When you hear the phrase “hero dog,” you’re probably not picturing a pup that looks like Harley. Harley is a 14-year-old 6-pound chihuahua that is a puppy mill survivor, and as a result of having spent 10 years in a puppy mill, lives with a host of physical difficulties. As the Associated Press reports, “Harley has a diseased heart, rotted mouth, fused spine, broken tail, gnarled toes, deformed legs and a missing eye.” Harley and his owner, Rudi Taylor of Bethoud, Colorado are champions of puppy mill survivors, and together they’ve raised half a million dollars through their organization “Harley to the Rescue!” to save and care for over 500 puppy mill dogs in the last two years.
“Harley is a hero mostly because he gives hope to hundreds of thousands of dogs still living in puppy mills,” Taylor explained in a statement. “He inspires so many people. It could be his imperfect look that lets people relate to him. I think he touches their hearts.”
Harley is so inspirational that he just won the American Humane Society’s American Hero Dog award.
“He means the world to us already. Now he’s going to mean something to the world,” Theresa Strader the founder of National Mill Dog Rescue near Colorado Springs, told CBS.
We would totally understand if Harley just wanted to chill out after his win, but no, the next stop for this sweet little pup was US Congress.
“Dear Mr. President,” Harley “says” in a open-letter posted to Facebook, “I had to ask my mom to read this letter for me because I am only a dog…I am a puppy mill survivor. I spent ten years living in a small, filthy wire cage in the puppy mill…I never had a toy or a bed, I never touched grass, I never got the opportunity to run…until I was rescued.”
As ABC reports, Harvey took to his Facebook again to report how his Mr. Smith Goes to Washington-style trip went:
We are so happy for Harley’s win and so glad he is making tremendous use of his fame. There are over 10,000 puppy mills in the United States, and it’s a nightmare to imagine so many sweet dogs having to endure the nightmare of living in these mills. It’s a chillingly cruel industry, and while we are heartbroken that Harley had to endure ten terrible years in a mill, we are so glad that he and the people who love him are using his platform to put an end to this terrible practice.