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Saving Gracie: How One Dog Escaped the Shadowy World of American Puppy Mills Paperback – April 1, 2001
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A compelling true story of one dog's rescue from a Pennsylvania puppy mill
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
Journalist Bradley exposes the hidden world of puppy mills, where dogs are caged like chickens and forced to repeatedly breed until they die. Unlike most factory farm animals that endure painful confinement and are slaughtered within six months of birth, mill breeding dogs are sentenced to many years of existence in deplorable conditions; many don't learn to walk because their cages don't give them enough room to stand. Bradley details the raid of one such mill, Mike-Mar Kennel in Oxford, Pa., which led to the seizure of more than 300 dogs, mostly adults that had languished for years with broken limbs and untreated diseases. Dog 132, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel later named Gracie, was rescued during the raid. Nearly blind, with decayed teeth and a strong aversion to human contact, Gracie flourished under the love and patience of her adoptive owner, Linda Jackson. Bradley's powerful narrative will tug at heartstrings, raise public awareness, and, hopefully, help put an end to puppy mills. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
I knew when I got him something was up with the breeder, things just "weren't right" when I got there. So what to do? Of course bring him home and give him the best possible life I could. I have a job that lets me mostly work from home, I take him EVERYWHERE with me, so it's rare for me to be out of his sight. And that makes us both happy.
So when I saw this book I was really intrigued to see if I could get some insight that might help me understand Arthur and to help him gain more confidence. This book is somewhat misleading in that you think it's a story about one dog and the lady who loved her. In reality, about 45 of the 242 pages are on Linda, her family, and their dogs (including Gracie). Yet somehow that is enough.
The majority of the book is about the puppy mill industry in general, many many heart breaking examples, and some great help at the end to give you ideas where to go if you want to help stop this horror. Yes, as many other reviews said, in some ways this book is tedious with details that really don't matter (who drove which can to the rescue that day, etc). I think that's just the resilt of the authors extensive time as a newspaper reporter's style. I didn't really mind that.
The reason I didn't mind the details and many stories is that it has FINALLY sunk into my head the enormity of the situation. It also is now clear the unbelievable number of man hours people have spent trying to get regulations in place to control this. Also how far we have come, and sadly how far we still have to go. With an estimated (according toothed book) 2-4 million puppies a year churned out of puppy mills, this is still a problem we can't ignore.
For example, I had NO idea many Amish now raise dogs because it's an easy income for them. The problem is dogs are not pets to them, they are "like ears of corn" the book said. One man thought nothing of shooting his 80 dogs to get out of the business. What? Yes, lots of shocking facts to learn here. NO it's not so grusome you can't get through it, but honestly if you aren't doing some crying I'd be shocked.
It really does take reading all the details in this book, no mater how tiring you find them, to truly understand what's going on. If you're like me, you'll be shocked, horrified, crying, then angry, and finally willing to actually put your own towel in the ring and do your part to stop this.
All in all, this book helped me finally understand some of Arthur's quirks. More importantly, how to get my husband to understand why Arthur only want to be my dog and not "our" dog. Very is not a "normal" Cavlaier. He is so similar to Gracie in many aspects it just made me weep to think he may have had it worse than I thought when I got him.
This book also helped me put two and two together about what was so "off" about the place we got him from. In fact I stopped reading and looked the place up online. Arthur is now listed as one of their breeding dogs (not a pet needing re-homed) and his picture is up with a different name...hmmm. I plan to use some of the resources listed in this book to get to the bottom of this fan of worms.
I HIGHLY recommend this book. Not as a Cavaier rescue story like it's advertised, but as an introduction into the world of puppy mills, with just enough adoption stories (other breeds too) to help put it into context and to see how puppy mills affect lives. Seriously, READ this book. You don't need to become an animal advocate (although you'll want to after this) but you can learn how important it is to get your next dog from a good source, and what this source is.
We have had a rescue from a puppy mill for five years. She loves us and enjoys her everyday life. However when another person enters her range, she shows the effects of having been a breeder in a puppy mill. These mills need to be shut down.
It was a hard book to read, but well worth it, and I think any lover of dogs should read it. And anyone who wants to buy a puppy from a pet store should read it to see how those puppies parents are treated.
The book is less about one dogs story and more about puppy mills in general. Though it does follow Gracie and her family, it delves into many aspects of puppy mills. I am greatful to the author for bringing this horrible aspect of breeding into the open, and I am greatful to the many rescue agencies who take in the dogs rescued from these deplorable conditions.