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Arkansas puppy mill survivors recover, begin new lives
January 18, 2012
When the 102 survivors of an Arkansas puppy mill that was closed during a cruelty investigation arrived on December 21, we were well aware of what we were getting into. None of the dogs had received any meaningful veterinary care at the mill, and years of life in a wire cage with virtually no human contact left these dogs with no idea of how to be household pets. Everything in the world was a new—and often terrifying—experience. Even a dog toy in their den could send them into a panic. In short, we had our work cut out for us.
But dogs, who seem to be propelled by an internal drive to be loyal companions, can be amazingly resilient. Within weeks, some of the younger ones had been cleared for adoption; they began flying out the door to wonderful lives that would have been hardly imaginable before their rescue.
Others, like Chamomile, require more time and effort before they can be introduced to potential adopters. A 7-year-old, 9-pound miniature pinscher, Chamomile’s front leg had been broken at least once, and possibly twice, in the past. We fear that her tiny paw and thin leg may have slipped through the wires of her cage and gotten stuck. With no one to come to her aid, she may have broken the leg in a desperate struggle to get free. Even then, she didn’t get any medical care.
A prominent area veterinary surgeon agreed to donate Chamomile’s surgery. Her leg has now been re-set, but it will be another eight weeks of recovery time before she is ready for adoption.
Meanwhile, five other puppy mill dogs are still in the Medical Center, where they are undergoing surgery for tumors, an eye problem, and lengthy heart worm treatments.
The behavior and training team has also been extremely busy with these dogs, working on issues such as food aggression, which is common among dogs who have lived in close quarters and had to fight for meals, and fear of being handled, by a veterinarian, for instance. A few are still being hand fed to build their trust in people.
But 64 of the dogs are now enjoying a new life with their new families. And 31 are currently available for adoption, waiting to make the final step from puppy mill survivor to cherished companion in some proud and compassionate home.