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Field Notes: Central Missouri Puppy Mill Rescue

The HSUS Maddie's Fund Puppy Mill Task Force traveled to MIssouri to rescue dogs from three puppy mills

  • John Moyer, outreach coordinator for The HSUS's puppy mill campaign, drove dogs approximately 345 miles to give them a chance at new homes. Tiffany McBee

  • Puppies of all sizes and shapes filled the temporary shelter in central Missouri. Tiffany McBee

by Michelle Cascio

Thanks to quick work and collaboration, more than a hundred dogs now have a shot at new lives.

On March 17, The HSUS Maddie's Fund Puppy Mill Task Force deployed to central Missouri to assist a local organization in rescuing 124 dogs from three now-defunct puppy mills.

After helping Columbia Second Chance set up a temporary shelter, the team sat down to tackle the logistics of transporting the dogs to numerous Emergency Services Placement Partner organizations, to give the dogs a chance at rehabilitation and finding new families.

Pledge to stop puppy mills. Adoption is always a good option.

On the following day, the team received dogs from the first kennel: cocker spaniels, French bulldogs, beagles, schnauzers, and Brussels Griffons. A second trailer arrived filled with dogs from a different kennel: pomeranians, shih tzus, and Yorkshire terriers. All were unsocialized and fearful, but each dog settled in after getting a good dinner, a kind word, and a warm bed to sleep in.

The next afternoon, a trailer pulled up with dogs from the third puppy mill. Dogs of all sizes—German shepherds, golden retrievers, poodles, Yorkshire terriers, and Labrador retrievers—brought the total intake up to 124 dogs. Despite being confused and scared, these canines were lucky to avoid the fate of an auction (or worse) that most puppy mill castoffs face.

TLC and hope

The dogs' next few days were filled with lots of reassuring pats, routine care, and veterinary treatment. Veterinary exams uncovered problems typical of puppy mill dogs: dental disease, skin conditions, eye and ear infections, internal parsites, and, in some instances, emaciation. The lack of basic care was painfully obvious.

The veterinary evaluations complete, the team split up and drove all 124 dogs to approved ESPP members in Illinois, Kentucky, Indiana, and Missouri. Here, the dogs will get the care they need to recover from their trauma and find new families.

We at HSUS are grateful to both Columbia Second Chance and the seven ESPP members—The Anti-Cruelty Society, PAWS Chicago, Wayside Waifs, the Kentucky Humane Society, Heartland Small Animal Rescue Group, Northern Lights Sled Dog Rescue, and Serendipity German Shepherd Rescue—for working with us to rescue these 124 puppy mill dogs from lives of confinement, deprivation, and forced breeding.

We look forward to seeing these dogs find lives as cherished companions rather than puppy-producing machines.

Please pledge to help stop puppy mill cruelty» 

We urge Missouri residents to take action to protect dogs from puppy mills in Missouri»

Michelle Cascio is deputy manager of The HSUS' Maddie's Fund Puppy Mill Task Force.

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