Saving Gracie by Carol Bradley

51rs21hCDAL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Nonfiction — print. Wiley, 2010. 242 pgs. Library copy. 

Although the book is subtitled “How One Dog Escaped the Shadowy World of American Puppy Mills”, this book deals with more than just Gracie’s rescue and rehabilitation from the Mike-Mar Kennel. It’s actually a pretty damning nonfiction book on the growth and conditions of puppy mills throughout the United States, particularly those in Pennsylvania and those run by Amish and Mennonites, centered around a shockingly large case of abuse and neglect in a single puppy mill where 300 plus bods were crammed into stack, metal cages.

The way the book is written — focusing on a larger issue in the frame of a single case — makes grappling with such a stomach-wrenching problem easier to understand. Switching from the case to an examination of federal and state (Pennsylvania) law flows easily and was particularly interesting to me and more intriguing than the chapters documenting the dogs’ struggles with house training, walks, and other mainstays of normal canine life. I finished this book with a sobering understanding of the hurdles facing those who wish to make real changes in the lives of breeding dogs.

Puppy mill operators have orchestrated an astonishing number of ways to weasel out of constraints and oversight and continue to make money from the suffering and mistreatment of bods. Sadly, powerful elements of the breeding world have rushed time and time again to puppy millers’ defense, particularly supports of the Amish and corporate pet store such as Petland, which was investigated by the Humane Society of the United States for supporting and selling puppy mill puppies. This book reaffirmed my decision to only rescue dogs from shelters rather than purchase them as puppies, and I can only hope people considering buying a puppy will read this book before they decide.


  1. Eva

    I knew puppy mills were awful (and it’s why I NEVER patronise pet stores w/ puppies/kittens on premises), but I had no idea the Amish were involved. That’s so upsetting. 😦


    • Neither did I, but it makes sense since the Amish have struggled to be profitable with farming in recent years and this is a lucrative “industry” that enables them to make enough money to hold on to their lands. There was a quote in the book about how the Amish don’t think there is anything wrong with their actions because they don’t view animals as pets that was pretty upsetting.


  2. I had no idea Amish ran puppy mills. For some reason that seems really distasteful to me and out of harmony with the mental image I have of their lifestyle. It’s been a long time since I saw puppies for sale in a pet shop- I remember them from when I was young, but the pet stores we patronize now only have rescued pets there, for adoption, not sale. In fact, they usually don’t have puppies/kittens but older animals instead, from local shelters.


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