Worldfocus special correspondent Kristen Gillespie writes about a furry friend that she acquired while doing a Signature video on puppy mills in Amman, Jordan.
Faith got her name shortly after her rescue from a notorious puppy mill in rural north Jordan. Her muscles were atrophied, her body emaciated, her eyes infected, her teeth were broken, and yet, her spirit was intact — hence her name.
Not all of the 38 puppies and 32 dogs that were rescued made out so well. Some had gone crazy, others turned aggressive.
When I went to the Humane Center to work on this report, I began to notice Faith. She moved slowly, her eyes were still red and swollen and she was always quiet.
When the dogs would go outside to play every day after the shelter closed, Faith seemed more interested in getting attention from visitors than in running around. One day, the door to the shelter was slightly open and Faith slipped inside as the dogs sometimes do.
Usually, they run gleefully through the halls. But when I went in to retrieve Faith, I noticed she had gone back to her kennel and sat inside it, waiting for someone to come and close the gate.
“She’ll spend the rest of her life here at the Center,” said Margaret Ledger, the center’s director. “Months had passed since the rescue and no one had shown any interest in adopting her,” she added.
I started making excuses to go to the shelter and visit Faith. She seemed perfectly content, climbing up next to me on the bean bag in the shelter’s reception area and watching the world go by.
When I decided to adopt Faith, she spent much of the first several weeks at home sleeping and eating. Her eyes cleared up. The walks grew longer, her muscles developed and she turned into a happy, loving dog who learned how to play for the first time.
While Faith and most of the rescued dogs and puppies found a happy ending in their new homes, the bigger picture in Jordan remains grim. In the weeks following the raid, the owner of the puppy mill demanded her dogs back, saying that she would sue for the $150,000 she claimed the dogs were worth.
By all indications, the law in Jordan would have granted her the dogs. The Worldfocus report on puppy mills, however, was enough to pressure the government into the exceptional act of producing a letter giving full custody of the confiscated dogs to the Humane Center and releasing them from legal limbo.
With no animal protection laws in Jordan, dogs are commonly stolen and sent into puppy mills or sold at the downtown market, with owners paying hundreds of dollars for their own dogs.
It’s not just puppy mills - people have begun breeding dogs to make money with almost no knowledge or hygiene standards. Puppies are often sick and sold far too young.
The government controls the stray animal population by regularly sending out armed teams to shoot stray dogs in the city streets at all hours of the day. Animal abuse on all levels goes unpunished, and the mills continue to operate unhindered.
I sometimes show people pictures of Faith and the 69 other dogs that were rescued that day on the personal authority of Princess Alia, a concerned member of Jordan’s royal family.
Recently while flipping through the pictures I looked more closely at one of Faith, chained to the side of the building with her muzzle covered in dust. The faraway look is one of deep sadness and despair.
Now when I look into her eyes, I know that Faith has truly come home.
- Kristen Gillespie
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