Tag Archives: puppy-mills

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

Harper College Animal Rights Club, leafleting Palatine, Il

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

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

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

Leo’s Helping Paws, Puppy Ribbon Project, Lancaster, PA

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.

Tails: The Tide Has Turned

I have been driving a lot in the last week.  Driving allows me to get in my head and really concoct some twisted ideas.  Let me briefly describe varying incidents that contributed to my concoction.

One day, while not driving, I found myself tuned into an older TV show, “Judging Amy.”  Without going into unnecessary detail, a part of the show portrays the Department of Children and Family Services.  A day later, I found myself in the Walmart parking lot watching as a police officer was called to the scene to investigate a dog locked in a hot car.  The woman who called was frantic.  She was getting water and trying to get the owner of the dog to give it to him.  The officer was attempting to explain to the woman how unsafe it was to leave the dog in the car.

On my next 100 miles, I had a “Aha” moment.  If you will humor me for the next few minutes and let me share my moment with you, I would love to further spur my idea.  I believe the tide has turned and we, as a society, no longer need government agencies like Animal Control or the Department of Agriculture to protect us, as human beings, from domestic animals.  (I am not suggesting the Dept. of Ag should give-up inspecting meat sources or farming)

I think that we have emerged as a nation who seeks to protect animals from humans and not vice versa.  That said, organizations like Animal Control not only portray inconsistency with society’s goal, they have become a deterrent for accomplishing it.  The Department of Ag walks into mass breeding facilities with the mindset of food inspection and not the goal of humane treatment.  The two main animal governing agencies no longer support the ideals of the country.  I think we need to change things completely.

Let me insert a disclaimer here… I am not an expert on government agencies.  I know little about how they are funded or how they are managed from a federal/state perspective.  I think we can all estimate that they are a mess like the rest of this country, so we can assume that my ideas are just as feasible as what we have today.

This is how I picture things changing… On a federal level we create, The Department of Domestic Animal Protective Services (DDAPS)  On a federal level,  we determine basic laws and regulations and make any necessary changes to the Animal Welfare Act.  We take money from the Dept. of Ag budget to accomplish this.  Currently, puppy-mill inspections are conducted under the Dept. of Ag.  In my opinion, not only has it been ineffective, it is the wrong mindset. We are not trying to eat dogs, we are trying to protect them.  Any monies designated for these types of inspections would now be going towards DDAPS.

DDAPS would be the governing body of the state level DDAPS facilities.  ANY city, county, or town who managed a municipal shelter would now use that funding to run DDAPS.  There would NO longer be any animal controls.  They would all be replaced by DDAPS.

When I say replaced, I mean replaced because I, personally, I am really tired of random government employees becoming the directors of Animal Control facilities.  DDAPS would be run by leaders in the animal welfare community, not the ex-manager of streets and sanitation.  DDAPS employees and volunteers would be vetted in animal care.  They would be people who are passionate about no kill and ending puppy-mills and starting TNR programs.  They would NOT be people buying time to get government pensions.

Let’s talk about the day to day functions and responsibilities of DDAPS.  They would run no kill shelters.  These would be open access shelters who also provide low-cost spay/neuter, low cost microchips and low cost vaccinations.  They would offer adoptable animals to the public and work with local rescues on animals who require additional care or have specific needs.

I emphasize local rescues because I also believe we need to get a better handle on shipping animals to other states.  Yes, certain demographic areas have larger stray animal populations, but there are animals dying needlessly in almost every state in America.  Shipping the animals around is not the answer.  I believe, if run correctly, DDAPS would allow each state to better manage its own animal population.

Each DDAPS facility would be responsible for inspecting area rescues, shelters, and breeding facilities.  There have been way too many hoarding cases and neglect cases among rescues and shelters in the last few years.  I believe that no one is exempt from giving proper care to animals.  These facilities would train both staff and volunteers to do inspections, all with the mindset of “protecting the animals.”

DDAPS facilities would also be responsible for community outreach.  They would offer school programs to educate children on animal cruelty and how to properly care for pets.  They would offer under-served areas the opportunity to provide for their pets by supplying leashes, bowls, food, etc.  They would promote Return to Owner programs and provide resources to help lost dogs get home.  If needed, they would have the power to step in and get the dog to the proper owner.

In each DDAPS facility, there would be trained officers who would manage bite incidents.  Anything having to do with illegal activity would be handled by local police, while the animals involved would be under the care of DDAPS.  Rabid bats would go to the health department.

I don’t know what you are thinking, but I am rather excited.  I realize all of this comes with a price.  Money the government says they never have.  I disagree.  No, I don’t know the exact numbers, but here is what I do know:

DDAPS facilities would be managed and ran by both paid and unpaid staff.  I truly believe that there is a HUGE population of people who would love to volunteer at the type of organization I am describing.  I know I would.  I long for the day someone hands me a checklist and an address for a puppy-mill and tells me to come back with an inspection report.

I believe that there is a large population who would privately support organizations like this by donating towards specific programs such as community outreach or veterinary care.  I think there are veterinarians who would do work at facilities like this pro bono or for little cost.

People are tired of the way things are.  People want to see things change for animals.  People want to be involved in protecting them.  People are tired of the current government agencies getting in the way of doing these things.  The systems we have in place today are antiquated.  They speak to days when people threw animals to the curb, when people thought most dogs were rabid, and when people didn’t understand TNR cats.  Today we spend billions on our pets.  Most people sleep with them in their beds.  People fly with their pets, dine with their pets and treat them like companions.

The tide has turned and it is time we re-create laws and governing bodies that uphold what we believe as a society.

I am ready and 100% serious.  Let’s do this!

…and if you are presidential candidate reading this – make this the top of your agenda and you have my vote!


Tails: The truth behind the ribbons

I did a short rant on my fb page today, but I feel the need to write more.  You don’t spend 7 years fighting for better legislation for puppy-mill dogs and then, feel at peace when watching a dog show.

I have loved dogs all of my life.  I feel rather competent when it comes to identifying breeds and have always enjoyed watching the dog shows.  People who know me, know that I could love any dog at any given time.  From Shih Tzu to English Bulldog to Great Dane to Chinese Crested.  The dog show is like a candy store for me so many to choose from.

Sadly, after attending my first dog auction 7 years ago, I find it hard to watch the shows without feeling complete heartache.  Sure those dogs prancing the ring are beautifully groomed.  Their teeth glisten and their tails wag.  But, what goes on behind the ring, behind the ribbons is anything but bright and shiny.

Let’s make the assumption, as huge as it may be, that the breeders of the dog show dogs are good breeders.  I won’t lie.  There is proof floating around now that many of the best in show dogs have found themselves abandoned when they grow old and unworthy.  There are pics circulating of past winners now emaciated and left for dead.  So, my assumption is weak at best, but to keep things simple, let’s go with it.

The dog shows fuel mass breeding.  Beautiful dogs big and small grace the stage and send ignorant people into pet stores to buy one just like the one they saw on TV.  Mark my words… the pet stores will begin stocking up on Beagles now that Miss P took “Best in Show.”

This means two things: puppy-millers will get rid of some of their other breeds to make room for Beagle stock.  By get rid, I mean kill, abandon, whatever… Those breeding dogs have such little value to them.  They will bring in lots of Beagles to make more Beagles and next year when the Shih Tzu wins the show (should have this year, I am a little biased) they will throw out the Beagles and bring in the Shih Tzu.

It is nothing more than business to them.  Those dogs aren’t man’s best friend, they are products bought and sold like canned goods and produce.

It was even said that Miss P can retire to motherhood now as her pups will bring in big dollars.  Even on the “good” side of breeding, it is all about money.  Why can’t Miss P just be a family dog now that she has earned her title.  I know that is not how it works.

There has always been a part of me who strongly believes that there should be NO more breeding until every homeless dog has a home.  Yet, the other part of me does see value in having so many different breeds to choose from.  Not everyone wants a Chihuahua nor does everyone want a Mastiff.

But the whole thing, ALL of the breeding, is fueled by greed.  Whether it be the backyard breeder or the grand champion breeder, it always comes down to money.  Is there anyone doing it ONLY because they love the breed?

I think the only ones doing it for the sake of the breed are the rescues.  They take in countless animals on death row and find ways to pay for their vet bills and adopt them into loving homes.  Breed rescues are the only ones doing it for the breed.

Why haven’t breeders (at least the good ones) fought harder for better legislation to protect the breeds they say they love?  Why is it that the American Kennel Club (AKC) has fought nearly every bill that attempted to improve the lives of breeding dogs.  It is all about money.  For every dog registered to the AKC there is $50.  Imagine if there were less dogs being bred… less money for the AKC.  Simple math.  Simple greed.

The rescues are the only ones fighting to protect the breeds.  No money there, just love.

As I type this, I look across the room and see my AKC Shih Tzu and my AKC Chinese Crested.  I bought both dogs at an Amish dog auction.  They were matted and sick and afraid of humans.  When I watch a glamorous dog show, they sit next to me, a constant reminder that behind all the shiny ribbons is a business that  profits from cruelty and neglect.