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December 3, 2010

Rescued Puppy Mill Dog Deserves "The Best Life Ever"

  • Instead of suffering cold and pain, Piper enjoys snuggling in a comfortable home now. Holly Tarry/The HSUS

  • The harsh puppy mill conditions disfigured Piper's paws. Holly Tarry/The HSUS

  • Piper seems to be grateful for her new life. Holly Tarry/The HSUS

by Julie Hauserman

Piper’s tiny feet tell her sad story: This sweet Chihuahua’s paws are permanently disfigured because she was forced to stand on wire in her cage at a puppy mill. She was likely bred over and over again to create a cash crop of high-priced puppies.

But Piper is one of the lucky ones, and her circumstances today prove that compassionate people can turn an animal’s life around.

The Humane Society of the United States’ Holly Tarry was touring National Mill Dog Rescue in Colorado when Piper and the other dogs rescued from a  puppy mill arrived. Tarry couldn’t resist Piper’s soulful eyes.

“She was so friendly. I got in the cage to snuggle her and I realized her feet were injured,” Tarry says. “I knew she must have spent her life in a cage. She had no reason to be so friendly—but she was.”

A home

Tarry got busy spreading Piper’s story. Suzy Costello, a Denver woman who runs a custom in-home pet care business called Pupsicles, already had a dog—52-pound Stella, a hound mix rescued in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. One day in October, Costello opened an email about Piper.

"I saw her picture and I read her story and I was like: It’s done. She’s coming home to mama and she’s going to have the best life ever. After all she’s been through, she deserves it,” Costello recalls.

Piper now sports a sweater, cavorts with big dogs, and snuggles up with Stella.

"She is the most incredible dog. She’s so grateful," Costello says.

Piper’s feet are healing thanks to antibiotics and soaks in Epsom salts, but they will always remain disfigured.

Progress report

The puppy mill where Piper was rescued was state-licensed, yet cruel injuries like hers persist. The HSUS is asking Colorado authorities to require cages with solid bottoms to support tender paws. The Colorado Department of Agriculture recently agreed to require coated wire on cage bottoms.

"It’s a start, but giving dogs that live on wire their whole lives the option to rest on a solid surface doesn’t seem like too much to ask," Tarry says.

Piper  has been spayed, she’s gained weight, received some dental care, and has grown some new hair on her once-bald tail.

"She’s doing great," says Costello. "We’re creating a nice little family here. Right now Piper’s wrapped up in a blanket with her stuffed animal. She has adjusted so well and is just such a grateful pup."

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