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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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My understanding is they work with these dogs and rehab all they can. Where did you hear they euthanize most of them?


The ASPCA euthanizes almost all of the animals hey get! They are not a rescue organization that seeks homes. They take the animals in and if no home is found within days they euthanize them. I won't give any money to them anymore. They also want exhorbanet adoption fees.


I can't speak for the ASPCA, but I know that this happened to us with the BSPCA in Bahrain. We found four kittens living in the water and electrical space behind our villa, and we have two dogs so couldn't take them. We donated them to the BSPCA and were assured that they would be found homes - even donated $150 with them for their shots, etc. Two weeks later, we went by to get our dog crate back, and found out that all four had been euthanized. I was beside myself. Other people told me that the leadership power switches back and forth every few years between the people who want to save every animal and those who believe that the mandate is to gather the homeless/abused animals and get rid of the problem quickly - the quickest way being to kill them. I still cry when I think about it. Those kittens were perfect, not sick or anything, and young enough to learn how to trust people. For the ASPCA, I think I would like to see numbers on how many were actually adopted out of the 125. We have a bunch of local rescues here, and it's easier to keep track of stuff like that.

Linda Kanter

I am horrified to think that the ASPCA euthnizes most of the anmals they rescue, for example from puppy mills ? How can I find information on theses statistics ? have I been uninformed all of this tiem re the ASPCA ?


ASPCA better not be putting any of those sweet "babies"to sleep. I've donated to that org. for years..and to ASPCA International \too. I've seen vido of the help "Internatiuonal" does and they sure don't put the animals they help to sleep I think they're working in Spain now,,saw it on the computer


I agree, most rescue shelters and such do not kill dogs unless they are a danger to others. They give them time and try to rehab them, but some are just damaged from interbreeding and years of being bred and caged in small spaces. I believe everyone tries to help these dogs not all get a better life.


Susan: You are incorrect in your statement that "most rescue shelters and such do not kill dogs unless they are a danger to others." First, there is a difference between a 'rescue' and a 'shelter'. Generally, 'shelters' are county or city-run facilities where animals are taken when they are picked up by animal control, or dropped off by owners or people who find them. I don't know the percentage but a great many (if not most) shelters do euthanize (dogs, cats and other animals), and not just for aggressive behavior. Often it is because the animal is sick or injured and the facility does not have the means to care for them. A rescue is just that - rescues take animals from many places - pull from kill-shelters, strays, owner surrenders, etc. - quite often the animals they pull from the shelters are the ones that are sick or injured and those that are on 'death row'. Rescues provide vet care (again, often involving extensive medical treatment and/or surgeries) and foster families to care for the animals until they can be adopted. 'Rescues' do not euthanize; 'shelters' do, for aggressiveness, medical reasons and just because they don't have the money or the facilities to care for all the animals that are taken there (and that includes animals that could be adoptable if they were given a chance)


Hi Tracie,

The ASPCA doesn't work the way you think it does. I volunteer with them. Right now I do mainly foster work with senior animals that aren't adoptable.

From what I have seen, when the ASPCA does a large scale rescue, they set up a temporary kennel housing to get all the animals into clean safe conditions and then they evaluate all the animals and work with other groups for the rehoming of animals. So yes you should ask about who did the rehoming. It's coordinated by the FIR department which I can't remember what it stands for. The ASPCA doesn't support local shelters except with grants when they are applied for. Local shelters are not part of the ASPCA. The ASPCA has very few branches - there is the poison control center in Illinois and in New Jersey they just partnered with St. Huberts to set up a dog rehabilitation center.

The ASPCA shelter in New York City is small but mighty. They adopt out about 200 cats and kittens a month and at least 25 dogs and puppies. They pull from the local kill shelter whenever they have room. They recently had a renovation where they added on additional space for a larger spay and neuter clinic.

I think it's good that you give to your local shelter, that is admirable, I hope that you volunteer at your local shelter as well. Please remember that national organizations may not seem active on your local level but they are working on helping animals in other ways.

The ASPCA partnered with the local NYC ACC has a Lost and Found program where volunteers working from home (you could do it to!) try and match animals found as strays and taken to the city shelter against lost reports.

While I might not agree with every little thing about the ASPCA, I do realize the good in the organization. A lot of the negative press any national animal protection organization gets often come from a well funded agribusiness lobby that does not want any legislation passed to change how they treat animals. So please look to the sources of your information as well as to the mission of each organization.

Thank you.

Claudette Possani

Hello Margaret, thanks for the clear info about the ASPCA, we need to get all the necessary and consistent information before spread it around.! As far as I know, ASPCA survives only by donations and maybe some other organizations want to be competitive and thus make some fake propaganda! that could be! thanks for clearing up.

Claudette Possani

Hi Tracie, I wonder if the ASPCA really euthanize, 95% is a too high percentage !!! if that´s true why they rescue,rehab and then kill? makes no sense to me! would like to get more info about this horror! (I heard that they euthanize if the dog is violent and bite people or are too aggressive with other dogs) mainly when they are trained to attack and kill other dogs like in dog- fighting or whatever they were trained to an aggressive behavior, I´m much interested to learn more. That´s very serious!!!