In January, Charleston Animal Society helped rescue more than 250 animals from a puppy mill in rural South Carolina. 50 of the rescued dogs were brought to Charleston Animal Society for medical treatment, fostering and eventually, adoption (the others were sent to other state rescue organizations). No Kill South Carolina (NKSC), a program of Charleston Animal Society, helped coordinate the rescue effort. In this article, NKSC’s Project Manager Becca Boronat imagines what the rescue was like from the perspective of “Sasha Luna,” one of the animals whose life had been spent in a wire crate for five years – whose sole purpose was to be bred over and over for online puppy sales. On that January day, Sasha Luna’s life was dramatically changed for the better.
By BECCA BORONAT
My name is Sasha Luna. My home was a puppy mill in Laurens County, South Carolina. I’ve lived there my whole life with 147 other dogs just like me, plus 107 chickens and ducks. There were also a few “hopping dogs;” humans called them “rabbits.”
I’ve always lived in a wire crate and it was lonely and scary. There was no soft bed. My paws hurt from walking on the wired mesh bottom. There were so many of my friends living in the same conditions. It was very hard to breathe there. Every time I took a breath, it hurt. People said it was because of the ammonia.
But one day my life changed. That’s when several humans showed up, all covered up with blue gowns, wearing masks and gloves to protect them against any infectious disease.
It was pretty scary. One by one, the cages I’d been looking at for five years were emptied, as each of my friends were taken away.
Before I knew it, a big hand grabbed me, took me out of my cage and did the most startling thing – she held me against her chest. I don’t know if I’ve ever experienced that before. I could feel her heart beating and for some reason it felt good.
My rescuer said, “you are saved now, you will have a better life.”
She took me out of that dark and smelly room to a bright and open space and I could breathe fresh air for the first time in my life and it felt great.
I remember a long drive in a van that brought me to my new home in Charleston. Everybody kept telling me and my friends that we were safe, and we were loved. But what was love? I guess it’s that feeling of being petted and held and played with. I started kissing the humans back – I couldn’t help it!
Walking on grass was a new experience. It felt so much better than the wired bottom of the cage I called home. My paws are better now and it doesn’t hurt anymore when I stand or walk.
On one of my visits to the veterinarians at Charleston Animal Society, I learned I was in danger of dying. I was pregnant. Of my 4.8-pound body weight, my uterus with puppies was two-pounds! I had toxemia and needed emergency treatment. I was hospitalized for four days.
The friends I talked to you about earlier were also in bad shape. One had two broken legs. Another had eclampsia. Several showed signs of neurological conditions. Others had digestive problems, heartworm, breathing issues and severe dental disease. Thanks to Toby’s Fund, Charleston Animal Society’s medical fund, tens of thousands of dollars were spent to save us.
Between my vet appointments, I lived with a foster family. My foster mom was so sweet. I had a crate with no door, a soft bed and several toys. I can’t tell you how many times I fell asleep with her rubbing my belly.
For now, I’m safe with my foster family and know that with Charleston Animal Society’s help I will be adopted. For now, I wake up every morning, looking forward to what the new day may bring.
“My rescuer said, ‘you are saved now, you will have a better life.”
Adopt, Don’t Shop
A takeaway for all of us is that adopting a shelter animal is always your best option, when looking for a new pet.
If you decide to purchase a dog or cat, do your research and find a reputable breeder who will let you visit their facility in- person! You must see for yourself how the animals are raised. If the breeder refuses to show you their operation, or asks to meet at a third-party location, this is a red flag, and you should reconsider the purchase.