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December 03, 2013

Ricky Bobby: Racing Star, Puppy Mill Ambassador

In 2010, The HSUS led a coalition supporting a winning ballot measure in Missouri to crack down on puppy mills. We launched that initiative because Missouri had long been the top puppy mill state in the nation, with as many as 3,000 large-scale commercial dog-breeding operations. The legislature and farm groups outrageously worked to weaken the core provisions of the ballot measure right after voters approved it. But the initiative still resulted in as many as 600 mills shutting down or otherwise ceasing operation, since they couldn’t even meet the basic standards called for under the new law.

The other major puppy mill states border Missouri – Oklahoma, Kansas, Iowa and Arkansas – and we’ve also been working hard in those states to create at least some minimal standards as well.

Given this emphasis, it’s been amazing that North Carolina, far from the Midwest and the heart of the industry, has been the stage for the largest number of puppy mills raids we’ve conducted with law enforcement – 15 in the last two years.

Today, we released a video about one dog we rescued in North Carolina who has a new, better life since The HSUS’ Animal Rescue Team members, Jennifer Kulina-Lanese and Tia Pope, and North Carolina state director Kim Alboum, took him into their arms.

Ricky Bobby
Meredith Lee/The HSUS
Ricky Bobby (or "RB") was rescued from a North Carolina
puppy mill in February 2013.

At a mass dog-breeding facility in Magnolia, N.C., on a day when rain was pouring down, the team (including members from two local animal welfare groups) arrived on the scene with the sheriff’s office to serve a warrant. They found a variety of small-breed dogs suffering from severe, untreated medical conditions, including dental disease, infection, tumors, eye issues and malnourishment. Some of the animals experienced such severe dental disease that their jaws had rotted away, and one dog’s severe eye issues required the removal of one of her eyes to end the suffering she experienced.

Many dogs were underweight and sick as a result of their dental disease: they could not chew or swallow hard food, so they would have to wait until the food had become soft and rancid to be able to eat it. The owner agreed to surrender 58 of the dogs on the property, and eight of the worst cases were transferred for immediate care at an animal hospital nearby.

Jennifer removed Ricky Bobby, a small, paralyzed dachshund, from the facility. When she picked him up, he was terrified and shaking. Ricky Bobby was among the dogs who required immediate treatment. He had been dragging his non-working legs along a cement floor for so long that he had open sores, inflamed patches, callouses and muscle atrophy throughout his underside and back legs. His hindquarters were covered in urine scalding from being confined to bedding soaked in urine and feces. The condition that paralyzed Ricky Bobby was most likely genetic, but if treated by a veterinarian early, is often reversible.

Ricky Bobby was adopted by Megan, a veterinary technician from CareFirst, the veterinary hospital where he was treated. Before she had even decided to adopt Ricky Bobby, Megan (who calls him RB for short) set to making a wheeled cart to enable RB to get around without hurting his underside. Cobbling together PVC pipe, wheels from a larger cart that didn’t fit him, hair ties, a standard small pet harness, and a make-shift sling, Megan gave RB mobility he’d likely never had.

Give animals like Ricky Bobby a second chance. Become a Humane Hero today >>

RB accompanies Megan to work, where he spends his days with another dog, Stella, who was rescued from the same facility and adopted by another kind CareFirst staffer. At home, RB finds comfort in his big brother Tucker, a gentle yellow Labrador. Everywhere Megan and RB go, they act as ambassadors for the puppy mill issue, telling RB’s story to interested passersby and explaining the need for more strict laws governing commercial dog breeders.

It’s easy to get lost in the numbers when it comes to puppy mills – 2 million plus dogs churned out every year, 15 raids in North Carolina, and 3,000 mills just in Missouri with 600 shuttered in that state alone since Prop B passed. But RB reminds us that it’s all about individual creatures, and how your support allows us to turn around their lives and gives them a new beginning.

Watch Ricky Bobby's video:

 

P.S. Yesterday, after we announced that Kohl's is selling real rabbit fur accessories advertised as "faux," many of you responded with action and calls. Now Kohl's appears to be switching its customer service numbers and webpages frequently. We suspect this is due to the volume of calls received. Help us keep the pressure on! Click here to look up the most recent customer service phone number »

After making your phone call (please do not skip that crucial step!), submit an email to Kohl's and ask them to adopt a fur-free policy ». Check my Facebook page for updates in the coming days.

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