Tag Archives: puppy-mills

Tails: The Best Gotcha Day Ever…

Today marks Alice’s one year anniversary of her “Gotcha Day” with us.  We have 4 dogs at the moment and while each one of them holds a dear place in my heart, there is just something about Alice.

She could not have been dropped into our laps at a worse time.  I remember getting the message from Jessica, “Is there anyway you could foster this Shih Tzu we are bringing up from auction?”  I knew my husband would freak out.  We were leaving in a few weeks for a trip to Florida, but when Jess sent me her photo: this horrible, sad Tzu with her tongue hanging out and looking just like our Penelope – I couldn’t possibly say no.

The picture Jess sent me from the auction.

So, I said what so many of us say, “Yes, but only for a few weeks.”

I promised Bill that the dog would be gone by the time we left for our trip.

I remember picking her up at Jennifer’s house.  She had just come from her spay surgery.  She was sitting in a laundry basket half awake.  All I saw was her tongue.  I had never experienced a “tongue dog” before.  It really takes some getting used to.

My daughter, Abby, was with me on the pick-up and she was taken back by the dog and the tongue and her pathetic little state of being.  My heart was smiling because I was doing what I love most in the world – taking in a helpless dog who just needed love and a second chance.

Alice’s ride to our house.

Alice came from a puppy mill.  She spent 5 horrifying years there and everything about her showed the scars of the horror.

Alice at the rescue vet. #89 was her puppy mill auction number.

We took her home and found her a safe place in the family room.  Crated her for the night and never heard a peep.

However, the next day proved more challenging.  Alice was afraid of absolutely everything.  I had experienced this before with Thorp, but Alice was even more untrusting.  She would hide behind the wash machine for hours on end.  She would disappear on the lower bookshelves.  She trembled constantly.  But, of course, each of these moments only melted by heart more.

Alice hiding in the bookshelves

The days with Alice were hard and sad.  She was such a blatant reminder of how much I hate puppy mills.  Not to mention, I was constantly trying to wet her little tongue because it looked so dry.

Time went fast and before I knew it, we had to leave for Florida.  There was no way I could part with Alice and make her go to a new home just as we she was starting to get a little settled in ours.  So, I asked my pet sitter if she could handle one more – of course, she could.

We went to Florida and while we were there I had a terrible freak accident on the beach!  I stepped on very large, very sharp shell and needed emergency surgery.  Our trip was extended an entire week.  Alice would have to wait longer for me to get back.

When I did get back, I wasn’t able to put any weight on my foot and could only walk a little with the help of crutches.  Poor Alice was terrified of the crutches and no one else in my family had the endless patience to deal with her.  It was messy in our house for a few weeks.  (some of you can imagine…) But, because of the tension of the situation, I think I healed quicker.  I tried harder to get around because I knew Alice needed me.

A few weeks later, I was off crutches and we were headed back down to Florida for a long Thanksgiving holiday.  See we already had bought a home there and it was our plan all along to move down the fall of 2017.    We had been cleaning out our IL house and “thinning our herd” not even once considering adding to it.  But, here we were towing 4 dogs to Florida.

Alice was still frightened of everything, but she traveled so well.  She absolutely loved the beach and the sunshine and slowly, our crazy life was becoming hers, too.

Alice on Sanibel beach

I remember adoption applications coming in for her.  I would read them, my heart would race, my stomach would get that pit inside and I would think of a million reasons why that person or family was not a good fit.  In truth, Alice was not nearly ready.  I am always worried about mill dogs getting loose and running away – so scared they don’t come back and so impossible to find.  Alice was definitely one of those dogs.

Christmas came and my birthday right after New Year’s and Alice was still living with us.  Neither my husband or my daughter offered to give her as a gift to me like our Jack had been and no one ever came out and said,”Adopt her,” but I did.   I sent in the adoption paperwork and fee and she was finally mine.

I don’t think any of us can imagine life without her.  We certainly had NO intention of adding to our family, but she dropped in practically unannounced and she just fit.

Family, friends, and total strangers all love Alice.  Her tongue precedes her and people are fascinated by her.  I took her on a girls trip to Florida and we had the best service in the airport.  Even the TSA went out of their way to accommodate us!!  Stores always allow her in and nearly every one of them offers her water!

Penelope and Thorp have always been my reminders of puppy mills.  They have always fueled my desire to see puppy mills go away.  Alice does that, too, but because of her tongue, she instantly initiates the conversation with strangers.  She is the poster child for all that is wrong with mass breeding.  People who never understood the horrors of puppy mills take one look at her and understand my fight.

My vet believes that Alice’s tongue is a result of blunt trauma to her skull that left her face crooked and partially paralyzed.  I hate thinking of her being treated so cruelly.  Alice also suffers from severe dry eye and because it went untreated for 5 years, her eyesight in her left eye will probably be a total loss.  She is on drops multiple times a day, but we aren’t sure they will save both eyes.

Alice is willful, playful, quirky, and so appreciative of love.  She filled a hole in my heart I didn’t know I had.

I am so grateful that she was plopped into our lives when we least expected it.  I have fostered numerous dogs and have been able to let them go, but Alice was the one who had to stay.

Christmas pic on Sanibel.

If you ever have even the smallest glimmer of wanting to foster – DO IT!  You don’t just change a dog’s life, you change your own.

Happy Gotcha Day, Alice!!  We love you more than you could ever know.

Those eyes… that tongue.

Tails: Puppy Mills Should Be Illegal Because They Force Animals to Suffer

I have been facing the harsh reality of puppy mills for nine years now.  Nine years of waking up in the middle of the night picturing thousands of dog suffering in silence and feeling helpless to make it stop.

Politicians, lobbyists, breeders, the AKC, Big Ag companies all continue to argue that there is nothing wrong with puppy mills.  They continue to fight every bill that comes along to help the dogs who have no voice.  It sickens me, it hardens me and it makes me question my faith in humanity.

The last two days I spent at my vet clinic.  Penelope, my mill rescue from 2009, is a Shih Tzu who is 12 years old now.  Since October, she has been getting re-occuring corneal ulcers.  They are extremely painful for her.  On Sunday, she looked so bad we really thought she was going to die.  Corneal ulcers are a common health issue for her breed.  We got her the medical treatment and medicine she needs, including pain meds, to help the ulcer heal again.  There is a good chance she will need surgery in the future if the ulcers keep happening.

Yesterday, I was at the clinic with Alice, my mill rescue from September.  She is also a Shih Tzu.  When she was rescued and I took her in, we really thought she was going to have to have her eyes removed.  She has terrible dry eye and since it went UNTREATED in the mill for so long, her eyes were in horrific shape.  I am happy to say that at her check-up yesterday her right eye is testing in normal range now thanks to the meds.  Her left eye shows minor improvement and we will be working on a new medical plan.  The good news is that her right eye is actually healthy and even if she has to lose her left eye at some point, she should always have vision in the right one.

Imagine if she was still in the mill?  Still suffering day in and day out?  No treatment, no medicine… She would go blind and live her life in total darkness and in constant pain.

Imagine if Penelope was still in the mill and her eyes began ulcerating like they are.  No one would take her to the vet to get her pain meds.  No one would get her the drops she needs to heal her eyes.  No one.

Ever scratch your eye or get something in it?  Ever have pink eye?  Remember that pain?  Remember how awful you felt.  What if you had to live your entire life in that kind of pain?

As I sat at the vet clinic the last few days I started to think that maybe the general public doesn’t really comprehend the medical needs going untreated in the puppy mills across the United States.  There are THOUSANDS of dogs not just living in crappy, rusty cages never to see the light of day, but THOUSANDS of dogs living in pain from health issues going completely untreated.

I looked at Penelope in the car on the way to the vet and saw her squinting and hiding her little head in her paws.  It was obvious her pain was excruciating.  There are so many Shih Tzu in mills across this country suffering just like her and NO ONE is getting them the help they need.

I thought about this all day.  And yes, I know that there are dog owners who sometimes fail to get their dogs treatment due to time or money.  They try, but for all kinds of reasons fail to get them the help they need.  Do I approve of such ownership?  No, of course not.  However, there is one drastic difference between a dog owner and puppy miller: profit.

A puppy miller is breeding mass amounts of dogs to make money!  They are making profit off the very dogs they refuse to give proper medical treatment to.  To me, this is when puppy mills not only become the definition of animal cruelty, but when they cross the line and become CRIMINAL and should be ILLEGAL.

How, as a first world country, can we allow these horrifying mass breeding operations to continue when we KNOW that thousands of dogs are SUFFERING.  SUFFERING – not just lonely or scared or unwanted, but in PAIN – horrible, CONSTANT pain.

So many of the popular breeds have medical issues that need monitoring.  As I mentioned, Shih Tzu and many of the flat face breeds have eye issues.  From dry eye to ulcers, to inward eyelids, these breeds often need medical treatment to live pain-free lives.  English Bulldogs have numerous skin issues.  If they are not kept properly cleaned in all of their skin folds, infection can become a huge issue.  King Charles Spaniels have heart issues. Huskies have autoimmune disorders  with sores and skin infections. German Shepherds are prone to hip dysplasia. Beagles often have Epilepsy. Cocker Spaniels get frequent ear infections.  Poodles are prone to glaucoma.  Chihuahuas can have collapsing trachea.  Maltese can get Shaking Syndrome.  Boston Terriers often get cherry eye.

These are just a few of the popular breeds found in puppy mills, all of which are prone to some illness or disease that is treatable with medications and/or surgery, yet NONE of these dogs will get this treatment in puppy mills. Instead, they will suffer – day in and day out.

Thousands of dogs have been rescued from mills demonstrating TIME AND TIME again that their medical conditions have gone untreated.  Some lose eyes, some lose legs, some have only weeks to live once they are pulled from the mill because their health is so compromised.

Why aren’t more puppy millers in jail?  Why isn’t this a CRIME?  What kind of society KNOWINGLY ALLOWS this type of cruel behavior to not only exist, but to THRIVE and to PROFIT?

Let me be clear… Puppy mills aren’t just cruel because thousands of dogs live in cages with no human contact.  THOUSANDS of dogs live every single day in pain – never to be treated by a veterinarian.  Never to get those eye drops, or pain meds, or anti-seizure medications.

Please BE THE VOICE for these animals who literally SUFFER in SILENCE day after day.

We MUST do better for them.

 

Tails: Before You Buy that Christmas Puppy…

Before you buy that puppy in the window at Petland or Furry Babies or whatever pet store is in your town, let me tell you about Alice.

Alice is a 5-year-old pure bred Shih Tzu.  The Rescue Warriors Corp. got her at a breeders auction at the end of September.  For 5 years Alice sat in a crappy cage churning out puppies for stores like Petland or Furry Babies or that pet store in your town.

When I got Alice she was skin and bones.  Her teeth were so rotted and infected that most of them had to be removed.  Her tongue hangs to the outside of her mouth.  My vet believes she was hit in the head with a bat or something hard and left her whole jaw off-center and her face partially paralyzed.  Her eyes were crusted with infection and she suffers chronic dry eye that was never treated until the day Rescue Warriors took her to the vet.  For the rest of her life she will get eye meds to, hopefully, prevent her from going totally blind.

The breeder who had her likely made $400-$500 off each of her puppies.  She was probably bred every heat cycle for at least 4 – 4 1/2 years.  On average let’s say she had 4 puppies in a litter – her breeder made at least $15,000-$20,000 off her babies and yet never once treated her eyes or got her medical attention for her head trauma.  He never spent money getting her teeth cleaned.  He pocketed ALL that cash and left her to rot in a rusty cage with no blankets or toys or decent food.

The pet store that sells her puppies sells them for $1000-$2000 each!  In the end, Alice’s puppies brought in over $70,000 and yet, poor Alice suffered in silence never seeing the light of day.

When you buy on-line or at a pet store that is what you are supporting: total greed, complete cruelty.

Alice’s medical needs are great, but it is her emotional well-being that is worse.  We have had Alice for about 2 1/2 months and while each day she generally makes progress, she is unlike a normal dog.  She flees each time someone coughs or sneezes or drops a pen on the floor.  For the first few weeks, she hid behind the wash machine, she pancaked between bookshelves.  She did everything she could to not exist.

Dogs raised in healthy environments do NOT react to families or homes like Alice does.  She didn’t know stairs.  She didn’t understand a leash.  She hadn’t a clue what to do with a toy.

When you buy a puppy at a pet store or on-line – you are supporting this cruelty.  You are saying it is OKAY to treat the parents of those puppies like Alice was treated.

I have spent hundreds of hours simply saying to Alice in my softest of voices, “It is okay.”  Those 3 words, again and again to re-assure her that not all humans are mean and neglectful.  Those 3 words to remind her she has a new future filled with love and compassion.

I am unsure what it takes to make people understand the connection between the pet store window and the puppy mill cage.  But let me say this with 100% certainty: there is a DIRECT connection.  You can’t wish it weren’t true or put your head in the sand and ignore it!  When you buy a puppy at pet store or on-line, YOU, let me repeat, YOU are contributing to the cruelty.  YOU are perpetuating the entire system.  YOU are saying that breeding dogs left behind are products and don’t matter.  YOU are part of the problem.

Over a million GOOD dogs will be killed this year simply because there isn’t enough shelter space for them.  Instead of contributing to the hell of puppy mills, YOU could adopt a dog from a shelter and YOU could SAVE A LIFE.

There are no excuses… there are plenty of purebreds in shelters. In fact, there are rescues for nearly every purebred breed there is.  Try looking on petfinder or adoptapet.  I guarantee you can find practically any dog you are looking for.  There are puppies in shelters and rescues, too… so again, NO EXCUSES.

And there is always the argument, and it is a good one, that mixed breeds are healthier dogs anyway.

My favorite dog to adopt is the senior dog.  They rarely need much training and want nothing more than a nice walk and comfy couch to hang out with you on.

Please do not be one of the ignorant people who thinks the only way to get a “good dog” is to buy one from the pet stores who propagate puppy mill cruelty.  I have worked in a county shelter where AWESOME dogs could be adopted for a mere $80.  Don’t fall for the crap that only dogs with baggage end up in shelters and rescues.  People give up their dogs for so many heartbreaking reasons like divorce, moving, bankruptcy, allergies, etc… Most, I repeat, MOST of the dogs in shelters are incredible dogs who could not only be great family dogs, but go on to be therapy dogs and service animals.

In my heart it is far more commendable and rewarding to be the person who saves a life than the one who buys a dog in a pet store and forces breeding dogs like Alice to live a life of neglect forever.

Please as you or a friend or colleague considers a Christmas pup this season, let Alice be your reminder to ADOPT never buy at a pet store or on-line.

If you want to learn more about puppy mills and breeders auctions, consider my book, Bark Until Heard.  It is my personal journey into the awful world of breeding, too few people know about.

Tails: Why I am Content Blaming ALL the Amish for Puppy Mills

The other night as we drove through an area of Wisconsin known for Amish communities, I posted what I thought was an innocent comment about the Amish.  I simply said that it seemed to me that whomever the God was for the Amish s/he would prefer they use electricity, buy an iPhone, and drive a car than beat a horse to death or breed dogs in filth and neglect.

While many people liked and even shared my post, there were some who felt it was wrong of me to blame all of the Amish for those behaviors.  I get it.  While I have yet to meet an Amish or Mennonite who doesn’t breed dogs, I bet there are a few out there.

This subject of Amish puppy mills is one so dear to my heart and soul that even I admit I might not be able to use rational judgement.  I wrote an entire book based on the cruelty and neglect of Amish puppy mills, so I think it is safe to say that I am in pretty deep when it comes to the subject matter.

None the less, since it was a few of my dear friends who posted the charges against me, I had no choice but to dig deeper into my own feelings to figure out why it is I am so content blaming ALL Amish for puppy mills.

One basic truth is that not all puppy mills are run by Amish.  There are hundreds across the country run by “English” (people like me).  Those mills can be just as horrendous.

So, I started REALLY thinking about this… and here is my belief.  As English people, we have no problem protesting, legislating, even criminalizing heinous, cruel behavior towards animals.  I KNOW there are millions of English people taking a stand against puppy mills (against people just like us as far as race and religion, etc…) every single day.  I see it in the pet store protests, in the political lobbying, and in social media posts.  I know that while there are people in our culture propagating puppy mills, there are also people ACTIVELY fighting it.  It is hard to accuse an entire community of being cruel, when half of the community is speaking out against the cruelty.

I have yet to see or hear of a single Amish person actively fighting against puppy mills in their communities.  I have never heard of anyone in the Amish community taking a stand for the better treatment of animals.  Yes, there might be Amish families who do treat their farm animals with compassion or have a family dog who sleeps in the house on his own bed, but until  they are willing to publicly take a stand against puppy mills or animal cruelty, they are only permitting the awful acts to continue.

I blame ALL Amish for puppy mills because no one within their community is trying to change anything.  I firmly believe that until members of their own community come out against the cruelty, they are all to blame.

Turning a blind eye to cruelty should be a crime.  The Amish people need to take responsibility for the actions of everyone in their community.  If they want to truly be the “kinder, gentler people,” they should be willing stand up and fight for the beliefs and actions that truly represent a kind community.  Keeping dogs in small wire cages, covered in feces and breeding them until they die is not what I consider a kind act.

It IS wrong to blame an entire community or race or religion based on the heinous acts of a few, however, when no one in that community appears to be against the heinous act, it isn’t a false accusation of blame, it is actually the truth.

 

 

Tails: Why I Cry Over Puppy Mills

I am rattled right now.  Somehow, I found myself on the People for PetOWNership  Facebook page.  On that page, they talk about how the protestors of pet stores are liars and lunatics. They actually say the protestors are simply overwhelmed by crazy animal rights propaganda and are acting out without knowing the facts.

What?  No, really, what?

I expressed my view 3 different times.  Explaining that pet store protestors are not acting out nor are they liars or lunatics.  The people protesting the pet stores are there to EDUCATE the unknowing public on where those puppies come from.  They are there to explain that USDA licenses don’t mean didley squat.  They are there to share their stories, often their own personal horrors dealing with pet stores and puppy mills.

Here is why I am rattled…  Lots of people fight for lots of things.  The first amendment, the second amendment, non GMO food, pro-choice, pro-life, you name it.  I fight to end the business of puppy mills.  I didn’t pick that fight because it looked interesting.  I didn’t pick that fight because I LOVE dogs.  The fight picked me.  One day, I found myself among hundreds of mill dogs and my heart broke and my soul shattered.  In front of me were dogs so neglected they didn’t even know what a human hand was.  They didn’t know grass or toys or solid ground.  They most certainly did not know love.

I never thought I would write an animal welfare book, but when you are looking into the empty eyes of a dog, whose tail isn’t wagging and whose body is so stiff and unflinching when you gently touch it – you write a book to share that experience with the hope that people will read it and learn and want to change things.

I spent years after the auctions crying  myself to sleep.  I would picture the dogs who weren’t rescued, still matted and scared.  I would picture them in another barn left alone to rot.  In the middle of the night, I would reach out for Thorp or Penelope and feel tears run down my cheeks because I recalled the thousands of dogs who go without decent food, clean water and even minimal vet care across the country, sitting in USDA licensed kennels who will never see the light of day, let alone a toy or fuzzy bed.

I am rattled tonight because I feel like I can never scream the truth loud enough.  I don’t make this shit up.  Thousands of dogs are rotting away in over 10,000 mills across our country.  Most of them ARE USDA licensed.

My skin has thickened over the last 8 years. I don’t cry as much and I try not to picture the dogs I know who are suffering right now.  The dogs who have eye infections, mammary tumors, and broken legs who will never get the treatment they need and will sit alone in some rusty cage enduring pain for the rest of their silent life.

But, when someone calls me a liar or my fellow rescuers, lunatics, I become enraged.  My heart races and my blood boils not because I “believe” these cruel things about mills to be true, but because I have SEEN these things and KNOW they are true.

One look across my room and there they are laying in front of me.  Two of the thousands of mill dogs, Thorp and Penelope.  Each dealt a horrifying hand at life.  Over 4 years in a mill.  4 years that took 8 years to erase and yet, scars for both of them remain today.

Do NOT call me a liar or a lunatic.  Walk in my shoes and see with my eyes what I have seen and then have the courage or the ignorance to tell me I am a liar.  Anyone who can live through what I witnessed and still believe that USDA licensed kennels are okay, is inhuman.  At the very least, has ZERO compassion for animals.

Do NOT ever call me a liar or a lunatic.  I have witnessed a truth so hideous that I will spend the rest of my life fighting against it.  My heart felt pain and my soul felt anger in such ways that I can never fully express, but each day I use those feelings to make a difference.  I believe, with all of my heart and soul, that I was in that barn for a reason and what I saw fuels my passion to keep going.

I cry over puppy mills because I physically walked through them.  With my very own hands, I pulled mill dogs from crappy cages and hugged them for the very first time.  I saw the fear in their eyes, the desperation in their souls.

And, I still see the ones we couldn’t save – Every. Single. Day.

To learn more about my experience and the truth about pet stores and puppy mill dogs, check out my book,  Bark Until Heard.

 

 

 

Tails: 8 Years Later…I’m glad I Got Off the Couch!

Last night I had the opportunity to speak to a classroom of vet tech students.  The topic was puppy mills.  I watched, along with the class, the infamous Oprah segment on puppy mills and euthanasia in shelters which first aired in 2008.  I remember 2008 vividly because it was the year I walked into my first puppy mill auction.  Oprah’s show aired only a month after.  Back then, I was on the couch tears streaming down my face, screaming at the TV that it was “WAY worse” than what they were showing.

As I sat through the movie last night, tears streaming down my cheeks again, I couldn’t help but wonder what has changed in 8 years.  We are STILL fighting the puppy mills and there is still the senseless killing of millions of dogs and cats each year.  EIGHT years later…

When I was watching the movie and thinking through my presentation, it was the same.  Eight years later and there are still 10,000 puppy mills.  Eight years later and we haven’t closed down a single one?

I know we have closed down a number of mills, but new ones open and we continue to battle an industry that is cruel and heartless and yet, still exists legally.

As I explained last night, the movement has taken a different approach.  Instead of only battling the mills, we are now focusing on the demand.  There are currently 126 ordinances in place among varying states, cities and counties that prohibit pet stores from selling dogs/puppies who come from mass breeding facilities.  Today, in those pet stores, the dogs must come from rescues and shelters.  That IS progress.

I want to believe that MORE people are aware of the truth.  I want to believe less people buy their puppies from pet stores or on-line.

I can’t lie.  I felt a bit defeated on my drive home.  I mean nearly a decade later after the Oprah show and things felt painfully similar.

However, on a personal level, I had a major realization.  Eight years ago, I was sitting on my couch crying.  I felt lost and unbelievably embarrassed to be a part of the human race who treated animals so poorly.

Today, (AKA: last night) I was actually speaking to future veterinary professionals about puppy mills.  Sure, I shed a few new tears, but most of my tears have become actions.  I am involved  on so many levels.  My book is published and raising awareness.  I attend events to educate people on puppy mills.  I hold protest signs and shout truths.  I have even made my way to TV to share my journey.

I acknowledge these accomplishments because I want people to see that IF you are really passionate about something, it is up to YOU to get involved.  Eight years ago, I was a meek, overly emotional person struggling to make sense of the horrors I saw.  Today, I am committed to making a difference.  And while there are moments where I feel change hasn’t come fast enough, I, personally, know by the emails I get and the people I meet, that I have made a difference a person at a time.

YOU can make a difference.  Whether it be puppy mills or shelter killing or even a non-animal cause, find what you believe should be better in this world, get involved and make a difference.

Eight years have passed and if I know nothing else, I know I made use of them by following my heart and believing I could change things.  I am grateful that I got off the couch and got involved.

 

Tails: “Cheers to Animal Advocacy in 2016”

I have been working on a  new post since New Year’s.  My idea was to focus on the positive in animal welfare… and, then, this week happened.  The county of Winona, MN allowed SIX permits for Amish puppy mills!  I am crushed.  I feel like someone stabbed me in the heart.  I feel like we just went backwards 10 years!

Major cities across the U.S. are passing laws and ordinances to prevent pet stores from selling puppies who come from puppy mills and Winona, MN approves SIX more?

For 8 years I have fought passionately to rid the world of mills.  I have educated and advocated until I was hoarse.  What happened this week in Winona, well, it broke my heart.

It definitely made me pause and re-think my original New Year’s post – all about the positive in animal welfare.

However, I saw something else happen in the last few days… I saw so many people outraged by what Winona did.  So many people being the voice for the animals.  So many people who shared their personal stories about their own rescued mill dogs.  So many people who want things to change.

Eight years ago, I felt very alone in this fight.  Through-out my book I talk about how I didn’t think anyone else understood me.  I didn’t believe anyone cared as much as I did.  So, to see the many posts of strangers reaching out to help and to act IS a very positive thing.  It is something to be celebrated.

In my original draft, I wanted animal advocates to realize that they are not alone.  I, think, all too often, we believe we are the only ones who care, the only ones who will save them. I think, in some ways, animal welfare organizations have led us to believe that because they want us to take action. They show sad commercials of desperate animals and imply that you are their only hope.

I want to change that because I do not think it is the healthy way to look at things. It is much healthier and more productive, if we feel like we are part of a much bigger group – if we feel surrounded by people who want to change things – if we believe that we aren’t alone. If I have learned nothing else in 10 years, I have learned that there are A LOT of people out there working hard to change the lives of animals for the better.

I worry about animal people because it is easy to lose  your sense of balance.  Each animal matters and each situation seems dire.  However, I have seen too many animal rescuers lose themselves and when that happens, no one wins.

Every single day I see posts for dogs on euth lists. Desperate cries for help. They make my stomach turn. There is no way that I could respond to each one. However, after a day goes by, I go back to the posts and I am always reminded at how many people there are fighting for the animals. There will be 100 shares and 100 comments of names and organizations willing to step up for that dog. No, sadly, not every dog gets saved, however, so many do and sooooo many people are trying.

My goal in 2016 is to make people feel good about rescue and animal welfare. I don’t want to show the hurt, injured animals anymore. I want to share the stories of reunion, the stories of transformation. The stories that show us how many good people there are out there who love animals.

We live in such a negative world. The media loves surrounding us with murder and disparity and prejudice. I want to surround people with the glory of animals and the overwhelming amount of love and kindness that is expressed each and every day to them.

Animal welfare is hard. I mean gut-wrenching hard. If you aren’t wiping tears, you are wiping pee off the floors – it is physically and emotionally demanding. Add to that the myriad of personalities you meet along the way. Many of who, do not see eye to eye with you. Animal people love animals, but they don’t always have the same forgiveness or understanding when it comes to humans.

So, while you are crying over the euthanasia list, you can also be having a screaming match on FB with someone who is also crying over the euthanasia list but firmly believes the exact opposite of you. It is a messy business.

I don’t know if I can change that, but I do think I can offer a more positive outlook.  I spent the last 10 years like Eeyore  – all doom and gloom.  I want to focus on the positive.  I want to focus on the compassion and the passion people have to help animals.  Yes, what happened in Winona is an atrocity, but the reactions and the actions of the animal advocates have been truly amazing.

I say, “Cheers to animal advocacy in 2016!”  We are THE most passionate group of people on this planet.  We fight battles every single day with only the animals in mind – not money, not greed.  We ARE a force to reckon with and I plan to celebrate that each day in 2016!

 

Truths: Have Faith and Believe in your Dreams

I had a moment yesterday.  The Puppy Mill Project was at an event, Hiking for Hounds, and I was selling my book, Bark Until Heard.  Angie had this great idea that Thorp should pawtagraph books, so I finally got an ink pad, and, for the first time, Thorp was signing books,  too.

Later in the day, Christine photographed Thorp signing the book and texted it to me.  When I opened it and looked at the photo, my heart melted.  It was perfect.

I thought about the picture the whole ride home.  I can re-call 7 years ago, March 12, like it was yesterday.  The smells, the noise, and the pure heartache remain amazingly vivid for me.  I also remember the exact feeling I had in my soul when I decided in an instant that I would rescue Thorp and write a book about him.

I am by no means a religious person.  I don’t go to church or read the Bible, but I can attest that the feeling I had that day had to be driven by something much larger than me.  I remember sitting in the crappy bleachers, looking around at what seemed like Hell to me, and being overcome with this idea that I could do something to make a difference.

I knew writing the book about Thorp was something I had to do.

It was a difficult road, no doubt.  The writing wasn’t always easy, but the entire journey was  challenging.  Going to two more auctions nearly did me in – emotionally.  Being surrounded by broken spirited dogs is beyond gut wrenching.  The pain and the anger and helplessness were hard to wrap my head around at times.  The fighting and the pleading with legislators took a toll.  Every beat of my heart was wrapped up in the emotional roller coaster ride I spent 7 years on.  Yet, I never once chose to give-up.

The book is out and the reviews have been great.  The last few months have been surreal to say the least.  I am still attempting to take it all in.

Seeing Thorp making his paw print under the words “Bark Until Heard” not only made it all very real, but made me realize how important it is to listen to your soul and to have faith in things bigger than yourself.

I certainly didn’t know the extent of the journey when I felt the desire to save Thorp and pursue writing his story.  I only knew it had to be done.  Now, I find myself at these wonderful dog events being able to share my story and raise the awareness of puppy mills.  I am fortunate to be surrounded by people who are volunteering their time to rescue dogs and improve their lives.  I get to meet adopters whose lives have been changed by their rescue dogs. I spend time petting dogs of every single kind of breed or combination. My heart is full.

I can’t stop smiling.

It isn’t and it never was about “writing a book.”  It has always been about so much more.  I am not a life coach, but I just want to encourage others to follow what they feel in their heart, to listen to their soul when it speaks.  Have faith and believe in your dreams because not only are they possible, the journey they take you on is far better than you ever imagined.

Bark Until Heard is my first book.  It can be purchased on amazon or signed copies can be bought on my web-site beckymonroe.com.  

 

Tails: March Until Heard

This Sunday, I will march down Michigan Ave. in support of National Puppy Mill Awareness Day, September 27th. It will be my first march, but my fight started 7 years ago when I walked into my first Amish barn and saw lifeless dogs bought and sold like junk.

Seven years ago, I estimate that 1 in 100 people knew what I meant when I said the words “puppy mill.” Today, I estimate that to be 1 in 25. The message, long in the making, is quickly becoming louder. We are being heard.

84 cities across the nation have bans on the retail sale of puppies unless they come from rescues and shelters. More cities and counties are in the process of adopting similar ordinances. The message is strong and it is simple, but it is not without contention.

I believe that we are on a precipice of enormous change for mill dogs everywhere. I believe that we have reached the 2nd stage of truth as quoted by Arthur Schopenhauer, “All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed, second, it is violently opposed and third, it is accepted as self-evident.”

For years, those of us fighting for mill dogs were ridiculed, often ostracized for caring more about dogs than kids. We overcame such initial scrutiny and as our fight has grown momentum and tripled in strength, we are being met with anger, often pure rage.

Recently, we have been called controversial, as if exposing the horrific reality of mill dogs is questionable.   The people we are fighting are running out of options. They have gotten mean and nasty.

It can be frightening to go up against such violent and irrational individuals, but we cannot show fear. We cannot succumb to their tactics. We must march on…

That is what we ALL need to do on September 27th National Puppy Mill Awareness Day. We will walk together – unified in our mission and strong in numbers. We will march and show we are here to educate, to bring awareness, and to fight for the dogs who have no voice.

Fierce opposition based on greed and cruelty is opposition we are more than willing to take on… For the love of dogs of everywhere,  for the freedom of mill dogs locked away in dark barns and for the future of canine companionship, we will walk and we will be heard.

What we speak will soon be the self-evident accepted truth.

*** For information about the Chicago March visit the Puppy Mill Project.  For information about other events on National Puppy Mill Awareness Day or how to get involved visit The National Puppy Mill Project.   Here are some events around the nation:

San Diego Humane Society Adoption Event
www.sdhumane.org California

Protest, 1 PM National City Puppy & Min Toy Puppies
https://www.facebook.com/events/136106673403868/, San Diego, Ca

Awareness Day Proclamations
Brower County and Maimi Dade County Florida

Paws For A Cause Meet and Greet
www.facebook.com/PFACG Georgia

Indiana Puppy Mill Project, Tails on Trails, Fort Wayne
www.facebook.com/inpuppymillproject Indiana

Legislative Meeting on Puppy Mills
www.wp.iowavca.org Iowa

Bailing out Benji 30 protests days 30
www.bailingoutbenji.com Iowa

The Puppy Mill Project, Chicago March
www.thepuppymillproject.org Illinois

Petland Protest, 12-4 PM Roundlake, Il
https://www.facebook.com/events/1466305717012702

Harper College Animal Rights Club, leafleting Palatine, Il
www.goforward.harpercollege.edu

Maine Citizens Against Puppy Mills, Protest Tropic Pets, Waterboro
www.facebook.com/mainecitizensagainstpuppymills.com Maine

Boots Place Against Puppy Mills, Protest, Rockville
www.bootsplaceagainstpuppymills.com Maryland

Puppy Mill Awareness of SE Micigan, Human Chain through Novi
www.michiganpuppymills.com/ Michigan

Protest Amaze’n Farmyard/Clearview Kennels, Minn, Mn
https://www.facebook.com/events/162206974115850/

Petland Protest 11-2 PM 6131 Ronald Regan Dr, St Louis, Mo
more info: “leannefritsch@yahoo.com”

Residents Against Pet Stores in Cherry Hill, Protest
https://www.facebook.com/groups/1597746227155105/?fref=nf NJ

Ohio Voters for Companion Animals Ohio
www.ohiovotersforcompanionanimals.com

Boycott The Family Puppy Store – Human Chain Toledo
https://www.facebook.com/tfpboycott Ohio

Leo’s Helping Paws, Puppy Ribbon Project, Lancaster, PA
http://www.leoshelpingpaws.org/

Puppy Mill & Backyard Breeders Awareness Day 9/26
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Puppy-Mill-Backyard-Breeders-Awareness-Day-2015/481388368730540 Peach Bottom, PA

Puppy Mill Awareness Austin, Festival
www.pmadtx.com, Tx

Wisconsin Citizens Against Puppy Mills Protest 9/26 Wi
Wisconsin Citizens Against Puppy Mills

Petland Protest off Milton Ave, Janesville, Wi
1-5 PM

International *****

Puppymill Awareness Working Solutions, Ottawa Ontario
9/19 Awareness Event Pet Value Kanata

Puppy Farm Awareness Walk, Penang, Malaysia

Truths: Why are truths so unfathomable?

Each and every day, I am both amused and disheartened by the number of people who tell me they didn’t know about puppy mill dogs or puppy mills stores (AKA Petland).  However, what crushes me is the number of people who don’t believe me when I tell them about the conditions of the mills, the involvement of the AKC, and the lack of laws to protect the dogs.  Why would I lie?

Yesterday, as I watched World News Tonight, I was bombarded with stories that the majority of people choose not to believe – even me.

Let me premise this by saying none of these examples are meant to outshine the other, I am not equalizing babies and coral reefs.  I, simply, want to show how even when the facts surface in our face, we look the other way.

I will start with Planned Parenthood.  I am pro-choice and while I have never been to Planned Parenthood, I have believed it to be a good place.  I have a dear friend who is a social worker and who has told me that many of the services Planned Parenthood provides are services people could never otherwise get in their communities.  There appears to be a need for Planned Parenthood.

When the allegations of “selling baby parts” surfaced, I was among the first to disregard them.  I chalked it up to the “right” fighting the “left” on abortion.  Another election, another debate on female reproduction.

Yet, yesterday as I watched the video footage they warned could be alarming, I watched with the heart of a puppy mill fighter.  Here was a woman in tears explaining what she saw with her own eyes and her own ears.  I couldn’t help but relate to her.  And, I couldn’t help, but wonder, “Why am I so reluctant to believe her truth?”

Later in the show was a segment on the destruction of the coral reef.  Google has partnered to photo map most of the reefs in the world.  A complete 3D underwater mapping.  It is amazing.   Since the reefs exist underwater, they are also out of sight and few people can see the destruction, so it is all an attempt to PROVE that the coral reefs are being destroyed by the effects of climate change.  In 5 years, they will map the reefs again to show the extent of the damage.  The increased water temperatures are killing it.  Ah, climate change… few people have chosen to believe that truth, yet, study after study continues to show it is real.

Why are we, as a group, so hesitant to believe truths that impact our world.  It bothers me each and everyday as I fight for mill dogs.  Why would I lie?  I have nothing financial to gain.  The fight I fight is for the animals.

I am sure those fighting climate change would say the same.  They are fighting to preserve our world and while I am sure there are corporations at stake, just like the millers, most of the people fighting for the cause are doing it because they believe in it and want to see the world survive.

I didn’t want to believe the horrific things about Planned Parenthood selling body parts, but after watching that woman’s video, I find myself re-considering.  If choice isn’t what is on the table, if people just believe that the back side of the clinic is what needs to change, then I tend to believe her.  I feel like I need to believe her because I need people to believe me.

I am her, sitting in tears, telling people about the awful things I have seen in puppy mills.

For months people in America did not believe what Hitler was doing in Germany and it cost people their lives.  There are so many tragic things going on today and people continue to look the other way.  Are we afraid of what the truths say about us a human race?  Is it too hard to embrace the truths and then look in the mirror at the people we have become?

Baby parts being sold in the back of a clinic isn’t ideal by any standard.  Man’s best friend sitting in filth, rotting away till death should be intolerable.  The ocean’s reef burning into oblivion is not what nature intended.

I often say that we have become a very narcissitic society and as I look at the truths we choose to ignore, I feel, sadly, affirmed.