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Dog to Dog Q&A: Meet Spock, Puppy Mill Survivor

The Humane Society of the United States

  • Spock was among nearly 700 dogs rescued from a massive Tennessee puppy mill in June 2008. Paul Turner/The HSUS.

  • Roving reporter Zoey, Spock's interviewer. Meghan Lepisto/The HSUS.

Hundreds of animal lovers and their canine companions gathered in the nation's capitol on Oct. 10 for the fourth annual Humane Society Walk for the Animals, raising $115,000 for the Washington Humane Society and The Humane Society of the United States' efforts to end pet homelessness at the local and national level.

Leading the pack were Leslie Barcus and her dog Spock, an approximately 6-year-old German shepherd who was among nearly 700 dogs rescued from a massive Tennessee puppy mill in June 2008. Veteran Walk for the Animals canine reporter Zoey caught up with this puppy mill survivor-turned-parade marshal to help tell his story.

Zoey: Spock, it's a pleasure. I've seen photos of the dreadful conditions you were rescued from, but can you tell us what life was like in a puppy mill?

Spock: I tell you Zoey, it was ruff and I would never wish those conditions on any of my dog friends. There were about 15 of us living in a cramped, dirty space, and we were never taken out to walk or play.

Our water bowls were filled with green slime, and by the time I got out of there, I was about 20 pounds underweight from too little nourishment. On top of that, I was sick with a disease.

I got no care or medical attention and wasn't sure I was going to make it out. By the time The HSUS came to rescue me, I couldn't even stand up, and I had to be carried to the getaway mobile! I am thankful to be out of that place.

Z: Wow. I heard you had a long road to recovery; how'd you get through it?

S: I made it through my illness thanks to a long line of caring humans that stretched across the United States. It all started with the joint efforts of law enforcement and rescue teams from local and national humane organizations.

After getting out of that dog prison, I took a road trip to the Washington Animal Rescue League (WARL) in Washington, D.C. I finally began to receive medical attention I so badly needed. My health concerns are ongoing, and I require regular medication, but boy do I feel better!

Learn what you can do to stop puppy mills »

Adopt your next pet! Find one at The Shelter Pet Project» 

Z: Glad to hear it. You're a handsome guy with beautiful brown eyes, so I bet you drew a lot of attention at the shelter. But how did you and Leslie meet and know you were a match?

S: One Sunday afternoon she came by to visit. I was shy at first, but she came back for a few consecutive weeks while WARL worked on my health issues. We got to know each other. Her eyes were brown like mine and, eventually, we struck up the relationship of a lifetime.    

Z: That's great. And now that you have a loving home and plenty of space to lounge and play, what are your favorite activities?

S: I have the most calm and relaxing days now. Every morning begins with a hearty breakfast and a walk.

Then I take a morning siesta before the dog walker comes in the afternoon. I sit by the window, next to my dog sister, and wait for mom to return from work. We play every evening, and I dance around the house with Mom giving chase.

We have dinner with the family and then take an evening walk before calling it a day.

Z: Sounds like a doggone good life! Now, what was it like to lead this year's Walk for the Animals? Did you have any other favorite moments from throughout the day?

S: What an honor for me to walk for all homeless pets and to give them hope that they, too, will soon have a loving home and family.

My other favorite part of the day was to look around and see how much love was poured out by all of the humans and their dogs who came together for this event.

And, well, Zoey, it was nice to think about how you and I might take a nice walk together one day? I have warm and fuzzy feelings for shelter girls. 

Z: You're making me blush under my spots! Last question, and then maybe we can take that stroll.

What advice can you offer for humans out there looking for an animal companion? And any words of encouragement for those animals in shelters and rescues who are waiting on a home?

S: I keep all hope for my shelter and rescue friends that they will soon find their perfect forever home.

Provided that humans can offer time, patience and understanding, we shelter and rescue dogs are ready to give all the love in the world. 

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