Video: Puppy Mill Survivor’s Amazing Transformation

Thursday, September 19, 2013 - 3:45pm
puppy mill victim

Zack was one of about 150 Jack Russell Terriers and Shiba Inus we rescued from a Michigan puppy mill earlier this year. After rescue, he needed surgery on his eyes—but he also needed extensive behavior help.

ASPCA behavior expert Kristen Collins was at the rescue to help remove dogs from the property, and she noticed Zack right away. He shook violently as he crouched in terror, his eyes wide. When Collins approached his enclosure, he bolted for the broken crate that was his only shelter from the elements.

"He looked like the most fearful dog on the property," Collins remembers. She knew Zack's best hope was intensive treatment at our Rehab Center for puppy mill and hoarding survivors.

When Zack arrived at the Rehab Center, his behavior was no different than the first time Collins saw him quake with fear at her approach. He cowered in the back of his space, ears flat and body low. And yet—after a few days, though he remained skeptical about human touch, Zack began to tentatively wag his tail at the sight of familiar people.

Today, Zack has been adopted and is part of a loving family. We wanted to show you the amazing progress Zack made during his time with us—please watch his video below.

We also wanted to thank those of you who have given to the ASPCA. Zack’s recovery wouldn’t be possible without you. If you haven’t given recently, you can do so here to help other animals like Zack. Thank you!

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The ASPCA is national, but they have groups all over the country. I donated to help the displaced animals after the horrific tornadoes in OK and after Hurricane Sandy. We have a local chapter here in Augusta, GA. Find your local group and help out there and adopt from them. I don't believe they euthanize when they can save....contrary to an earlier post I read. They are humane and help all over the country!


I love seeing these animals becoming the beautiful soft caring fur babies they were always meant to be!

Suzanne Michael

If you live near a breeder its your job to keep an eye on it and report any abuse you see. Until all of these places are shut down, as most only care about the profit and not the animals, the abuse will continue. Always speak up for the voiceless, even if you just suspect abuse, there just aren't enough agents to keep tabs on all the places they hide these poor animals. We all have to speak up always!And do what you can to support these agencys so they can rescue and rehome these dogs!

Marcella Curtis

Beautiful it brought tears to my eyes. The little darling hope all the others got the same results, I take my hat off to the lovely people who spare the time to give hope to all the animals mistreated.

leslie miller

A large number came to the Kent County Animal shelter in Grand Rapids, Michigan and were adopted almost immediately. The ASPCA, American Humane and HSUS who do these puppy mill rescues deal with local facilities for their adoption.

Sonia East

In 2008 I adopted an English Toy Spaniel and a Maltepoo from a local small dog rescue - both had been pulled from pounds where they had been "dumped." Each was about a year old and five years later they are my "velcro" companions and wonderful furkids. There are a lot more out there like Bella and Nicky - my two cats are also shelter rescue !! Best family to have !!

Jenni C.

We adopted a JRT mix from our local shelter 4 years ago. He was in foster care at the time...very timid, but snappy. He still has moderate health probs. Took awhile to warm up to our other dogs, but made quick friends with the cat. I would be lost without my little Jackie Jack. Don't be discouraged by distance or medical issues with these babies.

Melanie Sullivan

I am vehemently opposed to breeding dogs. These puppy mills and most independent breeders use dogs as a cash crop. I'd love to see large licensing fees for all breeders. They are part of the problem that causes so many homeless and neglected pets. It's very upsetting to see understand why it matters so much to have a full breed or designer dog.
If you love dogs, please look at the many mix breeds that are out there. In the last 17 yrs , I have found 11 dogs on the streets of Cleveland . I found homes for 6 and have kept those that I couldn't place. They have all become great and loyal friends, albeit most have been a bit quirky. Therein lies their real beauty. I still have Wiley, found 14 yrs. ago. Much more fearful than the dog in this video. I trust him completely. I and any of our grand kids could take a bone from his mouth. Maggie , my only adopted dog, had a ton of issues, including her age, cancer, orthopedic injuries, food aggression. She loves attention and is now quite mellow. We found Cali on a freeway exit last yr. not a beauty, but a such a sweet girl. Please think about a real designer dog, a mix breed.


I believe it is absolutely amazing how much trust an animal can put in to a human. For a human to be cruel to an animal and then believe they have the right to use animals as financial gain or to use them for their sick and twisted anger is wrong. I believe in animal rights, regardless if an animal is "vicious" or not. All animals, even the human kind, deserve second chances. Thanks for the update on Zack.


This is such a great story! I love that animals put so much trust in their owners. However, so many put their trust into the wrong person. It's a shame that when an animal is defending themselves and they attack a person, they are put down and wrongfully not given justice. Humans should be treated the same way. Animals should not be the only source of income for a person. Zack is an incredible story, and I love the outcome! When an animal can trust a person, it is an awesome feeling. #helpinganimals