Ollie is a rescued black and white Shih Tzu who turned his passion for helping other pets into a popular advice column. Ask Ollie questions by emailing him at Ollie@chathamcountyline.org


I have been looking for a German Shepard puppy and decided to visit a local breeder instead of going to a pet shop. I talked to a man who gave me his address and told me to come look at his German Shepherd puppies. When I drove up to the man’s house, I was shocked to see over 40 dogs running through a filthy, overgrown yard. Almost every dog was skinny and very small for a German Shepherd breed. When the man took me through the yard to see the puppies, I saw the water that the dogs were drinking and was disgusted to see that it was in a dirty baby pool.

Then the man took me down in his basement area to see the puppies. He had at least four females with puppies locked in small cages. I was so sad when I saw the puppies that he wanted to sell me. They seemed scared when I picked them up and they moved as if they were drugged. They weren’t the playful puppies you would expect to see. I felt so bad that these dogs have to live in such awful conditions that it made me want to cry. I wanted to do something to help but didn’t know where to turn. What should I have done?

Sad in Silk Hope

Dear SAD,

What you describe sounds like a puppy mill. The puppy mill problem is nationwide but particularly severe in rural areas. This is because after World War II, some small family farmers were encouraged to raise dogs because of the high profit potential and low overhead. In the process, dogs were treated as livestock and nothing more. They put dogs in the same classification as goats or pigs and wouldn’t consider allowing dogs in the house, much less offer them the privilege of lounging on the sofa or in bed. Many rural families don’t understand that dogs are considered by many people to be companions or that they can be highly trained to be working dogs, sporting dogs, or service dogs.

The tradition of dogs being treated as livestock or as easy sources of income created puppy mills. A ready market for these puppy mills exists because people often buy dogs on impulse. Puppy mill operators know that good people want to rescue that “poor dog from the farm” or buy the darling puppy in the window of a pet store.

My human rescued three dogs (including me) from the local shelter. I realize how lucky I am which is why I feel compelled to urge all humans to rescue animals who have been given up to The Chatham Animal Resource Center is at 725 Renaissance Drive Pittsboro, NC 27312, 919-542-7203. The next time you want a dog or cat, visit them. If you want a particular kind of dog, there are dozens of nearby rescue agencies that specialize in specific breeds.

Love is a four-legged word.