A few months ago, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) invited individuals and organizations to submit video depictions on the topic of “Why Puppy Mills Stink.” Their goal was to enhance awareness of this issue and select a winning video to serve as a new PSA on the puppy mill problem. The rules were pretty simple – be creative, stay under 90 seconds, only use footage of puppy mills provided by the HSUS.
“Let’s enter,” I proposed to the DVGRR management team, and all agreed it was a worthwhile venture.
Heather Hatt and I brainstormed some ideas and I got to work shooting some video with my little pocket Flip camera. The time frame for submission was pretty tight so we had to work quickly. Since DVGRR’s main role with puppy mill dogs is helping rehabilitate them for adoption, that’s the focus that made sense for our video.
I wanted to start by showing the contrast between two dogs of the same age and breed, but with vastly different backgrounds. For the non-puppy mill dog, I chose Miles #3 (11-263), because you can’t get much more joyful than he is! Miles hammed it up with our Intake Manager Fay Jenkins, both looking like naturals in front of the camera!
Buddy #70 (12-031), was my choice to show the ravages of living in a puppy mill. Some of you may recall his semi-disastrous trip to Golden Gateway earlier this year. En route from a western Pennsylvania shelter, Buddy accidently got loose at a turnpike rest area near Altoona.
After a few hours of dread while we awaited news from our transport volunteer (and a few thousand prayers from our Facebook friends), Buddy was thankfully recovered and arrived later that day to our great relief. He’s one of the most traumatized puppy mill survivors we’ve seen…the turnpike “adventure” didn’t help but it was those years of living under horrific mill conditions that account for 99% of his fear. Filming him was difficult, because outside of his kennel run he is in constant motion…pacing and circling out of deep-rooted anxiety.
Project Home Life volunteer Susan Sacchetti graciously participated in the video’s segment on rehabilitation, along with sweet and pretty Missy #11 (12-089). And lastly, to show the full circle of transition from mill to home, I visited a lovely retired couple from Lancaster who have adopted three Goldens from us – two of them former puppy mill dogs. It was wonderful to see the progress made by Teddy (formerly Charlie #15) and Robbie (formerly Boise), and how far they’ve come from their days living in squalor.
We edited and tweaked and finally sent in our entry for consideration by HSUS. For those who haven’t seen it, here is the final version: The Spirit Within: Surviving the Stink
I am very grateful to all who subsequently voted for us in the “People’s Choice” portion of the video contest – we had many supporters! I’d love to tell you that we were selected as a winner, but unfortunately that’s not the case. Nonetheless, it was a great experience and we’ll be able to use this video for other educational purposes. (Feel free to send the link to anyone you feel would benefit from watching it.)
I kept abreast of the other entries during the contest period, as they were all posted on YouTube. Many were simple but powerful, and one in particular (called I Will Be Saved) took my breath away. I was pleased to see that it was ultimately the winner of the People’s Choice award – well deserved! You can see that video as well as Angel’s Story, the overall winner, on this HSUS website page.
As for my three canine participants at Golden Gateway, Miles and Missy have both been adopted and are doing great in their new homes. Buddy is still with us, but if all goes well he will soon be adopted by a wonderful family with the experience, dedication, and fortitude to help him overcome his past history and let his inner spirit flourish. Please keep your fingers and paws crossed for Buddy!