It was just a regular workday for me when I came across Laurie Cantillo's op-ed in NewCanaan Patch entitled "Dear Santa, No Puppies for Christmas, Please." Her article focuses on Madonna of the Mills, a 51-minute documentary featuring Laura Flynn-Amato, a Staten Island woman who, in her free time, has rescued thousands of dogs from Pennsylvania puppy mills and thus earned herself the loving nickname of "Madonna of the Mills" from filmmaker Andy Nibley. My entire day brightened upon reading about this and I immediately purchased the documentary so as to witness firsthand the heroic feats of Amato and her support team. Click here or in the left margin to watch the trailer for this inspirational and eye-opening documentary.
Directed by Nibley and produced by his wife, Kelly Colbert on behalf of Umbrella Girl Media, Madonna of the Mills was released at the Artivist Film Festival in New York City earlier this month.
"The film has real heart. It will open your eyes and expose you to the terrible practice of puppy mills," said Jonny Vasic, Program Director, Animal Content in Entertainment for the Humane Society. "No longer will you want to buy a dog. It clearly shows that adopting a dog from a shelter is the only humane way to go.”
Cantillo also shared her thoughts on pet adoption. "When I stir in the morning, the first sound I hear is her tail thumping," she said of her rescue dog, Biscuit. "Rescues generally take longer to bond with their humans than other pets, but once they do accept you, the bond is fierce and strong."
What I thought
The documentary only solidified my determination to help dogs in mills, and also proved that one person can truly make a difference. If we all took a page out of Laura's book and did as much as we could for animals, we'd be able to stop puppy mills entirely.
The lowdown on Laura
Amato, employed by a dental office, is also the president of No More Tears Rescue, located in Staten Island, with the objective of educating the public about the horrors of puppy mills, and finding forever homes for dogs they rescue. If interested, you can foster or adopt a dog, or volunteer at the shelter by submitting forms located on their website. Donations are always helpful, and profits from the shelter's online store also further rescue missions.
It's all up to us
As Cantillo mentions in her article, though, the biggest effort must come from the public -- meaning you. If every person takes just a moment of the day to post a Facebook status or send a quick Tweet about the atrocities of puppy mills and the importance of adopting instead of buying a dog, we could reach a staggering number of people. Print out this puppy mill fact sheet and distribute it to everyone you see, or post it online so it can go viral. Sometimes people just don't know the truth, and it's up to us, as carriers of this knowledge, to inform them. Instead of crying at malnourished, deformed, and broken-spirited puppy mill victims, let's actually do something to put an end to mills altogether.
"Most of us would not willingly buy a puppy from a mill, but through our ignorance we are complicit," said Cantillo. If your interest is solely in a puppy, she urges going through a reputable breeder, and visit the home and meet the animal's mother. "But the best advice for would-be pet owners is to adopt an adult dog from a rescue group," Cantillo adds. "You will most likely save that animal's life."