Much like factory farmed animals, puppy mill dogs often live out their lives in filth, pain, and extreme discomfort all in the name of demand and profit. These dogs rarely receive sufficient veterinary care, food, water, exercise, or socialization and they almost never get the chance to leave their dirty, cramped wire cages or outdoor kennels.

Breeding dogs who spend their entire lives in these facilities suffer from a number of health problems that can range from epilepsy and kidney disease to respiratory disorders and eye problems such as cataracts and glaucoma, the ASPCA reports.

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However, the sad fact is that these types of facilities and conditions are not against the law in many areas.

“Commercial breeding dogs are considered livestock so the cruelty laws are much different. What a regular person might be charged for in the treatment of their personal pet does not apply to puppy mill dogs,” Jenny Whitt of Colorado Springs-based National Mill Dog Rescue tells OGP.

National Mill Dog Rescue is always on the front lines, helping puppy mill breeding dogs through rescue, rehabilitation, and rehoming efforts. Whitt went on her first rescue mission with Mill Dog Rescue back in May 2012 and witnessed first-hand the puppy mill horrors most will never see.

Whitt traveled with Mill Dog Rescue all the way to Arkansas to free 60 dogs from a local puppy mill, all who where found in horrific shape. Of these 60 dogs, a Maltese, later named Moxie, was in the worst shape of the bunch.

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Whitt tells us that his feet were “permanently damaged” from standing on a wire cage for 12 years of his life and that he was left without any teeth or a lower jaw, which is common for puppy mill dogs.

“When they are young and teething, they only have the wire on their cage to chew on. That alone destroys the teeth. In addition, most only drink water out of rabbit feeders. Drinking this way does not allow the water to flush through the mouth, cleaning the teeth and gums. There is never dental care for these dogs and their jaws literally disintegrate,” Whitt says.

Whitt tells us that Moxie was so weak that he could barely lift his head and looked as if he “had given up.”

National Mill Dog Rescue

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 On the day of Moxie’s rescue, the group cut away the mats from his eyes and gave him a bath to clean him up. However, despite these efforts, Moxie’s fur still remained brown from the dirt and urine that had long been caked to his body.

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National Mill Dog Rescue

Whitt says that he couldn’t even stand up after his rescue, and so he had to eat lying down.

National Mill Dog Rescue

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Even though Moxie had some trouble with his legs, the group did let him out onto a lawn so that he could feel the touch of grass for the very first time.

National Mill Dog Rescue

Mill Dog Rescue was unsure if Moxie would survive the entire trip back to Colorado, but they were thankful he did and Whitt even decided to become his adopted mom.

National Mill Dog Rescue

Now, Moxie is living out the rest of his days with Whitt, who says that they share an “incredible” bond, crediting love as his ultimate cure.

National Mill Dog Rescue

Despite his intital obstacles and weakness, Moxie can stand just fine now and Whitt says that he sometimes runs so fast that she can’t even catch him.

National Mill Dog Rescue

“He is animated and hilarious, just truly excited to be alive,” Whitt tells OGP.

National Mill Dog Rescue

Today, Moxie acts as an ambassador for National Mill Dog Rescue and all the dogs who suffer in puppy mills across the country. He loves meeting new people and giving them high fives…

National Mill Dog Rescue

…and mostly, he just loves being free and relaxing as he pleases.

National Mill Dog Rescue

For more information and photos of Moxie, check out his Facebook page. To learn about other puppy mill rescues and adoptable ex-puppy mill dogs, please visit National Mill Dog Rescue online here.

Lead image source: National Mill Dog Rescue