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Checking Back After the Rush

The heartbreaking cases of breeding dogs

The Humane Society of the United States

On Tuesday we helped rescue more than 500 dogs and about 15 cats from squalor on a northeastern Texas puppy mill. Two days later, here's a reflection on one dog who really stood out for me. —Scotlund Haisley, senior director, emergency services

When our team performs a puppy mill rescue, the first few days are invariably devoted to removing dogs safely from their life of misery and settling them in at the emergency shelter. It's only after this critical first stage is over that I am able to go back and personally check in with the special cases that immediately pulled at my heartstrings.

Our team is dedicated to the care of each and every one of these 542 animals, but there are always a few heartbreakers that immediately stand out from the rest. For me, that dog was one who could be the poster child for all breeding mothers stuck in this insidious canine factory farming industry.

Even my most heartfelt words can never accurately describe this inspiring rescue mission.

We were losing light fast when I came upon an elderly miniature poodle in the second structure our team cleared. When I reached this dog her kennel-mates were in a frenzy of excitement, barking and jumping against the walls of their feces-laden cage. But this dog's small frame cowered in the back, so immobile I feared we may have been too late to save her. As I got closer she finally lifted her head to look at me. I scooped her out and ran her straight to the veterinarian on site—who struggled to quickly stabilize her.

It was obvious from the painful, dazed expression on her face that she was barely hanging on.

Merely a Breeding Machine

The little poodle was so weak that Dr. O’Bryan initially thought she may be paralyzed. Her once-white fur was yellowed from lying in her own filth, and her eyes were so infected they were nearly sealed shut. Her years of constant reproduction have also left her with multiple large mammary tumors.

I am certain she had been confined to the same small, rusty cage for all of her years. This dog, and other breeding mothers like her, are the ultimate victims of this cruel industry.

Over the past 10 years, she has produced litter after litter of puppies for the financial gain of the property owners. During this time the most care she could ever hope for was a rough hand shoving food and water into her cage only often enough to keep her alive and producing offspring.

After Dr. O’Bryan’s initial assessment, we rushed the dog back to the emergency shelter where responders immediately gave her much-needed medical care. I still wasn’t sure if she would make it, but after a few hours she seemed to come around.

Uncertain Future

While her condition is improving, this dog is not out of the woods yet. I am certain that she would not have lasted much longer at the mill, but now that she has been rescued we will do all that we can to help her heal.

Dr. O'Bryan will remove her tumors later in the week, after she's regained some strength. Nothing will ever erase the hell she was put through for the last decade, but I'm hopeful that she recovers and is able to spend her final years in comfort and peace.

Even my most heartfelt words can never accurately describe this inspiring rescue mission.

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