This is the story of B.B. – a poodle that was found trapped in a small wire cage in the basement of a house.
When rescuers found the helpless dog, she was covered in her own waste in a room with zero ventilation.
B.B. was living at a secret puppy mill in Charlotte, North Carolina until a team from the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) raided the home back in September.
While there was no telling how old B.B. was, it was obvious that she had been used to breed over and over again due to her swollen mammaries. She had clearly carried many litters of puppies which the mill then sold on for profit.
To make matters worse, the team were certain that this pup had never known anything other than the dark and lonely basement. She had never seen the outdoors.
“She was very tiny, and she looked like this helpless creature,” Jessica Lauginiger, animal crimes manager at HSUS explained. “I put my hand up to the cage, and she’d come up and sniff a little bit. She was very hesitant for human attention, but she wanted it.”
Lauginiger tried her hardest to gain the dogs trust, she opened the cage and pulled B.B. out.
“I remember how tiny and frail she was in my hands,” Lauginiger said. “I pulled her close to my body, and she leaned into me.”
B.B.’s story isn’t unique. The team also rescued a shocking 150 dogs, as well as cats and goats that were being kept in similar conditions at the property.
The majority of the animals were being kept there for breeding, while others were there just to be sold.
Luckily the HSUS got to the mill when they did and with the help of the local authorities they were able to shut the mill down for good.
Most of the animals went to Cabarrus Animal Hospital, the local veterinary clinic, for treatment. Brenda Tortoreo who was the vet’s receptionist at the time remembers the day she first saw B.B..
“B.B. was in a corner,” Tortoreo explained. “She looked pitiful. She was scared to death. She wouldn’t eat, she wouldn’t drink and I felt so bad for her. And I said, ‘That’s the one I’m going to take home.’”
As soon as B.B.’s health began to improve, Tortoreo stuck to her word and took B.B. home to live with her and her two other dogs.
This was the first time B.B. had ever lived outside of a cage – she just didn’t know how to act.
“I put B.B. down on the floor, and she kept going in circles — not running, but walking,” Tortoreo said. “I guess that’s all she knew to do. I put her in the living room, and to go into the hallway, she would not cross that border [between rooms]. I have two granddaughters who live with me, so I would put her in one of my granddaughters’ rooms, and she was terrified of rugs. She just wanted off the rug.”
The outside world was a completely new place for B.B.
“She never knew what sun was,” Tortoreo said. “She didn’t know what grass was, and she was terrified of it.”
After some time B.B. became more comfortable in her new environment.
“She’s got three big baskets of stuffed animals,” Tortoreo said. “She takes certain stuffed animals, and she’d bring them to bed, and she would line them up like she was nursing them, and she’d lick them, lick them and lick them. It was just so heartbreaking.”
With Tortoreo’s care and her new found love of stuffed animals, B.B. soon adjusted to her new life.
“She runs around the house,” Tortoreo said. “She’s eating like crazy — she was originally about 3 and a half pounds, but I think she’s maybe about 10 pounds now. She loves the grass now, and she loves playing with the other dogs in the backyard.”
B.B. also grew stronger and stronger by the day.
“About three weeks ago she started licking me — she’d never done that before,” Tortoreo said. “She’s really come out of her shell. She’s my little princess.”
B.B. and the other animals that lived in the mill all have new lives, but there are still thousands of animals out there in desperate need of help.
It is thought that there are over 10,000 licensed and unlicensed puppy mills in the US that home over 165,000 dogs for breeding purposes. To help the HSUS rescue more dogs like B.B. you can make a donation here.