September is Puppy Mill Awareness month. In some ways, I have completely overlooked this fact. The truth is, to me, every day is about puppy mill awareness.
If you haven’t read my book, Bark Until Heard, you don’t truly know how much puppy mills mean to me. See, my entire life changed the day I walked into the Amish auction barn and saw hundreds of dogs bought and sold like commodities. Commodities no one gave a shit about.
Mere mention of that day and my entire soul is catapulted into a different time. I can feel my heart stop and feel the tears well up in my eyes. When you love dogs like I do and you see them so spiritually broken, there are no perfect words to describe what is the most heinous experience you will ever have.
That day was 7 years ago, but I remember it like it was yesterday. I rescued a dog I now call Thorp. He was unlike any dog I had ever seen – even after years of working in a county shelter. He was an empty shell. He looked at me with such sadness. He didn’t know grass or stairs or toys or a warm bed. He certainly didn’t know the love of a human being.
He changed me in ways I never saw coming. He taught me patience and the ideals of unconditional love. He helped me find my courage to fight against the mills and to fight for dogs everywhere – locked in metal cages, forced to breed, unable to ever see the light of day.
Today, Thorp is a certified therapy dog. He works with kids who are emotionally and behaviorally challenged, something Thorp understands. For 5 years, Thorp has been a hero at Clay Academy. We just returned last Wednesday to start the school year. Within minutes of our arrival, Thorp was surrounded by kids who love him. They brushed him and talked to him. Many of them have grown with him and are now teaching the younger students about Thorp and his past.
Our journey is definitely one I will continue to share. It is so full of pivotal moments and beautiful accomplishments. However, the number one thing I want people to take away is that our journey is real. Thorp lived a life of hell in a crappy cage for over 4 years. I saw him and hundreds of other dogs bought and sold like used cars.
There are THOUSANDS of dogs just like Thorp waiting for someone to free them, so they can change the lives of others.
Puppy Mill Awareness month is great, but the message needs to be heard every single day until mills are a thing of our past. Please, NEVER buy a dog or cat. ADOPT. And, take a few minutes to contact your legislators and demand justice. I no longer find hope in “making mills better” instead, we need to stop the selling of cats and dogs in pet stores and replace them with rescued animals. Once we stop the demand, the mills will close. They were never about the love of the dog, only the greed and profit.
I will be at the March this Sunday, September 27, in Chicago on Michigan Ave. Join me and help make a difference. You can register and find more information at The Puppy Mill Project.