A Tribute to Eddie

Ten years ago the TLC Canine Center of Newell, Iowa, assisted Hearts United for Animals in Auburn, Nebraska, with the rescue of 15 dogs from a frightful place housing an irresponsible breeding operation. The horror of rescuing these animals is indescribable…If I had not seen it, I would have not believed it. Puppy mills are a true indictment of man’s greed and inhumanity, and I do not understand why they are allowed to operate, but this a tribute to one of the dogs rescued that day. Eddie went from victim to victor and his story is best told by his loving human, Mary LaHay, President of Iowa Voters for Companion Animals.

“It is with a heavy heart that I share some very sad news, the loss of our beloved Eddie. Many of you know that Eddie was the small white poodle whose photo graced many IVCA flyers and signs, and who served as our loyal “spokespup” for many years.

Eddie was a puppy mill survivor. My husband and I went to Hearts United for Animals in 2008 to find a companion for Ruby, a young dog we had gotten the year before. While all the other dogs in his yard were clamoring for attention, Eddie sat quietly in the back.

For some reasons, we left that day without adopting a dog, but back home, we both remembered that quiet little poodle. The next week we were on our way back to adopt Eddie. At home, we began to understand more about Eddie’s quiet nature, which was less about serenity and more about having his natural behavior derailed by life in a puppy mill. He often sat expressionless, disinclined to play with Ruby, or even move freely around the yard, and he was clearly distrustful of people. At first he seemed to just tolerate my holding him, but gradually he welcomed and even initiated it, and eventually all that lap time opened him up enough for a recognizable dog to emerge.

Every month brought a new breakthrough—a face that lit up with enthusiasm, unexpected play gestures, a range of vocalizations, a persistent nudge with his paw if you stopped rubbing his chest, a dance in front of the treat jar, and a hilarious figure-8 romp around the yard when I got home and let him out the back door. What an amazing example of the emotional resilience that dogs possess, and how the right care and support can help undo damage from years of neglect and mistreatment. In our home Eddie was clearly happy and carefree, enjoying 9 years with us until his age and health issues finally took their toll.

I share this story both to celebrate Eddie’s transformed life, and to explain how watching this dear little boy blossom transformed me also. It’s what compelled me to launch an effort to clean up Iowa puppy mills. For me, Eddie’s life offers proof that production-driven commercial breeders don’t give a fig about the mental and emotional health of their animals. Too many of these breeders are indifferent to the pain they inflict, too many never give a thought to the way they deform the lives of the dogs they hold captive. That needs to change, and the fight we are fighting is the only way that can happen, however elusive our progress might seem at times. We are on a justice train that is sometimes slow, but always headed in the right direction, so please stay on board for the trip.

Most of you have dogs at home who brighten your lives like Eddie did mine, and I hope you take time every day to actively cherish them. My sweet little boy is gone, replaced now by a profound sadness but also genuine gratitude. We will miss him for a long, long time, and remember him forever. Eddie deserves a legacy that makes a difference for other dogs like him, and I want to see that he gets it.”

We encourage you to do some research on puppy mils, irresponsible breeders, and pet store puppies. What you learn will shock you, and hopefully motivate you to become actively involved, and if you wish to give a donation in memory of Eddie, please contact Mary LaHay at mlahay@iowacva.org. If you would like to know more about Hearts United for Animals where thousands of puppy mill dogs are rehabilitated and re-homed, contact carol@hua.org.


Recovering a Lost Pet

“I saw a little dog today, and oh, that dog was lost. He risked his puppy life with every street he crossed. Against the city’s bigness, he looked so very small and frail. I whistled and I followed him, and hoped that he might guess that all my heart reached out to him to trail. I recalled the many times, I have been lost, and lonely, and afraid. I followed the dog through the crowded street and then the God of All put trust into the puppy’s heart and made him heed my call. One phone call to the number on his collar, and he was no longer a little dog lost.” – Margaret Sangster

Losing a pet is a traumatic experience. The caregiver worries about every possible disaster that could possibly happen to his dog. Every year, millions of cats and dogs in the United States become lost pets, and if your pet goes missing it is important to remain calm and implement an organized “plan of attack” as quickly as possible. Make calls, hang flyers and posters, talk to people personally, and send e-mails.

  • Check your house and yard carefully; maybe he is caught somewhere and cannot move, but will bark if he hears you call his name.
  • Search the immediate area around your property and notify your friends and neighbors that your pet is missing.
  • Check with local animal control and human society to see if they have picked up your dog. File a missing pet report with every animal shelter, vet office, and law enforcement office within a 60 mile radius of your home. Give a complete description of your pet including coat, eye color, age, weight, sex, and any distinguishing marks.
  • Post “lost pet” signs EVERYWHERE – vet clinics, boarding facilities, pet supply stores, libraries, schools, animal shelters, post offices, grocery store bulletin boards and on street posts. Your flyers should include a recent photo of your pet, a detailed written description of the animal, and your name and phone number. Offer a reward to encourage people to keep an eye out.
  • Put “lost” ads in newspapers and check the “pets found” ads. Contact any that even vaguely resemble your pet since some people may not be able to accurately describe the found animal. Contact radio stations and ask them to publicize your plight.
  • Post your dog’s photo and videos on social media. Put an announcement on Facebook or Twitter with the particulars of the theft. See if there are any lost pet groups on facebook you can post to.
  • If possible, hire a pet detective to look for her, but always get reliable references, and steer clear of anyone who guarantees success. Be wary of pet-recovery scams. When talking to a stranger who claims to have found your dog, ask him to describe the pet thoroughly before you offer any information. Be wary of people who insist that you give or wire them money for the return of your pet.
  • Be persistent. Check all possible places daily; don’t rely on them to notify you if your pet is brought in.
  • DON’T GIVE UP. Reunions have happened months, even years later.


This happy ending story is related by Nebraska friend, Deb Uden, whose dog was stolen and, because she refused to give up, Jax is back home!

“My Jax, a 6 pound Chihuahua was stolen from my home during a burglary in early December. My heart was broken, and I immediately put out a reward in hopes of recovering. I recruited all my friends and neighbors to be on the look out, and the days passed, but I refused to give up hope. I continued to put out posters in all the vet offices, convenience stores, post offices, and any other place I thought might provide wide spread coverage. Many people suggested that I “just get another one,” but I didn’t want another one…I just wanted my Jax back. Three weeks passed, then a month – miraculously I found a clue as to where Jax was 400 miles away in Denver, Colorado, listed on a Buy’Sell/Trade site for sale for $200. I contacted law enforcement in Colorado who said they were unable to contact the person who posted him for sale if I didn’t have an address for the person. I thought that was the job of law enforcement? Enter a Private Investigator from a lawyer friend in Denver, and then things happened. He quickly obtained all the info on the man: name, address, aliases, age, place of employment, etc. Why were the police unable to obtain the same info? The sad fact is that most law enforcement groups,are overworked and underpaid, and dogs are not a priority. And Jax was just a stolen dog from Nebraska. On January 6, I received a call from Colorado. A couple had adopted him, totally unaware that he was stolen, and they were willing to return him to me. I made the long trip to Denver the next day and picked up Jax. What a happy reunion for both of us. My advice for anyone facing a similar situation, NEVER GIVE UP! Keep looking and looking and looking. Don’t depend on local law enforcement if it is at all possible, hire a PI. I truly believe that the only reason I have my Jax back with me today is because I NEVER GAVE UP! And Jax was just a stolen dog from Nebraska. On January 6, I received a call from Colorado. A couple had adopted him, totally unaware that he was stolen, and they were willing to return him to me. I made the long trip to Denver the next day and picked up Jax. What a happy reunion for both of us. My advice for anyone facing a similar situation, NEVER GIVE UP. Keep looking and looking and looking. Don’t depend on local law enforcement if it is at all possible, hire a PI. I truly believe that the only reason I have my Jax back with me today is because I NEVER GAVE UP!”

Paws to Give THANKS!

Thanksgiving reminds us to “paws”, and reflect on the many, many simple things for which we are thankful. With our days packed with responsibilities, and our world filled with stress and tragedy, it is easy to focus on the negative aspects of our lives, and take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude. Faith, family, friends, and furbabies. We are all rich, if we add up our blessings, we realize that we should have an attitude of thankfulness, not just once a year, but all year long. Matthew Henry said, “Thanks Giving is good, but Thanks Living is better.”

It was Thanksgiving time when Rev Melissa Billing became aware that her area animal shelter had just rescued a dozen puppy mill dogs, and she decided that it was time to put Thanks Living into action. She was shocked to see the condition of the dogs, and was especially drawn to a little one huddled in the back of one of the kennels.

Billing tells it this way: “She was quite a mess; with a lot of hair missing and sores all over her body. When the shelter attendant tried to coax her out of the corner, she urinated on herself, and curled up in a tight little ball, shivering violently. The gal just shook her head, and scribbled a note on the chart hanging on the dog’s cage. Apparently this one was considered unadoptable. Her future was certainly not good. Impulsively I blurted out, “I’ll take her.”

A vet check confirmed that she had numerous mammary tumors, the result of too many litters of babies, but she was so undernourished, it was decided to postpone the surgery for awhile. Then one day, she had a seizure…she had epilepsy. It was weeks before she would even come close to us, but slowly she seemed to realize that she had a home and someone who would care for her forever. We named her DeeDee and although she no longer had continual litters of babies, it was almost as if she decided that her stuffed, plush donkey toy was her baby, and she carried it around from place to place. She even refused to go for a walk unless we took the donkey. My husband and I laughed at what the neighbors must think about two adults carrying a stuffed donkey with them when they were out walking the dog.

The months seemed to just fly by. We had her mammary tumors removed, and the meds controlled the seizures, but her life of fear and neglect at the mill had taken a horrendous toll on her. She had lost most of her teeth, and her eyesight was minimal. She loved us, and we loved her, but her body was just worn out, and she left us the Sunday before Thanksgiving. We did all we could to save her, but it was not meant to be. She passed away quietly and peacefully. Her passing at Thanksgiving was very sad, but appropriate. For you see, she was a blessing…a blessing in our lives for which we will be forever thankful. She came to us, discarded, sick, and without hope. In that year, we all learned what love could do. She taught us about loyalty and gratitude and forgiveness. We miss her! “

Be thankful for faith, family, and furbabies…they are all precious and priceless. Have a blessed Thanksgiving as you count your many blessings, and look forward to a year of Thanks-Living!!

‘Til Death Do Us Part

The relationship that you share with your pet should last a lifetime, but what happens to your furbaby if you become ill or incapacitated? As a responsible caregiver, it is important to ensure that your pet will continue to receive adequate care if something unexpected happens to you. Don’t just assume that a friend or family member will automatically accept responsibility. It is critical to plan ahead, because in the confusion that accompanies a person’s unexpected illness, accident, or death, pets may be overlooked.

Find at least two responsible friends or relatives who agree to serve as temporary emergency caregivers in the event that something unexpected happens to you. Provide them with keys to your home; feeding and care instructions; and the name of your veterinarian. These emergency caregivers should also know how to contact each other. Be sure that they are absolutely committed to giving immediate attention to your animal. To ensure long-term or permanent care, make WRITTEN arrangements that specifically cover needed care. It’s not enough that long time ago a friend verbally promised to take in your animal.

Consider partners, adult children, sisters, brothers, and friends who have met your pet and have successfully bonded with him, and have alternate caregivers in case your first choice becomes unwilling or unable to fulfill the obligation. Be sure you choose people whom you trust implicitly and who will do what is in the best interest of your animal. DISCUSS your expectations with them so that they understand the large responsibility they are accepting, and stay in touch with the designated caregivers. People’s priorities and circumstances change, so you need to occasionally discuss the agreement with them.

To make formal arrangements to provide for the long term care of your four-footed companion, seek help from professionals who can guide you in preparing legal documents that can protect the interests and those of your pet. However, keep in mind the critical importance of making advance personal arrangements to guarantee that your pet is cared for immediately if you become incapacitated. You might want to consider a power of attorney which authorizes someone else to conduct some of your affairs if you become incapacitated. Specific provisions can be made to take care of your pets, and do whatever is needed.

For extended care, there are many types of wills and trusts, so it is necessary to determine which is best for your situation. After you and your attorney have created a will, or trust, or both, leave copies with the person you’ve chosen to be executor of your estate, as well as with the pet’s designated caregivers. Make sure the caregivers also have copies of vet records and information about her dietary preferences and behavior traits.

Regardless of what legal devices you chose, it is your personal efforts in thinking and planning ahead that will ensure that your pet receives the love and care that you desire. It is absolutely imperative that you coordinate your own efforts with more formal legal planning. Don’t procrastinate…with a properly prepared plan in place, the future of your precious furbaby…and your peace of mind… are assured.