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Baby: A Rare Breed of Love

Baby Kohl greets a Wisconsin Puppy Mill Project supporter at a booksigning in Milwaukee, WI on 2 July 2008

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Baby, Puppy Mill Survivor, greets Debbie, NoWisconsinPuppyMills supporter, at a booksigning in Milwaukee, WI on 2 July 2008

Tiny blue paw print bullet pointTiny blue paw print bullet point"Sometimes, I wonder if I am dreaming..."

        To look at this sweet, affectionate little white poodle now, you would never know that for the first nine years of her life, she was living a nightmare of systematic, legalized abuse, with no knowledge that clean beds, good food, kind words, gentle touch and Friends even existed.

       Once known simply as number 94 (when anyone cared to identify her at all) -- Baby Kohl, Puppy Mill Survivor, is now one of the most famous dogs in the country! Currently about 14 years old, she is touring the United States throughout the summer and fall of 2008 to help educate people about the horrors of puppy mills through public appearances and A Rare Breed of Love, the book she wrote with her human companion, Jana Kohl. (To read more about A Rare Breed of Love: The True Story of Baby and the Mission She Inspired to Help Dogs Everywhere, click here.)

       Baby's new Friends include dignitaries, celebrities -- and everyday people like dedicated Wisconsin Puppy Mill Project volunteer Debbie, who, below, shares her thoughts on Baby, Jana, the book, and the urgent need to educate EVERYBODY about the horrors of puppy mills.

Jana Kolh signs a copy of A Rare Breed of Love as Baby the puppy mill survivor watches.       It almost seemed like a dream, sitting in my front-row seat, wearing my orange Wisconsin Puppy Mill Project t-shirt. Jana Kohl, author of A Rare Breed of Love, was talking about the experiences of one puppy mill survivor and her own crusade to help liberate the thousands and thousands of other dogs who aren't so lucky. Someone else who Got It! I thought. Not only that, but someone who has the means and opportunity to EDUCATE on a large scale, as I have been trying to do for the last three years!

       Let me back up just a bit. My name is Debbie, and three years ago, a friend introduced me to the world of puppy mills and the horrendous abuse and suffering that mill "breeding stock" endure. When Jana explained how she had also learned about puppy mills from a friend, I found myself nodding in agreement. Yes, that's the way it was for me, too: shock, disbelief that such unimaginable cruelty could exist in the US, the need to learn more. The puppy mill issue touched me like nothing ever had before. The more I researched this atrocity, the more determined I became to do everything I could to STOP this despicable industry from flourishing!

       It is an atrocity that has remained unspoken for much too long. But now, this "dirty little secret" is finally coming to light, thanks in part to people like Jana Kohl, dogs like Baby, and wonderful books like A Rare Breed of Love. Increasing awareness of the situation will incite people to take action against this heartbreaking and inhumane industry known as puppy mills. When I heard that Jana Kohl & Baby were coming to town, I knew that I must attend this book signing!

       And there I was, listening to Jana telling Baby's dreadful story. She told us how Baby was imprisoned in a puppy mill for the first 9 years of her life, breeding litter after litter of puppies until she was all "used up." By the time Baby was rescued from the puppy mill, her medical condition was very poor and one of her legs had to be amputated due to extremely brittle bones caused by the combination of poor nutrition, overbreeding, and lack of excercise. While Jana was telling her story, she set Baby down on the floor for all of us to witness the way she must walk on her 3 tiny legs. It was very sad to see her walk across the room (sort of hopping) this way, although she seemed to manage just fine.

Jana Kohl became quite angry listening to audience members telling of their own experiences with puppy mill dogs.       Jana also told us that the breeder had cut Baby's vocal cords with scissors, which is common practice in puppy mills, so that millers won't have to listen to the dogs barking, or rather "Crying Out" in distress. [Note: some millers debark dogs by having ramming metal rods down their throats to rupture the vocal cords.] Several of us in the room were in tears, watching Baby and listening to her sad story being told. Although Jana has repeated the story many times, she still became emotional when talking about how Baby had suffered "all those years" in a puppy mill and was actually lucky enough to survive, since most have an unspeakable fate. She also became quite angry when others in the audience related their own puppy mill experiences.

       After hearing Baby's heartbreaking story, I thought to myself how wonderful it is that Baby is "FREE AT LAST" and won't EVER have to suffer such unspeakable abuse and neglect again. Baby was lucky enough to be rescued from one of these "despicable torture chambers"... called puppy mills. Unfortunately that is NOT the case for the hundreds of thousands (millions?) of other animals who are still imprisoned in puppy mills across the country. Although Baby's story has a very happy ending, the sad reality is this: Countless numbers of voiceless animals are still suffering everyday in unregulated puppy mills throughout the United States.

       Many in the audience found it hard to believe that there are no laws to protect animals from the extreme abuse and suffering that puppy mill dogs endure. When they asked Jana what they could do to help, she replied: we ALL need to become involved in this fight! Each and every one of us can make a difference simply by contacting our elected Representatives and asking for for strong legislation to be enacted.

       She, herself, will urge federal legislators to get involved; she has numerous celebrities backing her up on this and helping her in her fight. There is even a picture in the book of Senator Barack Obama holding Baby! I left there energized to continue my own fight, and with "A Little More Hope" than before.

Baby, the puppy mill survivor whose story is told in the book A Rare Breed of Love is one of the lucky ones who got out of the mills alive.       I urge every one of you to do whatever you can...and just know that every little bit helps. Please tell everyone that you know about puppy mills and tell them to NEVER buy a puppy from a pet store. Take part in a peaceful protest of a pet store or dog auction, or volunteer to man an informational table and hand out literature at events. The very most important thing that a person can do is to contact your state senators, congressmen, and state attorney general and urge them to shut down puppy mills. Every voice counts -- we ALL need to make those phone calls, write those letters, or send out emails to our elected officials over and over again. The officials who represent us NEED TO KNOW how many people are truly angry about this!

       Our voices are needed by the voiceless-----who are imprisoned against their will...imprisoned for their entire life...until the day they die.

       NOTE: In 2009, the Wisconsin State Legislature unanimously passed Act 90, a law regulating dog breeders and sellers in our state. Since Act 90/s.173.41, the WI Dog Seller Program went into effect in June 2011, MANY breeders and sellers have been regulated and have either given up the business OR have come into compliance under ACT 90. If you have personally encountered any problems with any Wisconsin dog seller) please see our How To File a Complaint With the WI Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection page.

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