Tuesday morning, the parking lot behind Adopt-A-Dog in Armonk bustled with volunteers gathered around an enormous, gleaming white 18-wheel trailer with a shiny red cab. The truck, filled with more than 150 dogs rescued from puppy mills across the Midwest, arrived at the center this morning after a stressful overnight drive.
Each dog, from Yorkshire terrier to Chihuaha to Havanese breed, was carefully handed over from its kennel to shelter vans ready to take it on the next leg of a journey—from an anxious existence in a puppy mill to, hopefully, an adoption by a forever family.
A dozen groups including Westchester shelters Adopt-A-Dog in Armonk and Tiny Treasures Rescue in Yonkers were on hand to receive the animals along with several other regional rescue groups.
The work of getting the dogs this far on their journey began with the Best Friends Animal Society of Salt Lake City, UT, in the fall of 2009. Last year, the group organized four rescue trips to the East Coast and expect to send more in the future.
“The New York and New Jersey shelters have had great success placing these dogs,” said Temma Martin of Best Friends in Utah.
The dogs are cast out from the puppy mills for a number of reasons: age, medical needs or inability to produce more puppies for market. “When they aren’t any use to them as breeders, many of them will be sold at auction or killed.”
That’s when Best Friends steps in networking to save the dogs from tragic ends to their miserable existences.
“We provide transportation and care,” said Martin. “Each shelter gets them spayed, neutered and groomed.”
Martin said many of the dogs have spent their entire lives in cages, with no human contact whatsoever.
“They’ve never known life as a pet,” she said. “They’ve never walked on grass; they freeze when you pick them up and have never been held.”
After receiving medical attention and socialization, the hope is to place as many of the dogs as possible into loving homes.
While Best Friends currently cares for 1,700 animals on its compound in Kanab, UT, the puppy mill dogs were sent to the East Coast for two reasons: The trip is a lot closer to the mills from which they were rescued in Illinois and because of the popularity of the smaller breeds in this region.
Allyson Halm of Adopt-A-Dog in Armonk said that facility will take 10 of the dogs and work to get the animals ready for adoption as soon as possible. Anyone interested in adopting one of the animals can get more information from the organization’s Web site.
Dogs also went to Monmouth County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Eatontown, NJ.; Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons, Wainscott, NY; Noah’s Ark Animal Welfare Association, Ledgewood, NJ; Save A Pet of Long Island, NY; Ramapo-Bergen Animal Refuge, Inc., Oakland, NJ; Second Chance Pet Adoption League, Oak Ridge, NJ; Kent Animal Shelter, Calverton, NY; The Husky House, Bridgewater, NJ; Ulster County SPCA, Kingston, NY; Going to the Dogs Rescue, Perry, NY; Yorkie911 Rescue, Deer Park, NY; and Animal Haven, New York, NY.