Children’s Books

Sometimes it takes just one wonderful book to turn a child into an avid reader. So here are a few books that I recommend to turn your child (or class) into avid readers AND animal lovers.

“There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all.”

— Jacqueline Kennedy

 A Home for Dakota by Jan Zita Grover. (Appropriate for ages 5 and up)

This book is about Dog No. 241 who lives in a crate in a cold barn that is stacked full of hundreds of caged dogs in a “large-scale breeding facility”, better know as “puppy mill”. 241 has never known human companionship, exercise, or decent veterinary care. Finally, rescuers arrive and take her (and the other dogs) away from this terrible home and to their new lives. Even though she is terrified, 241 finds herself in a  foster home, being bathed and groomed and loved (for the first time ever) by Emma, her new foster mom. At first, she is too frightened to respond, but eventually 241 (renamed Dakota) learns to trust Emma and begins to love her new foster home.

Dakota’s world is shaken again, when she meets Sweetie, a young girl who has a terrible past (just like Dakota).  Sweetie’s family come to look at Dakota to see if she fits in with their family. Sweetie doesn’t want hairless Dakota, but changes her mind and offers her a home. This story has amazing messages for a child and is able to explain these hard topics in terms everyone can understand. You can find the book at Barnes & Noble, the link is :

Buddy Unchained by Daisy Bix (appropriate for ages 4 and up)

A  mixed-breed dog is telling  his life story. Buddy’s former owner did not feed him enough, provide clean water, and frequently left him chained outside. But things changed for the better when the animal was rescued and taken to a shelter, where he was subsequently adopted by a caring family. Attractive, realistic paintings invite readers to look into Buddy’s eyes and experience his emotions, both of neglect and of contentment in his new home.

Saving Audie by William Munoz (Appropriate for ages 6 and up)

When Michael Vick’s dog fighting ring was discovered, more than forty dogs were rescued. But their struggle was far from over. Most animal advocates believed the former fighting dogs were too damaged to save, but Audie and his kennel mates would prove them wrong when public outcry and the publicity surrounding Michael Vick’s punishment won them a chance at a happy life.

Let’s Get a Pup, Said Kate! by Bob Graham (appropriate for ages 3 and up)

After Kate’s kitty dies, her family decides they need a new pet, so they head to the animal shelter! There are of dogs of all shapes and sizes at the animal shelter, but Kate knows that she wants Dave the moment she sees him. He’s small and cute and a perfect fit for the end of Kate’s bed. But then they see Rosy, who is old and gray and broad as a table. This story is about the families struggle to only take home one dog that is in need of a home. This story will be loved by animal lovers of all ages!

How I Became a Real Dog by Frances Smith (appropriate for ages 5 and up)

This is a heart-wrenching, yet heart-warming story based on how Phoebe survived several years in a puppy-mill. She was then rescued and transitioned into the home of a very loving family (with Frances), therefore learning how to become a “real dog”.  This is the true story about how Pheobe’s owner Frances shows her the fun side of life. Such an amazing book!


Wish Come True Cat by Ragnhild Scammel (appropriate for ages 4 and up)

This is the heart warming story about a girl who wishes for a kitten.   Instead of a kitten, she gets a big surprise! A big, scruffy stray cat waits for her outside of her bedroom window! Thinking it is a mistake, she tells the tom cat to go away.  Day after day, Mr. Kitty comes back to her window, trying to gain her love and affection. This is an amazing story for any child, as it teaches them that you don’t need a young kitten to be happy.

Shelter Dogs: Amazing Stories of Adopted Strays by Peg Kehret (reading level 3.3)

A collection of true stories about the amazing lives of eight shelter dogs. Many of these dogs were unwanted because of their size, behavior, or medical condition. All of the dogs found owners who loved and cared for them and ultimately helped change their lives in tremendous ways. The dogs have changed the owners’ lives, too.

Kittens in the Kitchen by Ben M. Baglio (reading level 3.5)

Not everyone cares for animals as much as Mandy does. When a stray cat gives birth in Mr. Williams’s kitchen, he is absolutely furious. Can Mandy and her friend James find homes for four newborn kittens in just one week?

Spaniel Surprise by Ben M. Baglio (reading level 3.8)

Mandy and her best friend, James, know how much Ben Hardwick needs a dog. Ben watches “Give A Dog a Home” every week, and he’s desperate to adopt one of the dogs that needs a home. The trouble is, Ben’s mom is very choosy about getting the right pet. Will Mandy be able to find the Hardwicks the perfect puppy?

A Dog Like Jack by Dyanne Disalvo- Ryan (reading level 3.3)

When Mike’s family adopts Jack from the animal shelter, he becomes a member of the family. After many years of going to the park and trick-or-treating, Jack becomes old, and the family must learn to deal with his death.

Harry the Homeless Puppy by Holly Webb (reading equivalent of 4.3)

Grace can’t have a puppy of her own, but she loves walking the dogs at the local animal shelter; her favorite is Harry, a lively Jack Russell puppy. Harry loves going for walks with Grace, and soon the two are best friends.

But then Harry is rehomed and Grace is heartbroken. Grace knows she should be pleased that Harry has a home of his own, but she misses him terribly…and poor Harry doesn’t understand at all — where has his beloved Grace gone?



The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein (Children’s version) Recommended for ages 8 and up! 


Enzo, the lovable mutt who tells this story, knows he is different from other dogs. While most dogs love to chase cars, Enzo longs to race them. He learns all about racing and the world around him by watching TV and by listening to the words of his best friend and owner, Denny, an up-and-coming race car driver, and his daughter, Zoë, his beloved companion. Enzo finds that life is just like being on the racetrack—it isn’t simply about going fast. By applying the rules of racing to his world, Enzo takes on his family’s challenges and emerges a hero. In the end, Enzo holds in his heart the dream that Denny will go on to be a racing champion with Zoë by his side.



This is one quote that I firmly believe,  “Teaching a child not to step on a caterpillar is as valuable to the child, as it is to the caterpillar”. Educating our youth about animal welfare issues is one of the greatest gifts we can give them! These stories will not only teach them, but they will stick with them forever!

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Juveniles Torturing Pets

How it Should be

Teaching a child not to step on a caterpillar is as valuable to the child as it is to the caterpillar”.

The meaning behind this quote goes deeper than many realize. It is so important in today’s society to teach our children WHILE THEY ARE YOUNG not to abuse animals. This seems like such a silly concept, but it is the truth.  There is a proven link between children and young adults that abuse and torture animals and adults that are abusive (or kill). I am not saying that in every case the child will turn into Michael Myers, but corrections to need to be made. I decided to write this blog a month or so ago, when I saw my neighbor kid throwing rocks at my dog when he was chained in my backyard for literally five minutes! . When we confronted the kid, he just ran away… WHERE WERE HIS PARENTS? My poor dog was just looking at him with a sad look on his face like, “why are you hurting me?” It is terrible…

I am going to talk about a few animal abuse cases from juveniles, and I am very sorry if it offends anyone. Through all of my research, I haven’t been able to find a database that focuses on children and teenagers abusing animals. These stories are hard to read, but they need to be told. By educating everyone that reads this, my hope is that one day parents will be responsible enough to stop these crimes before that happen. You do not have to read any further, if you don’t want to. As I have said, I do not mean to “scare” anyone into helping. I just think that these stories need to be out in the open so everyone can see what is really going on.

*Feel free to comment on this a let me know of any other cases, I will gladly add them to this post! Thank you*

October 2007- Three teens were taken into custody because they tortured a dog relentlessly by throwing him repeatedly from a two story window, breaking both of its legs. As if that wasn’t enough, the 12 year old, 13 year old and 15 year old hung him by his neck and struck him over and over with sticks. When he STILL wasn’t dead, they decided to cut off his head. Now this wasn’t some stray dog, this was Tobey a small dog owned by their 16 year old neighbor. The teens kidnapped him from the yard and made him suffer that awful, awful fate.

November 2007- Two teenagers were charged in the deaths of over 30 fish after they dumped liquid and powder dishwashing detergent into the neighbors Koi pond.

December 2007- Two teenagers admitted to putting their neighbor’s cat into the microwave after breaking in and stealing the cat from its own home. THEY ONLY RECEIVED 100 hours of community service :/

October 2008- A 13 year old child was taken into custody after TORTURING an 8 year old yellow lab mix. The young boy shot the dog in the leg with a sharp hunting arrow, shot him in the face with buckshot, and then dragged him around. ”Yellow” lived thanks to rescue groups and donations made to his cause.  He is a happy therapy dog now.

June 2009- An 18 year old was charged with 19 counts of animal cruelty after authorities found dozens of deceased cats that were beaten, skinned, and sliced open.

May 2010- Two teenagers broke into their neighbor’s house and broke their dachshunds neck. They were apparently robbing the place, and they dog wouldn’t stop barking.

January 2011- Two teens were arrested after videos on their phones surfaced of the teenagers savagely beating four kittens to death.

June 2011- In the span of TWO DAYS five terrible acts of cruelty occurred in the same town.  Firstly, a six year old boy decided to glue a kittens mouth shut and then drown him.  Next, a group of kids between 8 and 11 beat a dog to death and then buried him in the backyard. And lastly, a 16 year old boy set a dachshund on fire for the fun of it. The dog lived, but had severe burns and will never be the same. Someone from the city shelter went on record saying “Part of me wants to believe that this is just kids not understanding the consequences of what they’re doing, but I do think it’s a failure on the part of the parents…” (the other two cases were from adults)

June 2011- An 18 year old decided to slit his grandparent’s Chihuahua’s throat. He is currently out on bail.

June 2011- Two teens were charged with tying dogs up and burying them alive.

June 2011- Three teens are charged with shooting OVER 100 CATS! They drove around in a truck with a shotgun and killed any animal they saw walking around. That includes 100 cats, a few dogs and some deer. Each teen (16, 16, and 17 yrs old) are being held on $25,000 bail.

June 2011- A pregnant mother allowed her two sons (8 years old and 5) to torture two baby kittens. A witness stepped in and saved one of them after noticing the children throw the kitten and beat him with a metal baseball bat. Upon surveying the area, the witness noticed the second kitten tossed into a trash can, its head soaked from being drowned and its throat was slit open. She was taken into custody.

July 2011- A man jumped into a canal to save a 3 year old Shih Tzu from drowning. Three teens had tied her back legs to bricks and shoved her into a plastic sack. The dog ended up living, but is currently on pain medication, while awaiting her surgery.

Sept/Oct 2011- Warren County, Iowa…  Three teens admitted to taking out their rifle and shooting what they “thought” was a feral cat. This cat turned out to belong to the family that lived next door and these boys had been in the house over 100 times. Upon realizing it was the neighbors cat, they freaked and dumped it on a dirt road (while it was still alive and fightingfor its life). How did they get caught? They were bragging the next day at school and the cat belonged to a classmate. Needless to say charges were filed. If there can be any happy ending to this, I would say it is that the cat, Chester, found his way home a week later. Meowing at the back door and still suffering from the 3 gunshot wounds , the family rushed the cat to the vet and he should make it! The charges are still pending, but that poor kitty will never be the same

This isn’t the best written blog that I have done, and I apologize. I am usually very passionate about what I am writing. But this one is different… It hits way too close to home. Please, Parents, educate your children. Don’t let them harm defenseless animals.

Puppy Mills in Winnebago County, Iowa

I have noticed that over the last week, someone (or a few someones) keeps using that search phrase and keeps coming across this blog. Whether you are a friend or foe, I feel as though I must bring some attention to this!

In Winnebago County, IA, there are technically ten breeders that could most definitely fall into the puppy mill category. Not having gone to visit any of these myself, I can only speculate… I shall do so  now.

It is my opinion that, since there are only seven actual towns in Winnebago County, that it is the perfect place to have an operation like a puppy mill. It is pretty secluded and right along the Minnesota border! According to various sources, of the seven actual towns in the county (Buffalo Center, Forest City, Lake Mills, Leland, Rake, Scarville, and Thompson) , Leland and Rake are the only two without citizens that could even be considered puppy mill owners. Those aren’t very good odds.

Now that being said, I want to explain to you where my “sources” get their information. Most people who are licensed with the USDA to breed dogs, tend to have conditions that the regular Joe off of the street would find terrible. This is because they have been given permission to breed dogs and then sell them to pet stores. Now, breeders who sell puppies to pet stores must hold a USDA dealer license, and many states also require breeders to obtain a license to have a dog breeding kennel. However, the standards they must follow are little more than simply requiring food, water and shelter for the dogs. It is perfectly legal for a licensed breeder to:

  • Own hundreds, or even thousands of dogs
  • Keep all dogs in cages for years at a time
  • Breed dogs as often as possible, and to churn out as many puppies as possible

These standards set forth by the US government are not meant to make sure that any of these dogs lead a long, happy life; they are meant to impose the only bare minimum of care requirements. That being said, there are only a few inspectors in each state for the hundreds—sometimes thousands- licensed kennels. So you can find names and information about potential mill owners on the USDA website.

Now, because I have been accused of spreading propaganda, I would like to list off a list of things that send up RED FLAGS. Meaning, when you encounter these things, the breeder might more than likely be a puppy mill.

How can you tell the difference between a puppy mill and a “good breeder”?
In order to make money, a puppy mill operates differently than a responsible, humane breeder.

  •         The Mill Owner has several breeds of dogs for sale at the same time.
  •         The Mill Owner offers to ship dogs to new owners, without meeting you first.
  •         The Mill Owner will not allow customers to view their property or kennel. (OR they will, but you can’t see the living quarters of the adults, you are only allowed into the showroom to see the puppies)
  •         The Mill Owner does not require an application or references from people buying a puppy.
  •         The Mill Owner does not ask buyers to return the dog or contact them if at any point in the dog’s life if the owners cannot keep the dog.
  •         The Mill Owner has a very large kennel. Owning fifty to several hundred dogs is typical.
  •         The Mill Owner breeds females every time they come into heat.
  •         The Mill Owner is USDA-licensed so they can sell puppies to pet stores. A USDA license is a red flag that a breeder is in the business to make money.
  •         The Mill Owner does not screen his or her dogs for genetic defects

These are the facts. I am not trying to accuse every breeder of neglecting their dogs, and I am certainly not condemning every breeder in Winnebago to the puppy mill category. If you can honestly, 1000% say that you give each of your dogs the care and love that it needs, then awesome. But if you can’t, then maybe you need to reevaluate your situation. I firmly believe that there are good breeders out there. Breeders that care about each dog and puppy that puts its paws on their property… It is the other breeders that I worry about. Then ones that never let the paws touch the ground.

Again, i welcome any comments on this. Criticism or praise.


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Perfect Example!

This blog is, obviously, just my opinion… But I am going to add a link to what I FIRMLY believe is a dog breeder that falls under the puppy mill category. If I receive flack for pointing fingers, then so be it.  But again, you are reading my blog….

Here is the link

Yep… As you can see, you can buy a puppy like you would buy a pair of jeans… or a book. .. or a freaking lamp from IKEA… This is horrendous! This “Breeder” is from Altoona, Iowa… (I am trying SO VERY hard not to write his name down and just bash him…) But I do feel the need to educate as many people as I can.

I hope that you can all see why this is wrong. This “family man” doesn’t even care who his puppies go to. He accepts VISA or a Walmart Money-gram. He will ship these puppies anywhere, for the right price. I called the number, acting as though I were interested in buying a puppy. I wanted to travel the short 40 minutes to see a few, but he wouldn’t let me. He insisted that we meet somewhere halfway, because he didn’t want me to make the whole trip… RED FLAG ANYONE?! I can’t say it enough… These people are just terrible… I knew that people were money hungry, but spitting out puppies like a chicken spits out eggs? Really…. And that is how these dogs are treated… Kept in thin wire cages like a couple of hens…. Bred and then put back until they give birth…. Rinse… and Repeat…

I cannot stress this enough… ADOPT… ADOPT… ADOPT… Don’t give these breeders another way to make money. I know that the puppies in the window are so cute, trust me… But their parents are suffering so these people can make a quick buck. In what world is a tiny dog worth $600? Don’t get me wrong, I would pay as many vet bills as necessary to keep my babies alive and healthy! But why put a price like that on a dog just to simply own them? Because they are “purebred”? That makes no sense… I know many respectable breeders who truly love their dogs, and care about where their pups go. Their prices are low and they check on them from time to time… But shipping them because someone wanted to fork over money via mastercard? This man is seriously demented… And seeing how he treated me on the phone, he knows that what he is doing is wrong.

This is Minnie… She is listed on his site… Are those the eyes of a happy puppy? Or simply a puppy wondering why the human actually picked her up? You can always tell that the puppy isn’t in a healthy home when the pictures of said puppy have a weird blanket-type background… And you never see pictures of the litter together… Just one by one…

I had a man email me to tell me that I was spreading propaganda and that I was uneducated. I couldn’t help but laugh… I may not be the most knowledgable person on this topic, but I am no idiot… And this breeder is a puppy mill… through and through… Please help  me stop this! Email me… Comment on this… Share the link on facebook… DO  something…

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Bailing out Benji <3

Just a Dog


From time to time, people tell me, “lighten up, it’s just a dog,”
or “that’s a lot of money for just a dog.”

They don’t understand the distance travelled, the time spent,
or the costs involved forjust a dog.”

Some of my proudest moments have come about with just a dog.”

Many hours have passed and my only company was just a dog,”
but I did not once feel slighted.

Some of my saddest moments have been brought about by
just a dog,” and in those days of darkness, the gentle touch
ofjust a dog gave me comfort and reason to overcome the day.

If you, too, think it’s just a dog,” then you probably understand
phrases like “just a friend,” “just a sunrise,” or “just a promise.”

Just a dogbrings into my life the very essence of friendship,
trust, and pure unbridled joy.
Just a dog brings out the compassion and patience
that make me a better person.
Because of “just a dog I will rise early, take long walks and look
longingly to the future.

So for me and folks like me, it’s not just a dog
but an embodiment of all the hopes and dreams of the future,
the fond memories of the past, and the pure joy of the moment.

Just a dogbrings out what’s good in me and diverts my thoughts
away from myself and the worries of the day.

I hope that someday they can understand that its’ not just a dog
but the thing that gives me humanity and keeps me from being
“just a man” or “just a woman.”

So the next time you hear the phrasejust a dog,”
just smile,
because they “just don’t understand.”

~Unknown Author~

My babies… Ellie on the left… Zeppelin on the right…

When I read this poem, I couldn’t help but think about all of our work trying to help the pets of Iowa… I know that I, for one,  have heard so many insults through this… I have been referred to as a “crazy PETA lady”  and have been told that I am not educated enough to know what I am trying to change… I have even been told that I am trying to push an agenda that I know nothing about… To me, none of this rings true. I am simply a pet owner, and an animal lover… I just want everyone to see that our pets aren’t “just animals”. They deserve to be protected like everyone else.

With “Bailing out Benji”, we are just trying to educate as many people as possible… So if you are one of those people that don’t see your pet as “just an animal”, then you should definitely be a supporter of our cause… Because we need to have more people like you on our side!

Mindi <3

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