Dozens of sad, scared dogs rescued from a Missouri puppy mill soon will be looking for permanent homes.
Just 24 hours before animal rescue volunteer Kathy Schrader embraced a Bichon and a frightened Yorkie for NBC4, the dogs were part of a Missouri puppy mill where dogs were bred like a cash crop.
“We had to be very careful with them,” said Schrader. “They are so scared and aren’t used to being out of the rabbit hutches.”
The dogs, who lived in rabbit cages, finished their thousand-mile trek Sunday night. Animal rescue groups, headed by volunteers from A Forever Home, met an RV in Chantilly, Va., that was packed with more than 120 dogs.
“A lot of them are filthy and matted,” said Patti Stinson, of A Forever Home. “Since these dogs live in a cage 24/7, they are used to eliminating in their cages and therefore they have all kinds of matters caked up in their pads in their paws and in their ears.”
More than 50 volunteers came forward to give the puppy mill refugees temporary homes. Rescue groups said it will take about $500 per dog to make them ready for adoption.
“We got a lot of Yorkies , Maltese Bichons, a couple of Italian greyhounds, Maltipoos Schnoodles -- all those things people mix together -- and we are sure they are going to be adopted very quickly as we get them on the road to health,” Stinson said.
Right now, the canines appear bewildered and timid. Volunteers said they will soon be transformed into loving family pets.
Schrader called it a bittersweet experience.
“They worm their way into you hearts," she said. "I cry every time one leaves me. But then I think, ‘Hey, I have rescued this dog and I have given it a forever home.’”