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Anti-puppy mill billboard makes a statement in Burbank

April 11, 2009 |  5:30 pm


"It is my belief that when you actually see this, America, with your own eyes ... that you are not going stand for it," Oprah Winfrey said of her talk show's expose on the horrors of puppy mills.  Winfrey has said that her eyes were opened to the issue by a well-placed billboard off Chicago's Kennedy Expressway that read, "Oprah: Do a show on puppy mills. The dogs need you." 

The group behind that billboard, and others like it across the country, is the Pennsylvania-based Main Line Animal Rescue -- and it's recently brought its anti-mill billboard campaign to L.A.  (You can see it for yourself near Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank.) 

Bill Smith, Main Line's founder, knows puppy mills firsthand; his group finds new homes for many former mill dogs (as well as strays and animals rescued from area shelters). 

Many of Pennsylvania's puppy mill dogs come from a seemingly unlikely place: Amish country, where dogs are often kept in tiny rabbit hutches and females are euthanized or shot when they become too old to produce litters.  And, owing to a legal loophole and secretive breeding practices, it's perfectly legal, according to a recent expose aired on ABC's Nightline for which Smith was interviewed.

"When they come out of the rabbit hutches they walk like crabs because they don't know what it's like to walk on a proper surface," Smith told Nightline. "They drag their bodies." 

The puppy mill breeders can make upwards of a half-million dollars a year selling puppies to pet stores around the country, Nightline reports. 

--Lindsay Barnett

Photo: Main Line Animal Rescue

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