I knew this book would not be an easy read, but I just had to read it. Just 2 weeks ago a family member rescued a four year old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, like Gracie, from a Georgia puppy mill. This dog is the sweetest little lap dog ever, but everything is foreign to him: his bed, toys, leash, grass, the sound of cars, birds -- all of these things are new to a puppy mill dog.
Saving Gracie: How One Dog Escaped the Shadowy World of American Puppy Mills, is not all about one dog (later named Gracie). It is a story about a raid on one particular puppy mill - Mike Mar Kennels in Oxford, PA. It is also a wake up call to law enforcement, state and federal agencies about the nationwide problem of often unregulated breeding facilities or puppy mills, and the need for stricter laws and the enforcement of these laws as well.
In the case of Mike-Mar Kennels, owner Mike Wolf, back in the 1960's raised top "show dogs", and in the 1970's began breeding dogs. Sadly his interest grew to thoughts of profit instead of the humane treatment of the dogs in his care. Beginning in 2000, evidence began to mount against Wolf and the kennel. He was cited for failure to maintain the kennel in a sanitary and humane manner and paid a fine of (a laughable) $87.50. In 2004 the AKC stepped in and revoked his kennel and AKC license. But then both the State of PA and the AKC lost track of him and his operations. Finally, in February of 2006, following a tip, the SPCA prepared intervene and to seize what was believed to be some 136 dogs from this facility.
What the team found was worst than expected. The conditions were beyond deplorable. (I'll spare you the details). Nearly all of the dogs had some health issue, and these dogs had most likely never left their cages. All these dogs were simply a number--never a name. Some 30 people took part in the rescue, and a total of 327 dogs, 3 cats and 3 parrots were rescued. On a scale of 1-10 (10 being the worst), this case was rated as a 100.
The public was outraged and some 3,000 animal lovers flooded the shelters with calls of concern and questions about adoption. The owner and associates were put on trial, jailed and/or fined and banned from owning animals. For the rescued dogs, at least for a while, it was not easy going: nearly every puppy mill survivor refused to walk on a leash, some avoided human contact. This was especially true for Dog 132, later adopted by Linda Jackson and her family and named Gracie.
MY THOUGHTS: Gracie was one of the lucky dogs, but this story has just a little to do with Gracie, and her new life. Lucky Gracie, but what about all of the puppy mill dogs that never get to live their life outside of a wire cage? This book made me shed a tear or two, but it is an important story which hopefully will help to raise public awareness to get more people involved in petitioning to change the laws on large scale dog breeding operations. The author, Carol Bradley is a former newspaper reporter, who has written many publications on animal welfare, animal hoarding and animal cruelty. This is not an easy book to read, but it is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED (4.5/5 stars)
(Review Copy received through the Amazon Vine program)