This Mother’s Day, We’re Thinking of Summer

Submitted by Caitlin and Mark, Pennsylvania


Our adorable Yorkie has many names—Summer, Summy Sweetkins and Bat Girl—but it wasn’t always that way. She spent the first seven years of her life in a cruel, commercial puppy-breeding facility in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where she had no name except for a serial number tattooed on her leg. She was forced to continuously pump out litters of puppies, with no time for recovery in between pregnancies.

Even though her tongue hanging out of her mouth is super cute, the reason it does that is horrific: Years of neglect caused Summer’s teeth to rot out, plus she had a broken jaw that was never treated by a veterinarian. We don’t know how her jaw was broken.

We rescued Summer when she was discarded because she could no longer produce puppies. When we first brought her home, she was too scared to walk on the tile flooring, the rug in the living room or even on the grass—all of which she had never felt before. We have to hand-feed her because she has trouble eating with no teeth. She never left her cage to use the bathroom, so she has to wear a diaper every day. Summer is terrified of strangers, dark rooms, loud noises and being left alone. She can’t see very well and is almost entirely deaf. She also has a heart murmur and suffers from pancreatitis and an enlarged spleen—conditions that have cost us thousands in vet bills.

Since we adopted Summer, we’ve pampered her with endless kisses, pets, toys and treats. She’s gotten more comfortable being treated as a pet, rather than as a breeding machine, and loves nothing more than curling up in a warm blanket pile on a soft couch. Despite all her lifelong problems, caused by many years languishing in a puppy mill—in fact, because of them—we feel Summer deserves as much love as we can give her.

Yorkie with toys

Summer’s suffering may seem like a tragic exception, but it is the norm for most breeding dogs kept in commercial facilities. Even in puppy mills licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the standards of care are notoriously low. Current federal regulations are so weak and enforcement is so poor that breeders can keep dogs constantly caged and deny access to regular exercise, socialization and even adequate vet care. The truth is, most breeding females do not end up in a loving home once their bodies give out. Their puppies are also prone to a host of lifelong, expensive medical and behavioral problems.

Puppy mill operators care more about profits than dogs. They often do nothing to uphold the health and integrity of a breed, and usually couldn’t care less if their unethical techniques lead to the suffering of dogs or heartbreak of families.

All dogs deserve the good life—but as long as the secretive puppy-breeding industry continues to hide the truth, too many dogs will remain victims of its cruelty. Join the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade to find out how you can make a difference and stand up for puppy mill victims like Summer.