A couple months back I went to Waco, TX to train to be an EARS Volunteer with the UAN (Emergency Animal Response Services with United Animal Nations). EARS volunteers deploy during natural disasters as well as puppy mills and hoarding cases and set up temporary shelters across the United States.
Consequently, I deployed last Thursday to aid in the temporary sheltering of over 500 dogs from the Fort Worth/Maggic Pets puppy mill bust. I was pretty nervous when I agreed to go since I knew I was going to have a very tough time dealing with the cruelty those innocent animals had suffered; however, I couldn’t say no because it would have caused me even more heartache to turn my back on them.
So off I went and I was prepared for the worst. We would work long days filled with nonstop crate cleaning, dog walking, feeding, and watering. Coming from a typical desk job where I sit in front of a computer for 8 hours a day, this was quite a change! However, when you are surrounded by hundreds of deeply sad eyes who often brace in terror as you approach, any feelings of exhaustion fly out the window. Instead, you just want to clean at lightning speed to give each dog a comfortable, clean “safe place” and some one on one time for cuddles or a quick walk outside.
The improvement in the emotional and physical condition of the dogs could be seen within days. That’s the best part! On my second day, my roommate Laura was walking a terrified hound and commenting to me that the dog was scared stiff when all of a sudden the dog started pulling towards me. I was astonished and happily pet the dog commenting on how odd this was. I didn’t realize until later that she was one of the dogs I had given some cuddle time to the night before. The sweet girl remembered the 5 minutes of cuddle time I had given her so strongly that she was running towards me like I was her mommy. It brings tears to my eyes to think about her as I write. She was one of the many dogs who fled to the back of the cage when you approached. However, I had connected with her and provided her a sense of security with as little as 5 minutes of my time the night before.
While I was there I stayed “tough” and held it together pretty well, but when I finally left that’s when I broke down and pretty much cried the whole way home. The cruelty behind puppy mills and the pet stores that enable these puppy mills to exist is devastating. Those dogs not sold by this puppy mill were just bred over and over again until they died, many of starvation, and you would see their ribs sticking out and their mammary glands hanging all the way to the floor. Another momma had a tumor bigger than a baseball.
Despite the sadness, when asked if I would do it again, I say absolutely. Who else is going to do it if not me and maybe you? I encourage each of you to learn more about the hundreds of different ways you can help, first and foremost by being informed. During the last Legislative session, the Puppy Mill regulation bill that could have prevented this was passed by the House of Representatives but killed by special interest groups who represent the puppy mills. If you are as appalled by this as I am, I beg you to take action and help those who cannot speak up for themselves.