September 2009 Blog Home November 2009


22 posts from October 2009


October 30, 2009

HSUS Investigation Uncovers Veal Calf Abuse, Closes Plant

It’s always deeply disturbing to see the mistreatment of animals, but there’s something even worse when the victims are babies and seem so utterly vulnerable and frightened. Today, The HSUS released results of our latest investigation of modern agribusiness—in which one of our people went undercover for seven weeks at Bushway Packing, Inc. of Grand Isle, Vt. The plant specializes in slaughtering some of the rejects of the dairy industry—namely, the male calves who obviously cannot be used for milk production, nor as breeding stock.

The calves are taken away from their mothers at birth and sent, as mere infants, to the slaughter plant for immediate slaughter—to be used as “bob veal.” Without their mothers to nourish them, they are in a weakened state—hungry, lonely, confused, frightened, and, in some cases, unable to stand or walk.

HSUS undercover investigation documents shocking abuse of veal calves
The HSUS
Our undercover investigation shows shocking abuse of veal calves.

Our investigator documented the kicking, slapping, and electric prodding of downer calves in the pre-slaughter area—violations of the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act. Our person on the inside then recorded inhumane stunning of the animals, and the hacking up and skinning of still-conscious calves.

Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Vermont Agency of Agriculture shut down the plant after seeing The HSUS’s footage and announced the initiation of a thorough investigation.

"The deplorable scenes recorded in the video released by the Humane Society of the United States are unequivocally unacceptable,” said U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in a statement today. “The callous behavior and attitudes displayed in the video clearly appear to be violations of USDA's humane handling regulations.”

Roger Allbee, the head of Vermont’s agriculture department, offered a similar denunciation.

After reviewing the undercover footage obtained by the HSUS investigator in August and September 2009, animal scientists Dr. Temple Grandin and Kurt Vogel pronounced that, “the handling practices and attention to insensibility at this plant are unacceptable and must improve.”

Early last year, The HSUS exposed the routine abuse of downed cows at a California slaughter plant, which was the number two supplier to the National School Lunch Program. That investigation prompted the largest meat recall in U.S. history and led to a new federal regulation that banned the slaughter of downer cattle, but left open a loophole for downer calves. Subsequent investigations in four states revealed other abuses of downers.

Today, we blow the lid off the abuse of these infant calves—some of them, downers, too. We’ll have more to say on this case on Monday, but here’s our full release today and our video.

October 29, 2009

Man Bites Shark Protections

I have written before about shark finning and the Shark Conservation Act (H.R. 81/S. 850). Decent people are outraged over the gruesome and wasteful practice of shark finning—cutting the fins off a shark and throwing the animal back overboard to languish and die. Earlier this year, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the Shark Conservation Act of 2009, but the U.S. Senate has not yet taken action. This appears, in part, to be due to objections by fishing industry representatives in North Carolina and Virginia.

Sen. John Kerry introduced the bill in April after the House passed its measure, and his version has 18 Senate co-sponsors. There is, however, a small but vocal group from the fishing industry seeking an exception for a species of shark called the smooth dogfish, caught off the coasts of Virginia and North Carolina.

Smooth dogfish shark
A smooth dogfish shark.

Regulations went into effect in U.S. Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico federal waters in July 2008 requiring that all sharks be landed with their fins naturally attached—the only way to ensure that finning has not occurred. But a year later, in August 2009, smooth dogfish fishermen successfully fought for an exemption applied to state waters (3 miles from the coast) so they can remove the fins from smooth dogfish sharks at sea. Now they are pushing their senators to write similar language into the federal bill, which would apply to all waters within 200 miles of the U.S. coast.

The industry argues that these sharks are caught in high volume and their meat is in demand, so they want to process the meat quickly at sea rather than waiting until they land. Basically, they want a shortcut that could topple efforts to ban removal of shark fins at sea.

Everyone I have spoken to about shark finning agrees that the United States should put an end to this cruel and wasteful practice once and for all. Landing sharks with their fins attached allows enforcement agents to be sure that sharks were not finned alive and to more easily identify the species. Fins without a shark or a shark without his fins can be difficult for even experts to properly identify. For example, smooth dogfish with their fins cut off look an awful lot like sandbar sharks, a species that has declined to the point where their fishing is banned in the very same waters where smooth dogfish are being caught in high numbers. In short, exemptions to a complete shark finning ban are unworkable from an enforcement perspective.

Please contact your senators to urge support for the Shark Conservation Act with no exemptions to the fins-attached regulation. If you live in Virginia or North Carolina, it is especially important that you call your senators to voice your concerns and your opposition to cutting off shark’s fins at sea.

October 28, 2009

Redoubling Our Efforts in West Virginia

"It's only illegal now because of the puritan sense of a few people who don't find it an appropriate sport," said Bradford Parker, a spokesman for the West Virginia Association for Gamecock Sports in an interview with the Charleston Gazette. He was speaking of cockfighting and his group's announcement this week that it would ask the West Virginia legislature to repeal the state's rather anemic law prohibiting cockfighting. 

Cockfighting
© iStockphoto

It's hard to believe this guy and his group of illegal cockfighters—dressed in chicken suits—could advocate such a legislative action with a straight face, but he does appear to be serious. Fortunately, the Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman is having none of it. "It's barbaric," Senator Jeff Kessler says of cockfighting. "West Virginia doesn't need any further negative stereotypes."

We at HSUS have our own plans for cockfighting legislation for the upcoming legislative session in Charleston. We want to make it a felony, since West Virginia is one of just 11 states with misdemeanor penalties for staged fights between roosters. The state law also does not ban possession of fighting birds, nor does it outlaw being a spectator at cockfights—two critical components of strong statutes against the practice. In fact, West Virginia is part of the "Cockfighting Corridor"—a band of states from Alabama to Ohio with the weakest anti-cockfighting laws in the nation and some of the most persistent and widespread illegal cockfighting activity. In some of these states, the laws are so weak that the activity is essentially decriminalized.

Senator Kessler is an ally in our anti-crime and anti-cruelty efforts. He told reporters yesterday, in response to the announcement by the Gamecock Sports organization, "The only legislation I have any interest in running out of my committee (Senate Judiciary) would be something that would strengthen the penalties for engaging in it, not for legalizing it in any fashion."

Senator Kessler says involvement in cockfights should be a felony offense in West Virginia. "I guess there's some pockets of it where it does occur and does go on, but that doesn't necessarily mean that it's something that we should embrace in the state," he says. "In fact, we should redouble our efforts to eradicate it."

Mr. Parker will be interested to know that our arguments, and Senator Kessler's, have evolved a good bit since the days of the Puritans. We know it's not just a matter of offending public sensibilities. It's a matter of vicious animal cruelty, where the combatants have knives or curved ice picks strapped to their legs and use these implements to hack each other to death in a pit. And we also make the connection between cockfighting and other criminal behavior, such as illegal gambling, narcotics traffic, and violence against people. It also may play a role in spreading bird flu.

It was in 2007 that we finally got the last two states with legal cockfighting—Louisiana and New Mexico—to enact legislation to criminalize the activity. Now, we are methodically going state by state to make it a felony and to fortify other provisions of these laws. Mr. Parker's wild idea is a reminder that cockfighting is alive and well in West Virginia and elsewhere, and that we cannot relent in our efforts to eradicate this scourge from our nation. 

Thanks to Mr. Parker’s reminder about the wishes of cockfighters, we'll now join Senator Kessler in redoubling our efforts to see that no state is a refuge for this form of animal cruelty.

October 27, 2009

Talk Back: Queen Tillie, 50 Things To Do

Many readers responded with excitement to a before and after story posted last week about a senior Chihuahua who was among more than 700 dogs rescued from a Kaufman County, Texas puppy mill in August. Here are some of your comments about Queen Tillie:

Reading this article and seeing this “after” picture just brought tears to my eyes. How wonderful that sweet little Tillie has a loving forever home! This just brings total joy to my heart! —Denay Kelley

See how much of a difference love can bring to an animal even when he or she has gone through much pain and suffering. What a darling little dog Tillie is and I am so happy she FINALLY has a good family to care for her. It will be a great day when there are no more puppy mills anywhere! —Misty Hay

I can relate to the story of Tillie. We have eight little dogs of our own, most Chihuahua or Chihuahua mix. We also do little dog rescue. Right now we have an 8-10 year-old male, Idaho, who is so sweet. His manners are wonderful and we hope to find him a forever home. It's harder with the older dogs, so if we don't find him a home then that's okay, he will make number 9 for us. We average 10 to 12 dogs a year that come through our home. It is so sad that even dogs not associated with puppy mills are cast out like trash. So much love in these little hearts. —Theresa McCraw

Seeing her happy little face brought tears to my eyes. I simply cannot understand what some people are thinking. How can anyone treat such a sweetheart so badly? Kudos to all the wonderful people who adopt animals and give them such good homes. —Becky Walters

Thank you Wayne for all you do; these are wonderful stories to share. One day I hope to join HSUS with animal rescues. Starting to take courses now that will allow me to participate. —Phyllis Lynch

This brought tears to my eyes, as usual, when I saw little Tillie in her previous nightmarish enclosure. I am so happy for Queen Tillie and her new family! What wonderful news that she is now in a safe and loving home. These puppy mills are so sickening and disgusting and I really wish the laws were more severe for these monsters that run them. I will continue saying my prayers for all animals. Queen Tillie, Glenda and Tony–I am so happy for all of you. Wayne, I cannot say it enough–each and every one of you at HSUS and HSI are absolutely wonderful! May God bless all of you and the animals too! —Karen Wagner 

Please send this to Gov. Arnold of California ... He needs to see this and sign the puppy mill bill that is so desperately needed ASAP. Take back the veto and do the right thing, Governor. —Lisa Robertt

You also shared feedback on my list of 50 Things You Can Do for Animals and The HSUS:

THANK YOU SO MUCH! This blog is fantastic! I have forwarded it to everyone I know. My friends and family all know I'm an animal advocate and support my passion for helping animals. This list has something for everyone, so they can each participate in their own ways and at their own pace. This helps me to help the animal welfare movement. —Bernadette "Brett" Miller

You forgot one very important way to help—remember the HSUS in your will! —Diane Follet

I love the Humane Society for always trying to remind people of the ways they can make little and simple changes in their everyday lives that are so beneficial to the Earth and her creatures!!! —Mary Killmon

October 26, 2009

Big Pork at the Government Trough—Again

The public has soured on bailouts for industries that have made the wrong decisions for years. With the billions it doled out to the financial services and auto industries, the federal government has finally imposed some requirements, modest though they may be, on the companies that received vast sums of taxpayers' funds. The public no longer wants the combination of financial bailouts and government deregulation. The industries must observe some standards and have some accountability, so that mistakes are not repeated again and again, and taxpayers can feel like the industries are not getting a complete free ride.

But the Congress and the U.S. Department of Agriculture never seem to have gotten the memo when it comes to Big Agribusiness, and especially the pork industry. This industry is shamelessly asking the federal government for more and more bailout money, while it spends its own dollars in an Ohio political campaign to consolidate its unchecked power. And it seems prepared to make no sacrifices, to observe no standards, and to make no course corrections in exchange for the hundreds of millions in handouts it demands from taxpayers. The Congress and USDA accommodate these unreasonable demands without hesitation, and what’s more, they expect nothing of the industry in return, except perhaps political support from the nation’s hog producers.

Pig in crate
USDA

The federal government has doled out $150 million to purchase some of their surplus already, and last week, in testimony before the House Agriculture Subcommittee, the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) and other groups asked the Congress to make additional direct purchases of surplus pork that consumers here and abroad don’t want. The feds are dumping this product on school kids and on adults in prisons, military bases, and other government-run food service programs, and these unwitting recipients of factory-farmed pork are already knee deep in the stuff. Now, incredibly, Big Pork wants the government to buy up still more. NPPC unabashedly said so at the hearing, and in a separate letter sent to the USDA in early October, one-quarter of the Senate and more than 60 House members asked the agency to make an additional $100 million in pork purchases.

Yet it never seems to be enough for this industry, with Big Pork asking for an additional $200 million sow buy-out program—with the aggregate requests approaching half a billion dollars, on top of the hundreds of millions of other direct and indirect subsidies the industry racks up each year in the form of feed subsidies, waste management handouts, and trade agreements and diplomatic gymnastics to promote still more exports of pork for this deregulated industry. It reminds me of the saying attributed to the late Sen. Everett Dirksen, “A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon it adds up to real money.”

Against the warnings of its own agricultural economists, the industry raises and kills more pigs, increasing supply even as demand goes down. In Economics 101, we learn that companies must deal with the consequences of excessive production and make adjustments to operate a successful enterprise. If you’re the American pork industry, however, you can exhibit almost limitless recklessness and the federal government will bail you out time and again.

The hearing last week on the subject before the House Agriculture Committee was a pep rally, not an examination of the issues. There was no debate or discussion—just a roster of industry representatives who mouth the same bromides for Big Pork. It was the latest sound test in what has become the House Agriculture Committee’s echo chamber for Big Agribusiness. Absent from the debate, of course, were the voices of animal advocates, environmentalists, family farmers, public health interests, consumers, taxpayers, or others calling for fiscal restraint.

Here’s an industry that resists regulation and reform at every turn—it wants to continue to subject breeding animals to lifelong inhumane confinement in small cages, it makes a mess of rural communities by filling open-air lagoons with extraordinary volumes of liquefied manure, it resists efforts to phase out its overuse of antibiotics for non-therapeutic purposes, and it wants to take no action to limit its significant contributions to greenhouse gas emissions and other air pollutants. In short, it takes a libertarian approach when it is asked to limit its array of harmful impacts, but a socialist approach when it wants the government to fund sputtering business operations. It’s a great deal for Big Pork, but a scam on the American taxpayer and everyone else who has to deal with the externalities of this industry.

And if the animal cruelty, pollution, climate change, and antibiotic overuse problems were not enough, then consider the role of hog factories in the development and spread of the H1N1 swine flu pandemic. The industry says it’s a victim of media hype, but the evidence is overwhelming that factory farms are the most dangerous incubators and mixing bowls for more virulent strains of the flu that threaten the safety of tens of millions of people across the globe. Hog factories run by American corporations in Mexico may have played the central role in germinating the pandemic in the first place. Now American factory farms threaten to amplify its impact in a major way through their routine practice of concentrating thousands of pigs on giant farms. What’s that additional cost to our economy? Untold billions for sure, in addition to the loss of human life.

Whatever its economic woes, the pork industry is not too strapped to put some real money behind Ohio’s Issue 2, a shameless attempt to solidify the chokehold that factory farmers already have on production methods in that state. There, in a state whose pork products are being rejected by China, Russia, and other nations concerned about the industry’s recklessness, Big Ag’s response is to throw millions of dollars—much of it from pork industry groups—at a measure placed on the ballot by state lawmakers that seeks to protect the status quo and to prevent real reforms in the state. While it unhesitatingly doles out money for political action to preserve nearly complete deregulation for its industry, NPPC keeps its hand wide open for a seemingly endless supply of more cash from taxpayers.

When you add it all up, a greater failure of government is hard to find.

October 23, 2009

Talk Back: Puppy Mills, Eagles, Genetic Engineering

Yesterday, I gave you thoughts on engagement and doing more in your daily lives to improve the circumstances for animals. Your participation is so important to us. And so is your voice. I see this blog as a give-and-take—I share my thoughts and then look forward to hearing yours. Let's keep the conversation going. Here's a sampler of your comments on some recent posts.

In response to the video I posted Monday, documenting our rescue of more than 90 dogs from an Arkansas puppy mill:

Our poor companions, to have to live like this. I am constantly half-hearted, because the other half of me sits in cages with animals like this. Shame on these people. —Heather Hoffman
I saw (and shared) the photos on Facebook—it was absolutely heartbreaking to see the utter despair in some of those dogs' eyes. I wept for them and renewed my pledge to continue educating my friends and colleagues about the horrors perpetuated by so many of those who breed animals solely for profit. The animal rescuers have my heartfelt gratitude and admiration for the work they do—and the low lives who think this is a remotely acceptable way to behave deserve punishment to the full extent (limited though that is, in my opinion) of the law. —Urbancritter
As a proud Arkansan it sickens me to see this. People are so intent on making money off these poor animals that they lose all sense of what is right and wrong. As long as people insist on purchasing "purebred" puppies these mills will continue to grow. Can we stop looking at dogs as accessories and look at them as the companions that they are? That would be a start. —Tonya
When I saw the video of your raid on the Arkansas puppy mill, I was both distressed and happy. I was distressed to see the appalling conditions and abuse those precious little dears had been subjected to, but happy they were rescued by the wonderful men and women of the HSUS and will eventually be adopted into loving homes. Thank God for organizations like yours that are indeed a voice for the animals. As a long-time contributor to the HSUS, I say "thanks," and keep up the good work, Wayne. —Diane Cooper
Thank you HSUS. People, please adopt from shelters. Those of you that want purebreds, I can't figure out why you must, but here is proof you can adopt the same dogs in shelters that you would pay thousands of dollars for. And you can then save that money and donate to the Humane Society or programs like this, to put this horror to an end. —Linda Obuchoska

Reacting to last week's unveiling of the Philadelphia Eagles' Treating Animals With Kindness (TAWK) program, a new community outreach initiative focused on reducing the abuse of animals, promoting adoption, encouraging spay/neuter, and ending dogfighting:

As someone who grew up in the Delaware Valley just northeast of Philly, I have tears of joy in my eyes as I read about all of these recent exponential developments in the cause of humane treatment of animals. I never doubted HSUS, but to see the Eagles management come on board so strongly and to see so much happening (and the end dogfighting training program coming to Philadelphia) is incredible. Great work so far!!! —Sue
Even though I am a Cowboys fan, I must say "Go Eagles" in this case. Every cloud has a silver lining; I admire this organization for bringing Vick's issue to the forefront and doing something positive, especially having Vick speak at the education programs, featuring players doing good and fun things with their dogs, and giving money to help dog welfare organizations. —Karen Kennedy
This is absolutely fabulous news! I am hoping more NFL teams follow the Eagles’ footsteps! How great would that be! So many fans watch football and for more NFL teams to back up animal cruelty issues would be wonderful! —Karen Wagner

Continue reading "Talk Back: Puppy Mills, Eagles, Genetic Engineering" »

October 22, 2009

50 Things You Can Do for Animals and The HSUS

I have been conducting Town Hall meetings around the nation, and next week, I hit San Francisco and Los Angeles. The week after, I visit Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati.

I truly enjoy meeting our members, giving them the latest updates on our progress, and hearing from them about issues of importance.

One of the most frequently asked questions is, "How can I be involved and what can I do to help The HSUS and animal protection?"

Collie dog and gray and white cat
iStockphoto

I tell them that neither The HSUS nor the larger cause of animal protection can succeed without their active involvement in the cause. Each one of us can and must act, often in a variety of ways.

With such people in mind, I am updating and republishing a list of 50 potential action items for those who want to become more involved in our work—whether or not you come to one of my Town Hall meetings. Please take some time to go through the full roster. Print the list and check off the items over the next few weeks and months, or even over the next year, making your way through as much of it as you can.

We'll succeed as a movement when we have millions of our supporters who take these and other positive actions for animals. When we act in a collective way, we are a powerful force in our communities, in the political arena, and in the marketplace. And we can all pitch in to raise funds to support the vital work of The HSUS and allow it to grow and be a more powerful and effective force.

HSUS Engagement Activities

In Your Community:

Personal Behavior:

Get Training—Get Activated:

Continue reading "50 Things You Can Do for Animals and The HSUS" »

October 21, 2009

Queen Tillie: Before and After

It may be easy to forget, when talking about our 16 raids of puppy mills this year and the 3,000 dogs rescued, about the individuals. Each little life matters so much, and it’s often good to remind ourselves of the impact of these operations on the individuals.

Tillie was an 8- to 10-year-old Chihuahua rescued from a puppy mill we raided in Kaufman County, Texas, where she was discovered in a dark, dilapidated enclosure. Now the proud family member of Glenda Cox and Tony Roberts of Wylie, Texas, she’s got much more love and light focused on her, and she looks like a different dog. Glenda wrote a note I wanted to share:

Today we adopted a dog that was rescued from the Kaufman, Texas puppy mill raid. She is the sweetest, most adorable Chihuahua. The pictures of her and the living conditions she was rescued from on your website brought tears to our eyes as we sat on the couch with our new little girl asleep in our arms. I remember watching this raid on the news and thought "oh, that is terrible," but now that I have one of these little mothers in my home it causes me to feel so strongly about what a puppy mill really is. Tillie will never be mistreated or taken for granted again. She has earned the rank of Queen at our house very quickly and we intend on making the rest of her life the very best. As she lies asleep on our laps we feel such a joy of knowing we have made a difference in her life. Thank you so much to all of the volunteers that gave their time to rescue these animals.

Here are the “Before and After” photos.

Tillie, Chihuahua rescued from Kaufman County, Texas puppy mill

In Texas, where Tillie was being bred, there are no laws to regulate mass breeding facilities that sell directly to the public. But in many states that is changing. This year Indiana, Oregon, Washington, Tennessee, and five other states passed puppy mill laws. Texas and other states should follow, and we’ll be sharing Tillie’s story and ones like it with legislators and other decision makers as we continue our fight against puppy mill cruelty.

To see what you can do to help stop puppy mills, visit our campaign website.

October 20, 2009

Talk Back: Work in Progress

The victories we achieve slake our thirst for change. But with our cause, like any other that calls for such major political and cultural change, there are setbacks and frustration along the way. Your comments celebrate the forward movement, but express rightful frustration as decision-makers opt for the status quo. Today, it’s your turn to sound off.

Many of you commented last week on California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s signing of bills to strengthen penalties for poaching and dogfighting and ban the tail docking of dairy cows, but his vetoing of measures to crack down on puppy mills, halt the roadside sale of animals, and prohibit felons convicted of animal abuse from owning an animal. Among your thoughts:

I am as confused as you by our governor's vetoes. They really make no sense. I am pleased he signed some of the bills but am baffled as to why he would choose to protect felons and puppy mills. Not the first time he has done something strange. Perhaps our next governor will be more friendly towards animals. —Diane Sweeney
Wisconsin is my home state and where my dad once practiced as a dairy cow vet. We were both horrified and disgusted at the unconscionable practice of cutting off a cow's tail—for no proven good reason. The sight of deformed cows grazing in the pastures brought all sorts of horrors to mind—the pain, the flies. Arnold may not have signed the bill banning this practice in his state with total awareness, but maybe this will start the ball rolling in the other offending states. I know that most people are totally unaware of this practice and are duly horrified when it is explained to them. Publicity surrounding this bill may bring the practice to light and bring about change. We can only hope. —Janet McKenna
Thank you and HSUS so much for your tireless efforts to lobby and educate politicians that resulted in them passing these laws. Our governor is frequently very frustrating in his back and forth, makes-no-sense stand on some of these issues. We will just have to wait him out and hope for a more compassionate and forward thinking new governor to take a stand for animals in the future. Nevertheless, these victories you have won DO make a huge difference for the animals involved, and that is worth all the effort put forth by you and the amazing HSUS staff, volunteers, supporters and especially those who go undercover in dangerous and ugly places like slaughterhouses to help animals have a better life. We are blessed to have HSUS in the world! —Caroll Schwartz

You also responded strongly to my post contrasting how the animal agribusiness industry handled the call for reform in Michigan (with compromise between animal welfare and agriculture groups, and the advancing of legislation to phase out the use of veal crates, gestation crates, and battery cages) and Ohio (where state agriculture leaders wouldn’t even engage in dialogue):

As a resident of Ohio I continue to feel disgust and contempt for the legislature and agricultural department in this state. Here again there is no consideration for the animals. —Claire Sadar
Thank you for this column. As you probably know, there is a great football rivalry between Ohio and Michigan. But in the area of humane agriculture, Michigan is way ahead of us. Why is it such a stretch to understand that battery cages are bad for egg-laying hens? There are countless scientific studies that will tell you this. The speed at which our governor and legislature did the Farm Bureau's bidding to get Issue 2 on the ballot was mind-boggling. It got through the legislature in two days, while we have been trying to pass meaningful puppy mill reform here for years. It makes me depressed to be an Ohio resident. Gandhi said that you can judge the greatness and moral progress of a nation by the way it treats its animals. By that measure, Ohio is looking pretty bad. —Emily

Continue reading "Talk Back: Work in Progress" »

October 19, 2009

Dogs Delivered from Evil

I just wish that every person thinking about buying a dog from a pet store, from an Internet site, or from a parking lot or other roadside setting would watch our video of our recent Arkansas puppy mill raid—and then, in acquiring a dog, go to a shelter or rescue group instead. Working with the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, The HSUS delivered more than 90 dogs from one of the most appalling settings we’ve dealt with in a while—and that’s saying something, since our team has done 16 puppy mill raids this year, and rescued nearly 3,000 dogs from the mass commercial breeding operations.

Johnson County, Arkansas puppy mill
The HSUS

These dogs, mostly Pekingese, Yorkies and other small breeds, were suffering from severe matting, parasite infestation, eye injuries, and skin and dental infections. One older Pekingese was so matted that her hair was grown around the bars of her cage, like a vine wrapped around a fence. We had to literally cut her out of her wire prison. The property owner walked by this trapped dog every day and, evidently, was so emotionally disconnected from her suffering that she did nothing to mitigate the situation. Many of the dogs seemed to have little life in them—they were so emotionally traumatized by their fate. But dogs do have an amazing ability to rebound from such circumstances, if they are given the right care and heaping doses of love, and that is our great hope in this case.

They are now recuperating at the Washington Animal Rescue League. Once nursed back to health, they will be adopted into the right homes.