Vail Valley local helps rescued puppies |

Vail Valley local helps rescued puppies

Taylor L. Roozen
Vail, CO Colorado

VAIL, Colorado –In one puppy mill, wire dog cages are stacked in columns. Standing on the wire floor of his cage, a puppy gets his foot stuck in the wire links.

Starving and tired of being pooped on by all the dogs stacked above him, the bottom dog eats as much of the puppy’s foot as he can reach with his rotten jaw and teeth, which are worn from chewing on aluminum chainlinks.

This is one scene that Janet Boeser, a Vail Valley local, described along with other wrenching puppy mill horror stories. Boeser is a volunteer for the Colorado Springs-based National Mill Dog Rescue group, which scours the country trying to rescue dogs from this kind of large scale animal cruelty.

In a recent rescue in Stone County, Ark., National Mill Dog Rescue aided police and the Department of Agriculture in searching a puppy mill that had 125 dogs, said Theresa Strader, the rescue group’s founder.

Fifty dogs were rescued in the search, but the remaining number had already died. Some laid dead in make shift dens, “in holes in the ground under sheets of metal, refrigerators, and car hoods,” Strader said.

While the condition of each puppy mill varies, starvation and medical neglect are typical and dogs die of easily preventable ailments such as urinary tract infections, heart worms, and starvation, Boeser said.

Animal cruelty laws recently became stricter in Arkansas, allowing the Department of Agriculture to legally confiscate the dogs. “It was something they had been trying to do for three years,” Boeser said.

Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, and Pennsylvania have the most puppy mills, because animal cruelty laws are more relaxed, but mills exist in every state, Strader said.

Organizations like National Mill Dog Rescue are essential for rescue missions, because they get new homes for the dogs, Strader said.

The organization runs on donations and volunteers. Volunteers go on rescue missions, clean kennels, and care for the traumatized dogs, Boeser said.

Boeser volunteers as a “foster parent.” She trains rescued dogs how to live in a home.

“Mill dogs often have to be taught how to walk up and down stairs, how to socialize with people and other dogs, often how to drink water out of a dish, and they need to be potty trained before they are ready to be adopted by a family,” Boeser said.

National Mill Dog Rescue has saved 2,100 dogs since it was founded in February, 2007, rescuing 1,800 last year alone, said Strader.

They work with other animal care organizations such as Emergency Animal Rescue Service and Northshore Animal League. The groups find homes for the rescued dogs around the country.

They have an adoption fair every second and fourth Saturday of the month in Denver, and hope to open a booth in the Minturn Market to encourage Vail Valley residents to become foster parents.

Vail Valley residents are perfect foster parents, because there is so much space here for dogs, Boeser said.

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