Puppy Mills: Madonna of the Mills

by Mary Haight on August 25, 2011

Puppy mills are in the news every now and then, and last night HBO ran Madonna of the Mills, a documentary about the facts of life for dogs in puppy mills and the connection between puppy mills and pet shops.  

The work that rescuers do is hard in ways more than the physical. Collecting the 5 yr old females whose reproductive organs are so burnt out they can no longer breed, and saving their lives, means they have to go through the inside of puppy mills and see the heartbreaking conditions in which animals live.  They walk out remembering the faces of the dogs they could not save. 

The HBO special talked about the people and organizations involved in rescuing animals from puppy mills in Pennsylvania; so many of them commented on how sweet these dogs are.  A veterinarian relates that if you asked how many pet store puppies have a disease, she would say “100%”.  She went on to say, the number should be zero and that this would not happen with puppies from a proper breeder. 

It was amazing to hear how people spent thousands of dollars to buy a dog from a pet shop…I wonder how so many people do not yet know that pet shop pets are from puppy mills. And hopefully people are not taken in by the lies pet shops tell potential customers, like they are working with a local shelter or all their pets come from “family” breeders – as if…

Laura Fynn Amato, the woman who is the topic of the documentary, said she knew she was not getting to the root of the problem – puppy mills were not being closed – but she was saving lives. And she said when Oprah had the show on puppy mills she thought, finally, something will happen.  The message from all these people on the front lines is: do not buy a pet from a pet shop – I would add, or from the internet.

Puppy mill dogs are treated so much worse than most people can imagine.  The rescuers remind people that you are not rescuing a dog from a pet shop – you are damning the mother dog to a life of hell, locked in a cage, being subjected to constant breeding. 

Laura Fynn Amato, her family and co-workers have saved 2000 mill dogs.  Laura talked about the dogs she was not going to take and how they haunted her. She spoke quietly about how the dogs know…they look at you and then turn away, giving up.  It looks like this…and you never forget:

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16 comments
Pup Fan
Pup Fan

I have this on DVR to watch... I'm trying to get up the nerve to do so.

barb
barb

The Chicago Bulldog Rescue organization has saved hundreds of bulldogs from puppy mills. My husband and I adopted ours two years ago, and she is the most precious thing in our lives! She was in deplorable condition coming fro the mill. Thanks to the rescuers of these dogs, many are now being saved.

Mel
Mel

I was finally able to watch it this past weekend. Obviously, Laura Amato is a hero in my book. She is saving dogs like Daisy, who had been bred over and over again, from a certain death. When one sees how many of these places are in operation and how extensive the problem is you wonder if it will ever change. The day after I saw this movie a friend called me and wanted to know if I knew anybody who was interested in taking in a Collie pup about 10 months old. Not sure what the story was I asked a lot of questions. It turns out that she had seen an ad in the paper (a known advertising venue for puppy mills and backyard breeders) for a 10 month old Collie. She had fallen in love with the dog's pictures. When she called about it she was told the following: 1) It was the last of a litter of show dogs that she had been unable to find a home, 2) that the woman had shown dogs for a living and that this was one of her show dogs' kids, 3) that she had gotten in trouble for having too many dogs, and 4) that they were moving to NC and wanted to find the dog a home before they left. What do you think? Show dog? Nope. Puppy miller? Maybe. Backyard Breeder? Likely. I explained to my friend that she had likely been taken in by a puppy miller or backyard breeder and that she probably been inspected and failed, was moving her whole operation to NC or she had been told a whole pack of lies so she would buy this dog from her. BTW - She only wanted $200-400 for this "show" dog. Then she proceeds to tell me how her daughter had just purchased an Italian Greyhound from Petland in St Paul and how she had raked her over the coals for buying a puppy mill dog from a pet store. The problem is so big sometimes it gets frustrating to even try anymore. Not that I am quitting, but sigh...

Patty
Patty

Mary, do you know what happened to that little dog? Was he/she adopted or rescued?

Pamela
Pamela

The message has to be repeated over and over again until no one can deny it. Thanks for keeping the welfare of animals in the front of our minds.

Heidi Meinzer
Heidi Meinzer

Thanks for highlighting this. We can all do so much to attack puppy mills. Educate people about what they really are, and let them know their tactics of selling on the internet and in pet stores.

Patty
Patty

Funny, I was just ranting about the same thing -- that people have no idea about puppy mills -- on Facebook last night after I read about this documentary on Dogster. That clip is heartbreaking.

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