In the 22 months since Saving Gracie was published, I’ve heard from dozens of animal lovers eager to share their story about rescuing a puppy mill dog. A recent letter from 20-year-old Ohio resident Breann Davis is as powerful as they come. Breann wrote about her own experience working in a puppy mill. She was so shell-shocked by what she witnessed — and by what she was unable to change — that last October she finally left, vowing to do what she can on the outside to change the lives of these dogs. With her permission, I’m reprinting Breann’s letter so you can read the disturbing details for yourself. Thanks, Breann.
My name is Breann and I recently purchased your book, “Saving Gracie.” Stopping puppy mills is something I want to dedicate my life to. I recently quit my job, I worked at a puppy mill for fourteen months. During my time there I saw the most horrifying things and to this day I still have nightmares about it.
I started my job there right out of high school. My mother had told me about a “dog kennel” that was hiring and I jumped on the opportunity because I love dogs. Dogs have always been my life and my love for them is uncomparible to anything else. To my horror, it was not a dog kennel at all but a full blown mill. Three buildings filled with dogs in wire cages. The noise was deafening. The smell was even worse. But I accepted the job because I wanted to work with animals and I figured that I might be able to make their lives a little better. When I first started there were around 100 dogs. You see, she didn’t breed very much so out of the 100, only about 20 were adults. She was mostly a broker. She bought puppies for low prices from local amish and resold them for outrageous prices. 90% of the dogs there were sickly. Every week she would go out and bring more dogs in. Half of the pups would die after about a week. It was truly awful.
The dogs mental health were worse than their physical. If they weren’t completely terrified of people then they were so crazed for attention that they would try digging or biting threw the cage to get to you. After a few months of me being there she doubled her kennel size. She kept most of her dogs in 24″ by 24″ wire cages. She had Yorkies, Maltese, Poodles, Caveliers, Bichons, Poms, Havanese, Pugs, and various mix breeds. In slightly bigger wire cages she kept Bulldogs, Bermese Mountain dogs, Labs and various others. If these larger breed puppies didn’t sell fast enough, their legs would grow wrong from standing on the wire and not being able to exercise. Working there messed me up, being in the middle of animal cruelty was stressful.
She always lied when selling the pups, telling the new owners that the pups were bred and raised by her. She hired a vet who had lost his license due to malpractice to “vet check” these puppies. Most of the dogs she sold went for at least $600, most of them being mixed breeds. She oftentimes sold mixed dogs as purebreds. I spent most of my mornings frantically trying to revive dying puppies, medicating ill dogs and giving each animal a little bit of love, even if it was just a pat on the head. The rest of my day consisted of cleaning and feeding.
I ended up saving two dogs from that hell hole. My first was a yorkie-poo I named Sheldon. Soon after I started working there Sheldon came in from an amish breeder. Three days later I took him low for the “low” price of $250. She was selling him for $600 originally. My tiny half pound puppy was riddled with ear mites and worms. He was also underweight. But boy was he a little lover boy and I was happy for him to have a home.
My second dog, Namine, I got in January of this year, 2011. She was seven months old and extremely terrified of everything. My boss had told me she was trading her to an Amish breeder in exchange for some puppies. I couldn’t bare to watch that tiny, horrified yorkie-pom girl spend the rest of her life producing litter after litter. I immediately offered to buy her and that day I took her home for $150.
I still have both of these dogs and they are spoiled rotten. Namine is still very skittish and trusts very few people, but she spends most of her time slumbering in my lap or enjoying the big yard we have. You can tell that both dogs are grateful to be out of that place, they are such wonderful animals who have brightened my life.
I ended up quitting soon after an awful upper respiritory infection broke out, killing over half of the kennel. Never have I ever witnessed that much death at one time.
I hope one day my ex boss will be shut down, but sadly animal laws aren’t very strict so she will continue to get away with it. I may only be twenty, but I hope one day I can be part of the solution to getting rid of these cruel operations.
Thank you for your time and your book.