a healthy and happy-looking dog sitting in grass
After being rescued from a puppy mill and overcoming a hip injury, Loki now has the freedom to pursue life's pleasures. Photo by Meredith Lee/The HSUS

In the rescue world, we see just about everything, but nothing prepared us at Tanner’s P.A.W.S. in upstate New York for our first puppy mill rescue dog. We named her Lucky, because that’s what she was.

An 8-month-old miniature poodle, Lucky was rescued from a puppy mill in Ohio. (We’re part of a team of rescue groups that pulls dogs from mills.) We were told she had a hip issue. Our rescue team told us to have a wheelchair ready because they didn’t know if she was ambulatory. We stepped up and made the commitment to save her.

Lucky arrived at our emergency shelter in February 2017, shaking and covered in feces. She would defecate every time she was put in a kennel, and would shake when you held her. She needed love, training and socializing, but most importantly, she needed patience and understanding.

An orthopedic surgeon determined she had a fractured hip that needed immediate surgery. One may ask how an 8-month-old miniature poodle ends up with a fractured hip. Living in a puppy mill, that’s how.

After a month in foster care, she slowly began eating treats and exploring dog toys. She started following her foster siblings outside to use the “restroom” and began learning what grass was and what a leash was. Lucky was finally discovering how to be a dog.

a skinny and cowering dog
Lucky was rescued from a puppy mill in Ohio. Photo by Christie Speciale/Tanner's P.A.W.S.

We posted her story on our website, and applications started flowing in. One in particular caught our eye, but the potential adopters lived over 300 miles away. The Hazard family of Virginia already had a miniature poodle, Fenway, rescued a year earlier by the HSUS animal rescue team from a puppy mill in Alabama. We exchanged emails and phone calls, quickly determining that the Hazards (including Holly Hazard, a senior vice president at The HSUS) would have the patience and understanding Lucky needed.

We delivered Lucky to her new home a couple of weeks later, and the Hazards renamed her Loki. We also met with HSUS leaders to discuss the importance of the organization’s Stop Puppy Mills Campaign and what we can do to end suffering like hers.

We continue to take in dogs rescued from puppy mills, and we hope to start rescuing dogs from the mills in our own backyard in the Finger Lakes region. We also want to stop a local pet store from selling mill dogs, and we’re raising awareness of this issue through radio interviews and media releases.

Holly Hazard reports that Loki “has blossomed into the most joyous dog I have ever encountered”—a playful pooch who loves squeak toys, stops to sniff flowers and naps as close as possible to her human. “It’s hard to imagine that she had such a horrid start in life,” Hazard says, “but she is now determined to find what makes her happy and enjoy life to the fullest.”

- Christie Speciale,
Founder and president
Tanner's P.A.W.S.
Corning, New York

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