If you are a dog lover with no understanding of puppy mills, you'll like the story and the factual information woven in about one of the more detestable elements of how dogs are sold is valuable information.
If you are researching the ugly business of puppy mills and need current statistical information and up-dated resources, this book will be an excellent source for you.
Bradley begins by imagining the birth of a litter of Cavalier King Charles' puppies born into puppy mill squalor. She describes the large-scale, shoddily run commercial kennel where the newly born puppies share a crate with their mother.
Too dark to see, the odor of dog feces and the vinegary smell of dog urine; this is the world that this puppy is born into. Her markings are so striking that the "breeder" decides to keep her so that she can churn out even more puppies.
It's a fact that this puppy will spend the next 5-10 years in a cage before she's finally put to death. "The last thing many worn out, vacant-eyed puppy mill dogs experience is a bullet to the head." (pg 5)
As the story continues, Bradley describes how a tip to the Chester County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) opens the door to what will be an investigation into one of our nation's most despicable industries: the commercialized buying and selling of puppies.
The caller describes a kennel that needs to be investigated. She explained that the breeder had shown her a puppy covered in dried feces and stale urine, and that the breeder didn't seem upset by the puppy's appearance. Horrified, the woman refused to buy the puppy, left quickly and made that phone call.
Investigators will find a total of 337 dogs, 3 cats and two parrots as they go into this kennel to remove animals. The seizure of animals was described as the dismantling of one of the largest puppy mills ever discovered in this country.
Gracie is dog number 132 and the first time we see her is on page 42. She's being held in the arms of one of the investigators as she is photographed. This photo will be entered as evidence against the breeder. She is six years old and she has lived every day of her life in a cage.
Bradley follows behind Gracie every step of the way as she is moved into the shelter system, held there while the legal battle plays out, and then finally placed into a home.
There are plenty of statistics, a wide-ranging cast of human characters to tell their individual stories, and, there are the dogs themselves.
They are in varying stages of physical distress and are emotionally distant - especially the older dogs. Especially dog number 132, who the shelter staff has named Wilma, the dog that Bradley will adopt and rename Gracie.
Two months after being removed from the puppy mill, this dog "...still soiled her kennel and stepped in her own feces. Emotionally, she remained maddeningly out of reach...She was so tiny, so devoid of personality.
The story of how dog number 132 finds a loving home and learns to trust - as best she can - the human family she will live with for the rest of her life - is adeptly woven into the legal, social and economic issues surrounding puppy mills.
Despite the sorrow and ugliness of this story, Bradley shows us how both humans and dogs really can transcend traumatic experiences. Gracie, scarred by six years of cruelty, does find peace and a measure of happiness with a woman who will love her unconditionally for as long as Gracie lives.
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Finally, Bradley shows us that the tentacles of puppy mills 子犬 into every state in this country; that until we completely wipe out this seamy industry, it does affect us all. For those of you who think you know all about this subject and think that 子犬 mills don't touch you as an individual, you need to read this book more than the rest of us.
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