Oprah takes on local puppy mills

April 3, 2008 3:38:07 PM PDT
Oprah Winfrey is bringing attention to puppy mills and featuring a Main Line shelter that aims to rehabilitate animals and give them a chance at better lives.Many of the dogs at Main Line Animal Rescue were saved from puppy mills.

A puppy mill is a facility that breeds dogs for profit, without any regard for the health and welfare of the animals.

They are a huge problem in Pennsylvania, because dog breeding is considered an agricultural crop under Pennsylvania law.

"They're told every day to be farmer friendly, and to promote agriculture in the state of Pennsylvania, so there's a definite conflict," Executive Director of Main Line Animal Rescue, Bill Smith, said.

Bill Smith has dedicated his life to rescuing animals from deplorable conditions.

Tomorrow, Smith's passion will be seen by millions of people around the world on the Oprah Winfrey show.

Smith took investigative reporter Lisa Ling to puppy mills in Lancaster County.

"They don't even know how to walk; it's almost incomprehensible," Ling said on Oprah.

"We were finding puppies in pet stores and then we were actually finding their mothers and fathers in some of the worst puppy mills in Pennsylvania," Smith said.

Some female labs that are now at Main Line Rescue, were bred tirelessly at puppy mills, even when they were puppies themselves.

Their litters ended up at pet stores, where customers unwittingly purchased them.

Bill Smith wants people to ask more questions when they're looking for a new dog.

"To make the connection, to actually show the dogs up on the screen, and then show their parents thrashing around in rabbit hutches, really brought it home for a lot of people," Smith said.

It obviously brought it home for Oprah.

"I am a changed woman after seeing this show," Oprah said.

Smith and all the volunteers at Main Line Animal Rescue hope that Oprah's show will raise awareness for their cause.