Most of us are aware of “puppy mills,” as they exist almost all over the world. Animal welfare organizations such as the American Society for the Protection of Animals to the Humane Society to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals have banded together to expose the horrific breeding practices that have long upheld the pet industry in the United States.
Whether it’s puppies being ripped away from their mother moments after birth, or female dogs kept in tiny wire cages with minimal food and water, forced to give birth to litter after litter with no recovery time, these infamous underground operations continue to thrive despite the pressure from animal lovers and law enforcement.
This is a story of a puppy mill survivor who was rescued several years ago by the National Mill Dog Rescue, an organization devoted to saving dogs from puppy mills.
The organization found that the dog desperately needed their help. They called her Harleigh.
The poor chihuahua puppy had been constantly forced to breed and give birth to yet another litter of puppies for 3.5 years. They would then eventually be cruelly snatched away from her.
When this poor dog arrived at National Dog Mill Rescue in September 2013, Harleigh was fearful and would regularly cower whenever a volunteer approached her. As the shelter described it in a YouTube video, “she did not know the kind touch of a human hand.”
However, one of their volunteers wouldn’t give up trying to let little Harleigh know that she was loved and that not all humans were as bad as the ones who had mistreated her. It was an uphill battle to say the least. “When approached, she pressed herself into the corner of her kennel,” the shelter explained in the video. “She was terrified. It was heartbreaking.”
The volunteer pushed through the cage and held her close, but gently. Dogs, much like kids, can tell when someone wishes them well, and this dog seemed to eventually understand that the volunteer just wanted to show her love. The longer he held her, the more Harleigh relaxed.
Once he had built some trust with her, the volunteer brought in a male dog, named Harley. He stood up on his hind legs to get in on the cuddling action.
Finally, Harleigh put her head on the volunteer’s shoulder. She was learning that humans trying to touch her could be positive. “It took a little time… Harleigh wanted to be near him. Finally, she sat down.”
Dogs that live in puppy mills are rarely socialized, but once they are rescued, they become very curious about the…
As touching as this moment was, the video explained that as soon as her first human friend left, Harleigh went back to cowering in the corner of her kennel. It’s understandable that the years of the trauma she endured at the puppy mill won’t be erased overnight.
In 2016 Harleigh was adopted. The shelter posted an update March 14, 2016, on their Facebook page, and wrote: “We rescued Harleigh in September 2013 and this video was created a few months later. Her (soon to be) forever family watched this video and it’s been nothing but love, kindness and patience for Harleigh ever since!”
Though the fight to end puppy mills continues, as long as breeders provide a minimum of water, food, and shelter, there are very few limits on the number of dogs they can have inside one facility, and the law in many states doesn’t say anything about leaving animals in cages their whole lives.
Supporting organizations like National Mill Dog Rescue is a great way to make sure these dogs get a chance at life, and we can all remember to share the motto “Adopt, don’t shop.”