On a recent, cold March morning, a very large truck filled with adult dogs and puppies rolled into a parking lot near Adopt-A-Dog in Armonk, N.Y.
Staff from 14 area animal shelters from across the tri-state area arrived, bringing dog food, water, kennels, toys and blankets. The shelters, with names such as Animal Haven, All they Need is Love Animal Rescue and Tiny Treasures Rescue, came to take in the dogs, bred in puppy mills in Utah.
The 160 dogs would soon have new lives, thanks to the Best Friends Animal Society’s “Pup My Ride, ” an ongoing effort by the Kanab, Utah, organization to rescue dogs that have been rejected by the puppy mills and bring them to places where they are loved and cared for. Shipping the animals cross country, they connect dogs with shelters that have able adoption programs, finding homes for many dogs at a time.
In the mills, the dogs are kept in inhumane conditions, according to Arianna Pittman, coordinator for Best Friends’ puppy mill initiatives.
“The dogs live in tiny cages where they sleep, eat and live in their own urine and feces. They are not groomed, handled, given medical care or taken care of like a family pet. Their sole purpose is to produce puppies, ” Pittman said.
Without animal rescue organizations, many of the dogs would face death. The mills sometimes kill puppies they think are not desirable enough or dogs used for breeding when they grow too old to reproduce, according to Pittman. Other times, mill operators send them to animal shelters — but overcrowded shelters may have to put the dogs down.
When the door of the truck opened, volunteers brought the pups down one by one. Jamie Noe, a Best Friends volunteer, cuddled a frightened Chihuahua puppy. Some of the dogs had cuts and broken teeth. Some were too scared to walk on their own. Many were dirty and ungroomed.
Back at Adopt-A-Dog, Kristen Alouisa, kennel manager, and Courtney Farquhar, an assistant, looked after one of the puppies, cleaning her up and giving her needed shots.
On this morning, the transportation was provided by Peterson Express Transport Service, or P.E.T.S., a family-run business that specializes in animal rescue road trips, bringing dogs from places such as Texas and Louisiana to Massachusetts, New Hamphire, Connecticut and New York.
The driver, Marty Neill, of Cookeville, Tenn., said the ride took 17 hours from Kanab to Armonk. But the long ride doesn’t bother him, he said. The work makes him feel better knowing that the dogs are finding a good home, he said.
Allyson Halm, president of Adopt-A-Dog, said she was happy to host Pup My Ride, an event the organization has hosted five times. Adopt-A-Dog took in five dogs from the delivery
“We are eager to help with puppy mill dogs, ” Halm said. “These 160 dogs that you see today represent the rejects. It should tell you why we should stop the puppy mills.”
During the event, many shelter owners brushed back tears when they received their puppy and a flower to say thank you.
“The best thing is that you see a dog come from the puppy mill that hasn’t had a human touch and was very afraid, but then later, you see him wag his tail for the first time, or sniff your hand or crawl onto your lap, ” ” said Pittman. And you see him open up and you realize, ‘My gosh, this is love, this is what it should be, ‘ knowing that this dog will have a good life after all.”
These are the shelters that went to the “Pup A Ride.”
Adopt-A-Dog, Armonk, NY; Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons, Wainscott, N.Y.; Monmouth County SPCA, Eatontown, N.J.; Save A Pet, Long Island, N.Y.; Ramapo-Bergen Animal Refuge, Inc., Oakland, N.J.; The Husky House, Bridgewater, N.J.; Mt. Pleasant Animal Shelter, East Hanover, N.J.; Second Chance Pet Adoption League, Oak Ridge, N.J.; All They Need is Love Animal Rescue, Thorofare, N.J.: Kent Animal Shelter, Calverton, N.Y.; Ulster County SPCA, Kingston, N.Y; Yorkie911 Rescue, Deer Park, N.Y.; Tiny Treasures, NY and Animal Haven, New York, N.Y.