September 8th, 2008
07:01 PM ET

Erica's News Note: Searching

Erica Hill
AC360° Correspondent

Puppy mills make me ill. Many of these dog breeding facilities have been found to house animals as cheaply as possible - in cruel and horrible conditions - to make the most money. I can literally feel the disgust in the pit of my stomach. I will never understand how people can be so cruel to another living being.

Dozens of beagle puppies are recovering in Arizona, today, saved from a Missouri puppy mill where officials say they would have been shot or drowned if they hadn’t been rescued. The animals were reportedly kept in wire cages at the Missouri breeder, and arrived with a host of problems including damaged ears, bloody nails and paws in pain. Several dogs also required surgeries.

When I read stories like this, I rejoice that the animals are safe but the thought of what they went through makes me angry and sick.

My parents have a beagle. Bailey is one of the most loyal dogs I’ve ever known. He was a rescue dog, adopted by my family when he was eight months old because his original family couldn’t take care of him. I can only hope he didn’t begin life in a puppy mill.


What a frightening ordeal. Fifteen hours in shark-infested waters – some of that time in the far too dark night – treading water, hoping for someone to save this father and son. Rescuers call their survival in the Atlantic a miracle.

In one short decade, GoogleGoogle has managed to become an integral part of my daily life, and I know I am not alone. From two guys, four computers and a $100,000 investment to 20,000 employees, a market value of $150 billion (I can’t even fathom that amount of money!), and an almost incomprehensible influence on everything we do. Today, it helped me find a NY State vehicle inspection station (much more difficult than it needs to be, by the way), gave me directions to my son’s dental appointment and helped me find a news item I first read about over the weekend.

Of course, even the site with the swanky, ever-changing logo isn’t all bubble gum and lollipops. Not everyone is singing the praises of their rise.

Filed under: Erica Hill • Erica's News Note
soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. Barbara

    Erica, yes stories of puppy mills and other such animal abuse also confound, anger and sicken me. There is no real trick to obtaining your pet dog from legitimate sources. Obtain a mixed breed dog from your local shelter or rescue group not from a "breeder" of designer dogs; mixed breeds with high price tags. Want a purebred dog? Don't go to a pet store or buy through the internet. Meet the breeder in person, ask questions and prepare to be asked questions yourself. A responsible breeder tries to be sure her pup goes to a "forever home" and not just to the first person willing to write a check.

    When puppy mills can no longer make money be selling pets through commerical outlets to impulse buyers, well, that's when they will go out of business. Everyone needs to do more than cluck their tongue in dismay. Reach out to help educate potential puppy buyers.

    Rochester Hills, Michigan

    September 8, 2008 at 10:21 pm |
  2. MW / Calif

    This is a sad situation. I can't imagine treating any animals this way. We rescued our kitty from a shelter also. When we adopted her, we were told she was 2 yrs. old. But I guess she was really around 12. She died 5 months ago and we were told that she was at least 16 by our vet. I am glad that we had her for 5 years though. She was the nicest kitty I've ever had!! When we are ready, we will adopt another from a shelter. There are so many animals there that need a good home.

    September 8, 2008 at 10:15 pm |
  3. Mala

    Way to Go Erica,

    It is amazing how cruel people are to animals! I am happy to see that you remain so supportive! I hope yours is doing well! He must be about 4 yrs old now!!

    Mala from ATL..
    former rescuer

    September 8, 2008 at 9:00 pm |
  4. Jo Ann


    Thanks for your blog on puppy mills. They have always been an ongoing problem. At the end of August the HSUS and Best Friends Animal Society helped to shut down one of the U.S’s largest and oldest puppy mills, Whispering Oaks Kennels in Parkersburg, West Virginia, that has been in operation since 1961. Places like these are difficult to shut down because of lenient state breeding laws. Also, when they are shut down in one state they run to another one with more lenient laws.

    This is what happens when animals are seen as nothing more than a commodity to be bought and sold. People need to realize that these animals experience pain and fear like any other living creature. Unlike humans they cannot call for help and have very few rights. They count on us to put a stop to cruelty like this. We all need to call our government officials and demand that lenient laws be changed to protect these beautiful creatures.

    Jo Ann
    North Royalton, Ohio

    September 8, 2008 at 8:39 pm |
  5. Pam Prudil

    I couldn't agree with you more Erica. All my dogs came from the local pound. They are as special, and give unconditional love as a dog I paid hundreds of dollars for. Not that pure bred dogs should not be loved, but there should be some laws where you need a license to breed a dog. If I was to buy a purebred dog, I would want a paper trail . People should only buy dogs or cats from licensed breeders and not from any old petstore. I know, a cute little puppy in the window is too hard to resist, but people need to be responsible and think of consequences.

    September 8, 2008 at 8:21 pm |
  6. Melissa, Los Angeles

    I don't understand if these puppies are so damaged, how are they able to sell them? I would think shooting or drowning them because they've become too damaged would be a loss on profit so what do they have to gain by not ensuring these animals are in top shape for sale?

    I personally will never buy an animal. There are so many that need to be adopted that I'd rather support a shelter then a breeder or pet shop.

    September 8, 2008 at 8:02 pm |
  7. Wolf

    One down, hundreds, even thousands to go.

    Sadly, until people realise they can find a great pet at their local shelters, may even purebred at that, puppy mills will continue to be a part of the landscape.

    September 8, 2008 at 8:02 pm |
  8. Fay, CA

    You never want to see any animal hurt, but it's especially difficult for me to hear of beagles being abused–they are my absolute favorite breed of dog and it's sickening that someone would put them through so much torment–I hope these dogs recover from their injuries and find good homes with people who will take good care of them.

    September 8, 2008 at 7:53 pm |
  9. Genevieve M, TX

    Are'nt most of the dogs from puppy mills are sold in pet shops?

    My own 2 dogs (and 2 cats) were "adopted" from the local animal shelter. Hopefully, neither of my dogs were from puppy mills.

    September 8, 2008 at 7:50 pm |
  10. Megan Dresslar

    Hellooo Erica!!!!!!
    I agree with you..... that is so horrible sight I see!!!! Sometimes puppy mills make me sick too. I also angry too, I had 2 dogs were my life. I had fun play with them. I don't like put all kind of dogs at puppy mills at all. I know what are you feeling right now as I felt. Thanks for your share with me.. I will see you tonight live blog and program.
    See you there!!!
    Megan D.
    Shoreline, Wa

    September 8, 2008 at 7:39 pm |
  11. Jolene

    Erica: Please consider doing an investigative report on puppy mills. It could help in public awareness and put pressure on those who mistreat the animals for profit. I'm glad in this case, the puppies were saved but this is just one of several horrible stories out there that need to be uncovered.

    BTW, I enjoyed your panel discussion with the group of women from Detroit. It was refreshing to see a group of women who could agree to disagree and talk intelligently in a mature and calm manner. Very well done. I hope you consider doing similar panels around the country. It would be interesting to see how the views vary, if any.

    Jolene, St. Joseph, MI

    September 8, 2008 at 7:34 pm |
  12. Betty Ann, Nacogdoches,TX

    Hey Erica,
    I know what you mean about puppy mills. I worked in animal welfare in east Texas for over 20 years and busted numerous puppy mills.
    Some of the small breeds live in cages all their lives and reproduce every six months. have you ever walked barefoot on wire? Inhumane to say the least! Not to mention the waste of a live DOMESTIC animal whose only purpose in this world is to recieve and give love to a human.
    larger breeds like rottweilers and pit bulls are chained to trees. I broke up a puppy mill once that had two hundred dogs rotts and pits chained to trees!
    In fact with the overpupulation of pets, one can hardly think of an excuse to breed. So if anyone out there needs a pet and can give it a good home they need to adopt from their local shelter.
    If you like a specific breed, then I recommend breed rescue groups.
    I have dogs from rescue groups. You can also foster a rescued animal until the rescue group can find it a home but I flunked that course so you can imagine how "active" my household is! 🙂
    Thanks for the info on puppy mills. people need to understand that a dog is a comitment and a family member. Dogs are not disposible toys! and in the words of Mark Twain ," Dogs don't live very long. Their only fault really."

    September 8, 2008 at 7:24 pm |
  13. jamie, philly pa

    hey erica,

    I am with you about the puppy mills. they make me angry and sad at the same time. I just wanna adopt the puppies myself. Oprah did a big puppy mill episode last season that was outrageous and i found out that in PA where I live they have hundreds of rescues that help alleviate the mills around the lancaster area and find safe havens for these puppies.

    As an adopted "mother" to 4 rescued stray cats and a little yorkie dog named "charlie" I definitely think you guys need to spotlight this horrific issue. Coop is a dog lover, have him do a few stories on this!!!

    September 8, 2008 at 7:21 pm |
  14. Paul K., Ridley, PA

    It is sad that a human being, not a caring soul but a cruel coward, would treat animals and especially puppies, like that. There should be some special justice for someone like that. Not just a fine, license revocation or both. No, I mean Real Justice. The Humane Society can only do so much. We the people need to push our legislators for much more severe punishment. Oh, I know, they could be the cage cleaner for a bunch of rescued, abused Pit Bulls. See how they like it.
    I don't mean tobe angry but its sad.

    September 8, 2008 at 7:18 pm |
  15. Jennifer - Michigan

    That is such a sad story. We used to have a beagle when I was little, he was very loyal as well. His name was Eddie; we adopted him from the local Humane Society. Glad that the dogs could be rescued. Have a great night, see you later.

    September 8, 2008 at 7:13 pm |
  16. Kristien,Antwerp, Belgium

    you're right, these puppy mills are disgusting.
    I just hope that the people running these things get punished for their actions, and I don't mean a slap on the wrist or a small fine, but jail time. See how they like being locked up!

    September 8, 2008 at 7:12 pm |
  17. Alexander

    Good evening, Erica. I see you posted another interesting news note. I am glad you post these news bits since they offer perspectives that you cannot necessarily get elsewhere, in this sunmarized fashion, regarding news events or stories happening around the nation and the world. Hope your evening is going well, and take care.: )

    September 8, 2008 at 7:02 pm |