Wednesday, August 24, 2011


"Do You See That Doggie in the Shelter?"

By Edward Copeland
Admittedly, I wasn't eager to watch Madonna of the Mills. Even though I knew the focus of the documentary, which debuts tonight on HBO2 at 8 p.m. Eastern/Pacific and 7 p.m. Central, was on a woman rescuing dog from puppy mills, mistreatment of animals, particularly dogs, just gets to me. Often I have to switch channels if those commercials come on TV. It hurts me too much. Don't mistake me as someone who goes way overboard as some activists do. It's just been my experience in life that I've been screwed over far more by humans than I ever have by animals so I tend to take the animal's side. Anyway, I steeled my stomach and watched this short documentary and while it made me sad and angry as I expected, it also made me grateful that there are people out there such as Laura Flynn Amato who are doing what they can to save these dogs.

According to figures presented in Madonna of the Mills, 99% of the dogs in pet stores come from puppy mills, born to mothers under some of the most horrifying conditions (described as prison camps for mother dogs) where they live their lives in cages that the law requires only be six inches longer than the dog's body.

The documentary focuses on Amato who in 2005, wen she was 29 and a dental office manager on Staten Island, started making weekend trips to Amish country in Lancaster County, Pa., to rescue breeding dogs that had been sentenced to die. The Amish view the operation as another form as agricultural and indeed it's the U.S. Department of Agriculture that codifies such lax regulations and enforcements of puppy mills across the country. Pennsylvania only comes in sixth in such operations. Ranking first through fifth are: Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Iowa.

What began as a practice by some farmers to supplement their income has now become the primary source of money for many of them. People who unknowingly buy dogs from pet stores also pay a heavy price as it's estimated that nearly 100% of the animals sold contain internal parasites and other health problems that lead to huge veterinary bills. When the dogs get sick at puppy mills, it's cheaper to replace them with new dogs and kill the sick ones than pay for a vet.

The title of this post is a play off the Patti Page classic "How Much Is That Doggie in the Window?" The singer appears in the film, telling of how many people would bring dogs they bought to her shows over the years but when she learned of the puppy mills, she re-recorded it with the new lyrics.

The people who work to save these abused animals, some who have been so mistreated they don't know how to act when rescued, do inspire and the movie spares us ghastly visual images. Madonna of the Mills will make you mad and proud at the same time.


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Worth a look, especially with the unexpected (to me, anyway) appearance of Ms. Page, whom I last saw on TCM in the movie Dondi!
Thank you for writing this article. I recently became aware about puppy mills and I am doing what I can to spread the word. So many people do not know hwat a puppy mill is.Hope more people read your article. You hit it right on the spot.


Liz Jacobelly
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