Who is Benji ?

A few years ago, I walked into a pet store to look at the cute puppies. I was 19, in college, working, and just needed to decompress by snuggling all of the babies. I wasn’t looking for a dog by any means (who knows what my kitties would think!) but it just all happened so quickly. The employee handed me a puppy to snuggle and escorted me to a quieter area to play. Usually this is where I would leave, but after a few minutes, they brought the paperwork into our cubicle and the sales tactics began.
“You are his mommy!”
“He LOVES you so much already.”
“He will be SO sad when we have to put him away.”
No matter how much polite protesting I put up, the sales pitch continued. They seemed to have answers for all of my concerns! When I finally confessed that I had no money because I was putting myself through college, they came up with the next and final suggestion. “Don’t worry, we will give you our store credit card!”
Just sign here, flip the page, snuggle the puppy, initial here, flip two more pages, stop the puppy from biting your hands, initial here, flip another page, add my final signature then date- and guess what? There is no money down! Go ahead and get the kennel, the toys, the treats… everything! On top of that $1500 Siberian husky puppy. But don’t worry- everything today is free!
No one mentioned the 30% interest rate. I learned that when my first bill came.
No one told me that my puppy was born in a huge puppy mill in Iowa. I learned that after that store made the news a few weeks later. Honestly, before that story I had never even heard the term “puppy mill”.
That is the origin story for Bailing Out Benji and why we fight so hard for the animals and the people who are affected by this industry. We know that customers fund the puppy mill industry through their purchases, but if we can keep educating them with kindness, compassion and facts then we can put an end to this predatory industry once and for all.
Have you stopped to think about that wonderful, happy moment when someone is given a puppy from their loved one or their new puppy arrives after so much anticipation? The puppy breath, the cute sounds and endless energy- it is intoxicating. You would fall in love too.
How long until they learn the lesson I did? What will they see on social media or in the news to educate them about this cruel industry? Will the puppy remain healthy? How much will those vet bills cost that family? Did they sign up for an even higher interest rate than I did?
We will be here for them when they are ready to find answers or if they need help filing complaints. We are here to provide judgement-free assistance in hopes of educating even more people about this industry so they can educate others. We aren’t born with this knowledge but we have plenty of time to learn lessons, evolve and do better.
It will absolutely take all of us to create change, and the voices of former puppy-customers can often be the most effective.
Just look at what Bailing Out Benji has grown into. Just because one kid bought a puppy.

Mindi Callison

Founder, Executive Director

To learn more about Mindi and her journey with Bailing Out Benji, click here

Alexis Bell is the Research Analyst for Bailing Out Benji. Alexis is an Iowa State University graduate who majored in Animal Science and minored in Philosophy and Political Science. She was first introduced to Bailing Out Benji through the ISU club “Students Helping Rescue Animals” after Mindi presented at one of their meetings. After hearing about the work BOB does, Alexis reached out to intern with BOB the summer before her senior year and then ended up joining the team full time after she graduated.

For questions about our research, you can contact Alexis at: abell@bailingoutbenji.com

Jalaine Crees is the Volunteer Outreach and Engagement Coordinator for Bailing Out Benji. Prior to joining the Bailing Out Benji team, Jalaine worked in childcare for ten years and has a degree in Early Childhood Education. She was first introduced to Bailing Out Benji after meeting Mindi at work! The two shared a deep passion for education and for animals and that continues to grow now that Jalaine has joined the Bailing Out Benji team!

For questions about volunteering with Bailing Out Benji or ways to support our nonprofit, you can contact Jalaine at: jcrees@bailingoutbenji.com

The most common question we are asked is “Who is Benji?” 

Benji is your dog, Benji is my dog, but more importantly Benji is all of the dogs who will leave this earth without ever knowing the kindness, dignity or love that all animals deserve. Chained dogs, dogs trapped in puppy mills, dogs trapped in testing facilities, stray dogs, lost dogs…. We are their voice in this world and we will stand as constant reminders to those who insist on hurting these innocent creatures that the world is watching.