(WASHINGTON, D.C. — APRIL 15, 2009) Every year, more than one million purebred and “designer” dogs are born and bred into puppy mills — often packed in tiny wire cages, neglected, dehydrated, dirty and chronically sick, with little or no human interaction or affection — and then sold legally to pet stores throughout the country. Now, in a powerful new Dog Whisperer episode, Cesar Millan goes undercover to witness the horrors of puppy mills firsthand and works to rehabilitate dogs who have never known a world outside their overcrowded cages, or learned how to interact with humans.
Premiering Friday, May 8, at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT on the National Geographic Channel, Dog Whisperer: Inside Puppy Mills exposes inhumane conditions at these factory-like breeding operations, as Cesar joins an undercover mission with the animal welfare organization Last Chance for Animals (LCA). With hidden cameras, LCA operatives spot-check several Los Angeles County kennels — essentially dog-breeding facilities that may be exceeding legal capacity limits. After negotiating with the owners of one of these kennels, the team, including Cesar, is able to rescue 11 dogs considered worthless by breeders — a small start in their hope to save as many dogs as possible from these conditions. The team members then learn from Cesar as he teaches them how to rehabilitate the traumatized dogs from the moment they are taken out of their cages. “We are from two different points of rescuing,” Cesar says of LCA. “They do the physical rescue, I do the psychological rescue. So together it’s a team, it’s a good pack.” Entertainer Sharon Osbourne even adopts one of the rescued pups!
Dogs bred at puppy mills can typically exhibit hyper or nervous behavior, acting fearful, obsessive or aggressive. Cesar has seen this behavior frequently during his career, but he has never seen the factory-style breeding grounds and caged conditions that cause it. For the first time, he’ll find out what it’s like inside the kennel facilities, how these dogs are living and who’s running the operations.
“It takes of a lot of concentration not to judge [puppy mill owners]when you know they’re doing something wrong. But in order for me to help and influence them, I have to see what they’re doing,” he says. “I saw a dog that was blind. I saw many dogs in one kennel. I felt a lot of frustration; I felt a lot of confusion … definitely aggression … a lot of anxiety.”
LCA has done amazing work investigating and uncovering overcrowding and deplorable conditions at local breeding kennels. Earlier in the year, after one of LCA’s investigations, World Kennels in Lancaster, Calif., was ordered to release 75 dogs and puppies to local shelters. The following day, World Kennels agreed to discreetly release another 40 dogs to LCA. Among these dogs were Sophie, a 5-year-old Pekingese, and Lovey, a 6-year-old Yorkshire terrier. LCA volunteer Kim Sill offered to foster the two dogs but was unprepared for the problems they displayed. Kim believed she was the first human outside the kennels to have contact with Sophie. From day one, Sophie has been aggressive to every person she comes in contact with, except for Kim, to whom she is very attached. Lovey, on the other hand, has no problems with people, except that she obsessively licks them.
Cesar quickly identifies Sophie’s aggression issues and corrects Kim’s response to them, showing her how to improve Sophie’s behavior around strangers. Within minutes, Sophie is calmer than Kim has ever seen. Then, Cesar works with Lovey to teach her to calm her nonstop affection. Lovey’s obsession might seem sweet at first, but it quickly becomes burdensome. With Cesar’s help, LCA learns how they can go one step further in their puppy mill rescue efforts and give the dogs a normal, happy life.
“When you bring a dog into your life, please do your homework and don’t buy a dog from a puppy mill. Visit a local shelter or rescue group instead,” Cesar says.
About Last Chance for Animals
Last Chance for Animals is a national, nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating animal exploitation through education, investigations and legislation. LCA’s work advocates conscious and informed lifestyle decisions, and the organization is committed to disseminating truthful information about societal animal abuse to improve the treatment of animals.
About Dog Whisperer
Each episode of Dog Whisperer follows dog behavior specialist Cesar Millan as he goes directly into the homes of dog owners — without any prior information about the dog’s case — and documents the remarkable transformations that take place under Cesar’s calm, assertive guidance.
The hugely popular series has grown into a pop culture phenomenon, including parodies on “South Park” and “Saturday Night Live”; references on popular shows including “Jeopardy!” and Bravo’s hit series “Work Out”; appearances on “Oprah,” “Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” “Martha Stewart,” “Today Show,” “The View” and “Live with Regis and Kelly”; and a guest star role for Cesar on the hit series “Ghost Whisperer.”
The series celebrated its landmark 100th episode in September 2008 with a grand reunion of many of the past guests — and their dogs. The second and third seasons of Dog Whisperer each received nominations for the Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Reality Program.
Need help with your dog? Dog Whisperer Cesar Millan can help. DVDs, collars books, and more!