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Cavalier Rescue of AL talks Puppy Mill Rescues

Today is Puppy Mill Awareness Day.

Today is the day dedicated to educating the public about the horrific conditions in which many dogs are being bred.

Today is a day devoted to dogs like Callie and Charlie. Callie who spent six years in a mill, being bred over and over and over again. Charlie, who was lucky to escape the cycle at 3 months and end up with people who understand and are willing to deal with his luxating patellas.

To dogs like Dewey, who was rescued by Cavalier Rescue of Alabama at a mill dog auction and is learning love with his foster mom, waiting for his forever home.

 

I had the chance to interview Brittney Wilk, Co-Founder & Rescue Coordinator at Cavalier Rescue of Alabama and foster mom of Dewey, among several other dogs at the house.

Brittney and her dogs
Brittney Wilk, left to right: Juliet, Dewey, Harley, Happy Go Lucky, Romeo

Me: How long have you been rescuing?

B: I have been rescuing for about nine years. I started doing it privately and then found Cavalier Rescue USA. There I was the coordinator for Alabama and Georgia for several years before my rescue partner, and I co-founded Cavalier Rescue of Alabama together in January 2015.

Me: What got you into it?

B: I got into Cavalier rescue after I purchased my first two Cavaliers – Like so many people, I felt I had done my research but at that point didn’t have a trained ‘eye’ to pick up on ‘red flags’ and ending up discovering that I had purchased from a substandard breeder.

My two puppies were very, very ill with pneumonia for months. Throughout their journey of getting them well and afterward, I heard of so many people with similar stories as mine and felt it was so important to help educate and advocate for the breed. Learning more and more about substandard breeding and Cavaliers being so prolific in that industry, I found rescue and felt that is where I could make a difference.

At that time I got involved in Cavalier Rescue USA, there was not an in-state coordinator there, and the role sort of fell into my lap. I had no idea what I was necessarily getting in for and certainly had no idea that it would be so life changing and lead me to where I am today.

Me: Do you work outside of rescue or has it become your full-time job?

B: We are an all-volunteer organization, so none of us collect any salaries or stipends for the rescue work we do. Therefore we do have to manage full-time jobs in addition to our rescue work which at times can be challenging and overwhelming as our rescue work is definitely a full-time job.

 

Dogs on bed
Even the dogs get tired with all that work!
L to R: Romeo, Happy Go Lucky, Harley, Dewey, Juliet

Me: How many hours a week do you think you put into rescue?

B: I have never kept track of my rescue work hours, but it is certainly around the clock from the moment I open my eyes until I fall asleep. If I had to make a best guess, I would say on average about 60 hours a week with there being times of heavy intake when we put forth much more than that.

Me: How many rescues do you personally have?

B: I have four rescues, and am currently fostering two. I have two rescue alums from Cavalier Rescue USA and two rescue alums from Cavalier Rescue of Alabama, and then two current Cavalier Rescue of Alabama fosters.

They are all puppy mill survivors as my expertise is in rehabbing abused, neglected, emotionally damaged and under-socialized dogs.

Me: Why did you rescue?

B: I rescue because I know I can provide a home, family, endless love, and wonderful care to Cavaliers in need. My favorite thing is seeing [my rescue dogs] relaxed and peaceful after enduring such suffering and stress.

Happy dogs
Happy dogs ❤️ In no particular order.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s the most important thing though – today may be Puppy Mill Awareness Day – but every day these dogs are stuck in mills, every day these dogs need you to fight to end puppy mills, to stop the breeders that are cruel, that breed without care, that shove their dogs into tiny cages. FIGHT BACK FOR THE DOGS.

Fight for the love that these dogs still have, somehow, inside them.

6-Months In and Twitter Rocks

I was going to come on here and apologize for how lazy I’ve been. I haven’t posted recently and last week, April 20th to be exact, was Callie’s 6th month “gotcha-versary.” Kind of a big deal in a rescue dogs’ first year, especially a puppy mill survivor, but it was overshadowed by some other big things. I was going to come on here and post all about her and how much she has grown. So I guess I should still apologize. SORRY!

Her day came right before we put an offer in on a new house. So, man, were (are) we busy and stressed! And three days later, her human sister turned 8! There was another big event.

Then, I was absorbed by the actions of some of my Twitter friends called the #cavpack (Spanielking’s list is not exhaustive, he can’t keep up with the growing number of members, though he does a wonderful job!) The #cavpack was called upon to donate both photos and money to help memorialize a beloved Cavalier who has recently passed.

Harry’s owner is having a very difficult time without him, and two members who knew her and Harry well began organizing the whole tribute. It’s wonderful. He has a pawprint stone, a #cavpack photo album, a kennel supported in his name and more. Participating in memorializing Harry felt, in many ways, as though we weren’t across oceans from each other but perhaps in the same room, with our Cavs, swapping stories as we worked. Of course, WE didn’t work – two members of the #cavpack did, but still, the image stands.

That’s not the only time the #cavpack has come together to support one another. There is so much love among these dog owners. Often these friends are sending each other gifts for dog birthdays or human ones, discussing matters related to the health of our dogs with each other, and laughing together at the antics of our silly Cavaliers.

My friends – while perhaps distracting on occasion – really are there for each other,for me. Watching the internet become real is beautiful. If something happened to Callie, I know these other Cavalier owners would be doing everything they could virtually and in real life to help. That feels nice.

SHOUT OUT: #cavpack I LOVE YOU!

By the way, we did celebrate her 6 months a bit – she got a duck neck and a few new toys to ignore, and if you can tune out my voice, here’s a video of her with the tasty treat: