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"Madonna of the Mills" -- a powerful puppy mill documentary

Madonna of the Mills, a must-see documentary on the puppy mill industry, gives irrefutable proof on why we must always adopt dogs and never purchase them from pet stores.
Madonna of the Mills, a must-see documentary on the puppy mill industry, gives irrefutable proof on why we must always adopt dogs and never purchase them from pet stores.

Madonna of the Mills


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."

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  • Profile picture of Christopher Decker
    Christopher Decker 5 years ago

    I watched this documentary and it literally brought tears to my eyes. I recommend that for the people who don't know much about the puppy mill industry (like me) to watch this. It will make you think twice about the doggy in the window. Great article!

  • Profile picture of Amy Rossi
    Amy Rossi 5 years ago

    Thanks for your feedback! It's good to hear that people are learning about the industry who might otherwise not have known any better than to buy from a pet store.

  • Cyndi 5 years ago

    where did you buy it ?

  • Diane 5 years ago

    My hat's off to Laura and the wonderful work she's doing. Her dedication is inspirational, and when we tell ourselves we alone can't make a difference, we should all think of her. It's heartbreaking to read and watch these poor dogs being mistreated, but actually seeing it, must be devastating. I'm thinking about volunteering at a shelter, but I don't know if I can emotionally handle it. You are very special Laura, and we all appreciate the work you do. Thanks Amy, for another great article. Informing the public of these issues, may just save a life.

  • Profile picture of Amy Rossi
    Amy Rossi 5 years ago

    Thanks for your feedback, Diane, as always. I agree that it's people like Laura who prove that all it takes is a big heart and lots of love to give, and we can make a difference. I too would like to volunteer at a shelter; although it would be tough to see some of the damaged animals that come in the door, it would be worth it to be able to give them a pat on the head or a stroke of their fur. Avoiding it doesn't make it go away, so we should all get involved. Thanks again :)

  • Anonymous 5 years ago

    We should all do something to get puppy mills closed and or push for legislation to change the laws to be humane if we cannot get them closesd. This is the stuff that keeps me up at night. I will not rest until these disgusting mills are closed for good and or something is done, this is disgusting that this is taking place in the United States of America. Please everyone, go to the Humane Society and lobby for these dogs and other animals rights causes. We are their voice, God Bless and thank you!

  • Andy Nibley 4 years ago

    “Madonna of The Mills” premieres on HBO2 on Aug. 24 at 8pm EST and re-runs throughout August and September. Please don’t miss it!!!

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