Nov 13, 2010

It's Official: Puppy Mill Bill Passes

Gypsy the day she was rescued
By Cathy Scott

When I learned the news, on the night of Nov. 2, that the so-called "puppy mill bill" in Missouri had passed, I was elated. That's because sitting next to me was my former puppy mill girl Gypsy. As I wrote an article for Best Friends Animal Society's Web site about the passage of the initiative, which has been called historic, I stopped a few times to both congratulate and hug Gypsy.

I firmly believe that we'll eventually look back and say that Nov. 2, 2010 was the day the puppy mill industry forever changed, and for the better. The bill requires clean water and fresh food, no more than 50 breeding dogs per puppy mill, and no more wire-bottomed cages. Nearly a million Missourians voted "Yes."

It was a year ago this month--November 2009--that Gypsy Rose Lee was pulled from a large puppy mill. She'd had three puppies the week before, and one, two or even all three may still be in that awful place, used as breeders for profit, like my Gypsy.

Gypsy & volunteer Tara Albert
Gypsy is a seven-pound long-haired Chihuahua and as cute as she can be. But the day she arrived at the temporary rescue center, there was a deep sadness in her eyes. She arrived in a carrier with a tiny Pomeranian. They seemed so connected to each other. But, other than arriving from the same puppy mill, they may have never before met each other. In that short time, a few hours in a carrier together as they were transported from a mill by an independent rescuer, the two little dogs had bonded; it was as if they were leaning on each other for support during this scary time. After all, the outside world was all new to them, and they didn't know where they were going or why. Gypsy had lived 2-1/2 years in a wire cage with several other dogs in the only environment she'd ever known.

She had been bred in two different puppy mills, the first of which--a large one--has been listed on HSUS's worst list. She was born there, kept as a breeder instead of leaving with a broker to be shipped cross country to a puppy store. She had one litter by Cesarean section, and the breeder took her to auction to be sold. There, Gypsy was purchased by another breeder, this one a smaller operation with about 200 breeding dogs.

Puppy mill dogs
Gypsy, in early November last year, had a second litter. Once again, they had to take her puppies by C-section. Gypsy didn't nurse her puppies, so they were given to another mama dog. And Gypsy had an infection, so the breeder rejected her. Luckily for Gypsy, an independent rescuer was able to rescue Gypsy and take her to the Best Friends temporary center, through the Puppies Aren't Products program, where Gypsy was one of around 190 dogs fostered by individuals, groups and shelters. And I was lucky enough to be able to take Gypsy home with me. I had her spayed within two days, because she had an infection, a fever and things were not going well. On top of that, she has knee problems (inoperable, because her femur bones are bowed, but keeping her walking and with a good weight helps to ease it).

Gypsy on my lap
Gypsy has adjusted well to her new home. She loves other dogs and fits in well with my crew. Behavior-wise, it's still like she's still anxious and waiting for her new life to end, as if it can't be true that the one she left behind has ended. She continually paws at me--a common trait, which puppy mill dogs get into the habit of doing to the front of their cages. She sleeps against my back each night. I try and reassure her that all is well and nothing is going to change.

She loves her walks and stops to smell nearly every bush and blade of grass as we pass by, because she's fascinated by everything in her new world. She also loves car rides. She's still really shy with new people, won't make eye contact and looks worried when other people hold her.

While I continue working with her and giving TLC, I also just let her be a dog and hang out and do what she enjoys. She deserves no less, as do others still stuck in puppy mills. She loves chewies and practically prances around with them in her mouth.

To all the Gypsys of Missouri still used for profit, hopefully their day too will come sooner than later, now that Proposition B is the law, and they too can get to know the true life of a dog.


  1. Cathy, they are going to try and overturn Prop.B...

    If I send you some information, do you have a list of people who can pass it on?
    The Mill lobby is VERY strong!!!!

  2. That's just appalling -- that craven, bought-and-paid-for pols will try to make an end run around the will of the people for the sake of the almighty dollar. Sickening.
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