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HBO Exposes Puppy Mills

Documentary “Madonna of the Mills” debuts August 24

  • These breeding dogs were crammed in a rabbit hutch at a Pennsylvania puppy mill. Kelly Colbert/HBO

  • The film shows the "happily ever after" outcome for Brandy, a dog The HSUS rescued from a puppy mill. Michelle Riley/HSUS

"Madonna of the Mills" focuses on the activities of Laura, a New York woman who has devoted the last several years to rescuing breeding dogs who are no longer of value to the many Amish and Mennonite puppy millers in Lancaster County, Penn.

She has managed to save more than 2,000 dogs who otherwise would have most likely been discarded or killed when their breeding days were over.

The facts of life for puppy mill dogs are depressing. But "Madonna of the Mills" also shows uplifting stories of dogs Laura rescued who went on to happy lives with loving families.

In the documentary, Kathleen Summers, manager of The HSUS's Puppy Mill campaign, explains, "At puppy mills, dogs basically spend their entire lives in small wire cages. They never get out for exercise. They don't have treats or toys. They don't have, often, clean food or water, and they're basically there to do nothing but make babies."

Summers appears on camera with Brandy, the five-year-old Boston terrier she adopted after an HSUS rescue of more than 100 dogs from a Virginia puppy mill.

What it means to buy from a pet store

Producer Kelly Colbert has herself been a "foster mother" for puppy mill dogs, so "Madonna of the Mills" is a very personal project for her.  She says the documentary is important viewing for everyone, "especially those still tempted to buy a puppy from a pet store despite the virtual inevitability that the pup was born of suffering, and the fact that buying a puppy mill puppy will condemn the breeding dogs to a lifetime of misery."

By following Laura's rescue work and the impact it has on her family and friends, Colbert and the filmmakers give a personal account of how influential someone can be in their fight for animal protection.

When to watch

"Madonna of the Mills" debuts exclusively on HBO2 on Wednesday, August 24, at 8:00 - 9:00 p.m. and will air throughout the month on HBO2 and HBO OnDemand. Check local listings or see the HBO schedule.

Want a preview? View the trailer online. Have questions? RSVP to the Facebook event and join in the discussion.

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