We recently got in a couple of young dogs from a puppy mill. They aren't our first mill dogs, though. Our boy Finny (was Flynn) came from a local mill/hoarder. I already did a post on puppy mills, and why buying puppies from pet stores is a bad idea.
Today I'm going to talk a little bit about what it means to foster or adopt a puppy mill dog.
Most mill dogs come into rescue in horrific physical condition. They are filthy, matted and have over grown nails and rotten teeth. The young ones that make it out of the mills before they get in that condition are still usually filthy and stained from walking in filth. Grooming and vet treatment can treat the physical ailments, and sometimes that's the easy part.
The thing that many people don't realize is that these puppy mill rescues aren't just in bad physical shape. They are in bad mental shape as well.
Most mill dogs live their lives in wire cages, or cement kennels. Many have never touched grass, or carpet. Our recent mill pups had never felt grass. One of them just crumpled when his feet touched the grass. The other freaked out, bucking and kicking, terrified. They are not used to being touched, and shy away from human hands. The lucky ones are just not used to being touched. The unlucky ones have been beaten or kicked. These dogs don't understand things like stairs, or beds, or couches. They don't know what toys are and usually have to learn from other dogs how to play.
We are lucky to have gotten our newest arrivals, Collin and Sullivan, at a young age. They have not spent years like that, and will hopefully in time learn how to be a member of the family. They will learn to want affection and human interaction.
Fostering or adopting a puppy mill dog is hard. It's definitely not like fostering or adopting a regular pet that has been released to rescue. These dogs need a lot of time and patience. It's not for everyone. Some puppy mill dogs have been so broken they never truly recover.
Before you decide to adopt a former puppy mill rescue, do some research. There are many wonderful websites devoted to teaching people what they need to know about a puppy mill rescue dog. One of the best is Best Friends.
Fostering or adopting a former puppy mill rescue is one of the hardest and most rewarding things you will do. To watch the dog learn to trust and open up is priceless. But be sure you are ready for the task before you jump in. These dogs have had a lot of upheaval in their lives and the last thing anyone wants is for them to come back in to rescue. We want them in their forever homes!
If you are interested in adopting a former puppy mill dog, check with local breed specific rescues. Many times they will get them in or will know where you will find a rescue that gets mill dogs in.