Photo: Brian Stemmler, Stemmler Photography
How humankind chooses to train and care for man’s best friend exposes deeper convictions about war and peace, dominance and submission, and joy and compassion.
The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated. ~ Mohandas Gandhi
A Yelp for Help
Bill Smith, founder of Main Line Animal Rescue (www.mlar.org) wanted to get Oprah Winfrey’s attention. So he put up a billboard in Chicago several months ago that read, "Oprah: Do a show on puppy mills. The dogs need you."
Billboard designed by Paul Harlacher
It worked! Oprah Winfrey did an exposé on puppy mills with internationally recognized investigator, Lisa Ling.  It gave the American public an unobstructed view of the canine concentration camps, breeding grounds of tragedy that dog world professionals have warned about for decades. 
Puppy mill dogs are continuously bred, typically spending their entire lives locked up in tiny, wire cages, undernourished, and plagued by flies, their coats matted with urine and feces. By the time they are rescued, some are just the tattered remnants of the misuse of power. And like humans and other animals, they can suffer from symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) such as exaggerated startle response, aggression, regressive housetraining behaviors, hyper-vigilance, difficulty relaxing or sleeping, difficulty adapting to new situations, and repetitive behaviors such as pacing, among other symptoms. 
Surprisingly, many puppy mills are nestled in Amish country, where a successful raid was conducted by the Pennsylvania SPCA on July 17th. A Pennsylvania Dutch farmer was arrested on multiple charges of animal cruelty, filmed live by the reality show Animal Cops, which will be continuing to trail the Pennsylvania SPCA for several more weeks. Obscured by the picture-perfect façade of the simple life, the exploitation has been protected, in part, by some of the local governments’ unwillingness to upset the tourist-trade apple cart.
According to The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), there may be as many as 10,000 puppy mills across the country. Public outcry has encouraged puppy mill raids, but even those dogs who are lucky enough to be rescued are just beginning their journey toward health and a happy home.
Rehabilitating the System by Telling the Tails
One canine concentration camp survivor has an inspiring story. She spent nine years imprisioned in a wire cage, continuously pumping out offspring, her vocal cords cut so she couldn't bark or whine. Her tale is told by psychologist Jana Kohl in “A Rare Breed of Love: The True Story of Baby and the Mission She Inspired to Help Dogs Everywhere." (http://ararebreedoflove.com/)
When she was too old to breed, and therefore deemed useless, “Breeder #94” was scheduled to be put down. She was rescued in the nick of time—although not soon enough to save her left front leg, which had to be amputated as a result of her mistreatment. In spite of everything, “Baby” is now a happy, perky, unofficial spokesdog for the HSUS. She romps around the country as an animal rights activist, accompanied by her human. Kohl’s book features photos of Baby with celebrity supporters, from sports icons and actors to Barack Obama.
I am in favor of animal rights as well as human rights. That is the way of a whole human being. ~Abraham Lincoln
Shelters and rescue organizations all around the country have stepped up to the plate to offer asylum to puppy mill rescues—which include the adult breeding dogs as well as puppies.