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June 11, 2014

Puppy Mill Dogs-Surviving and Thriving

Just before the February ice storm, a Pawmetto Lifeline volunteer went to a Midlands home to rescue seventeen "breeder" dogs, living in horrific conditions and being kept outside in cages like wild animals. These dogs were from a "backyard breeder," who had been routinely neglecting these pets and treating them as property and assets for their puppy mill.

The volunteer who was instrumental in recovering the dogs from the Midlands breeder was the real hero in this story, convincing the backyard breeder to surrender the pets to us so they could be saved-just in time. The dogs were "high-demand" breeds, such as Shihtzus, Poodles, Pomeranians, and Lhasa Apsos, but they also are breeds with "high maintenance" coats, having long hair that needs to be groomed instead of fur, like other dogs.


When the dogs arrived at Pawmetto Lifeline, they were so matted, and covered in their own filth, that the first step in assessing these animals was to bathe them as soon as possible. When the vet assessed the animals, the dogs had everything from skin conditions and eye infections to serious respiratory infections. They were also malnourished and under-socialized. Directly after the vet assessment, the Adoptions Department took over, giving these dogs the first actions of comfort and kindness they had ever known.


While cutting pounds of mattes and excrement out of the coats of these scared and timid creatures, the Adoptions Department handled them gently, rubbing them and whispering words of love and affection in their ears, "Today, you are loved." They gave each one a gentle bath and provided a soothing touch to their damaged skin and deprived souls.


The rescues spent three weeks being rehabbed, either through the Foster Home program at Pawmetto Lifeline or through the Animal Care program in the facility, depending on their health needs. Over time, those closest to the dogs saw a truly miraculous change. These neglected, frightened animals went from being timid and completely unsure of how to interact with other dogs, to slowly running around, playing with toys and getting used to having their feet on solid ground instead of against crate bars. They were being transformed to turn into dogs, not property, from being treated with compassion and love.                       

In March, one month after their "just in time" rescue, sixteen of the seventeen dogs were shown at a special adoption event at Pawmetto Lifeline. Potential adopters were allowed to come in on Saturday and Sunday to meet these precious pets and find one they could let into their hearts and into their homes.

Now that four months have come and gone, we wanted to share some updates on some of the rescued dogs, now furry family members in their new homes!

(1) Rachel – Shihtzu, 6 years, female, gray & white: Rachel was adopted by a doctor and his wife. They fell in love with Rachel right away and work daily to help her with the breeder issues (housebreaking, timid, scared of strangers) she faces. Rachel is an only dog and is responding successfully to the attention and care!

(2) Pelee - Pomeranian mix, 7 years, female, red: Pelee was adopted by a gentleman that has the opportunity to stay at home so she gets the maximum amount of attention and love! She is an only dog and enjoys not having to share her "spotlight"!

(3) Pax – Pomeranian mix, 17 weeks, male, white: Pax was the youngest breeder dog rescued and had a malformed eye, a common issue with overbreeding. He came to Pawmetto Lifeline as a scared, tiny ball of fluff. When he was adopted by a friend of a Pawmetto Lifeline volunteer, he had stolen more than his share of hearts!  His new name is "Bob," and he is an only dog!

(4) Victoria- Poodle mix, 3 years, female, white: Victoria was adopted by a lady who had recently lost her older dog after more than 13 years together. She fell in love with Victoria and has been giving her lots of love…and maybe some new hairstyles-her mom styles hair for a living, after all!

(5) Anastasia- Poodle mix, 1 year, female, white: Anistasia was adopted by a gentleman who works in Education, which helps with him have the patience and dedication to assist her overcome her heartbreaking past. She has two other fur-siblings!

(6) Tippy – Poodle mix, 1 year, male, fawn: Tippy was adopted by a wonderful lady who knows how to "lay down the law;" she works for a law firm! He is an only dog and enjoys all the benefits that come with that!

(7) Julia – Lhasa Apso mix, 7 years, female, gray & white: Julia was adopted by a wonderful family and now has even more people to give her love and share her happiness, as she now has an 8 year old human brother. She is the only fur-baby in the family, though!

(8) Eloise – Pomeranian, 6 years, female, black & white: Eloise was adopted by programmer who has lots of experience with Pomeranians and their personalities. Eloise got to go home to TWO other Pomeranian fur-sisters!

(9) Margaret – Pomeranian, 5 years, female, black & white: Margaret was adopted by a lady who has the opportunity to spend all of her time with Margaret, providing her with all the love and affection she missed out on in the last five years. And she is also an only dog, which means she isn't sharing that attention, and that's how she likes it!

(10) Reggae – Lhasa Apso mix, 6 years, female, gray: Reggae had the worst coat of all of the puppy mill dogs when she was brought in, with mattes that went down to her skin. You wouldn't know it to look at her today, however! She was adopted by a truck driver and has a 3 year old fur-brother teaching her how to be a companion instead of a piece of property!

(11) Tillman – Poodle mix, 5 years, male, white: Tillman was adopted by a lady who had recently lost her dog. Now, Tillman is her her constant companion, and he receives as much love as he could ever need!  He is the only dog.

(12) Mikey – Pomeranian, 5 years, male white: Mikey was adopted by a teacher and has benefited from experienced hands teaching him how to be a pet and how to live in a family. He also has a 13 year old human brother to give him extra love and affection!

(13) Sophie – Poodle mix, 8+ years old, female white: Sophie was adopted by a Pawmetto Lifeline employee who fell in love with this sweet girl and her spirit! She is in a home with many fur-sibilings, learning how to live like the princess she is!

Of the seventeen dogs that were rescued, there are still four that are searching for their forever homes. If you or someone you know is interested in one of these wonderful dogs, please contact DeeAnn Jones at or 803-465-9150.