Boney legs poke out from between harsh metal wires. Food and water dishes remain empty for days. Ailments go untreated as puppies bide their time among the dying and the dead. These are the squalid conditions of puppy mills, where it’s estimated more than two million dogs are mass-produced for profit each year. Hundreds of these animals never survive, and the ones who do are permanently scarred, emotionally and physically.
No matter how inhumane, over 10,000 puppy mills continue to do business across the United States of America — many of them legally — as neglect runs rampant and countless lives are ruined. While respectable breeders cherish their animals by providing safe, clean environments; plenty of food and water; and space for exercise and socialization, puppy mills are run for profit alone, without considering the quality of life of the animals that are born within their confines.
Starting in Pennsylvania, a state which some organizations have dubbed “the puppy mill capital of the east,” Animal Planet follows the committed law enforcement officers of the Pennsylvania SPCA (PSPCA) to take viewers inside the world of puppy mills in PUPPY MILLS: EXPOSED. Premiering Monday, April 27, at 10 PM (ET/PT), this special episode of ANIMAL COPS: PHILADELPHIA utilizes photographic and video evidence and the firsthand accounts of investigators and employees who brought down some of the largest puppy mill operations in the country. PUPPY MILLS: EXPOSED illuminates the horrifying conditions of puppy mills while forcing viewers to ask how this inexcusable business continues to flourish on American soil.
In Pennsylvania, PUPPY MILLS: EXPOSED explores the case of Limestone Kennels — one of the highest profile puppy mill cases the state has ever seen. On July 17, 2008, just outside of Philadelphia in Chester County, investigators rescued more than 80 dogs from Limestone and brought owner John Blank to justice. Unfortunately, victory was bittersweet because what the officers saw inside the puppy mill was astonishing — multiple dogs packed into cramped cages, food dishes contaminated with feces and animals with multiple birth defects, including dogs with missing eyes. The worst part was the kennel had passed inspections on multiple occasions, calling into question the enforcement of state laws surrounding the welfare of animals in Pennsylvania. Humane Law Enforcement Officer Ashley Mutch followed the lead that led to the warrant and raid of Limestone Kennels.
“We rescued all of the dogs from the appalling environment and conditions they were subjected to, which was the most important thing,” say Mutch. “But for the dogs that came before them, we were too late. Whether they survived or not, all of those dogs were victims of a puppy mill and will be forever damaged.”
“Puppy mills are a blemish on a country that loves and respects its dogs,” says Marjorie Kaplan, president and general manager of Animal Planet. “PUPPY MILLS: EXPOSED tells the truth about these operations — no matter how disturbing — in order to incite emotions and action in everyone who watches.”
Traveling across the country, PUPPY MILLS: EXPOSED explores similar stories as they unfold in Tennessee and Florida. With the help of a puppy mill employee, who was disgusted by what she saw at work, the authorities in Hickman County, Tennessee, closed Pine Bluff Kennels. The animals were tortured with starvation, kept in disgusting cages covered in inches of feces and left to survive among the corpses of dead puppies. The adult dogs did not fare much better: after being used for breeding, they were no longer considered valuable and were allegedly shot.
Later, viewers travel to Miami where the other side of this horrific reality is exposed. Viewers meet a woman who bought her puppy, Nugget, from a pet store. Shortly thereafter, Nugget became sick. Like most people, the owner had no idea that virtually all pet store puppies come from large commercial breeding facilities — many of which can be considered puppy mills. The conditions of these facilities would be truly shocking to pet owners, but unfortunately they buy their pets, unaware of their origins.
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