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.


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