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Animal Advocates Show Strength in Saturday Protest

By on February 18, 2018

After a busy few weeks documenting illegal breeders and sick animals being part of Pets R Us’ story, Bailing Out Benji and Puppy Mill Free Nebraska rallied outside the pet store on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018. Representatives from Pug Partners of Nebraska, Revolution Rescue, Muddy Paws Second Chance Rescue, Heartland German Shepherd Rescue, Midwest Dog Rescue, Midwest Shiba Inu Rescue, Little White Dog Rescue, Hands Hearts & Paws Rescue, Midwest Wheaton Rescue, and Nebraska/Iowa Italian Greyhound Rescue were in attendance to support each other in their shared goal of fighting against puppy mills and pet stores that sell puppies from those farms.

“It was an amazing turnout,” said Dana Thelander, Chapter Lead of Bailing Out Benji-Nebraska. Concerned citizens, kids, puppy-mill-surviving dogs, and friends of rescue were there in addition to the rescue volunteers.

And support didn’t only come from those holding signs and educating about the dogs inside Pets R Us. “The majority who passed by showed a ton of support with honks, waves and thumbs up,” said Terra Henggeler, team leader for Puppy Mill Free Nebraska.

Even with rescue events happening all over town on the beautiful February afternoon, nearly 50 in total lined 108th Street and West Center Road near the Rockbrook Shopping Center. The number was about twice of that present at the last peaceful protest of Pets R Us. And though not all who were concerned stood with signs today, the anti-mill sentiment continues to metastasize in Omaha’s rescue community and around the country.

“On a weekend that was already filled with rescue events, most of the area rescue groups sent representatives because the puppy mills (and pet stores like Pets R Us that front for them) are a part of the reason rescue groups exist,” said Lorie Jenkins, attendee of today’s protest and volunteer from Muddy Paws Second Chance Rescue. “Whether it is taking in severely damaged former breeding dogs who are no longer producing or assisting the owner of a sickly pup purchased at a pet store with extraordinary vet bills due to the dangerous and unethical breeding practices of the millers – we are all giving up our time to counteract the damage done by the millers and pet stores.”

If pet stores want to sell animals, advocates hope they’re sourced from shelters and rescues. Puppies from Pets R Us, in many documented cases, come straight from large-scale commercial breeding facilities. Evidence gathered by Puppy Mill Free Nebraska and Bailing Out Benji is available here, among other places. Adopting or rescuing an animal is the best way to solve many problems. And shopping at humane pet stores like The Green Spot, Long Dog Fat Cat, Nature Dog and many others in Omaha is a way pet owners can promote better choices that are better for animals.

 

“We truly believe that those who purchase from pet stores or operations like Tully’s don’t know the horrors they are supporting,” Jenkins said, “so we’re going to keep putting the proof we have out there until everyone knows.”

 

Like those who work in shelters, rescue volunteers wish they didn’t have any animals to rescue. That would mean there were no mills, no backyard breeders, no population problem, and no irresponsible animal owners. The dream scenario is that the only animals that need help are those who need rehabilitation or someplace warm in between homes. That utopian vision is a faraway thing, but rescuers are committed to seeing it, however long it takes. Whatever that entails, Henggeler and company will work “Until every cage is empty.”

Jenkins would prefer to spend her spare time at home with family and pets, “But until inhumane breeding practices are ended in this country,” she said, “we’ll keep making it impossible for our legislators, pet store owners, and purchasers of pet store pets to say, ‘But I didn’t know.’”

Representatives from Pets R Us chose to stay inside during the protest, which is a change from previous demonstrations outside their store. The Pet Store did not respond to requests for comment about the protest.

More protests are planned in and around Omaha; make sure to follow Bailing Out Benji and Puppy Mill Free Nebraska on Facebook for updates.

About Eric Forrest

Eric is a pet lover, bookworm and dad. He's had 5 family dogs, 4 cats, a cottontail rabbit he nursed back to health, and two ducks. Cats are his preference, but Eric loves all little critters.

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