Meet the Survivors: Thorp

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Written by Becky Monroe

Taking Thorp home the day of the puppy mill auction

Thorp was 4 1/2 when I rescued him from a puppy mill auction. He had spent nearly his whole life in a puppy mill. He was actually born into a good breeder’s home, but somehow found his way to the mill as a mass breeding dog.

In 2008, I was at an auction doing a story on the protest. The protestors told me to go in the barn and see why they were protesting. I did and 3 plus hours later, came out with the oldest dog there. We changed each other’s lives forever.

Thorp was a Chinese Crested Powder Puff. A breed of dog I knew very little about. They are usually the naked dogs, but the Powder Puffs, born in the same litter, have hair.

Thorp was a very fearful mill dog. He knew nothing a normal dog would know. Stairs, toys, grass, people, all scared him. As he began learning the world outside of a cage, I began learning about the world of puppy mills. Together we faced a lot of our darkest fears. 

Thorp sitting on his reading blanket at Clay Academy waiting for the students

Maybe the biggest surprise was that eventually Thorp passed the test to be a certified Therapy Dog and the Canine Good Citizen test. He went on to be a volunteer at Clay Academy where he worked with kids from Kindergarten to Seniors in high school who had emotional and behavioral challenges — just like Thorp. The kids and staff just loved having Thorp around. He brought a special kind of calm to the students who suffered from so many things. He was someone who never judged them and was always there for them to snuggle or read to.

Thorp taught me so much about the issue of puppy mills. He made me stronger by igniting my passion to end the cruelty and to go outside my comfort zone to speak in front of others and make sure our voices were heard on behalf of the all the dogs trapped in cages and used only for profits.

Thorp also taught me the amazing reward of earning a dog’s trust and love. We shared a bond I had never had with any other dog. I was Thorp’s only person and he would follow me to the ends of the Earth. I never had any animal need me in the way Thorp did. He trusted me in a very human way. In reality, I was likely the first person to ever actually care about him and love him. His devotion will forever be with me. The journey I shared with him was transforming for both of us. I rescued him and he rescued me.

Sadly, Thorp passed away in 2020, but if he could still tell others what he thinks is the most important: he would tell them never to buy a puppy in a pet store or on-line. He would want them to understand the direct connection between pet stores and puppy mills. He would beg everyone to believe our truth and to stop buying the pet store lies. 

“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 

On our podcast “Truth, Lies and Puppy Mills” we interviewed Becky and talked about dog auctions and how Thorp’s story helped pass stronger laws in the state of Wisconsin. Tune in on your preferred podcast app or watch below: 

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