It's been a busy January and now February. I've been working on an investigative followup to the 1000 dog puppymill Hillsville, Virginia that was raided in November by local Animal control and national Humane Society officers.
In late January reporter Angela Rodriguez and I traveled to Hillsville incognito to shoot undercover video of the puppy place. We watched as this puppy was purchased by a representative of Virginia P.A.W.S.
The puppy buy was a bit more in-depth than that, with Angela and I posing as a couple looking for a dog with the other lady acting as a relative who ended up purchasing the dog for P.A.W.S., an animal welfare group.
It was quite interesting as we became buddy buddy with the employee who handles dog sales. He told us more and more as we talked. Good Stuff.
We took the dog to a veteranarian about 70 miles away and he gave the dog an objective lookover. We didn't tell the vet how or where we got the dog nor that we were doing a news story and he still pegged the dog as a puppymill pup.
The dog has a deformed sternum and a severely enlarged heart and may not live a full healthy life.
We took our undercover video to the prosecuter, county manager, and animal control officials in the county where the puppymill is and although they bregrudingly allowed us to roll our cameras while they watched they seemed interested in what they saw.
The owners, say the employee, plan on building back up their breeding stock. They keep small dogs and pregnant dogs outdoors with no heat. And until the animal control officer saw our tape, the puppymill had not brought their wire bottomed indoor puppy cages up to code by providing a place for the puppys to lay.
The animal control officer visited the place just 2 days after watching our footage and the kennel quickly made the code adjustment.
As I wrapped up my fourth trip to Hillsville (alone this time) I was confronted by the family after I broke my cover to shoot the B-roll needed for the story. As I rolled disc the family started quizing me about my presence near they land and I quized them back about their intentions and the future of their kennels.
A quote directed toward the Humane Sociedt that struck me as defining--- "We're going to rub their noses in it because we're tired of them messing with us." They said they'd get as many relatives to get individual kennel permits as needed to get their stock back up to the 1000+ range.
The 2 stories we produced from this effort can be seen here...
"Tricks of the Puppy Trade"