THANKFUL DOG: Puppy Mill Survivor Finds Home

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For years, all they had were shots of the notorious puppy mill from the air.

But on April 27th, they got their break.

“We knew that Debra Pratt was downsizing," said Kris Bell of Ames.

"She had a lot of dogs, and that this was going to be the main auction,” Bell said.

Bell and other animal welfare advocates showed up to buy...and to witness.

“We had free reign," she said.

"We could walk through every building, walk all over her property and see everything,” Bell said.

The cramped, filthy conditions, the sick animals—and the smell…

“The stench was so bad I think some people even went out and threw up,” she said.

Remembering that day, it’s hard to believe this one.

Petunia was one of seven dogs purchased at that auction by Bell and others.

The bulldogs at Pratt’s had horrible skin, eye and ear infections…Petunia could barely stand.

“Her legs would just shake,” said Brittany Frahm of the Story County Animal Shelter.

“I just thought 'This is probably more than we can deal with,'” said Sue McCaskey, who runs the shelter and had talked with Bell before the auction about acquiring some dogs.

Seven months at the Story County Animal Shelter and 30 pounds later, Petunia is well.  The weight loss has relieved her painful joints, and rehabilitation has helped her learn to walk.

Tomorrow, she’ll settle into a permanent home in Nebraska.

“When she came here, she was super pumped about just having a blanket—she thought that was the best thing ever," said Frahm.

"Now to think she’s going to a home where she can have a bed and a place of her own," said Frahm.

Her feet are permanently splayed from years in a wire kennel, but her many sores have healed.  Since she'd never before felt grass beneath her feet, she's become particularly fond of her outdoor playtime.

“These are the stories that make the employees want to come to work every day,” McCaskey said with a smile.

Hearts broken last April…are fully healed today.  And a day full of thanks, makes room for a few more.


  • Joe Lent

    Not surprising in Iowa, known nationally for its weak laws concerning animal neglect and abuse. Did Debra Pratt get the usual slap on the wrist for abusing dogs?

  • Linda Klaas

    Hearts broken, but I imagine the memory will still be there. I do not understand how people can be so cruel to animals.

  • James Williams

    I would like to know why the sheriff hasn’t charged her with any crimes. Animal abuse and neglect are crimes in Iowa. Why in the heck isn’t she going to court and then going to jail. If the average citizen had animals in these conditions, they would be in front of a judge right now. Apparently having a license to abuse dogs gives you a get out of jail free card.

    • Canine Friend

      You’re right, the local Authorities turn a blind eye, either out of laziness, or they just don’t care. There’s no money to be made in animal neglect and cruelty cases.
      Doesn’t matter that these animal abusers also in many cases also abuse their children, their spouses, others in the public.
      The correlation is strong and proven.
      Most serial killers abused and tortured animals in their young life and it was ignored by their parents and others.

      Yes, they should be held accountable, for many of us when a Sheriff and their officers along with a County Attorney hop right on board and go after these abusers be they in Puppy Mills or in the neighbors backyard it is a breath of fresh air and it is the way it should be done every time the Law is broken.

      It’s hard to believe the USDA or the Sheriff were ever at Pratts as if they were then how did it get to that point? Do they go in with blinders on and their nose plugged?
      There’s been reports of carcasses laying around.
      Looks like some are being paid quite well for doing little of nothing!

      If we did our job this poorly, we’d be fired. Remember that when you vote for the County Attorneys and Sheriff positions in your County as their Officers follow their lead, they don’t care, either will most Officers.

  • Agape Fosters

    Thank you to those who helped Petunia in anyway. It sometimes takes a small village to save one cat or dog.
    I know some of the good Samaritans in this saving of Petunia and admire them greatly.

    The despair and hopelessness of the parent dogs in these Hell holes is a heart crusher for those of us involved in this work.
    Saving these dogs is not cheap by any means, you may buy a dog for $25.00 but the Vet costs to care for them even at a discount is $300-500.00 and up.
    Most small dogs need dentals due to the rotted infected teeth, the skin, the ears, the eyes, the lack of muscle tone and sore feet, not cheap to care for and the time invested is non stop.
    Their spirits may be broken but most can be rehabilitated to love and trust again.

    Remember to give to the small Non Profit Rescues and Shelters, those with their hands on these dogs who’ve taken on this responsibility, who are forgotten out here doing it the right way, not killing them because they are labeled as too much trouble and cost.

    To those who buy the puppies at Pet Stores or straight from these breeders never peeking your nose into the horror behind the door, you are part of this problem, you buy, they breed, simple math.
    Adopt don’t Shop!

    Bless the Beast as the have No Voice and No Choice<3

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