Video: From Puppy Mill to Family Pet: Tyra’s Amazing Transformation

Thursday, April 11, 2013 - 10:30am
Puppy mill dogs

In the days after the ASPCA rescued Tyra from a Kentucky puppy mill, she was afraid of everything. When our behavior team touched the tiny Papillon during an evaluation, she shut down, paralyzed with fear. One glimpse of a child-size doll sent her reeling in terror. She was even too scared to eat.

Our behavior team knew it wouldn’t be easy, but they were determined to help Tyra. Our experts devised a program to treat her fear, hoping against hope that she would come out of her shell and learn to trust.

After a few months of treatment, the behavior team evaluated Tyra again. The results were thrilling, and we caught it on tape:

Tyra “seemed like a different dog,” remembers Kristen Collins, ASPCA Director of Anti-Cruelty Behavior Rehabilitation. “She approached us tail wagging, clearly eager to interact. She seemed to enjoy petting, played with a toy and investigated the doll. In short, she had transformed into a dog that was ready to enjoy her new life in a loving adoptive home.”

Seeing Tyra’s improvement, Collins and her colleagues were inspired; they knew their rehabilitation methods were effective, and that the time was right to launch the rehabilitation center they’d wanted to create for years. 

Last month we opened the ASPCA Behavioral Rehabilitation Center in New Jersey. At this first-of-its-kind facility, we’re treating dogs like Tyra who are rescued from puppy mills and other cruelty situations, giving them the time and intensive support they need but can’t get anywhere else.

After her rehabilitation, Tyra was transferred to D.C.’s Washington Animal Rescue League for adoption. Though still a bit fearful, Tyra was ready to enjoy life as a family dog—and that’s exactly what she’s doing right now. Today she lives in Maryland and is cherished every day.

“Tyra is a wonderful dog!” her mom tells us. “I am so happy that ASPCA gave her another chance at life and to be happy.”

We are so excited to help more dogs like Tyra at our rehab center—and we hope you’ll read the story of Pepper, one of the first dogs receiving treatment there. Watch the ASPCA blog for updates on this groundbreaking initiative and, if you can, make a gift to the ASPCA to be a part of our work.