With its strength and reach, The HSUS has the ability to fight battles on multiple fronts—taking on factory farming, the exotic pet trade, Petland and its puppy mill connection, the use of chimpanzees in research, animal fighting, and so much more.
© The HSUS
Sealers begin the killing as the ProtectSeals team observes.
Yesterday was a great example of how we are on the front lines fighting for animals. Our ProtectSeals team was bearing witness to the most horrendous cruelties against baby seals in Atlantic Canada, documenting the first day of the annual commercial seal kill and spreading the word to the world that it must end. Rebecca Aldworth, who leads our team, has posted her observations here, and will continue to file updates throughout the hunt.
And, at the same time, members of our Field Services staff, led by Arkansas State Director Desiree Bender and Central Director Lou Guyton, and our Emergency Services unit were deployed in northwestern Arkansas, rescuing hundreds of neglected dogs from a lifetime of misuse and abuse in a puppy mill. Scotlund Haisley, our senior director of Emergency Services, shared with staff this dispatch on the rescue mission, and I thought I’d share it with you.
Today’s rescue started this morning at 5:30 am, but the wheels were set in motion weeks ago. A large-scale puppy mill raid like this one requires hundreds of hours of planning and coordination to be successful. This morning as we struggled to rise before the sun our team knew they had a long day of exhausting, emotionally draining work ahead of them. But tonight there is one less puppy mill in Arkansas and 361 neglected animals resting peacefully—many for the first time in their lives.
As The HSUS and United Animal Nations set up the emergency shelter my field team and I drove down a dirt road with the sheriff and our friends from the Humane Society of Missouri to serve the warrant. I knew that we were getting close when the stench of decades of suffering reached us. We came upon a scene common in the puppy mill industry. Hundreds of dogs were living in rusty wire cages wallowing in their own waste. As we delved deeper into the 82-acre property the abuse became progressively more disturbing.
It was especially bleak inside the home, where 100 dogs were being kept. The interior was a combination of mass breeding facility and compulsive hoarder. Wire cages were stacked on top of ammonia-soaked carpet and surrounded by waist-high piles of sales records and books. In this sea of filth we found a litter of day-old pups. The runt was limp and lifeless when we reached him. Rescuers rushed him to the on-site vet who was able to revive him. I then had him transported to our emergency shelter, where the sheltering team was able to stabilize him.
© The HSUS
One of 361 dogs rescued in Arkansas.
This puppy just beginning his life was moments from death. His rescue deeply touched me. I was also moved by the rescue of another dog who was nearer to the end of life. We came upon a senior Akita who had lived out his entire existence in a wire run with a concrete floor and nothing else. This massive 150-pound-dog was both blind and deaf. Many dogs faced with such an existence would become aggressive, but this dog was as gentle as a lamb. As we removed him from his run he hugged the ground with his body, refusing to leave his small prison for fear of the unknown. After 10 years of neglect we have given him the opportunity to experience kindness and comfort in his final years.
I was also struck by the diversity we found at this mill. They were churning out a wide variety of breeds—some so unusual many consumers assume they are not victims of mass breeding. I can say from first-hand experience that no breed is immune to the horrors of this industry. The owners had not limited their neglect to the dogs on their property. Our team also found 29 mistreated horses roaming their farm.
It took responders hours to round up this herd of unsocialized horses. They were suffering from severely overgrown hooves, malnutrition and other untreated medical conditions. The horses, like the dogs, were kept strictly to turn a profit. These horses have joined the rescued dogs at our emergency shelter on their way to a new life.
This evening at 8:30 I walked down the rows of the emergency shelter as the dogs were being settled in for the night. Volunteers were refilling water bowls, cleaning soiled cages and laying down soft blankets. I was struck by how remarkably different this night would be for the rescued animals. Dogs that had been pacing incessantly on wire grates were now curled up comfortably slumbering on clean bedding. It was as if they knew they were free. My final kiss goodnight was to the day-old puppy, who had been slated for death just 12 hours prior, but was now thriving at his mother’s side. It gives me peace of mind to think that he will never know the horrors that the others on the mill experienced their entire lives.
This is our ninth puppy mill bust in as many months. In this world of seemingly endless suffering we must shoulder the mantle of compassion and believe that no one is beyond hope of rescue.