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Anniversary of Freedom

Nearly 300 puppy mill dogs rescued one year ago

The Humane Society of the United States

  • Brutus gets a hug from his new family member. Photo by the Bring family

  • Brutus and his mother Greta, in their cage at the puppy mill. Frank Loftus/The HSUS.

Brutus and his mother, Greta, were two of the dogs carried out of their small, dark cages on Feb. 6, 2009 by The HSUS and Wayne County Animal Control authorities. Saturday, Feb. 6 marked the one-year anniversary of freedom for Brutus, Greta, and 281 other dogs rescued from dismal, filthy conditions at a puppy mill near Goldsboro, NC

One year later

After emergency sheltering and release by the court, Brutus and Greta were transferred to Chihuahua Rescue and Transport (CRT) to receive further care in loving foster homes while awaiting adoption. One year later, Brutus has recovered from surgery for a congenital eye condition and has been placed with a devoted family, while Greta is working toward learning to trust again after years of severe psychological deprivation at the puppy mill.

Are you a North Carolina resident? Tell your legislator to support SB 460 to crack down on puppy mills »

While Brutus was only a few weeks old when rescued, his mother Greta carries deeper scars from living for years without a real home or even a friendly touch, according to Carla Johnson, NC coordinator for CRT.

"She is being fostered by a dog trainer," Carla wrote in a recent email to The HSUS Puppy Mill campaign. The trainer "takes Greta back and forth to work each day and Greta has become much more social since being in her care. Greta was never aggressive or snappy but would scream and [urinate] on the floor if you moved too quickly. If you picked her up, she would get all stiff and would be scared to death."

Making progress

While Greta benefited from extra TLC in foster care, Brutus was quickly adopted by the Bring family. Brutus's new family was so excited at the warmth he brought to their household that they've pledged to do more to help animals in need.

"Brutus is the best little companion and we are so thankful to CRT for bringing him into our lives," said his adoptive mother. "The adoption process has led our family to consider not only rescuing other dogs in the future, but to potentially become foster parents as well."

Puppy miller convicted

The owner of the puppy mill, Virginia Thornton, was subsequently convicted of 12 counts of animal cruelty. Due in part to the notoriety of the case, lawmakers in North Carolina are currently considering legislation to crack down on puppy mills.

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