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.