In an article published yesterday in USA Today, Dr. Frank McMillan, director of animal well-being studies at Best Friends Animal Society, discusses his research into the mental and emotional trauma suffered by dogs rescued from puppy mill operations. While it should come as no surprise that years of living in the cramped confines of a commercial breeding operation (often without exercise and little human contact) takes its toll on highly social animals like dogs, this is the first study to identify the damaging effects of mill life on canines.
At left, puppy mill castoff rescued by Best Friends
“This study gives us strong evidence that the dogs kept in these large-scale breeding facilities don’t just suffer while they’re confined there, but carry the emotional scars out with them for years, even when they’re placed in loving homes,” states Dr. Frank.
Of course, the dogs in the study, animals who have been rescued from mills, are the lucky ones. Most mill dogs spend their entire lives in cages little larger than their own bodies, only to be dumped at a rural shelter or simply killed by the mill operator when their health care needs exceed their value as puppy producers.
Owing to the character of Best Friends work that combines a national No More Homeless Pets campaign aimed at ending shelter killing with the operation of the country’s largest sanctuary for abandoned and abused animals, Dr. Frank has a unique opportunity to work with groups of animals that run the gamut from 22 of the most difficult dogs rescued from Michael Vick’s dog-fighting operation, to cats saved from a desert hoarding situation, to puppy mill survivors.
Dr. Frank, author of “Unlocking the Animal Mind: How Your Pet’s Feelings Hold the Key to His Health and Happiness,” is a board-certified specialist in veterinary internal medicine. Before coming to Best Friends, Dr. Frank was in private practice in Los Angeles for 23 years. In addition, he was a clinical professor of medicine at the Western University of Health Sciences College of Veterinary Medicine.
All of our staff at Best Friends, including Dr. Frank, is committed to a time of No More Homeless Pets. Educating unsuspecting consumers about and reducing the demand for puppy mill dogs is an important part of our strategy.
CEO, Best Friends Animal Society