Muncie organization rehabilitating backyard breeder dogs


MUNCIE, Ind. — A Muncie organization is working to rehabilitate a pack of dogs rescued from a backyard breeding operation.

Grateful Rescue is an organization that takes in unwanted domestic cats and dogs to rehabilitate and place them in homes. Recently, they learned of a backyard breeder in northern Indiana that was about to get evicted. The breeder had close to 40 dogs on her property, that would need to be rehomed.

Grateful Rescue stepped in to rescue 15 of these dogs, preventing them from potentially ending up in a puppy mill.

“The difference between backyard breeders and puppy mills is just a slight difference,” Pamela Terhune, founder of Grateful Rescue said. “The backyard breeders are mixed breeds a lot of times or designer breeds and but the similarity is that these dogs are not socialized at all. They do love other dogs, but they are simply terrified of humans and that’s what we’re dealing with now.”

The dogs are now being housed in a stable in the back of the Grateful Rescue property. While some of the dogs remain skittish and shy away from people, others like Max and Cocoa crave attention and affection.

This comes after weeks of working with the dogs to get them used to being around people.

“A lot of patience, a lot of tenderness is what they need at this point because they’ve only been around one person and that’s the breeder, and they’ve been in a dark barn and they did not see daylight nor grass until they came here,” Terhune said.

Pamela says the differences between backyard breeding and puppy mills are slight, but they are similar in that they are not familiar with people.

“They don’t have an aggressive bone in their body, so they’re not mean. They’re just terrified,” Terhune said.

The Humane Society of the United States actively combats puppy mills in the United States. They put out an annual list of known problematic puppy breeding or brokering facilities. The 2021 list shows 6 problematic puppy mills in Indiana, mostly in northern Indiana.

Indiana communities are starting to pass ordinances prohibiting the sale of puppy mill puppies. Pamela says having ordinates like these will help combat the puppy mill problem.

“They put so many restrictions on how these dogs are sold to stores that it’s so difficult for them, they just it’s not worth their money to do that anymore, so they fold,” Terhune said.

The community is stepping up to help these dogs. Local organizations donated food, toys, veterinary services, fencing, harnesses and more.

About half of the rescued dogs have found new homes already. Pamela is sure that the rest of this backyard breeder bunch will progress towards their forever home as well.

Grateful Rescue is working on constructing a new facility on 38 acres of land on the west side of Muncie. For more information, including how to adopt one of the animals or donate to Grateful Rescue, visit their website.

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