Harley and Teddy are two canines with a cause – they both were rescued from puppy mills and they have made it their mission to rescue other dogs from lives of misery in breeding facilities.
Last May in the “Harley to the Rescue” trip with National Mill Dog Rescue, they helped free more than 60 dogs in Missouri and Kansas and they will head out from Colorado again on Sept. 6.
Harley, who is 13, spent 10 years as a commercial breeder in a puppy mill.
“He never had a bed or a bone, he received no medical care, and he never knew the touch of a kind human,” says his adoptive “mom,” Rudi Taylor. “His job was to help produce puppies; cute little Chihuahua puppies to be sold in pet stores all over the country.”
Rudi says Harley was one of the lucky ones, he got a second chance at life - he was rescued. But, she said, he was in heart failure, his lungs and stomach were filled with fluid, his teeth were all rotten, his nails were so long they caused his toes to deform, his tail was broken, and his spine was fused from painful arthritis. He’d also lost his left eye.
“This kind of injury is common in puppy mills as the cages are often cleaned using a power washer without removing the dogs,” Rudi says. “Most dogs don’t last more than 5-6 years in a mill, but Harley is a survivor, he had to be, his mission awaited him.”
Rudi says as a “spokesdog” against puppy mills, Harley has helped raise more than $50,000, with every penny going toward saving more mill dogs and paying their medical expenses.
Harley’s friend Teddy will join him on the rescue mission. Teddy spent seven years in a puppy mill. He and his "girlfriend" Gwinnie were rescued in August of 2012. In his Facebook page he describes how scared the two of them were, even after they were removed from the breeder.
"Poor Gwinnie," he said. "She was so frightened she would crawl under the bed in the kennel and would run from everyone. Since I’m such a tough guy, I would protect her and get between her and anyone who came in."
Teddy and Gwinnie were adopted together by "mom," Michele Burchfield of National Mill Dog Rescue. NMDR is a Colorado Springs based 501(c)(3) organization that rescues, rehabilitates, and re-homes discarded commercial breeding dogs from puppy mills.
Yes, it's legal for breeders to "discard" dogs that have outlived their purpose.
Michele says “commercial dog breeding" falls under the jurisdiction of the USDA. Although no standardized legal definition for "puppy mill" exists, a definition was established in Avenson v. Zegart in 1984 as "a dog breeding operation in which the health of the dogs is disregarded in order to maintain a low overhead and maximize profits." The ASPCA uses a similar definition: "a large-scale commercial dog breeding operation where profit is given priority over the well-being of the dogs."
NMDR says it's important for people who want to buy a purebred dog to see where the dog's parents live and under what conditions.
More and more pet stores doing away with puppy sales, instead featuring dogs and cats from rescue groups.
Harley and Teddy, and their new friend Moxie, will head out on their mission on Sept. 6.
National Mill Dog Rescue has rescued more than 7,700 dogs from puppy mills over the past 6 years. They operate on donations. You can help by making a donation on their Harley to the Rescue page on YouCaring.com.