Saving Gracie: How One Dog Escaped the Shadowy World of American Puppy Mills

A co-worker had a sad tale about a sick puppy. Her granddaughter’s other grandparents purchased a puppy from a local pet store and the puppy was sick. The granddaughter was heartbroken. I expressed concern that the puppy was most likely from a puppy mill; she responded with a blank look. I have heard about the evil of puppy mills for so long, that I was surprised to learn that she was not familiar with the plight of dogs in puppy mills across the nation. She had not heard the maxim, “don’t shop, adopt” and obviously neither had the other grandparents.

Although published in 2010, Carol Bradley’s book, “Saving Gracie: How One Dog Escaped the Shadowy World of American Puppy Mills” is still relevant today and an important education about the horrors of puppy mills. Ms. Bradley does an excellent job researching this work and providing detailed information about puppy mills, how the laws to protect the dogs, sometimes work and sometimes do not. The description of the puppy mill where Gracie was rescued is difficult to read, but the hard work done to save those dogs is inspiring. Dogs which never felt sunlight or walked on grass, never had a toy to play with and whose bodies had been pushed to the limit by horrible conditions, were provided love and found homes.

I was especially surprised to learn that the dogs, considered personal property, are to be housed until the puppy mill owner’s court case has been resolved, because there is a potential that the dogs could be returned. Not only is this prospect disheartening, it creates a burden on the animal shelters to care for an influx of dozens of dogs at one time and to keep them for long periods of time. This in turn puts pressure on attorneys handling the case to resolve it quickly. However, the parties have the dog’s best interest in mind as they go through the process. Local rescue groups often step up to help house the dogs and people wait patiently to adopt them when they are released.

Gracie was saved from her plight because one person called and reported the breeder to the local authorities. In my co-worker’s case, before I got involved, the pet store owner had taken the puppy back and returned the money, so not only do we not know what happened to the puppy, we were unable to file a lawsuit, because legally there were no damages. However, my co-worker and I went to the pet store and obtained as much information as possible about the conditions at the pet store, which we turned over to the local animal shelter and district attorney’s office. As I learned from Ms. Bradley’s book, one person can make a difference.

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