Billy, the endearing puppy mill Chihuahua who touched hundreds of thousands of people when he appeared in a YouTube video with his rescuer and new caretaker Adam Parascandola, died peacefully but unexpectedly over the holidays. More than 600,000 people watched our YouTube video, released months after The HSUS’ Animal Rescue Team took him from a mill in North Carolina, where lawmakers have resisted imposing any state-based humane breeding standards. HLN’s Jane Valez Mitchell featured Billy and Adam on her show just weeks ago.
Like so many breeding animals confined for years at puppy mills, Billy had many chronic health conditions. He was scarred both physically and psychologically as a consequence of living in a cage for years, denied veterinary care or any meaningful human attention or affection. When I met Billy a few weeks ago at an event at the Washington Animal Rescue League, I saw a bundle of joy, but with obvious problems – most noticeably, his repetitive circling (dozens of times) before he would urinate or defecate. A portion of his lower jaw was missing due to years of chronic untreated periodontal disease, and he had other ailments. Our rescue team, and Adam specifically, provided him with the best vet care and endless doses of affection, but he succumbed despite those acts of kindness.
At this point, he becomes something of a timeless ambassador for what happens to dogs in puppy mills, memorialized in the video that features him. At the same time, his own happy spirit, despite his travails, reminds us of the capacity of animals to forgive and to love. We, as a species, can learn more than a thing or two from Billy about putting those principles into action.
Please watch Billy’s tribute video and learn more about how The HSUS will continue the fight to stop puppy mills in Billy’s name. Thanks for all you do to help us rescue animals like Billy.