Donation gives mill dogs a second chance
By Chris Michlewicz; photos courtesy of Elaine Hussey
It has taken a few weeks, but Roxy the dachshund is finally learning how to snuggle with her very first dog friend, Baxter.
Roxy had a very traumatic beginning to her life. All she knew in her first two years was the misery of living in a puppy mill. When she arrived in Colorado a few months ago, she needed surgery to fix a ruptured uterus, a condition that made her useless in the eyes of her breeders.
Roxy has gotten a new start in Castle Pines and is learning about the pleasures life has to offer, including treats, freedom and warm snuggles. Roxy has also been a catalyst for freeing other dogs from puppy mills, inspiring the donation of $50,000 to the National Mill Dog Rescue (NMDR) from a New York-based nonprofit, The Marilyn Lichtman Foundation.
Like many others before her, Castle Pines resident Elaine Hussey set out to find a dog at a pet store so her 2-year-old dachshund, Baxter, could have a companion. The more she looked into pet shops, however, the more she realized that they sometimes sell dogs that grew up in puppy mills. The innocent pups often come with a host of health issues: rotting teeth, splayed toes and genetic abnormalities due to inbreeding – not to mention a deep and justified distrust of humans.
Hussey came across a listing for Roxy on Adopt-A-Pet.com, which works with the NMDR to find loving homes for dogs in need.
“Roxy was not very strong,” Hussey said. “She couldn’t even walk to the end of the street.”
After learning about the horrors of puppy mill operations – many of which are unregulated or under-regulated – Hussey called The Marilyn Lichtman Foundation, which contributes to a number of causes, including the ethical treatment of domesticated animals. Hussey, who runs social media accounts for the foundation, urged the NMDR to apply for the grant, and in early October, a $50,000 check was presented to the Peyton, Colorado-based rescue group at the Castle Pines Chamber of Commerce.
NMDR readies the dogs for adoption and uses volunteers to help socialize the animals. Hussey says the facility is clean and well-organized, and “you can just feel the care” from the staff. Roxy got her much-needed surgery, behavior training and shots, and Hussey paid only $350 in adoption fees before taking Roxy home to meet Baxter, whom Hussey believes was also raised in a puppy mill. Baxter is teaching Roxy how to be a dog, including potty training by example.
In the week after Roxy arrived, Hussey slept on a mattress pad on the floor with her and Baxter to quell the new arrival’s anxiety. Hussey’s back still hurts, but Roxy is acclimating and “learning really, really fast.”
“It’s not easy, but it’s rewarding,” she said about adopting a mill rescue puppy.
For more information or to view dogs that are up for adoption, visit www.nmdr.org.