PHOENIX (3TV/CBS5) -- A Phoenix shelter has taken in 18 furry survivors, who were rescued from sad and cruel conditions at a puppy mill.

[PHOTOS: 18 dogs rescued from puppy mill, brought to AAWL]

The Arizona Animal Welfare League (AAWL) took in the dogs in partnership with National Mill Dog Rescue. The shelter says many of the dogs were kept for years in cages barely larger than their bodies. The AAWL also says the dogs received little or no medical care, except to give birth to puppies. The litters of puppies were then sold for thousands of dollars at pet stores that get dogs from puppy mills. 

[RELATED: New AZ bill could bring changes when buying animals from pet stores]

The 18 dogs are now safe and receiving plenty of TLC at the AAWL. The shelter's behavioral and medical teams, as well many dedicated volunteers, are working with the dogs to get them ready to be adopted into new, loving homes.

UPDATE! (Friday, Dec. 13)

And we have a happy update on some of those pups. Three survivors are going up for adoption Saturday during the Bissell Pet Foundation: Empty the Shelters! event.  (more informatyion about the event is on AAWL's Facebbook page.)

Baron the Boxer, Arnold the Maltese (who spent 12 years in a puppy mill) and June the tiny and spicy Jack Russell will be looking for new homes. All of the rescued puppy mill pups have been adjusting to their new home and making wonderful progress. They have been listening to calming music, volunteers are reading to them, and they are going on walks and playing in the yards. "It’s a marathon, not a sprint, and every day is better than the last!" AAWL says.

[PHOTOS: 18 dogs rescued from puppy mill, brought to AAWL]

National Mill Dog Rescue (NMDR) spent months, and in some cases years, working with these dogs behaviorally and medically to help them recover from the trauma of living in a puppy mill. Continuing their work, volunteers have spent countless hours helping the animals settle into their new lives and gain even more confidence. "No rushing, only love and affection until they are ready," says AAWl.

Many of these dogs will require extensive dental work, and some may lose all of their teeth. Dental disease, damaged jaws, and removal of teeth is extremely common in puppy mill survivors. They receive barely any medical care their whole lives in a puppy mill and the only enrichment many of these dogs have is chewing on metal bars for years. Luckily, NMDR did a lot of their medical care before arriving, and now AAWL will help finish their medical journey before finding their new families.

The shelters rely on the public's support to provide the medical care and the behavioral work to help these dogs on their journey to a family and continue to help rescue puppy mill survivors. Please donate today at

As for when the puppies will go up for adoption? AAWL says "Keep an eye on our website for their pictures to pop up under "Adoptable dogs"! Once they're there, you can click on their picture and learn more about them (and even adopt them!)"


Over the last six years, AAWL has helped rescue more than 170 puppy mill survivors from across the country, investing tens of thousands of dollars in medical care and thousands of hours into socializing and rehabilitating the dogs.

AAWL is the state’s oldest and largest no-kill animal shelter. It offers pet adoption, low-cost veterinary services, pet training, humane education classes, camps, workshops, and fun pet friendly events throughout the year.

The shelter's mission is:

-To rescue, rehabilitate and re-home dogs, cats, puppies and kittens throughout the State of Arizona that have been surrendered, abandoned, abused and neglected

-To help reduce shelter population and the relinquishment of animals by offering affordable veterinary care and dog training to the public.

-And to educate the next generation of animal advocates while teaching compassion for all living things to people of all ages.

Arizona Animal Welfare League

25 North 40th St.

Phoenix, AZ 85034

Phone: 602-273-6852

More information is available online or on Facebook.

Sadly, this is not the first time we have heard reports of puppy mills or animal hoarding around our state. Some cases in recent years include:

-Arpaio: Wittmann 'puppy mill' largest his office has seen

-Man, woman face hundreds of charges in connection with pug puppy mill

-MCSO seizes over 30 dogs in Youngtown; woman arrested

-VIDEO: Dogs rescued from puppy mills come to Arizona


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