Madonna of the Mills: Puppy mill expose next week on HBO

August 19, 2011

Mark your calendar for Wednesday August 24th so you can watch the HBO documentary, “Madonna of the Mills.” I was able to preview the film and liked what I saw. The movie documents the passion of Laura Amato (the Madonna) on her forays into Lancaster, Penn. Her sole purpose for traveling into the heart of Amish country is the rescue of puppy mill dogs, specifically those who are “used up” (no longer capable of breeding) and slated to be destroyed.

Laura is an intriguing main character. Her composure remains completely passive as she interacts with puppy mill breeders. She is therefore allowed access into the kennels and, on occasion the camera is allowed to follow. When this happens, what we see is predictably gruesome. One wonders how Laura can remain so emotionally detached while in the midst of such inhumanity. Clearly, she understands that such passivity is required if she is to accomplish the task at hand, namely the rescue of innocent victims, one at a time. The movie credits state that Laura has rescued more than two thousand dogs.

For those who are familiar with puppy mills, there’s really nothing new revealed here. The kennel conditions are beyond horrific, the dogs are physically and psychologically traumatized beings, it is clear that legislation is needed to make things better, and there are some happy endings thanks to generous, kind-hearted, patient people.

One could argue that, through her actions, the Madonna is enabling puppy mills to thrive. I wasn’t clear to me if Laura actually purchases the dogs she rescues. What was clear was that that none of her actions would deter the puppy mill trade. Laura is clearly a prisoner of her passion. One senses she would give up anything and everything in her life before surrendering her rescue missions. In a brief moment of emotional vulnerability she talks about the enormity of the puppy mill situation while seemingly trying to convince herself that by rescuing one dog at a time, she is making a difference.

Whether or not you agree with what Laura is doing, the beauty of this documentary is that it will educate the public about puppy mills. Someone contemplating purchasing a pup from a pet store just might be dissuaded from doing so after watching this movie. By the way, I wish the movie had more strongly emphasized that pups purchased on line (site and sight unseen) are also likely to be puppy mill progeny. Nonetheless, kudos to those responsible for making this documentary. Have a look and tell me what you think. By the way, you may want to have a box of Kleenex close at hand, and perhaps something to soothe your nerves while viewing the graphic scenes.

Filed under: pets, connected — Dr. Nancy Kay @ 10:50 am


  1. Thanks, I think. I don’t get HBO, but hope that this is watched by people who learn something and that, as a result, better decisions are made when they search for their next pets.

    Comment by db — August 19, 2011 @ 11:09 am

  2. Thanks for the info, I’d been waiting for this and I hope to watch it with a loved one who really doesn’t quite believe how bad puppy mills are.

    Comment by vida — August 19, 2011 @ 5:23 pm

  3. It looks like HBO is not airing this in Canada which it should, given that a national pet store chain has announced that they’ll stop selling puppies (but will continue to sell kittens). I ask your Canadian readers to contact HBO Canada and ask them when this is airing and if not, why. HBO shows enough cr*p, it can show something worthwhile.

    Considering how many animals this chain moved, I’m sick to think what will happen to the mill dogs once the demand dries up.

    Comment by social mange — August 20, 2011 @ 7:24 pm

  4. I helped with intake of dogs from a puppy mill as a volunteer of the San Antonio Humane Society in Texas. It was devasting to see the condition of the animals. And they spun around in circles when we took them off the truck – they had never been out of their cages, so they didn’t know how to walk straight :(

    Comment by Robin Snyder — August 20, 2011 @ 11:04 pm

  5. I’ve been waiting for this film to hit HBO since last year. I will be watching. As the owner of former puppy mill breeding dog, I have a particular passion around this issue. Kudos to Laura for rescuing the ones slated to die. My Daisy was 1 year away from burning out before she was rescued.

    Comment by Mel — August 22, 2011 @ 5:00 am

  6. I do not have HBO, do know of any way I can get to see this? Will they put it out on DVD or release it some other way?

    Comment by Jan Hogan — August 24, 2011 @ 11:07 pm

  7. My friends don’t have HBO, and I would like for them to watch this. Will this be on a DVD?


    Comment by Tina Bounds — August 25, 2011 @ 4:20 pm

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