She had many skin infections that had gone a long time without any treatment and caused fur loss. She was very malnourished. Her stomach was a mess after numerous C-sections. (Only about 80% of French Bulldogs can successfully give birth naturally. Most undergo C-sections and sadly, in mass breeding facilities C-sections are often done carelessly and with minimal anesthesia or in non-sterile environments)

Luckily, her new foster family was willing to put in whatever it took to make her well again and everything she suffered from was curable with the right treatment. Stella also had some allergy challenges, but they were quickly figured out and she became a healthy, vibrant Frenchie again. Like most mill survivors, Stella had behavior issues. While she didn’t know how to do most doggie things, her biggest issue was resource guarding. Whether it be her people, her toys or her food, Stella needed to understand that none of these things were going to be taken from her again. Her mom explained that the saddest part was seeing Stella not play with her toys but treat them like her puppies – the one and only behavior she had been forced to learn time and time again in the mill.

Stella’s behavior issues faded as her family provided her with all the love, patience and kindness they could give. Today, Stella is “the sweetest dog you could ever meet,” says her family and, ”everyone who meets her loves her.”

Stella’s foster family who became her adoptive family had never adopted a mill survivor before. They had only rescued puppies in the past.

Almost immediately, Stella taught them the beauty and reward of adopting an older dog – something they just had never considered before. She showed them that older dogs have just as much love to give and are so deserving of second chances and adoption.

Of course, Stella, like all mill survivors, taught them about the puppy mill industry, too. Their eyes were opened to the realities behind the pet store window and soon they were doing all they could to educate others. Today, they help others learn of the importance of adoption and of researching good breeders, if necessary.

Once Stella became a part of their lives they felt a true calling to make a difference to end puppy mills.

If Stella could tell humans something she would say, “Let’s work together to end puppy mills, so that other dogs do not have to go through what I went through.”

Stella, through her amazing transformation, taught her family what love and patience and time can do for a dog in need. Stella was also fortunate to have a big fur sister, named Serenity. Serenity is a lab mix rescued from a shelter. She taught Stella all the fun dogs things she should know and was amazingly tolerant of Stella’s initial resource guarding issues. Mill survivors often blossom better when able to live with another dog who can teach them dog things.

Stella is now 6 years old and takes her job as a puppy mill educator very seriously. Anytime Stella meets new people, her and her family share what they know about her past and what people can do to help. Stella also has her own instagram account @StellaMyRescueFrenchie where she loves to share her adorable selfies but also educates about puppy mills.

When Stella isn’t busy educating others on puppy mills, she enjoys taking long naps, making pig noises, cuddling and slopping up juicy watermelon treats – all as she should.

Tails and Truths would like to continue to showcase mill survivor transformations as a way to put faces to the thousands of dogs still prisoners in breeding facilities. If you would like to share your mill dog’s story, please email me at bmonroe@bailingoutbenji.com

 

Make a donation below to help our nonprofit continue our important work fighting puppy mills. 

 

Follow Bailing Out Benji on social media! 

 
 
Sign up below to receive an email whenever a new blog is posted. 

From Numbers to Names

Written by Becky Monroe

From Numbers to Names

The other day I was cradling Alice as I was putting in her daily eye drops. Alice is a small Shih Tzu about 9 years old. She only weighs 8 pounds and her tongue hangs out all of the time. It was about 3 years ago, she had to have one of her eyes removed. She’s a bit of a hot mess who is also scared of most everything.

Alice was rescued at an auction. No one, not even the rescue, intended on taking her in, but once they saw this small, frail dog whose tongue hung, they knew she needed out of the breeding world.

She was 89. A number.

Yet, as I held her gently putting in her eye drops and telling her how she is the prettiest Shih Tzu in the world, she was Alice, my Alice – a dog who has come to mean the world to me.

Alice isn’t my first mill dog. I have had 3 of my own and fostered others. No matter how many come through my door, I will never understand how a dog is just a number. Whether I am a temporary foster or a long term foster or ultimately, the adopter, within a day that dog becomes a soul to me. I learn their needs, what makes their tails wag, what they are afraid of and what makes them feel safe. I snuggle them and love them almost instantly. It is hard to imagine someone throwing a dog away simply because it can no longer produce a profit. 

It has been so inspiring these last few weeks not only seeing the interest in people wanting to share their mill dog’s story, but hearing about the dogs’ and their families’ transformations. Reading about dogs who were merely stock in a breeding facility becoming the most important part of another person’s life.

It has made me re-visit why puppy mills still exist. If a single dog can literally change someone’s life so positively, what is the disconnect between puppy mills and dogs?

Perhaps, while we try to educate others on the mass numbers of dogs in breeding facilities — the thousands of them across the country, we are, instead, normalizing a very cruel business by demonstrating how very many of them exist.

We have always wanted others to know that there isn’t just this one dog in front of you who survived years in a mill, but hundreds of others every day facing the same grim reality. Maybe that is too overwhelming for people to fathom? 

I guess I am just trying to understand (I have been for over a decade) why something so awful, so inhumane still exists in the United States.

Yes, we have made progress and the progress we are making today is leaps and bounds ahead of ten years ago, but I still feel like more dog families should feel the need to speak out and take action than do.

I am hoping that as people read the individual stories of the dogs who have survived the mills, they will begin to see the individual faces within puppy mills instead of an overwhelming group of dogs who need rescue.

I want readers to see the transformations of both the dog and the person or family who adopts them. The amazing impact these dogs, who meant nothing to the miller, can have on the people who choose to make them important and to give them unconditional love.

I want readers to start to look at not the thousands of dogs in cages as a whole, but when they see the pictures of mills, to look, individually, at each face and think about how that dog could be free and changing the life of someone they know.

Maybe seeing mass groupings of mill dogs makes a person believe that those dogs are different from dogs not living in cages. As though “those dogs” were born to do that and that is the life they were meant to lead.

However, as we break down the stories of individual mill dogs, we teach people that these dogs are exactly the same as their “non-mill” dog counterparts. Yes, their history has often scarred them and prevented them from freely doing normal dog things, but when given time to decompress and unconditional love to learn to trust, mill dogs begin to thrive and quickly show off normal dog traits like playing with toys, romping in the grass, snuggling with their family.

Perhaps, the term “mill dog” has created a stigma. One that not only defines them but has created a bias that mill dogs are mill dogs and all other dogs are better or at least deserve more. For example, mill dogs are meant to be mass breeding dogs and don’t have a purpose outside of that, while all other dogs deserve to be free and loved.

I know with all my heart that isn’t true. It is why I write these blogs and try every single day to educate people. But, again, I am just searching for the disconnect as to why more people aren’t demanding mass breeding be illegal.

I think the term “mill survivor” better demonstrates that living in a mill is not normal. It is a battle every day to survive. It shows that dogs do not belong in these places. “Mill survivor” is a badge they wear for all they endured and all they will overcome. 

As avid Bailing Out Benji supporters, I hope you will share our Mill Survivor stories with your friends and family who aren’t as dedicated to ending puppy mills. I hope you will flood your social media platforms with them as we hope to put faces and names to the numbers as a way to breakdown these possible barriers and demonstrate the direct connection these mill survivors have to all the other dogs living in people’s homes and sharing their beds and playing in dog parks.

I know I have said it like a million times as a way of educating others, “This is Alice. She is mill dog.” But, perhaps what I need to say is, “This is Alice and she was rescued from a puppy mill because she did not deserve to live like that. She is a dog just like the one you adopted from a shelter. She loves to go on walks and to play with toys.”

They are not “mill dogs,” but instead dogs who survived living in puppy mills. They were meant to have names all along. They were just born in the wrong place by no fault of their own. Their beginning should not define them nor should it be an excuse to ignore the reality of mass breeding facilities.

It is my genuine hope that the faces and the stories of these beautiful souls will help awaken the hearts of those who have not yet had the honor or the pleasure to meet and love a dog who survived the mill and will create a desire within them to speak out against mass breeding. 

“Tails and Truths” is Bailing Out Benji’s new blog authored by Becky Monroe with the intention to cover the latest puppy mill news and puppy mill survivor stories. 

If you are interested in having your mill survivor featured, you can email Becky at bmonroe@bailingoutbenji.com 

Sign up below to receive an email whenever a new blog is posted. 
 

 

 

Follow Bailing Out Benji on social media! 

 

Make a donation below to help our nonprofit continue our important work fighting puppy mills. 

Meet the Survivors: Midge

Written by Becky Monroe

Meet Midge also known as “Sissy” Midge, a beautiful Pekingese, was originally rescued from National Mill Dog Rescue when she was about 7 years old. Not long after arriving at NMDR, Midge was spayed and had a successful nasal surgery to improve her breathing.

It was then Bridget adopted her. Bridget wasn’t new to puppy mill adoptions. Midge would be her 4th one, but Midge was different. It was obvious Midge wanted to be a dog, but she just didn’t know how. Bridget said, “You could look at her and see so much hope.”

In the beginning, Midge acted almost feral. She was extremely fearful of human interaction and tried to keep herself secluded as much as she could. She was anxious and scared of most everything.

Like so many mill dogs, she had this faint desire to want to interact and to play with the other dogs and toys, but she had never learned how to do any of that in her 7 years in a cage. Her fear outweighed her yearning to want to get involved. She would poke her head around the sofa and just observe the other dogs so very unsure what her next move should be.

Doorways and thresholds, often a difficult situation for mill dogs, were also very hard for Midge.

Bridget explained that they knew the only thing they could do was to give her time to adjust and to learn from her doggy siblings what real dog life could be like. Bridget said,”We knew not to ask anything of her.”

With constant, positive reinforcement and lots of treats over 2 years, Midge, also called Sissy, finally was comfortable going through doorways and going outside. She flies through doorways now without a care in the world!

Eventually, Bridget had to move across the country and was so very concerned that it would be a tough move for Sissy and might even cause setbacks in all of her progress. Luckily, the move proved to be the exact opposite. Sissy loved the road trip and enjoyed the adventure. All of the new smells and sights seemed to bring Sissy right out of her shell!

Now Sissy was holding her head high! With new found confidence, she even found her voice!

Bridget explained that they never called Midge “Sissy” because she was afraid or wimpy, but because she became such a wonderful sister to all her siblings.

Sissy has taught them that you can overcome most things with hard work. That we should all live the good life and to keep in mind there is always a better picture ahead.

She believes Sissy would tell others, “There is always hope and to never give up. Always face the new challenge. And, even as a mill survivor, you can find the true dog within.”

Sissy educates the neighborhood on puppy mills these days. Her confidence soars as she flips her head about and her beautiful coat shines for all to see.

Today, at 12 years old, that fearful, shy dog is now a very animated, funny girl who enjoys socializing.

Bridget summed it up best, “She is now a bit bossy, opinionated, and chooses which way we walk, and the pace we keep. I’m really at her service now. It’s ok, she deserves it.”

Tails and Truths would like to continue to showcase mill survivor transformations as a way to put faces to the thousands of dogs still prisoners in breeding facilities.

If you would like to share your mill dog’s story, please email me at bmonroe@bailingoutbenji.com

 

Sign up below to receive an email whenever a new blog is posted. 

 

Follow Bailing Out Benji on social media! 

 

 

Make a donation below to help our nonprofit continue our important work fighting puppy mills. 

Meet the Survivors: Sofie Bug

Written by Becky Monroe

Sofie and Jodi

This week I am proud to share the story of Sofie also known as Sofie Bug. Her mom became a good friend of mine as we joined the fight in Wisconsin to stop puppy mill auctions.

Jodi adopted Sophie from what was thought to be a rescue at the time. She was a 6 year old Beagle Jodi found on Petfinder. Her name at the rescue was Princess, but she was far more like a Cinderella before she met the prince. The description on her Petfinder page was, “Mama needs a home.”

Jodi and her husband went to the rescue and were expecting to see this adorable, perhaps feisty dog ready to play and get into trouble. Instead, this frozen statue of a dog came out with her teets hanging to the grass.

As Jodi re-told the story to me she added, “I was so naive. I asked why her teets were like that. The rescuer told me that Princess had just given birth and all her puppies died in an Amish mill in La Farge, WI.”

Jodi went on to describe, “I replied with what I hear so often today, ’How can they get away with that?’”

The rescuer told Jodi what so many of us have come to learn that until the laws are changed, there will always be puppy mills.

Jodi scooped up Princess and brought her home and the next day started googling puppy mills. She found the No Wisconsin Puppy Mills group and immediately got involved all in Sofie’s honor. She attended Humane Lobby day and from that point on her life changed forever simply because she adopted a puppy mill survivor and knew things had to be better for all the other dogs still stuck in breeding cages. 

Sofie at rescue

Like most mill dogs, Sofie was afraid of normal life. Since she had never drank out of a regular dog bowl, only from a water bottle, drinking was scary for her. Jodi found that putting something like a silver spoon in the bowl helped bridge the gap for Sofie.

Sofie found solace under the pillows on the futon. Eventually, they adopted another Beagle named Summer from Midwest Beagle Rescue, who was not a mill dog and she helped teach Sofie all the things a normal dog should know and enjoy.

Sofie’s struggles gave Jodi strength she never had before. Because of everything Sofie went through, she gave Jodi purpose.

She has taught Jodi forgiveness, love and trust. She literally has changed Jodi’s and the life of countless others. Jodi believes that it is through Sofie she was driven to help other dogs.

Jodi explained that, if Sofie could teach humans one thing, she would want humans to look into the eyes of dogs, cats, all other animals and see themselves. “Don’t think of them as objects or a novelty. See them as another living, feeling, Being.”

It never ceases to amaze me what these broken souls can teach us. Sofie was no exception. Jodi believes that Sofie taught her to follow her passion. Sofie led Jodi to joining an animal advocacy group and she got to be a part of the group that helped pass legislation with a bill called Act 90 which led to increased regulation and inspection of breeders beyond USDA guidelines in Wisconsin in 2009. It also eliminated dog auctions in the state of Wisconsin and initiated the egulation of shelters and rescues.

Because of Sofie, Jodi found herself in the Governor’s office witnessing the signing of the bill which will forever be etched in Jodi’s memory.

As she said, “I never knew what my passion was until I met her — that little Beagle. I mean, I always loved dogs. I had dog wallpaper on my 5th grade bedroom wall, but to fight for animals and advocate and rescue them all because I met that one little beagle scared lifeless in the grass…. I’ve done that for her and will continue to until I am no longer able.”

Sofie on a boat

After being rescued, Sofie went on to live a full life until the age of 18. She traveled to the Grand Canyon and everyone who met her, heard her story and was a better person because of her. Everyone she came in contact with quickly learned about puppy mills and left hearing the slogan, “Adopt don’t shop.”

Sofie grew up with Jodi’s grand babies — always being sweet and kind to them. She also went on to accept so many countless rescued mill dogs in their home and helped them on their journeys into normal life.

Jodi summed up Sofie by saying, “She’s an angel without wings and I believe she is still helping me as I continue to take retired breeding dogs out of the mill and place them with rescues. Because of Sofie, I am still meeting new people and groups like Bailing Out Benji dedicated to ending puppy mills and I am so very thankful to her for all of that.”

“Tails and Truths” is Bailing Out Benji’s new blog authored by Becky Monroe with the intention to cover the latest puppy mill news and puppy mill survivor stories. 

If you are interested in having your mill survivor featured, you can email Becky at bmonroe@bailingoutbenji.com 

Sign up below to receive an email whenever a new blog is posted. 
 

 

Follow Bailing Out Benji on social media! 

 

Make a donation below to help our nonprofit continue our important work fighting puppy mills. 

What I have learned along the way

“Tails and Truths” is Bailing Out Benji’s new blog authored by Becky Monroe with the intention to cover the latest puppy mill news and puppy mill survivor stories. 

If you are interested in having your mill survivor featured or want to communicate with Becky directly, you can email her at bmonroe@bailingoutbenji.com 

 

What I have learned along the way

 

Written by Becky Monroe

When I started down this path years ago, I was naive to so many things. I learned usually the hard way. I was thinking it might be fun to share with all of you my learnings.

1) Never (ever) ask where someone got their new dog unless you are emotionally prepared for the answer.

I always thought I could handle the truth, but I couldn’t. When you spend much of your time in tears learning the realities of pet stores and puppy mills and some random person, or worse a good friend, tells you they just bought their puppy a local pet store chain or from an on-line site with hundreds of puppies to choose from, it is next to impossible not to want to scream at them.

Sometimes not asking is a blessing. Just picture them walking out of the local shelter with their adoption papers in hand.

2) Never walk into a pet store and start asking where they get their puppies from if you are unable to maintain your composure.

Another thing I thought I could handle, but obviously could not. After I I rescued Thorp and started to work through all of his issues and realized all that he had been through as a mass breeding dog, pet stores became my real target. Knowing that there were so many Thorps suffering in cages just to produce puppies for pet stores, my passion bordered hate. I had this grand, albeit delusional, idea that I could walk into these stores and calmly have a conversation with the employees about puppy mills.

Honestly, nothing could have been further from reality. I would walk in and go look at the puppies. An employee, usually very young, would walk over and see if I wanted to hold the puppy. I would start to shake and ask where the puppy came from. They would give me the whole, “We only get our puppies from good breeders, licensed by the USDA.” I would continue to shake, picturing the hundreds of parents imprisoned in cages in sweltering heat or freezing cold, never seeing the light of day or sleeping in a fuzzy bed. Tears would start to emerge in my eyes and my voice would crack as I would attempt to tell them they are full of it. I would begin a monologue I prepared all about Thorp and how they have no idea the cruelty they are perpetuating.

Within minutes, I would be leaving the store. My body convulsing and my blood pressure through the roof. It was a total disaster. Emotionally, I just wasn’t prepared to make those confrontations.

3) Never start ranting at a flea market when you see a woman selling puppies.

Yep, I did this. I was in Florida visiting my parents when we went to a flea market. We happened upon a large vendor area with all kinds of purse puppies for sale. The Shih-Poos, Malti-Poos, Havanese, you name it. If it was small and fuzzy, it was there.

I could just tell this wasn’t a good breeder by all the random breeds available and not a single adult puppy on-site. I couldn’t believe this was allowed at the flea market.

Of course, as always, I started to tremble and my heart began pumping out of my chest. I remember confronting the woman and asking where all these puppies came from and how they were registered and where she kept them all. Immediately, she asked me to leave her booth. I asked her what she was so afraid of -why she wouldn’t just tell me more about the puppies. She just kept yelling for me to get the hell out. I made sure to tell the browsing customers that she didn’t have the best interests of the puppies at heart and that they should ask to see the parents of all these dogs.

I wasn’t at my best that day. But, I did follow through and reach out to the Lee County Animal Control Executive Director. She was very kind and said she, too, was concerned with that vendor and would look into it. Eventually, that vendor disappeared from the flea market.

4) Even your own parents can be uneducated.

 This one really got me. I don’t know if it was before or after I published my book or while I was working on it, but one day my Dad sent me an email with a picture of a yellow lab puppy and said, “Honey, look at the dog we are going to get.”

Immediately, I went into research mode asking questions. This puppy came from an on-line broker. I asked if my Dad had pictures of the parents. He proudly sent me two pics. The yellow mom was sitting in front of a Christmas tree and the black dad was sitting on a ski boat. I knew instantly these weren’t really the parents.

I had my dad give me the email of the broker he was working with. He did and that started a rather defensive conversation. In the end, my parents never got that puppy. He was totally from a puppy mill and those pics of his so-called parents were probably used a 1000 more times to sell the merchandise to some other unknowing consumer.

To this day, it shocks me that my own parents who had listened to me day after day talk about puppy mills and Thorp’s transformation and the legislation we fought for and yet, when it came down to it were willing to buy into the whole game.

You learn fast that people, even your own parents, believe what suits them. They wanted a puppy and, boom, in front of them was exactly what they desired.

I feel like sometimes people don’t want to believe what we tell them because it is sad and cruel, so they believe the scenario in front of them MUST be different. I guess that is when we start to learn that we can’t just preach the truth, we have to teach it.

 

 

5) Legislating to end puppy mills is complicated – very complicated.

This one is probably the hardest reality of all. When you think of man’s best friend and how so many people treat their dogs like family, it seems vastly irrational that in our country they are also treated so cruelly and it is legal.

After my very first auction I remember thinking that it had to be an underground operation because how could something so awful be legal? But, it was.

Of course then I assumed that legislators must not know what is going on or they would change it – immediately. Again – I was wrong. Legislators knew and while some were appalled, they weren’t all super eager to initiate bills to change things for the dogs.

When most people find out about puppy mills, they, too, assume it will be easy to re-write the laws and make things better. I mean no one really wants dogs to suffer… Well, while that statement might be true, there is so much more to consider. There were a few things that caught me by surprise and also help to explain why change is complicated and slow.

Beyond the normal opponents like pet store chains, is the American Kennel Club. They are supposed to be the “Dog’s Champion,” but they certainly don’t have the dog’s best interests at heart. They fight every single bill introduced to end puppy mills. See, they make a lot of money registering puppies and they simply do not care the conditions those dogs are born in.

Then there are the dog “owners groups.” These groups tend to fight puppy mill legislation because they fervently believe no one should tell them how to “own” a dog.

One of the largest lobbying groups fighting against us is what we call “Big Ag.” They represent the farming community. Those that raise pigs, cows, chickens, etc… I had no idea the stake they seem to have in the treatment of dogs. Their thinking is that if laws are enacted to better the care and environment of mass bred dogs, things will have to be improved for all breeding animals such as the pigs, cows and chickens.

These groups spend millions of dollars fighting our bills. The breeding of domestic animals like dogs and cats suffers simply because they don’t want to ever improve the way they raise agricultural animals.

This is one of the complexities of writing legislation to end puppy mills.

I was shocked to learn all of this as I dove into this world I knew nothing about.

For the last decade or more – we have tried to go about bettering mass breeding facilities only to fight against these groups backed by so much money. We would make improvements here and there, but we could not make the change that was needed.

Today, we are taking a much different, much more effective path. We are getting legislation passed that stops the problem at the source: the pet store. Armed with years of data, we are showing how sick the puppies are that are sold in the stores. We are showing the unfair business practices of the stores and how they are taking advantage of consumers.

Yes, of course, we still face hurdles and much of the same groups oppose our bills, but five states have already passed legislation that prohibits pet stores from selling mass bred puppies and this number will continue to grow.

6. Never doubt the impact your voice can have – even if you talk quietly.

I am not one for public speaking. Even in regular conversation, I have a voice that is hard to hear. But, I haven’t let that keep me from telling everyone what I know about puppy mills. At first it seemed moot, but I have so many people tell me how grateful they are for what I share. Little things here and there about all my mill survivors, legislation across the country, the truth about certain groups that act like they have the dogs’ best interests at heart, but definitely do not.

Once in awhile I get an email or Facebook message from a complete stranger who thanks me for sharing what I know.

And what is even better is when you share these truths with friends or strangers and they go on to tell others. The message spreads and it is definitely having an impact across the states.

At times it is difficult to swallow the actions of others, but if you can try and believe that many people do not know what we know and are just doing what they think is okay. I remember jotting down a quote from Oprah that she learned from Maya Angelou. Something to the effect of, “When you know better, you do better.”

When we educate others in a way that they can hear, we teach them to do better not just in the way they go about adopting a new dog, but in a way that they share their new knowledge with others and slowly we change the world for breeding dogs forever.

And I guess that is the most important thing I have learned on this journey. Screaming, attacking, even preaching are not the most effective ways to create change or to better anything for the dogs. We have to take all that passion and channel it using our talent in a way that allows us and everyone to feel comfortable, so the actual message gets across.

The dogs are counting on us to be their voice.

Sign up below to receive an email whenever a new blog is posted. 

 

Follow Bailing Out Benji on social media! 

Make a donation below to help our nonprofit continue our important work fighting puppy mills.