At the beginning of this year 1,300 dogs had to be rescued from three different licensed breeders in Georgia alone. We’re talking about dogs stuffed in cages with feces matted fur. I wondered, how can this be? Where are the regulations to prevent medical neglect and stop animal cruelty. I began researching regulations and laws around the country to see what other states were doing to better protect man’s best friend. My journey took me physically to Pennsylvania, the puppy mill capitol of the country. Most people concerned about this issue know what’s happening – but I found few realized the progress made. That progress, as well as efforts made in states like California and Colorado, could offer solutions to other communities looking for answers. I’m calling this series Caged in Cruelty: Opening the door to reform.



She gave birth to 150 puppies then was discarded. How Victoria's story could stop puppy mills:

She grew up watching the animal cops on Animal Planet. Now she is one and we got to ride along:

Caged in Cruelty YouTube Playlist:

Rebecca Bio:

Comments: 951 • Responses: 57  • Date: 

Asquian623 karma

Do you think the problem is lack of regulations/laws, or lack of enforcement?

11AliveATL584 karma

BOTH. I think we need more consistency between the states or the true puppy mill breeders will just keep moving to where they can make a buck. The regulations help set the standards we find acceptable as a community. They determine whether the animals get access to fresh air, exercise and proper medical care. But it's the enforcement that's needed to ensure those standards are being held.

So first, I think states need to improve their standards. Breeders who actually care about their animals should actually want the mothers to have a good quality of life. They are the backbone of their business, not just a commodity. Even those resistant to change in Pennsylvania told me during my recent visit, they have come around and now agree with the standards because happy dogs made better breeders. Regulations such as these are easy to enforce if you have a staff willing to do it.

Enforcement, especially of animal cruelty laws, is harder. Police don't have time or resources to sometimes recognize it or know what to do when they find it. Police departments sometimes don't have nearby shelters to take dogs that need to be rescued and they don't have money to provide necessary medical care. This is where more public/private partnerships could be beneficial. Rescues and shelters specifically partnering with their police and District Attorneys offices to provide that support so that they will tackle these kinds of cases. - Rebecca

brandeenween320 karma

Do you feel like pop culture, internet and media are pushing the over breeding of certain dogs, like French Bulldogs, corgis, doodles? I call it "breed worship" and feel like the internet makes buying puppies easier than searching for a rescue pup.

Dez_Champs329 karma

Not OP, but I own a french Bulldog that I rescued from someone who was going to discard him. Everytime I walk Harvey people always say "I want a Frenchy!" I always, always try and dissuade them from French Bulldogs, I know Harvey doesn't live in pain, but he definitely lives in discomfort all the time because of his flat face. Why would you want that for a pet you love?

This idea of getting a boutique breed needs to stop, we need to rescue the dogs that already exist, they need us first.

11AliveATL97 karma

Plus, there are a lot of breed specific rescues.

11AliveATL182 karma

Others have already expressed some of the key pros and cons. I also used search tools to find my dog, a wire hair terrier named Cody. As a tool for research it's great. But I also agree, seeing influencers with a tea cup poodle in a tiny purse can make others want one without actually researching what it means to care for that breed. The same thing happened with dalmations after the movie. But that's never going to change. There's always a surge of rabbits and chicks purchased around Easter... etc. We have to be in control of our own motivations. Take the time, do the research. Make good choices, not emotional ones.

SaintSimpson88 karma

Apparently this phenomenon is impacted heavily by television shows. I read a couple months back about the shelters and rescues that are being overwhelmed by breeds that emulate the features of Dire Wolves from Game of Thrones. Some people get these animals and don’t want to acknowledge the size/needs of the dog as they grow. The writer talked to a few breeders who tightened who they would sell dogs to as a result, but that’s probably not the case for others driven by the money. On the bright side, Bruno, a Netflix series has a very pro-adoption message because it stars the creator’s adopted dog.

Anecdotally, I see way more cold-weather adapted dogs here in sub-tropical Texas than I should. I suspect there are breeders who just don’t care these dogs shouldn’t be here, more than rescues or transplants.

11AliveATL80 karma

My husband always wanted a Bernese Mountain Dog (he was born in Switzerland). We live in Georgia. It just seemed cruel so we never looked. Again, I think people need to examine their motivations for adopting. And then research breeds to make sure they understand the care needed. Great comments everyone. Thanks. -Rebecca

sunburn_on_the_brain67 karma

I work with a bulldog rescue. More frenchies are starting to show up. They have certainly been a trendy breed. Another thing that’s starting to become a thing is “exotic” colors like sables and lilacs and even merles. That tends not to be a good thing because these colors aren’t naturally in the lines, and bulldogs are a fragile enough breed as it is.

11AliveATL51 karma

Aren't dogs supposed to be about love? I know when my family went looking for a dog to adopt, we had concerns about size and temperament. I figured light colored hair would blend in better with our furniture, but it wasn't a game changer... clearly... because our dog Cody is black! - Rebecca

KoopaTr0opa292 karma

As a dog owner, this makes me so sad! Thank you for raising awareness about this issue. My question is, what can an individual person do to help the situation?

11AliveATL205 karma

That's a great question. The biggest thing is spreading awareness of this problem and if appropriate, pushing politicians to sign legislation. Sometimes, it not just laws - simple regulatory changes can make a difference. For example, Pennsylvania requires dogs at commercial breeders to be checked by a vet twice a year. This helps to catch medical neglect. I don't think in most states that would require legislation to happen. I think it's important to find a group of people passionate and then lobby with one voice. Too many messages makes it confusing for those who are in a position to make change.

Besides that, there are a lot of non-profit volunteer organizations that need help financially and physically. Police departments and animal control officers may benefit from partnerships so they know they have places to take animals rescued and money for medical care if necessary. Imagine being an officer in a rural town, seeing 50 dogs in a terrible condition, and knowing your community doesn't have a shelter. What are you likely to do?

And of course, when getting a dog, adopt don't shop.

L0kidog164 karma

How has the work affected your mental state?

11AliveATL412 karma

(insert deep breath here...) I cover a lot of social issues as a reporter, especially child welfare. Those cases really get under my skin because the impacts are so far reaching. And it's important to note - that animal abuse is so often linked with other crimes like child abuse, domestic violence and other crimes. BUT - I feel like we have tangible paths to move the needle on issues related to puppy mills - and it's that hope that keeps me sane.

Still, when my first story published this week in my series on potential solutions to the puppy mill/animal cruelty problem, a lot of people were sharing it, but not really reading it or watching it. I went home depressed. I didn't sleep well. I wasn't after likes - I wanted engagement. As an investigative journalist, I put a lot of time into my stories. We can't change an issue if we're not willing to learn about it. Engagement in forums like this one and seeing more people finally responding to the content makes a difference. So THANK YOU for your question. -Rebecca

scudmonger76 karma

Hello, I have a friend who bought their dog from the Amish in Pennsylvania. Is that a puppy mill?

11AliveATL105 karma

It really depends on the breeder. As stated, the Amish run a lot of puppy mills. Some of the biggest abuses are taking place at breeders that are UNLICENSED or not considered COMMERCIAL. If a breeder has 26 or more dogs on property in a calendar year they need a license. But many Amish families live in different houses on the same property. So one son takes 26 dogs, another son takes 26 dogs, etc... so they avoid the regulations that come with licensing. Also, commercial kennels (the ones with the higher standards) sell wholesale - to pet stores. Non-commerical kennels can have JUST AS MANY dogs, but they sell to people directly. They do not have the same standards. This is a loophole I know they'd like to get changed in Pennsylvania. So again, I would default to my earlier advice: Figure out why you're buying from a breeder and see if you can accomplish that goal another way (breed specific rescue... or just altering your motivations), verify they are licensed, see what you can learn about that location through inspection reports and online reviews, ask to see the mother and WHERE she lives, check her health - look at her dental health - that kind of medical neglect is harder to hide unlike a quick grooming fix to adjust fur and nail maintenance. -Rebecca

vintagerns69 karma

This has been an issue that has sort of cycled through the public awareness for decades. I recall being a small child in the 80's and seeing signs at my local mall pet store about ending the practice of puppy mills.

My question is, WHY do you think that previous attempts at legislation and public awareness campaigns have done so little to stop the cruelty? What needs to be done to really get justice for these dogs and shut down these places for good?

11AliveATL38 karma

The biggest thing is people coming together to demand change. There are so many things wrong with our animal welfare laws, that a lot of organizations are focusing on different aspects. The latest part to my investigation is really highlighting specifically two or three focus areas that we can push legislatures on now to get bills in for the upcoming legislative cycle.

TalkingBackAgain58 karma

Will the new law which makes mistreatment of animals / pets a felony, make a difference in your work?

11AliveATL57 karma

It's a step in the right direction. It's just more complicated than passing a law. It needs to be enforced and we need to have people who know how to prosecute those who violate the law. Take a look at the part of our investigation that looked at Pennsylvania and how they are using a special task force to change this.

11AliveATL17 karma

Are you talking about the new federal law? If so, I'm not sure. The law is only as good as enforcement. We'll have to see how aggressive they choose to go after these offenders. -Rebecca

TalkingBackAgain7 karma

I was indeed talking about that law.

The offence now being a felony, I would think it would have considerable teeth [pun not intended].

11AliveATL16 karma

It only changes the laws around federal investigations. So the cruelty event would have to take place on federal property or there be a reason why the feds would want to pick up the case and prosecute it for their own purposes. My understanding is local law enforcement would still impose state laws. They could then approach the feds to see if they want to get involved in the case. Usually that involves multi-jurisdictional crimes. A lot of the conditions animals live in at breeding facilities are not illegal... because our laws don't make them so. Such as living in a cage your whole life. As long as the cage meets regulation and you properly groom the dog, it can stay in that cage for 15 years and not be in violation of a crime. A case could be made that is animal cruelty... but then you have to find the officer and district attorney willing to make that fight. - Rebecca

fox_anonymous52 karma

Why do you think people are more up in arms when it comes to dogs versus other animals that endure equal or doubly worse condition (chicken, pigs, cows)? Thanks.

11AliveATL74 karma

I'd say it's the personal relationship that humans build with dogs. They are in our homes and have that tight bond with us that other animals don't. I do agree the treatment of all animals needs to be discussed. I think getting people to care about "man's best friend" is a first step to opening eyes.

Lostnotfound71851 karma

Hi, I manage an animal hospital and would like access to your articles or literature to spread among our community. We are a very large rescue-minded neighborhood partnered with a midsize shelter that is inundated with animals at all times. How can we bring awareness to the elderly pets that get discarded at the shelter and cannot be rehomed due to the large demand for puppies (propogating puppy Mills..). Do you recommend raising awareness as well to the amazing qualities of adult pets which may help reduce the demand for puppies and kittens?

11AliveATL32 karma

First, thank you for the work you do. so important.

Where do you live? As far as access to our articles, they are online. Here are a few links to the key stories:

The videos help with engagement, but you'll find a lot of information in the text of the articles that could be helpful. Sadly, its probably always going to be a challenge to find homes for older dogs. Think about humans... more people want to adopt babies so teenagers age out of foster care. But I wonder if your local paper/TV station would do a weekly segment free, featuring one of your dogs? Kind of add exposure to them. Or partner with a school to take them for walks, read to them, etc. It's a long game - but seeing how loving an older dog can be, may make the next generation more likely to adopt one. Plus, it would give the dogs some added exposure and attention!

clayweintraub27 karma

Is a every puppy that is at a pet shop come from a puppy mill?

11AliveATL76 karma

I want to make sure I understand your question. You're asking if every puppy at a pet shop is from a puppy mill? If so, the answer is no - as long as the puppies are really just housed there by a shelter or partnering rescue. I adopted my dog Cody from a pet store, but we met her during a meet and greet on a Saturday by one of the area rescues. I filled out the paperwork and actually completed the adoption with the rescue, not the store. Several states, such as California, have actually banned breeders from being selling animals in pet stores, which means all of the animals are from shelters/rescues. I think the best thing to do is ask the store where the dog originated! And then VERIFY. -Rebecca

El_Lusty25 karma

How do you feel about pitbulls? They're a breed that, from my limited experience adopting my two dogs, are disproportionately bred and sold..

Ive always thought that them being bred and sold this way in poor communities contributes some to their bad reputation..

11AliveATL53 karma

I am not educated enough on this aspect to comment, outside of my own opinion and experiences. I do know many are bred to be aggressive so they can be used in dog fighting and for home security. I think they fill our shelters because they are common in lower income areas that don't have money for spay/neuter or are owned by higher income people who do not believe dogs should be spayed and neutered. They are adorable pups but come with needs as adults, many people do not understand or are not prepared to handle, therefore they get dumped. It's a big cycle and the dogs certainly aren't to blame. -Rebecca

lostfourtime25 karma

Do you publish a list of puppy mills, so people can be aware and speak with their elected officials?

11AliveATL55 karma

The Humane Society of the United States posts a list every year of the "horrible hundred" breeders. That's a good place to start.

frostmasterx22 karma

Thank you so much for what you do. How can we help raise awareness? Is there anyway to donate?

It pains me to see the numbers. 1300 from just 3 mills? That's insane.

11AliveATL13 karma

What state do you live in? There are a lot of non-profit volunteer organizations. You can donate to them individually by reaching out. A lot of them also take food, toys, beds, and blankets. Seeing the numbers really puts it into perspective and shows the bigger problem. That's why we started investigating --- to find solutions.

UlyssesLee17 karma

Are these dogs mostly sold on craigslist or do the breeders have their own sites that look official? How do I know I'm getting a puppy that's not from a puppymill?

11AliveATL27 karma

Honestly, it's hard to tell. They are posted on craigslist, individual websites, newspapers, etc. Adopt don't shop is a big way to help stop these bad breeders. If the demand isn't there for a specialty dog, then the supply isn't needed and these kinds of breeders go out of business. If you do decide to shop for a dog, make sure you tour the facility and see the mom of the puppy and it's living conditions. If a breeder says no, that says a lot.

Mauser98k9813 karma

For hunting dogs or working dogs I understand why you would want pure breeds. They do there job better. If your just looking for a pet I don’t really understand it. Were you just looking at breeders that specializes in these fashion breeds?

11AliveATL12 karma

I am looking at regulations and laws around breeding, period. What are the living conditions and rules around how these dogs live while at the breeders. I'm not making judgments on whether they should exist. It just seems if you're going to make money off of these animals - you should take care of them. -Rebecca

Yazon6912 karma

I've grown to hate people in general in large part due to how people treat animals. People like you and others who fight against and expose animal cruelty are heroes. Who are some other heroes we can give a shout out too and how can we help them?

11AliveATL14 karma

Thank you for the question. There are so many non-profit volunteer groups. What state do you live in?

1320Fastback10 karma

How involved are The Amish in dog breeding and also Mexico?

11AliveATL21 karma

I don't have any knowledge of what's going on in other countries. As for the Amish, they are thought to be primary breeders in states like Pennsylvania. Not all Amish breeders run puppy mills though. When I went to Pennsylvania, one Amish breeder let us onto his property to see conditions. The dogs had outside runs, as well as roamed around on the property. They looked healthy and happy as far as I could tell.

Zyketh-Ordel9 karma

What can the average joe do to make a big difference in this issue?

11AliveATL22 karma

Spreading awareness can make a big impact. People need to know what's going on. Also, if you have the money or the time to volunteer at your local shelters and non-profit organization, they need all the help they can get. Spreading the message of "adopt don't shop" is a big part of this discussion too.

Morodox18 karma

Do you like dogs ?

11AliveATL17 karma

I love dogs. Thank you for asking. I have a rescue wire haired terrier named Cody. I also have a 14-year-old rescue Tabby named Macy.

Morodox15 karma

Adorable ! me too. I have two purebred Shih Tzu's named Dexter and Bella and two Shih Tzu / westie mix named Jersey and Luna.

11AliveATL6 karma

That's great! Thank you for sharing.

Saith_Cassus8 karma

I'm looking to adopt a second dog soon. We're looking at a rescue that at least claims to have adopted several Wheaten terriers from a puppy mill. How can we be certain that they really are rescued, and that this isn't a front for a puppy mill looking to offload "difficult" dogs?

11AliveATL19 karma

That is a growing and concerning problem. I find rescues a fairly close knit group. Can you share the name of the rescue? I can ask around, feel free to send me a private message through my Facebook page: Rebecca Lindstrom 11Alive. Outside of that, do you live in a state that licenses rescues? You can check their inspection reports for any red flags. Visit the rescue and ask for references of other people who have adopted dogs through them. I know the rescue that I used to adopt my dog had a two week trial period, no questions or guilt if it didn't work out. Also, consider what they're charging. If the fee is high, I'd question why. Did the dog have specific medical needs that needed to be treated? Rescues need to cover their costs, but they shouldn't be charging puppy mill prices! -Rebecca

Alpacatightjoint8 karma

Hi! What do you think of rescues who operate similarly to puppy mills regarding lots of dogs in crates waiting for homes who may not be getting optimum care? I agree that puppy mills are a problem, but I have also covered stories myself on shelters who have been in similar conditions, and they are more common than puppy mills in many places and aren't regulated by the FDA because so many people are pushed to rescue.

You may be interested in the Ingham county Michigan shelter implosion which happened during a summer where a huge dog fighting bust dumped many fighting bred pit bulls into the Ingham shelter, and due to the lack of basic care many of them suffered and died.

In fact, the entire shelter staff was fired and replaced after the incident.

11AliveATL5 karma

Good points. In Georgia, we definitely see cases where rescues have turned into hoarding situations. It's why I like that Pennsylvania requires licenses for anyone with 26 dogs or more over a 12 month period. So whether you're breeding or rescuing, you need to be inspected. You could argue the number should be lower, but it's a start. That also helps catch unlicensed breeders because you no longer have to prove 'sale' as is required in Georgia. But in Georgia, all licensed facilities are held to the same standard. I think that's important. I've also heard of 'rescues' created in states that have banned pet sales at retail stores as nothing more than a front for the dogs at puppy mills. Basically, disguising the source. Thanks for the info on Michigan. I'll take a look. -Rebecca

sable4287 karma

What is a puppy mill?

11AliveATL15 karma

This is the definition provided by the Humane Society: "A puppy mill is an inhumane high-volume dog breeding facility that churns out puppies for profit, ignoring the needs of the pups and their mothers. Dogs from puppy mills are often sick and unsocialized".

I believe it's all about the conditions of the facility and health of the dogs. If someone cares more about making money than the health of their dogs, that's a problem.

gyulababa6 karma

  1. Do you love all animals, or just dogs?

  2. What would you say is more important:
    - Changing/enforcing regulations or

- Changing the mindset of the population (educating them) so they will be more responsible when getting a pet
(supply & demand ; if no-one would buy those puppies, they would not breed them)

11AliveATL5 karma

I value the life of all animals. Puppy mills is just the term people can identify with. Kennels in Georgia have the same regulations - regardless of whether you are breeding dogs or cats. Rabbits, rats, iguanas... have different rules.

Changing the mindset is the long game. Very important, because laws are only as good as enforcement and we can't be everywhere all the time. It's so true, if people stop buying dogs, breeders will stop producing them. Until then, I think fair, realistic regulations on how these businesses operate is important. -Rebecca

rumptump6 karma

What are the primary means of selling puppy mill puppies? I’ve only seen one small pet shop that actually sells puppies. I see a few online websites that look very sketchy but nothing local. Mostly just backyard breeders in my area. Its hard for me to imagine a large operation when I can’t even see evidence of these puppies being sold

11AliveATL20 karma

Puppy mills try hard to hide. Many will take the dogs to you... or set up booths at flea markets so you don't see where they came from. Others only ship dogs. Online sales are huge for puppy mills. Even if you don't have a big pet shop, other states do. Puppy mills breed and send their dogs to those stores. -Rebecca

mayflowers56 karma

So when people attack others who say “adopt, don’t shop” by explaining there are plenty of reputable breeder, what’s a good response? Because clearly there’s a lot of licensed breeders out there that aren’t reputable or ethical.

11AliveATL6 karma

I would ask them to define 'reputable.' I agree there are responsible breeders - meaning they do take pride in caring for the animals. But I also always ask, what's their motivation for getting a dog? Is it the status of having a certain kind of dog or you just think a specific dog is cute- in which case I point them to some of the breed specific rescues.

Choosing a pet is often a very emotional decision. I found myself arguing with my own husband - a well educated man - when we adopted our own dog. He wanted a specific kind that we could only find from a breeder. I just told him I couldn't come home every day and see a dog I asked to be created, knowing millions of dogs are killed in shelters each year. But that's a personal decision and we do live in a country that prides itself in personal choices. To me, it's more realistic to accept that breeding will exist and fight for improved conditions since they do. -Rebecca

sunflowersandpoetry5 karma

What can we do at home to help the cause?

11AliveATL5 karma

What state do you live in? Raising awareness is a big way people can help. Reach out to your local non-profits to see what needs they have that you can help with.

sunflowersandpoetry3 karma

I live in North Carolina! I’ve worked with rescues before, but none that work towards puppy mill awareness specifically.

11AliveATL3 karma

Who is the "big dog" in your community (Humane Society or SPCA)? I would reach out to them to see who they are suggesting to help fight this in your local community. If there aren't any local groups, I suggest supporting the organizations in other states that doing great things in this movement. We went on a ride along with Pennsylvania animal cruelty officer and learning about how the PSPCA is moving the needle in their state.

drugsarebadmky5 karma

maybe this is already answered. How would an individual know if the puppy he purchased is from a legit breeder or from a puppy Mill ?

11AliveATL7 karma

Doing homework and getting background on the facility is the first step. Also, when you are looking at a dog, ask them to show you the mother and where the mother lives. If they refuse, that tells you a lot. Legit breeders are okay with opening their doors.

rockstarnights4 karma

What's are your goals for your career? What would be your ideal position as you continue to progress?

11AliveATL6 karma

I'm living my dream job. I work on The Reveal, the nation's only local weekly investigative show. You should check us out at We have a big YouTube following from viewers across the country. My goal is to cover social issues like animal welfare and child abuse, that don't get a lot of clicks on the internet, but need to be dissected and studied to encourage reform. But if you have a million dollars you want to give me, I'll take that too! -Rebecca

11AliveATL4 karma

I'm back. Let's see what new questions you've come up with for me! -Rebecca

11AliveATL4 karma


MJMurcott4 karma

Which needs to change more to solve the problem, individuals behaviour or government legislation, where does individual responsibility stop and the legal process start?

11AliveATL3 karma

Individual responsibility is key. Don't buy from a puppy mill and they won't exist. Get your dogs spayed and neutered, and millions won't be killed every year in shelters. Regulations/laws exist to give a framework for all of those people who need the boundaries. -Rebecca

HairyLeroy4 karma

Who should we contact if we think simeone is running a puppy mill? Like animal control? Police? Etc

11AliveATL7 karma

Depends on where you live. Find out if your state (usually the Department of Agriculture) has a license listed for the address. The USDA also licenses any breeder that ships out of state. Remember, in most states a puppy mill is not illegal. It's the conditions related to their housing and care that could be in violation of state regulations or law. If it's unlicensed, again, let the state agency that regulates that know. Also contact animal control. If you don't have animal control, contact police.

merchant_of_alagadda4 karma

How much of the puppy mill market produces dog breeds who generally have health issues later in life such as pugs and their breathing issues or pitbulls and hip issues as they grow older?

11AliveATL6 karma

I'm not educated enough on this issue to comment other than with my own opinion and experiences. Because there's no consistent tracking I don't even think there's data on this that exists. I do know the dog we featured in one of our stories this week gave birth to about 150 puppies in her 10 years at a breeder. She died from a genetic disorder that wasn't diagnosed until she was discarded and cared for by Because it's genetic, she likely passed it along to many of those puppies, but the owners won't know until the dogs are older. And then, there won't be anything they can do about it. With breeding, issues like these are simply magnified. It distorts the population. One dog at a shelter may have a litter, passing a problem on to a few dogs, but then gets fixed. But a dog at a breeder will produce litter after litter. -Rebecca

All_Things_Vain4 karma

What do you know about Chainlink?

11AliveATL5 karma

Nothing. Should I? -Rebecca

All_Things_Vain5 karma

Most definitely, research the Chainlink white paper and Sergey Nazarov

11AliveATL3 karma

Thank you. I will look into it.

MsNewKicks3 karma

One of the charities that I donate to and utilize my employer’s match program is HSI International. Can you recommend some domestic charities that I can look into that do the most good per donation dollar?

11AliveATL3 karma

I can only tell you about the ones that I have personally interacted. The Pennsylvania SPCA does an amazing job with their Humane Law Enforcement. They spend $4 MILLION every year on nine police officers that do nothing but enforce the state's animal cruelty laws. They'd hire more, if people donated more. Already this year, they've investigated more than 4,000 tips and have a 95% prosecution rate on those cases that turned into charges. Here's my story on that program: . So even if you don't live in that state, you can know you're making a difference. I would google some of the rescues in your area and then see if they're listed on Guidestar or Charity Navigator. That's how I found Good Mews, a no kill cat shelter down the road. I never even knew it was there. And check with your shelter. Often, what they need are donations of blankets, towels, bleach, etc. THANKS FOR HAVING A HEART TO HELP!! -Rebecca

SandwichGoblin692 karma

Do you ever feel like you could be doing more? Aside from casting a light on it, and reporting on it. Is this really stopping anything? If not, have you done or are you trying to do anything personally to change these circumstances? (Filing suits, orders or any kind etc.)

Personally, burn all those people, but i understand how that's....extreme..😂😂😑

11AliveATL3 karma

I personally adopted my two pets from rescues and I support a few in my community. I need to walk a line as a journalist. My job is to inform, and obviously my biases impact the kinds of stories I pitch and research. But I'm not a lobbyist. I openly share my research and respond to questions from lobbyists and community groups so they can decide if there's any merit to do the actual job of pushing for change. I've been invited to speak at conferences and community meetings and if I can make it work in my schedule, I always say yes. Not to push an agenda, but to share what I've learned if there are questions. -Rebecca

Flamingrage032 karma

My question is in terms of getting puppies away from the mills. Like, are you saving the dog from suffering the same fate and being stuck in a mill by buying it? Some humans can be cruel and will never understand and will continue to do this, but maybe saving one dog at a time will help the cause. Is this accurate? Just hate that as a dog owner and lover I can't stop this inhumane process.

11AliveATL3 karma

No. Buying a puppy to get it away from a puppy mill only tells the breeder to keep making more puppies. They don't care WHY you bought it, they just know they made the sale. If you STOP buying from puppy mills, they don't make money. They will naturally stop doing it.

This next statement is more controversial: I also don't think rescues should pay to take adult dogs. They're already assuming the dog's medical needs, which will likely be immense. If the breeder wants to give away their 'burdensome' dog - that's still letting them off the hook for its care - but at least you can give it a few good years since it's clear the breeder wasn't going to do right by the animal anyway. -Rebecca

crimsonblackgames2 karma

Could you inform me about what a puppy mill is? (Is that like a pound or a rescue center?) What was the worst case? What was the worst unintentional case? (Bad management or something that was beyond their ability or something like that) What’s your long-term goal?

11AliveATL3 karma

A puppy mill is a large breeding facility that keeps dogs in awful conditions because they just want puppies to sell - they don't actually care about the animals producing them. Backyard breeders are just as bad, they just tend to produce on a smaller scale. There is no actual definition of a puppy mill that I know of. The answer is subjective. But greed is the general motivator.

The Humane Society defines it as: "A puppy mill is an inhumane high-volume dog breeding facility that churns out puppies for profit, ignoring the needs of the pups and their mothers. Dogs from puppy mills are often sick and unsocialized".

From my reporting, I would direct you to these two stories:

The conditions are one breeder were so bad, the dogs were stuffed in tiny crates and had to sleep standing up. Even after being rescued, he didn't know how to lay down to sleep. The video is heart breaking. At another, I met Garfunkel a dog with no lower jaw, that had survived by learning to suck on his food in the back of his mouth before swallowing. His teeth had likely rotted to the point it corroded the bone. I can only imagine how painful this must have been.

My long term goal: spur conversation with hopes it raises awareness and ultimately, impacts regulations and laws in Georgia where I live. I am not a lobbyist, but I hope by showing what's happening, other people will decide what makes sense and fight for those reforms. That's why I don't just point out problems, but offer up solutions, ideas from other communities that could make sense here. -Rebecca

chrisplusplus2 karma

How did you decide to investigate puppy mills? Heroic work considering we know exactly what happened to Epstein

11AliveATL1 karma

I look for problems that need to be dissected and then look for potential solutions. It's not that I find answers to the problems. I find ideas that are worth considering as a community. If nothing else, they can spark a needed discussion to come up with solutions that are better.

At the beginning of this year we had 1300 dogs rescued from licensed dog breeders. Regulations should prevent these dire situations... or catch them before they get so bad in my opinion. Something wasn't working... my curious nature demanded I figure out what. -Rebecca

DaniellaTheFella1 karma

why is all of this censored? surely this is part of the problem.

11AliveATL1 karma

Censored? What's censored?

autoextispicy-3 karma

Do you ever feel like this is a quixotic dream, that you are tilting at puppy mills?

11AliveATL6 karma

Causing any change is progress, and shedding light on this problem can only help the cause. It won't be fixed in one day, but turning a blind eye isn't going to do anything.