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.




6 thoughts on “Tails: Why I Cry Over Puppy Mills

  1. Kelly Hall

    I have never bought an animal from a pet store but I can see the lure – cute little puppy behind glass. Unfortunately 99.9% of the public does not know the ugly back story. Or they do and prefer to turn a blind eye. Working in homeless street dog rescue, I would LOVE to see a complete but temporary ban on all dog breeding until each city can get the shelter euthanasia rates under control. I take a lot of flak from breeders but I’ve got tough skin and my concern is the life of all animals. But this horror that Becky Monroe has written about goes above and way beyond what I do. It’s deep seated greed and evil, from the breeders to the vets to the pet shops. Complicity of all at the expense of a poor, helpless, trusting animal. Pure evil!

  2. Mary LaHay

    Wow! You’ve absolutely captured the thoughts I have that I’ve been unable to put to paper. I started a nonprofit in IA 8 years ago to go after the puppy mills here. We’re primarily doing so legislatively; working to get laws to protect them. We have facts and photos obtained from the USDA to back or claims and STILL we’re accused of lying, fabricating, exaggerating. We’ve tried to play nice; being respectful and giving people who denounce us the benefit of the doubt that they maybe just don’t have all the info. But no more! The gloves are off! We’ll be calling or AKC and their “sheep”- the hobby breeders, our Dept of Ag, and anyone else who refuses to open their mind. I’d love to talk to you personally when you have time. My number is 515-556-5949. Thanks.
    Mary LaHay
    IA Friends of Companion Animals
    IA Voters for Companion Animals
    Des Moines

  3. JULIE


  4. Krista Baker

    It’s impossible to reason with those folks at People for Pet OWNership. Even members who attempt to distinguish themselves as ethical breeders get raked over the coals. Because it’s better to “stand together” they say, lest the whole ship go down. That’s why it’s perfectly okay that they paint with the same broad brush in their attempts to disparage anyone who dares to stand against puppy mills. Within their ranks are some notorious animal abusers. In standing alongside and even defending these people they do a lot of harm. It doesn’t have to be Rescue vs Breeders, and shouldn’t be. Denying the existence of these puppy mills makes them look ridiculous.

    ps, I dumped my vet when I discovered he was catering to a local boutique. I have continued to write him letters explaining why it’s unethical, with no response. Shame on him, too!

  5. sheltertails5839 Post author

    Kathryn, I completely agree about the vets who sign the certificates at auctions and work with the dirty pet stores. I guess greed takes over. I guess not all vets are in the profession because they love animals. Sad. They should have their licenses revoked!

  6. kathryn neice

    These people…the millers, brokers and pet shop owners…have no shame. And I’ll take it one step further to include the veterinarian’s that work with them by writing health certs for the puppies in exchange for their practice being recommended by the pet shop they’re working for.

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