One-Eyed Harley: The Lifesaving Voice for Puppy Mill Dogs

Analysis by Dr. Karen Shaw Becker

Story at-a-glance -

  • Rudi Taylor, co-founder and executive director of Harley’s Dream, personally rescued — along with her husband Dan — more than 700 dogs from puppy mills and created the nonprofit as a way to create awareness and end puppy mills
  • Harley’s Dream is named after a puppy mill survivor who lost an eye after his cage was cleaned using a power washer
  • Harley’s Dream partners with different animal shelters in Southern California and Colorado, along with animal groups in Texas and New Mexico, to take in dogs in need
  • Their mission is to end puppy mill cruelty, encourage animal adoption and rescue and rehome senior dogs via Harley’s House of Hope

Rudi Taylor, co-founder and executive director of Harley’s Dream, personally rescued — along with her husband Dan — more than 700 dogs from puppy mills and created the nonprofit as a way to create awareness and end puppy mills.1

Rudi was nominated for a Healthy Pets Game Changer Award by Jodie S., and her mission to end puppy mill cruelty, encourage animal adoption and rescue and rehome senior dogs via Harley’s House of Hope is truly inspiring.

The story actually started in 2009, with a dog named Cricket. “I adopted a little puppy mill survivor, named Cricket. I still have her to this day, she's 18 years old. And, she was so scared. She was absolutely terrified. And I had to learn why. So, I learned about puppy mills back then,” Rudi said. Harley came next:

“Soon after I got her, I found a little dog in Oklahoma who had spent his first 10 years living in a puppy mill. He had lost his eye because his cage was cleaned with a power washer.

And, he had a very sad story, I didn't think he would live very long, but that was Harley. And Harley ended up living for five years. I used Harley as a tool, in a sense. We traveled around the U.S. along with a rescue team and saved 760 dogs from puppy mills.”

Mission to Stop Puppy Mills and Save Senior Dogs

Rudi and her team traveled throughout the U.S., stopping in schools and running campaigns to educate people about the cruelty of puppy mills. But after Harley passed away, the nonprofit Harley’s Dream was born. “I decided that I needed to form a nonprofit because I needed more funding in order to really fight puppy mills,” Rudi said.

“So, we did that, and that is the main mission of our organization. But I also missed rescuing dogs, so I decided that we need to create a program within our organization, which we call Harley's House of Hope.

And that program allows us to rescue senior dogs, usually from shelters, that have been dumped or landed there for whatever reason. And, we provide them medical care and do everything we can for them, and we do our best to find them loving homes.”

Harley’s Dream partners with different animal shelters in Southern California and Colorado, along with animal groups in Texas and New Mexico, to take in dogs in need. Occasionally, owners may also contact them directly to relinquish a dog. While the organization has a handful of foster homes, most of the dogs are cared for by Rudi herself, at least for a period of time, and that’s what keeps her going:

“I get up really, really early because right now I have a lot of dogs. Sometimes, I have to admit, it might be 4:30 or maybe 5:00 if I'm lucky, and I'm dragging out of bed. But the minute I turn on the lights and I start seeing the dogs and they're all ready for breakfast, ready to go outside, ready for whatever, it's heartwarming.

These are dogs that had been, a lot of times, in the shelter, that were skinny and sad and usually very sick, and here they are, wagging their tails and that inspires me.”

Advertisement
Click here to learn moreClick here to learn more

Senior Dogs Need Love Too

For many of the dogs in Rudi’s care, the love they’re receiving may be their first real feeling of happiness. They’re getting a second chance at life, which is something every animal deserves — even seniors.

Oftentimes, the pressure of feeling like you may not be able to afford to do enough to care for a senior animal may stop people from adopting such an animal, but even providing a home, food and love is more than enough. “People need to realize that it's OK to adopt a senior dog,” Rudi said, adding:

“And, it's OK if they really don't have the money to get the dog to a cardiologist, get the dog to a neurologist. They can still give that dog that's going to be probably euthanized in the shelter, they could still give that dog a lot of love and comfort, and provide basic medical care and medications that would help the dog, at least to the end of its life.

It's not like you have to afford to be able to give that dog years more, because those years might not be there anyway. I just think that the biggest reason that people don't take seniors is because they're afraid of the cost. I think that can be worked out.”

One of the key ways to stop the puppy mill cycle is to avoid buying a puppy from a pet store, since most come from puppy mills. It’s also important to avoid purchasing a puppy online from an Internet seller, which also may be from a puppy mill.

While you may feel that you’re "rescuing" a puppy from a pet store, you’re ultimately perpetuating the breeding cycle. If people stop supporting puppy retailers, it will force puppy mills out of business.

If you’d like to support Harley’s Dream in their mission to end puppy mills, you can find them at HarleysDream.org2 as well as on social media. On their website, you can also find out more about Harley’s House of Hope,3 including senior dogs available for adoption.