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Saving Gracie: How One Dog Escaped the Shadowy World of American Puppy Mills Hardcover – March 1, 2010
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This touching narrative uses the poignant makeover of Gracie, a sickly Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, to tell the story of America's hidden puppy mills-commercial kennels that breed dogs in horrific living conditions and churn out often-diseased and emotionally damaged puppies for sale.
Saving Gracie chronicles how one little dog is transformed from a bedraggled animal worn out from bearing puppies into a loving, healthy member of her new family; and how her owner, Linda Jackson, is changed from a person who barely tolerated dogs to a woman passionately determined not only to save Gracie's life, but also to get the word out about the millions of American puppy mill dogs who need our help.
- A touching story of survival and redemption
- Written by award-winning journalist Carol Bradley
- Newsworthy issues call animal lovers to action
Join journalist Carol Bradley as she draws back the curtain on the world of illegal puppy production in Saving Gracie.
Amazon Exclusive: Q&A with Author Carol Bradley
Author Carol Bradley with her two dogs
Puppy mills are commercial kennels where dogs are treated like livestock, forced to produce puppies in often-squalid conditions. Puppy mills vary in size – they can contain as few as a dozen dogs or more than 1,000. Any breeder who subjects his or her dogs to filthy cages or runs, extreme temperatures, inadequate food and water and little to no socialization or veterinary care is operating a puppy mill. How many puppy mills are there in the United States?
The Humane Society of the United States estimated in 2008 that there were 10,000 puppy mills in America. The head of the Humane Society, Wayne Pacelle, now believes the number is closer to 15,000. Aren't puppy mills illegal?
Surprisingly, no. In most states breeders may confine dogs to wire cages their entire lives if they so choose. Breeders can be charged with animal cruelty if they fail to provide adequate food or water, but there aren't nearly enough federal or state inspectors to keep tabs on shoddy operators, and even when they're discovered, they are often given a free pass. What is it about Gracie that made you want to tell her story?
Gracie is a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, a breed renowned for their companionship -- they're total lapdogs. I was struck by the resilience a small, vulnerable dog would need to muster to overcome a life as traumatic as the one Gracie had led. I was intrigued, too, by her new owner, Linda Jackson, a woman who hadn't necessarily wanted a dog—she adopted Gracie to satisfy her kids—but who wound up being changed forever by the experience. How do breeding dogs like Gracie become available?
Breeders are sometimes willing to sell at a discount dogs that have spent years having puppies. Rescue groups also purchase some of these dogs at auctions and then try to adopt them out. Puppy mill survivors aren't for everyone, but people who have the patience to work with a traumatized dog often find the experience deeply gratifying. Letter to Readers from Carol Bradley
Gracie after being rescued
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Top Customer Reviews
Puppy mills are a serious problem, and their victims carry the scars throughout their lives, in many cases. I help care for a Westie that is a rescue dog, and I see these effects daily. Bradley is better at explaining the social causes, the lobbying battles, and the legal defenses than she is at telling the story of a single dog. But this is still a must-read for anyone who cares for animals.
I live in Central PA, surrounded by many of the puppy mills discussed in this book. I've passed the billboards showing the inside of a dishwasher, telling us that a dog is allowed to live in a crate this size for their entire life. Linda Jackson, Gracie's owner, and I have been friends for many years.
But I have to admit, I've turned a blind eye to the horrific problem of puppy mills.
Like many of you, I read the stories, heard the news reports and could not believe that this horrible treatment of animals was going on so prolifically in my state. I just didn't know what to do about it. Like many things, it feels like an overwhelming task for one person to delve into.
But there is hope, as is evident by many of the heroes in Carol Bradley's book.
Bradley writes in an easy to read methodical way, giving facts to illustrate the problem balanced with the personal stories of specific dogs, like Gracie. Let's be clear though, Gracie's story is not the focus of the book but the thread that weaves its way through the big picture of the abundance of puppy mills and the greediness of their business owners.
Many of the stories are so sickening that it is hard to believe people can treat animals with such callousness. But if you've ever watched Animal Cops, you know that many people don't have a conscience and treat their animals worse than dirt. As an avid animal lover, a regular contributor to WWF and other animal welfare groups, it is hard to think of the thousands of animals suffering every day.
Which brings me to Izzy - who by the way is my profile picture. Our 14 year old standard poodle had been gone for about two years. Our son was 8 and our daughter was 3.Read more ›
Saving Gracie tells three stories. It begins with a raid on the puppy mill operation run by the ironically named Michael Wolf. Once famous in the world of show dogs, Wolf became notorious when, in 2004, 337 dogs were seized from his Mike-Mar "kennel" in 2004. Both the puppies and their parents lived in squalid conditions that would turn the stomach of any right-thinking person: 24/7 confinement in small wire cages, which were stacked 4-high - the feces from the dogs in the higher cages literally dropping on other dogs and getting caught in the mesh flooring; no ventilation in the room, leading to unbearable odors; dogs forced to breed non-stop until they were spent. Some 2.5 million dogs are pumped out of puppy mills every year, and 4 million shelter dogs are euthanized each year. Do the math.
The book also details the ongoing problem of puppy mills, most obvious in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, a location with a high number of Amish and Menonite breeders who regard the dogs as nothing more than a crop, comparable to an ear of corn. The standard Amish practice of shooting a dog which has reached the end of its pup-bearing life blows the lid off their bucolic image. While Pennsylvania, where reform legislation has been enacted, is the focus of this book, other states with similar issues - Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and I'm ashamed to say Ohio - are also discussed. The American Kennel Club, which lobbied against reform until the publicity damaged its public image, is also briefly mentioned.Read more ›
The background of the author is that of a reporter, so while the book moves along, it is very detailed with the who, what, where details that are sometimes very tedious to read through. I expected the author to weave a wonderful story about hope and the triumph of a little dog. There were personal details about various people in the book that seemed tacked on to the paragraphs in order to make the story more than just a chronological, factual account of the events.
I'm glad that I read the book, but I did not enjoy that writing style as much as I had hoped.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The entire time reading this book, my own Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Arthur, was snoring on my lap. You see, I have a dog who in personality is much like Gracie. Read morePublished 1 month ago by The Rancher's Wife
I recommend this book to everyone I know to spread the word about this horrific industry that is allowed to continue in our beautiful nation. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Patty H.
This is a thorough description of the tragedy of puppy mills and their effect on breeders. Although many of the descriptions are graphic, an awareness is necessary to end these... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Gabby Tuck
Wonderful!!!!!! Praise to everyone who fights puppy mills. Shame on the Amish and selfish money grubbing dog breeders, Proud of Pennsylvania's legislation to stop the abuse. Read morePublished 10 months ago by bonita neubauer
This book markets itself as the story about one dog and her journey. But that is not what you are going to get. For this reason I have rated the book down to 3 stars. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Bubbles
Despicable. Puppy mills, their owners and the people who abuse these animals for their greedy gains. Read morePublished 14 months ago by YodaMom
Heavy at times, but the subject (puppy mills) isn't a pleasant one.Published 15 months ago by amberpep
This book is about the puppy mill my dog was rescued from. It's well-written and good to know what my dog went through.Published 18 months ago by Leah182
A great story about a dog and those who helped her escape and survive a dreadful puppy mill existence. Worth reading to learn of the horrors of puppy mills.Published 21 months ago by Doug in FL