How A Tiny Hero Dog Could Change Things For Breeding Dogs Everywhere

A powerful photo of Harley in a puppy mill cage with his awards.

A powerful photo of Harley posing in a puppy mill cage with his awards. (Photo by Emily Sierra)

On Saturday night, a tiny one-eyed crippled dog received a standing ovation at a Beverley Hills gala when he was awarded the American Humane Association’s prestigious Hero Dog Award for 2015. In its fifth year, the annual award show celebrates the remarkable bond between dogs and people.

For 10 years of his life, Harley the heroic Chihuahua existed in a wire cage in a puppy mill. Winning the award is a stunning triumph for a once exploited, helpless dog enslaved in the puppy breeding business. It's also a deeply meaningful time for campaigners around the world who are warmly celebrating this award and what it means for breeding dogs everywhere.

For many who campaign against the industry that took away Harley's liberty, robbed him of his health, blasted away his eye and crippled his body, this high profile award is enormously significant. Harley epitomises the courageous quality of dogs who have no choice but to survive, trying not to go insane as their incarceration continues all the time their fertility gives their existence value. Most dogs don’t get out alive. By Harley winning the award it sends out a loud and powerful message that commercial, industrial puppy breeding which occurs the world over, is a cruel betrayal of the canine-human bond. That dogs lives matter, not for the money that can be made from them, but simply for being themselves. While Harley is certainly heroic, he should not have had to be. He should have been happy and free his whole life.

Photo by Emily Sierra

Photo by Emily Sierra

While the beauty of the win, and the fun of the event is to be celebrated and enjoyed by us all, it’s also worth reflecting on what Harley’s whole life represents. He’s one survivor, out of millions of dogs across the globe, who will never know what life outside a breeding establishment is like. Millions of parent dogs remain trapped in places most people choose not to imagine; certainly infinite numbers of puppy buyers are closing their minds and turning their backs on the many Harleys who have no choice but to supply the puppy business.

This is why the award is important. While Harley rightly basks in the warm limelight of his wonderful achievement, we must all shine a burning bright spotlight on the business that caused him to suffer, so the breeding industry can no longer hide all the other Harleys of the world. Together, we can use Harley’s story, his journey, his award, his dream, to bring them all out, like Harley and sit them right in front of the puppy buying public. To make puppy purchasers see what’s going on behind the facade of cute puppies. To force the legislators, authorities and vested interests who are allowing the breeding industry to flourish. An industry that's based on inexcusable cruelty. We must leap up and down celebrating Harley’s award and

Photo by Emily Sierra

Photo by Emily Sierra

make people see, properly see, that while Harley the Hero Dog is alive and out and free, he left behind many more who will never know this, and that his place was filled as soon as he left that small and nasty cage.

We can use Harley’s story and award to put a real face, a one-eyed, damaged, venerable face to an industry that must end. To give a strong, loud voice to each and every dog whose sad, unjust fate it is to be a breeding dog. In a recent interview with me, Harley’s mum, Rudi Taylor told me what his life means to her:

“Harley has inspired me to be more proactive than ever in my involvement with puppy mill rescue and puppy mill awareness. He’s helped me realize how caring and giving people are; and made me realize there really is HOPE!”

There certainly is. This “little dog with a big dream” is one huge source of hope to us all.

Learn more about Harley at The 2015 American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards will air on the Hallmark Channel on Friday, Oct. 30 at 8 p.m. ET/PT and at 7 p.m. Central Time.

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Positively Expert: Janetta Harvey

Janetta is a writer, blogger, independent commentator & campaigner against puppy farming. She is the author of two (soon to be three) books on what a tragedy for dogs the industry is.


6 thoughts on “How A Tiny Hero Dog Could Change Things For Breeding Dogs Everywhere

  1. disqus_vq4KBBxN8a

    WTG Harley!!! I am so proud of what you have accomplished and what you will accomplish!! I love you Harley!! From your facebook furiend, Melanye

  2. Dawn Leverington

    Excellent article! I hope to see the end of puppy mills in my lifetime. This article does such a great job of showcasing why this is an important issue.

  3. PaminIndy

    WHEN WILL WE END THIS HORRIFIC BUSINESS OF ABUSE AND NEGLECT OF HELPLESS PETS? Surely, no amount of money is worth their misery.

    I HAVE A DREAM, THAT WE COULD DO AWAY WITH PUPPY AND KITTEN MILLS ... Then the shelters could be used for what they were intended, as a safe haven for lost pets until their family comes for them, or they need to find a new forever home. And pet stores could get back to selling pet supplies.

    Many blessings to all who work to make animals' lives better. WE ARE THEIR ONLY VOICE! So I am using my voice to post this repeatedly, until it somehow falls into the hands of someone who has the authority and the courage to help us put an end to puppy and kitten mills forever.


    We will euthanize thousands of pets today at our animal shelters and city Animal Care & Control facilities. We will euthanize thousands of pets tomorrow too, and most every day. Unless our lawmakers put an end to the mass production in puppy and kitten mills, this pet overpopulation crisis is doomed to increase. We will never be able to "rehome." adopt, spay/neuter or even euthanize our way out of this crisis as long as these mills are churning out pets like they were food animals. This is costing our government millions of tax dollars, which are OUR TAX DOLLARS! And they are being spent to kill pets that the mills are producing. Some even sell the dead, sick and drugged (from euthanasia and illness) animals to "rendering plants" to make pet food, making our unsuspecting pets into cannibals. This is a vicious circle that never ends and has become a wasteful sinkhole of our tax revenues, leading many shelters to fail for lack of funding. This revenue could certainly be better spent elsewhere. The USDA has neglected to regulate this mill production, to the point that we are glutting our own tax system. Our government must know that this can not continue. We The People must demand that our lawmakers vote with us, and not with the Ag Industries, to STOP THIS INSANITY!
    I will never understand how the USDA has any business having pets under the same regulations, (or lack thereof), as poultry, slaughter hogs and beef cattle....WE DO NOT EAT DOGS AND CATS IN THIS COUNTRY! They are our pets and to some, our babies! Our government must stop allowing them to be mass produced like they were food animals! And the conditions that we accept as "USDA approved" for these animals to live in, consist of a lifetime of horrific neglect and deprivation! These pets don't even get to go to slaughter when they are old enough and fattened up. They live their entire lives in a cage, often left out in all kinds of weather, with little or no veterinary care. The female's' life is spent carrying, nursing, or grieving her lost babies, until she is bred yet again. Then about twice a year, the male shares her cage until mating is complete. Then he is returned to languish in his own filthy cage until it is time to breed again.
    This only ends for them when they die, or become "no longer good for breeding". Then they auction them off or kill them or just let them loose in the woods to starve or be killed by a wild animal, or eventually get picked up as a stray, which floods our shelters. What happens to the others is unknown. I don't know what, if any regulations exist for their "disposal," but dead animal carcasses have been found on the property of some of these mills.
    Unfortunately, the financial influence of the Agriculture business has managed to supersede the horrific conditions of the animals, the pet overpopulation crisis, even the glutting of our own system! IF YOU SHOP AT A PET STORE THAT SELLS PETS, YOU ARE SUPPORTING THIS HORRIFIC CRUELTY!
    Can you imagine if the beef producers were churning out millions of pounds of beef in a year, and we only ate a portion of it, and the rest had to be "disposed of" at great expense to the government? You can bet the USDA would be slapping some major restrictions on beef production. So why don't they see that we are euthanizing millions of pets every year, and the puppy and kitten mills are "producing" a majority of them?



  4. KMalk10

    Everyone reading this in the U.S., PLEASE call and email your U.S. senators and representatives in Congress. Demand an updated animal welfare act that classifies these suffering USDA breeding dogs as companion animals. They are currently regulated as LIVESTOCK under 1966 minimum standards of care that have never been updated. This is why it wasn't a crime to blast poor Harley's eye out or let him suffer malnutrition. USDA "breeders" should be imprisoned alongside dog fighters. The results are the same. The HSUS, APSCA and Humane Society Vet Medical Assn just petitioned the USDA to upgrade these standards. We need to hold these non-profits accountible, too. Let's make sure they follow through and support them by making the two minute call or sending an email to your reps. Unfortunately, animal welfare is political.

  5. Herm

    "While Harley is certainly heroic, he should not have had to be. He should have been happy and free his whole life."

    Well said. We can recognise the heroism while deploring that it was necessary.

    Just one question: what did he actually do? How did he get out of the puppy mill, even? The post doesn't say...

  6. Michael Christensen-Frame

    Such a wonderful article. I miss following Harley on his Facebook posts. It has brought about such an awareness of the puppy mill problems and this awareness needs to continue until this problem with puppy mills no longer exists. I'm so glad that you are still out there fighting the fight and bringing about this awareness. With all that you have endured, you still manage to keep going. BLESSINGS TO YOU AND YOURS. RIP SWEET HARLEY. ! ! ! ! YOUR LIFE MATTERED. ! ! !

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