Madonna of the Mills — Catch this documentary on HBO!!!

Posted on August 19th, 2011 by admin

Set aside the evening of August 24th for the HBO unveiling of the insightful documentary “Madonna of the Mills.” This is a film that will stay with you long after the credits roll. The filmmakers have done an excellent job of revealing both aspects — the rescuers and those who run the mills. Director Andy Nibley and his team have crafted a film that needs to be seen by every American.

You’ll remember the enchanting determination of Laura, the woman who, with her family and friends, has rescued over 2000 dogs from the living hell of puppy mills. You won’t be able to look at the misleading pictures of seemingly gentle Amish country folk without remembering the ugly truth of the torture of puppy mills behind the barn doors. Of course, you’ll remember the dogs who Laura and her friends help escape. But what I hope stays with you and I know will stay with me is the casual craven disregard for the animals that is so ubiquitous among the puppy millers and their defenders.

As you listen to a puppy miller give a short tour through his facility it is as if you are watching undiagnosed sociopathic behavior. He proudly displays the walls of rabbit hutches stuffed with screaming dogs. Then the man asserts how he “loves” Schnauzers as he reaches into one of the hutches. The dogs cower back against the wall trying to avoid him. He goes on to complain about how new regulations would make him have solid floors so he wouldn’t be able to use his handy-dandy automatic poop scooper. This man evinces no awareness that he is overseer of a backwater of hell.

Writer/Director Nibley has done almost the impossible. He walks the fine line between telling an uplifting story and revealing the horrendous conditions hidden behind quaint Amish fences.  He has shown us the depths without making us look away in horror. We know the pain is there yet his deft handling of the material keeps us engaged, not repulsed to the point of turning it off. At the same time we are seeing the worst of humans we are seeing the best. Laura has dedicated her life to helping defenseless dogs even though she suffers emotionally every week she makes the drive to Amish country. But still she goes and some dogs are saved.

This movie brings out one crucial aspect of puppy mills that most people miss–the effect of the sickly puppies on those who buy them. As honest veterinarians will tell you, EVERY puppy coming out of a mill has something wrong whether its worms, genetic defects or even worse parvo virus which can kill the puppy and any other dogs who come in contact with him. What is the effect on the new pet parents? Of course there is the emotional devastation of watching a loving puppy suffer and maybe die. But there are also heavy financial costs. These folks pay way too much (much more than they would from a reputable responsible breeder) and then they are faced with sometimes tens of thousands of dollars in vet fees. Yet they have no recourse except to return the puppies and get replacements. How realistic or responsible is that? It can be assumed that the puppies will not be given vet care to bring them to health.  These aren’t toasters; they are living beings. In a country where consumers are protected by car lemon laws there is no protection  for being sold defective family members.

“Madonna of the Mills” is THE documentary to see this summer. There is no graphic violence shown on screen so it is suitable for older children and teens. You will never look at a puppy in a pet store the same. My hope is that the legislators and others who see this film will stop apologizing for and start cracking down on puppy mills. I also hope that “Madonna of the Mills” gets the award attention it richly deserves.

Big barks go out to Director Nibley and his team for a documentary that could help change the face of animal welfare in America!

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