Almost 200 Dogs Rescued From Virginia Puppy Mill


Nearly 200 dogs were rescued from a Virginia puppy mill and transferred to an animal shelter in New York, and it all started with an undercover rescue effort.

Best Friends, the largest no-kill pet sanctuary in the nation, began an undercover rescue effort to save the dogs from the horrible conditions at the puppy mill. The organization was concerned about the welfare of the animals and wanted to bring them to safety.

A person posed as an independent buyer negotiated for the dogs. Workers from Best Friends made the 40-hour trek from Utah to Virginia to bring trucks to transport the dogs to the animal shelter. A price was finally settled upon between the owner and the undercover buyer. The dogs were then handed over an iron gate, two at a time, and were brought to safety.

After being checked out by veterinarians at a nearby farmhouse in Virginia, Best Friends workers began to transport all of the dogs to the Pets Alive shelter in New York.

The volunteers and workers involved in the rescue said the dogs’ personalities are beginning to show. After some much needed rest and attention, all of the dogs await new homes that will provide them with the love they greatly deserve.

For more information about adopting a dog from this rescue, you can visit Pets Alive’s website at

UPDATE: The Virginia puppy mill, Dogwood Kennels, has been shut down after the rescue operation. As of earlier this week, there were 390 applications from people interested in adopting.

Source: Times Herald-Record, The Roanoke Times

Photo: John — These are two of the dogs that were rescued from the Virginia puppy mill. The cocker spaniel on the left, the light brown one, is named Butterscotch.

(Thanks John)

24 Responses to “Almost 200 Dogs Rescued From Virginia Puppy Mill”

  1. Lis says:


    Maybe there are important details missing, but this story reads as if the dogs were bought from the puppy mill, which saves these particular dogs, but is hardly going shut down the puppy mill or put a crimp in the abuse and exploitation of more dogs by that miller.

  2. Gindy says:

    Exactly, Lis. What is to stop that puppy miller from going out and buying more breeding dogs? Nothing.
    Congrats to Best Friends and Pets Alive for getting those dogs out of there, but they did nothing to stop the human responsible from just doing it again. In fact they may have facilitated him by giving him cash money for the dogs. Unlike that rescue in Texas, where the SPCA and the cops went in and took the dogs due to their horrendous condition, this is more like a leveraged buy out.

  3. John says:

    Not exactly. The mill was shut down through political pressure - their license to operate was pulled by the county after pressure from animal welfare groups. They have investigated moving and found that surrounding counties don’t want them. They’re out of business and the people running it are going to be watched very carefully. In the absence of interest/action from the law enforcement side (as is true with most mills), this was the only way to get the dogs to safety. Not a perfect system, but I don’t think they’ll be opening another mill anytime soon.

  4. moreno_c says:

    It’s good that they are out of business. It’s just a shame that the rescue had to shell out all that money to save them. But they do what they can.

  5. catmom5 says:

    That’s another win for the good guys. Those poor Cockers are beautiful, but look terrified. I hope all of these doggers are able to overcome their awful lives and find love and happiness in good new homes. Wish I could take them all in!
    Good for Best Friends (and all others involved) for putting these millers out of business. I hope they STAY out of business!

  6. Janine says:

    WONDERFUL work (again) Best Friends. You are the premiere organization of your type, the first on the scene for Katrina, Lebanon, and Peru, and now here for the animals. Best Friends did rescue those dogs, and they are lucky, lucky pups. Rest assured, for all of you unfamiliar with the work of Best Friends, they WILL make sure these nasty breeders do not just restock and resell again. This is an organization that covers animal welfare start to finish, education, adoption, law enforcement. True heros to the animal world. Take a look at their website…you will be amazed at the scope and depth of their work.

  7. Lis says:

    John, thank you. Those would be the “important details” that I wondered about. Good to know the mill is really shut down.

  8. Sundown says:

    At the Best Friends website, it says that this same puppy mill recently had a fire killing almost 200 dogs, and wanted to rebuild. A friend of mine in VA sent me the link to this news story a few months ago, about the deaths of 167 dogs in an Amish puppy mill fire last spring. Most likely, this is the same puppy mill.

  9. Nancy G. says:

    Oh, I am glad they shut this down, I live in VA. and I remember the fire at their previous “mill”, and I thought it was horrid that they were just going to rebuild and get right back into the “business” again, and no way to stop them. They talked about how well they cared for the dogs, but I thought to myself, no matter how well you may be meeting their physical needs [and that is debatable], there is no way you can meet the emotional needs of that many dogs, their need for companionship, socialization, etc. I am SO glad they have shut them down, and so glad the neighbors and county were putting pressure on them.

  10. Stefani says:

    What town was this mill in? What was the name of it?

  11. Sundown says:

    Well, if it is the same place as the fire, it says in that article that it was in Bland County, the Amish community of Byrnes Chapel. And the name of the place was Dogwood Kennel.

  12. straybaby says:

    well, i have a problem with them calling it an undercover operation and buying the dogs. if there was a problem at the kennel they should have done more to get something done through proper channels. and petsalive had issues not too long ago, so why they chose there for an extra 200 dogs is um, interesting. would have preferred the dogs went to an area with less of an overpopulation problem also. ya know, one of those places that actually has space in their shelters!

    the kill shelters here wold LOVE to have a place to send some of the dogs that need out NOW as they are on the euth list. i’ve seen several pleas over the last couple of weeks . . .

  13. John says:

    I can’t comment too much except to say that there was room for them and they won’t be there very long. Even with their problems, they are small purebreds, and they’ll fly out of there to great homes once they’ve had their med checks, shots, spay and neuter.

    There were no further proper channels. Puppy mills wouldn’t exist at all if existing laws relating to animal cruelty were enforced. They’re usually not. That is changing… slowly. The choice was to let the dogs be sold to another mill operator or buy them. It’s a very difficult decision, but I think they did the right thing.

    The owner of the mill had made statements about how great his care of the dogs was… and he lied. They haven’t even had the most basic medical treatment.

    The kill shelters and their apologists can’t continue to blame others for their failures. They need to stop being part of the problem and start being part of the solution.

    The dog on the right is named Freckles.

    I do not speak for BF or PA. I am merely a very, very impressed volunteer.

  14. Jack says:

    What better proof than this perfidy exists to prove AR’s are simply out to stop all dog breeding across the country any way they can find or create to do so? Shame on those involved who tripped cross country to pull off this scam and shame on the vets who chose to be involved. Their licenses should be revoked by the state. Dog breeding is a legal and legitimate business. If these terrorists out to end man’s working and companion relationship with dogs aren’t stopped, we’re all going to end up without dogs as workers and companions.

  15. John says:

    This type of dog breeding is not legal or legitimate and if the USDA bothered to do some inspections it wouldn’t exist. It’s incredibly cruel to these animals who did not receive even the most basic care as they were raised crowded together in cages, standing in their own waste, in a building that lacked adequate heat or any electricity or running water. Many of the dogs have serious and obvious hereditary conditions (blindness, deformities, severe under/overbites, skin conditions, and more) that mean they shouldn’t be bred at all in the first place.

  16. NCgirl says:

    Some of these comments just really burn my backside. I grew up in the county next to Bland were this “puppy mill” is/was located. I have many friends and relatives there that can attest that the dogs were not cared for. Do you call a kerosene heater appropriate for keeping almost 200 dogs warm during the mountain winters up there APPROPRIATE??? I think not. Females being bred for as many litters per year they can pump out??? I think NOT!!!!! You can say the Amish are true Christians. I think NOT!!!!! They need to stick to selling quilts and jellies. These Christians are not purebred breeders. They are nothing but MILLERS. Plain and simple.

  17. Marcia Schubert says:

    my name is Marcia Schubert. I have one dog and would love to adopt one or two more. I do not work, so I am here to care for my dog. I can give you my vets name and no. My no is 845 583 5461 I have a one family home on two acres.

    please contact me if possible on the status of the adoption.

    .Thank you, and good luck in your endever

    i would appreciate it if you would keep me informed of the

  18. Kennedy Carpino says:

    I have been looking at pictures of the poor animals at puppy mills for a while and I feel like I need to do something but, I am too young! I was happy to see that so many people are against having puppy mills!

  19. Kennedy Carpino says:

    I have been looking at pictures of the poor animals at puppy mills for a while and I feel like I need to do something but, I am too young! I was happy to see that so many people are against having puppy mills!

  20. Kennedy Carpino says:

    I have been looking at pictures of the poor animals at puppy mills for a while and I feel like I need to do something but, I am too young! I was happy to see that so many people are against having puppy mills!

  21. bob says:

    puppy mills are horrible but pet stores are noy any better because they will lie to a coustermers just to get money, they lie about where they came from and say they never cme from puppymills

  22. Loretta says:

    It was about time!!!!!!!!! poor puppies.

  23. Chandler says:

    I have always been trying to fight puppy mills and kill shelters and it looks to me that this shelter is taking my job!!! well I hope they keep on with their wonderful work those animals deserve a LOVING home.

  24. Aracely Rodriguez says:

    Thank you for stoping puppy mills one day when im old enough I will join in the fight against these horibale places!

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