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COVID-19 effects on puppy mill dogs and our mission

How is COVID-19 effecting puppy mill dogs and our mission?

To start, our team would like to provide you with some information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. 

How does COVID-19 effect puppy mill dogs?

  • “At this time, there is no evidence that companion animals, including pets, can spread COVID-19 or that they might be a source of infection in the United States.”
  • “CDC has not received any reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19. Further studies are needed to understand if and how different animals could be affected by COVID-19.”
  • “At this time, there is no evidence that the virus that causes COVID-19 can spread to people from the skin or fur of pets.”
  • “There is no reason to think that any animals, including shelter pets, in the United States might be a source of COVID-19.”

With what has been released by the CDC, we do not have a fear of puppy mill dogs being infected with COVID-19 or dogs being capable spread the virus. 

How does COVID-19 impact the Puppy Mill Rescue Team?

The mission of the Puppy Mill Rescue Team is to rescue discarded dogs and puppies from puppy mills, and place them with ethical rescues. Each one of the steps we take is affected by the stay-in-place orders we see in many states we operate in.

The first step that effected is the actual rescue from the mill. Many of the people who help with this step are veterinarians. With the stay-in-place orders, veterinarians are unable to operate except for emergencies. Some volunteers also help with rescues, but they run into a problem at the next step, vetting.

The next step in the process of the mission is getting the dogs vetted. This includes the vital step of getting them a rabies shot and a health certificate. And as you can guess, the veterinarians cannot currently do those.

Without a rabies shot or healthy certificate, the dogs cannot leave the state. The Puppy Mill Rescue Team partners with rescues in over five states to make what we do possible. Now, we are only able to operate in the state the dog is being rescued in.

What happens now? The team is seeing its first-ever slowdown. The team has seen ever-growing numbers the last several years, so this makes us wonder, what is to come?

We can predict a few things will happen when all is said and done.

We suspect vets will become operational again, which will help our mission go into full swing.

A large number of dogs will need to be rescued quickly.

An increase of puppies being surrendered. This will come from people not buying over the last month along with financial hardships with families, preventing them from buying “designer dogs.”

How can you help?

Donate. With what we predict will happen, we will need increased monetary support. Your donations help support everything from their transportation, vetting, foster homes, and more. We have the love, but we cannot pay bills with it. Click here to make a donation.

Volunteer. Our mission is run 100% by volunteers. Any help big or small can change an animal’s life. To learn how you can volunteer click here.

“Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 21 Mar. 2020,

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What is a “Retired Breeder”?

One of our volunteers recently wanted to know more about retired breeders- why would a mill dog be retired and who decides that?

The answer is- there are a lot of reasons.

The miller decides when to retire a dog, however in states like Ohio, new legislation has impacted when dogs are retired. Ohio has enacted stricter laws that have limited the number of times a female can be bred, have made more stringent housing requirements, and now requires that animals be seen by a vet at least one time per year. These changes are still not enough to make life in a puppy mill humane, we are still talking about dozens or even hundreds of dogs living in cramped conditions without normal socialization, but we hope these seeds of change will grow and be the momentum to end the suffering called puppy mills.

So, back to retirement. In the human world we often think of retirement as a time to slow down, travel, or pursue our hobbies. For a mill dog, it means freedom. A dog may be retired because it has reached the maximum number of litters, the female produces small litters, they may have puppies that are considered “ugly” or have “defects” that would make them unsellable. Some defects may be purely cosmetic such as under-bites, undesirable coloring, or characteristics that do not conform to the breed. Others may be medical- heart murmurs, deaf/ blindness, or orthopedic issues.

If a female needs to have had a c-section, she may also be retired. Previously, and it still happens sometimes- if a miller brought a dog to a vet for a c-section they would request to put the mom down and keep the puppies. Dogs are commodities that generate revenue- nothing more. Fortunately more and more vets are learning about us, advocating that millers surrender dogs at risk of unnecessary euthanasia and these lives are being saved.

Dogs are also surrendered when they start having health issues of their own. Recently we have seen a lot of prolapsed uterus’s. Pyometra, skin issues, entropian, luxating patellas, dental disease, chronic ear infections, and tumors are all common, but sadly many of the dogs we see have lived for years with some of these conditions.

Retired female breeders typically come into rescue at the ages of 5-7 yrs. If they are younger it’s probably one of the breeding issues I mentioned. Sadly these dogs are often pretty shut down. They have only known life in a cage. A soft bed is a foreign object. A gentle hand is still a scary hand because most have only been scruffed roughly at the neck. Common sounds in a home- television, phones can be very scary. Yes retirement is freedom, for a mill dog it is the start of a life worth living, but it can be a slow, difficult transition.

Gemma, retired at 4 years old for unknown reasons, four weeks out of a mill and still too scared to walk around her foster home’s house

To fully stop puppy mill cruelty, consumers – everywhere – must refuse to buy puppies from pet stores and online from breeders they haven’t met or screened. Instead, consider adoption first when adding a new companion animal to your family. No dog should have to wait for retirement to actually start living.

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Over 1,200 puppy mill dogs saved in 2019 with the Puppy Mill Rescue Team

The Puppy Mill Rescue Team is proud to present our numbers from last year.

In total, we were able to save over 1,200 puppy mill dogs with the help of 56 rescues.

We had many other accomplishments in 2019 as well including:

  • Becoming a 501c3
  • Launching the Puppy Mill Rescue Team Rescue
  • Being part of the Buffalo Pride Parade
  • Interviews with multiple media sources including television, radio and newspaper
  • Purchasing a school bus for transportations

We would like to thank all of the volunteers, supporters and fans who have made this year incredible. We are excited to see what we can all do this year to help dogs in need and end puppy mills.

If you would like to show off your pride in the accomplishments we earned last year, visit our apparel and accessory store!

Visit the store here:

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Transportation tales: Anxiety

Transportation for the Puppy Mill Rescue Team can be scary. Not only for the dogs but also for the wonderful volunteers who are driving. When saving puppy mill dogs, the team goes to different places including vet offices and puppy mills

We have decided to start a series to share stores of what happens behind the scenes during a rescue mission.

Below is a story from volunteer Marybeth M., who experienced going into a puppy mill for the first time a few weeks ago.

On her way to freedom.

STOP #1: ANXIETY. As Jeanette and I pulled up to the first mill we felt sick. We were afraid. Afraid for ourselves (mentally) and afraid for the dogs we would see that we could not save. We have to “play nice” with the millers so that they continue to allow us to take their discarded dogs, because the alternative for these dogs is surely death. 

These mills are at the Amish miller’s homes. We pulled in. We both looked at each other. There’s no way we are at the right place. This house looked like it belonged on Bravo’s Million Dollar Listing. Very modern, best of the best for finishings. We were in the bus just confused. It was 7:00am and no one was around. I got out of the bus and that’s when I knew we were in the right place. The barking. I could hear dogs barking and my heart immediately sank into my butt. I wanted to cry. I wanted to scream. I wanted to run away. I wanted to find these fucking people and let them know what I and many others think of them. I knocked again. A teenage girl answered the door. We were there for a newfiedoodle puppy. I didn’t want to go into the mill/barn. I didn’t want to lock eyes with any dogs we couldn’t take with us. I told the girl “We’ll just wait out here.” She went into the barn area for about 20 minutes which felt like a lifetime. 

She came out and said “Well, she won’t come out, so..” Jeanette and I looked at each other like “shit.” So I asked her to allow us in to get her and she obliged. The puppy was in the barn alone with the horses. She was TERRIFIED. The mats on her were awful and the white parts of her were dark yellow from living in her own urine. She was huge and about 100 lbs. After climbing into the small wooden box she had retreated to, we managed to get her out and carried her into the bus. We put her into a crate with a blanket and some water. We said goodbye to the teenage girl, faking nice of course: “Thank you so much! Let us know if you ever have anyone else we could help with!” She was probably confused as we said “anyone” and they clearly see these dogs as nothing but a money making machine.

SADNESS. As we leave, we see the others out back who are forced to live outside. The Newfies and poodles who can’t come with us. We lock eyes. They bark at us and stand up as if they’re begging for us to take them. As we pull out, Jeanette and I are silent. We start heading to the next mill. I feel a sense of relief? Where did this come from? I tell Jeanette. She says “OMG ME TOO!” It was game time motherfuckers. After that first pick up, the anxiety was gone. Let’s save these dogs and get them the hell out of here!

All cleaned up and adjusting to life as a loved pet.

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Are you thinking of buying a puppy from a pet store or online site?

Meet his or her mom…

This is a Bichon Frise female used for breeding who was rescued today, 12/12/19. If she looks like this, can you imagine how she is mentally?

Let’s take it a step further. Can you imagine the puppies she is having? Where they were born, how they were cared for and what medical problems they may have.

This is what a typical Bichon Frise looks like. Can you spot the differences?

If you are thinking of purchasing a dog from a breeder, read our page HOW TO AVOID PUPPY MILLS.

Please educate others on puppy mills by sharing this blog.

Help us end puppy mills.

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Introducing The Puppy Mill Rescue Team Bus!

The Puppy Mill Rescue Team is proud to announce the purchase of the Puppy Mill Rescue Team bus and its first rescue mission.

Our team would like to thank all of our fans, supporters and volunteers who helped us make this dream a reality.

We would like thank several business and non-profits that have supported us as well. Thank you Barbera Home Improvement, Akron Canine Rescued Angels, Mastiffs To Mutts Rescue, TME Excavating Corp, NYS Citizens Against Puppy Mills, Lacy Katzen LLP, Custom K9 Grooming Training, The Bonadio Group and Moose’s Mission.

Lastly, we would like to thank several individuals who have gone above and beyond for our team. Thank you Stacy Edgecombe, Deborah Gick, Devin Lawton, Jacqueline Baker, Elizabeth Konopka, Kate Benfante, Lynne McCarthy, and Jessica Ziomek

Now that the bus has been purchased, we will be making changes to make it more comfortable for all riders and make it a mobile message to the community.

Our 2020 plans include installing cages, shelving, painting and permanent sign recognition.

We do have some immediate needs if you would like to help us get a jump start on completing on our bus! Of course, monetary donations are always accepted via PayPal or check.

Immediate needs include:

Fire extinguisher

First aid kit ( human and dog)

Trash cans



Wet/Dry vacuums

Laundry hampers  

Continual nees include:

Pee pads 

Disinfectant wipes

Unscented baby wipes

Trash bags

Paper towels 

Auto air fresheners, prefer odor absorbing

Slip leads

Hand sanitizer 


Zip ties

Bungee cords

Thank you again to everyone who made this possible.

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48 Dogs Saved On 11/15/19

…and here are just some of them!

If you are interested in a dog, please read the list below to see the rescue partner who is fostering the dog.

AKRON CANINE RESCUED ANGELS: Rottweiler, female, 12 weeks, has entropion in 1 eye and an underbite 

Poodle-Maltese, male pup, 19 wks old


Boxer, female, 5 yrs old 

Boxer, male, 7 yrs old, have pic

CHERISHED COCKERS: Maltese, female, 6 yrs old


Cavalier King Charles, female, 6 yrs old 

Shih Tzu, male, 3 yrs old, friendly, chubby, mostly white w/ dark grey spots 


Labrador, male pup, 10-11 weeks old, chocolate 


Yorkie, male, 7 yrs old  

Beabull, female, 4 yrs old

Schnauzer-Poodle (Schnoodle), female pup, DOB: 9-7-19, hydrocephalus & mini eye

Labrador Retriever, female, 10 weeks old, yellow, little weak in legs but does walk/run 

Australian Shepherd, female, grade 3 murmur 

Mini Australian Shepherd, unknown sex, 8 weeks, blind 

Teddy Bear, unknown sex, 8 weeks old, missing a limb 

Teddy Bear, unknown sex, 8 weeks old, missing a limb 

Frenchie, female, 3 1/2 yrs old 


Standard Poodle, male, 6 yrs old

Bichon, female, 4 yrs old

BUFFALO CARES: Paula LaVango 716-359-5118

Husky, male, 6 yrs old

Frenchie, female, 4 1/2 yrs old 


Boston Terrier, female, 6 yrs old 


Beagle, female, 6 yrs old

NCCR: Marcia Okerland 716-753-6390 WESTFIELD EXIT DROP OFF

Frenchie, female, 4 1/2 yrs old 

#2 Maltese – Shih Tzu, male, 5 months old


Frenchie, female, 1 yr old 

Maltese, female, 6 yrs old, friendly 

Beabull, female, 7 yrs old, brindle/white, people and dog social 

Bichon – Poodle, male, 5 months old  


Golden Retriever, female, 6 yrs old, friendly 

Golden Retriever, female, 6 yrs old, friendly 

St. Bernard, female, 4 yrs old, friendly 

St. Bernard, female, 2 yrs old, friendly 

Labradoodle, female, 4 yrs old, black/white, friendly 

Labradoodle, female, 4 yrs old, grey/white, friendly 

Bernese Mountain Dog, male, 6 yrs old

German Shepherd, female, 10 weeks old, “spot on head”

German Shepherd-Blue Heeler, female, 2 yrs old

Beabull, female, 6 yrs old

Bernadoodle (Bernese Mountain Dog-Poodle), female, 9 weeks old, not growing right and

occasional vomiting, needs work up

Frenchie, female, 5 yrs old

Labrador, female, 4 yrs old, chocolate –

Bichon, female, 5 yrs old –

Yorkie, male, 7 yrs old –

Boston Terrier, male, 3 yrs old –


Shih Tzu, female, 7 yrs old

#1 Maltese – Shih Tzu, male, 5 months old


Bernese Mountain Dog, male pup, 6-7 months old, “hyper in cage and too old to sell” 


Golden Retriever, female, 5 yrs old 

DEACON’S HOPE RESCUE: German Shepherd, female, 3 yrs old, sweet with people just needs slow introductions to other

dogs, 104 lbs

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A little bit of Sparkle

Sparkle is a 4-month-old female Miniature Poodle puppy who was dumped by her puppy mill owner because she was “unsellable”. She had a birth defect in her vulva, however, it was thought it would be totally fixable with surgery and she would be able to lead a completely normal life if she got that done.

The Puppy Mill Rescue Team stepped up for this beautiful puppy, and so after seeing a vet in OH for her basic vaccines, health exam and certificate, she went to foster just outside of Buffalo, NY. Her foster family named her Sparkle, because she is a beautiful silver and black colored girl, and because she has a great big personality that just shines! 

Her foster took her to Ellicott Small Animal Hospital in Buffalo for a pre-op exam, and they scheduled her for surgery the very next week to spay her and fix the birth defect in her vulva at the same time. They could not wait till she was 6 months old, because the extra flap of skin covering her vulva was causing her urine to trap and causing UTI.

Just before the day she was to have her surgery, she was out in the fenced yard with her foster family and their dogs. She was playing like any happy puppy would play, and enjoying the beautiful fall day. She decided to run right under one of the foster’s dogs that were much larger than her (she weighs just 7 lbs), and she got flipped over by that dog’s feet as he was also running at the time. In the process, she hurt one of her legs. She was still walking and running, and nothing was visibly wrong with it, but she was definitely limping.

The foster called the vet to alert them, so they were prepared to examine her leg the next day. Obviously, they were hopeful she just sustained a bad sprain, but to be safe they asked the vet to do an x-ray of her leg if they felt she needed it, so they did. Unfortunately, Sparkle did sustain a fracture, but thankfully it was just a slight one in the middle of her radius, not through any growth plate, and it was not displaced. The vet put a splint/cast on her. They sent her home with pain medication and antibiotics.

Sparkle has successfully gone through all vetting.

Through all of this since injuring her leg, and since the surgery and getting her leg cast, she has been on “crate rest”, and not allowed to play or exercise. She is only allowed quick trips outside to potty and then right back to rest. She is allowed some couch time to be held and cuddled but is not allowed to run and play, her favorite things to do.

Sparkle is not yet accepting applications for adoption, as she has several weeks of healing yet to do. As soon as the vet gives her the all-clear, then we will be searching for a special home for this stunning, loving, and very special little girl! 

To see Sparkle and her story in action, visit our Facebook page to watch her video.

If you would like to help Sparkle, please consider a donation towards her care. Visit the Puppy Mill Rescue Team’s PayPal page here.

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Compassionate Rescue

Most people agree that rescue work by nature is a compassionate act, but most people would equate that to the animals rescuers are helping, and it’s true. However rescue work can often be done in a way that is compassionate to people.

If you follow social media, and you see posts about people struggling with their pets, you will often also see a string of unkind comments, of un-compassionate remarks. Words that don’t take into account the struggles that good people, caring people can face.

We recently were involved in a rescue like that. Athena is the sweetest, most gentle girl who has clearly been loved and cared for by a family that adored her.

Her family was on a list waiting for a low cost spay appointment to open up. Unfortunately during that time Athena became pregnant. As her belly grew so did their worries. How would they help her birth her babies? What would they do with all the babies? How could they pay for all of the supplies they may need?

Fortunately they reached out…. and their plea for help was answered by us, The Puppy Mill Rescue Team. We help puppy mill survivors, but we do not discriminate. We help with shelter dogs, stray dogs, owner surrenders. We help where we can, when we can.

Athena joined our rescue and immediately went into a foster home with experience in welping puppies. A week later, she delivered 11 healthy pups. It was a good thing she was where she was, as the delivery was tough on her, and she had to be transported to the vet to help her through the full delivery.

So back to compassion. Athena’s family has since visited her, and we will be returning her to them after she is spayed. We will provide vet care for all the puppies and find wonderful, screened, adoptive homes for each of them. Reuniting dogs with their families that love them is a gift that we are happy to give. Athena deserves the very best, and it is clear by her beautiful nature that she had that living in her home.

In the mean time, we will have out hands full with a pile of puppies. Continue to follow our page for updates on this family.

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26 Puppy Mill Survivors Rescued on 11/1/19

We are kicking off November with 26 dogs gaining freedom!

Please check the list below the photos to see where the dogs are headed to if you are interested in more information.


Mini Australian Shepherd, female, 4 yrs old  

Mini Australian Shepherd, male, 4 yrs old 

Cocker Spaniel, female, 4 yrs old 


English Bulldog, female, 1 yr old 


Havanese, female, 4 yrs old 


English Bulldog, female, 7 months old 


English Bulldog, male, 10 months old 

Dachshund, female, 6 yrs old 

Dachshund, female, 6 yrs old 

Shiba Inu, female, DOB 6-13-19, possibly blind
Cockapoo, female, 8 weeks old, deaf 


Shih Tzu, female, 4 yrs old 


English Bulldog, male, 10 months old 

Bichon-Poodle, male, 12 weeks old

Bichon-Poodle, male, 12 weeks old

French Bulldog, female, 6 yrs old, chronic ear infections  


English Bulldog, male, 10 months old 


Bull Pei (Shar Pei-English Bulldog), female, 6 yrs old 

NICKEL CITY CANINE RESCUE:  Husky, female, 4 yrs old, red/white


Boxer, female, 5-6 yrs old   

Boxer, male, 5-6 yrs old   


American Eskimo, female, 2 yrs old 

American Eskimo, female, 2 yrs old 

American Eskimo, female, 6 yrs old 


Cocker Spaniel, female, 6 yrs old, chocolate merle

Schnauzer, female, 6 yrs old 
WOOF GANG RESCUE:  Beabull (EBD-Beagle), female, 4 yrs old