DENVER - The two year old dog quakes uncontrollably, clearly terrified. “This is her first time out of the wire cage, on the ground, around people,” says Theresa Strader. She is the founder of the Colorado-based Mill Dog Rescue organization.
The dog came from an Amish puppy mill in Missouri. FOX 31 went undercover with Strader, where she bought the dog from the breeder. It was running in tight circles in a small wire cage, a condition Strayder calls “kennel crazy.”
“In her cage, all she did was spin in a very tight, very fast circle. Where dogs who don’t have an opportunity to move around like normal dogs, they kind of go crazy,” Strader explains.
Puppy mills like these flourish in Missouri’s Amish country. The conditions are squalid, but not illegal. The mill dogs likve in sheds filled with wire cages. The floors are wire. It makes it easier to clean the excrement, but causes the dog’s feet to deform.
Strader says sometimes dogs chew on the wire cage, which causes their jaws to rot and teeth to decay.
Undercover at another Amish puppy mill, Strader discovers puppies the breeder says are a day old. The pick of the litter will be sent to a broker.
The dogs that meet the criteria are sent to pet stores around the country, including in Colorado. If a dog is not selected by the broker, it is sent back to the mill where it will spend its life in a cage, bred continually with little veterinary care or socialization.
And when the dog no longer makes a profit for the miller, Strader says it is killed.
The Humane Society says it’s easy for animal lovers to unknowingly support puppy mills. Strayder says, “You see that cute, fuzzy puppy in the pet store, you read about him on line, these are the parents and they do not live well. This is not okay for animals to live like this, it’s just not okay.”
There are many responsible breeders and pet stores. The Humane Society recommends you ask to see a puppy’s parents and the environment where it was born.
Strader’s organization brought back nearly 100 dogs from the Missouri puppy mills and auctions. The organization is trying to raise money to buy a kennel near Colorado Springs so they can continue recues throughout the year.
They say they could use all the help anyone wants to offer. Everything from adopting a dog, helping with vet care, donations and simply volunteering time.