Rescue groups collaborate to save 93 puppy mill dogs

The Puppy Mill Project usually doesn’t spearhead dog rescue operations. In fact, the Chicago-based advocacy group has a lot on their plate focusing on educating the public about puppy mills and their connection to pet stores and Internet pet sales. They also focus on changing laws related to pet sales. But a few weeks ago, they were pressed into action because of a developing situation in Southern Illinois.

Elanna Bradley, a rescue volunteer and animal control officer stumbled into a puppy mill while trying to chase down a stray dog. When she knocked on the door, several dirty, matted, smelly dogs came running out and she learned that at least 40 dogs were living on the premises.

She continued to reach out to the puppy mill operator until the breeder finally accepted her help a few weeks ago. That is when Bradley found out there were 93 dogs that needed rescue and her largest rescue to date had been more like 10 dogs. She reached out to her friend Hillary Singer who volunteers for The Puppy Mill Project and she connected Bradley to the organization’s Vice President Janie Jenkins who reached out to the organization’s founder Cari Meyers.

“When Janie brought this to me I knew we had to help,” says Meyers. “Because we are not a rescue, and knowing it costs about $200 per dog, I had no idea how we were going to do it. I said yes anyway and thankfully it all worked out.”

That is when the massive collaboration started to take root. Jenkins called on Colorado-based National Mill Dog Rescue, a group that focuses just on puppy mill rescue and rehabilitation. That rescue was full but connected her with the North Shore Animal League (NSAL), another group with extensive puppy mill experience. They agreed to take 70 dogs.

Another Jenkins connection – The Little Traverse Bay Humane Society – took in 12 dogs about 10 days ago. Rescue ME Clifford, a group that rescues from downstate Illinois and adopts in Chicago and elsewhere, helped set up and pay for the transport. Other groups that stepped up included Labs of Love in Indianapolis; Guardian Angel Bassett Rescue; Dirk’s Fund that took in two Golden Retrievers; Be Fido’s Friend in Chicago.

Transport help for the big rescue was offered by Shannon McGuiness out of Missouri who worked with Michel Burkhart to drive the 70 dogs to meet the NSAL transport. Dogs were removed from the property thanks to Rob and Pam Schuchert of Schuchert Lock Shop who donated their vehicle to help. It was a great collaboration that shows what can be accomplished when so many groups work together (see the more detailed story here).

How you can help

The Puppy Mill Project would love to help out with more rescues like this or to provide funding to other groups that rescue mill dogs. In order to do that, they need your help in the form of donations and other support. The organization holds their annual Mothers in the Mills benefit on Saturday, May 11 – the day before Mother’s Day.

It’s their way to honor the mother dogs left behind in the mills. The event will be at John Barleycorns in River North. There will be music, food and cool auction items – like a signed Blackhawks jersey. Go online for more details and to get tickets. The money raised helps the group with their education and advocacy work. It also helps with other rescues like this – check out the slide show below to get a feel for why this work is so important. If you can’t make it but want to help out with this rescue and others in the future, go online to donate.

Still in need of rescue

During the past two weeks, 93 dogs were saved and one is still waiting for a rescue to step up. A sweet shepherd/Rottweiler mix is 10-years-old and needs either a rescue or adopter to come to her aid. If you are able to adopt her or take her into your organization, please contact Elanna Bradley at She is the first dog in the slideshow below.

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    Raining Cats and Dogs

    I am a crazy cat lady and puppy mill warrior that blogs to advocate and educate about pet issues. In American animal controls, millions of pets are abandoned each year and an estimated 4 million die just because there are not enough homes. It truly seems like it’s Raining Cats and Dogs.

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