The Oprah Connection
In the most talked about show ever, Oprah Winfrey joined ranks with 20/20 reporter Lisa Ling in 2008 to expose the Puppy Mills Breeding Industry including behind the scenes footage of the horrific indifference to Man's Best Friend by greedy puppy mill operators. Oprah Puppy Mill Episode.
"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 its recently brought its anti-mill billboard campaign to L.A. 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.
Photo: Main Line Animal Rescue:
The Billboard that caught Oprah Winfrey's attention:
Main Line Rescues Billboards find themselves throughout Southern California: