8 min read

Dog Who Spent Her Life In A Basement Is So Excited To See The World

“She never knew what sun was."

When rescuers first found B.B., the poodle was trapped inside a small, wire-bottomed cage in the basement of a house. The dog’s cage was filthy and covered in waste, and the room had no ventilation.

B.B. was being housed at a puppy mill near Charlotte, North Carolina, which a team from the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) raided last September. While the team couldn’t figure out exactly how old B.B. was, they could tell by her swollen mammaries that she’d been bred over and over again, and that she’d nursed many litters of puppies — whom the puppy mill owners probably sold for a lot of money.
 

Dog trapped in cage at puppy mill
HSUS/Meredith Lee

The rescue team also suspected B.B. had lived her entire life inside her cramped cage.

Dog trapped in cage at puppy mill
HSUS/Meredith Lee

“She was very tiny, and she looked like this helpless creature,” Jessica Lauginiger, animal crimes manager at HSUS, told The Dodo. “I put my hand up to the cage, and she’d come up and sniff a little bit. She was very hesitant for human attention, but she wanted it.”

Dog trapped in cage at puppy mill
HSUS/Meredith Lee

Once Lauginiger gained B.B.’s trust, she opened the cage and took the dog out.

“I remember how tiny and frail she was in my hands,” Lauginiger said. “I pulled her close to my body, and she leaned into me.”

Rescuer with puppy mill dog
HSUS/Meredith Lee

B.B. wasn’t the only animal at the puppy mill — there were over 150 dogs, as well as cats and goats, kept in similar conditions on the property. Some of the animals, like B.B., would have been kept at the facility for breeding purposes, but others would have been sold to prospective buyers. Thankfully HSUS, along with the local sheriff’s department and law enforcement agencies, was able to shut the puppy mill down and rescue all of the animals.

Rescuer with puppy mill dog
HSUS/Meredith Lee

Many of the animals went to Cabarrus Animal Hospital, a local veterinary clinic, for treatment, and this is how Brenda Tortoreo, who used to work there as a receptionist, met B.B.

“B.B. was in a corner,” Tortoreo told The Dodo. “She looked pitiful. She was scared to death. She wouldn’t eat, she wouldn’t drink and I felt so bad for her. And I said, ‘That’s the one I’m going to take home.’”

As soon as B.B. was well enough, Tortoreo did exactly that — she brought her home to live with her other two dogs.

Woman holding rescue dog
Tortoreo holding B.B. | HSUS/Jamie Linder

But B.B. had spent her life living inside a cage, and she didn’t know how to act inside a house.

“I put B.B. down on the floor, and she kept going in circles — not running, but walking,” Tortoreo said. “I guess that’s all she knew to do. I put her in the living room, and to go into the hallway, she would not cross that border [between rooms]. I have two granddaughters who live with me, so I would put her in one of my granddaughters’ rooms, and she was terrified of rugs. She just wanted off the rug.”

Rescue dog in house
HSUS/Jamie Linder

The outside world was just as scary to the poodle.

“She never knew what sun was,” Tortoreo said. “She didn’t know what grass was, and she was terrified of it.”

But little by little, B.B. found things that could make her comfortable inside Tortoreo’s house.

Rescue dog in new home
HSUS/Jamie Linder

“She’s got three big baskets of stuffed animals,” Tortoreo said. “She takes certain stuffed animals, and she’d bring them to bed, and she would line them up like she was nursing them, and she’d lick them, lick them and lick them. It was just so heartbreaking.”

Rescue dog with her stuffed animals
HSUS/Jamie Linder

With Tortoreo’s help, and with the comfort of her stuffed animals, B.B. eventually adjusted to her new life and figured out how to be a normal dog.

“She runs around the house,” Tortoreo said. “She’s eating like crazy — she was originally about 3 and a half pounds, but I think she’s maybe about 10 pounds now. She loves the grass now, and she loves playing with the other dogs in the backyard.”

Rescue dog with her new mom
HSUS/Jamie Linder

And B.B.’s bond with Tortoreo grows stronger every day.

“About three weeks ago she started licking me — she’d never done that before,” Tortoreo said. “She’s really come out of her shell. She’s my little princess.”

Rescue dog with her new mom
HSUS/Jamie Linder

B.B., along with the other dogs, cats and goats from the puppy mill, were lucky enough to be rescued. But puppy mills continue to be a huge problem in the U.S. There are about 10,000 licensed and unlicensed puppy mills, and about 165,000 dogs are kept as these facilities for breeding purposes, according to HSUS.

To help HSUS rescue more dogs like B.B. from puppy mills, you can make a donation.