This little Chihuahua is a real survivor.
At the end of 2012, the animal protection organisation Humane Society went to investigate a suspected puppy mill in North Carolina.
To their horror, the volunteers found a hidden room where dogs were kept in individual cages, just like the ones which are tragically often used for rabbits or pigs in India.
Their quality of life was undesirable to say the least…
The neglectful owner of the puppy mill hadn't even bothered to change the dogs' water, which had turned a green colour.
Amongst the other prisoners, the volunteers noticed a Chihuahua who was clearly in a bad way.
When Adam, one of the members of the rescue team, tried to free him, he struggled with the cage's rusted bolt system: proof that the dog had probably spent his whole life behind these bars.
Adam finally managed to get him out, and took him into his arms.
It was obvious that the Chihuahua, named Billy, had never felt kind hands around him. He was paralysed, overwhelmed with feelings of surprise, fear and happiness.
A few minutes later, he extended his first lick to Adam, a sign that he trusted him. It's the start of a new life for Billy…
As he cuddles him, Adam is struck by the fragility of the little animal:
He was just a skeleton under his long fur…
The dog was quickly taken to one of the Humane Society rescue centres where the vets confirmed that he was dangerously underweight.
But Billy is on the road to recovery. And of course, the road to happiness at last.
Alongside the intensive care which should get him back on his feet, the Chihuahua is making the most of the gentleness and kindness of his rescuer, Adam.
Billy is living a proper dog's life, full of games, hugs and playdates with other dogs!
Watch the heartwarming rescue for yourself here:
Living hell in "puppy mills"
This type of puppy mill, basically a warehouse for dogs, is unfortunately not uncommon in the US.
The pups are sentenced to a life of suffering in which they are barely fed, living in horrific hygiene and imprisoned in tiny cages.
More than 2 million pups are born every year in these puppy mills.
Luckily, more and more people are taking a stand against this shameful practice.
And things seem to be moving in the right direction. Since April 2015, it has been illegal for pet stores to sell cats, dogs or rabbits from these kind of breeding farms.
They can only sell rescue animals.
Before Beverly Hills cracked down on puppy mills, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Austin and Chicago had imposed similar rules on pet stores.
In addition, many organisations like Humane Society are organising more and more surprise inspections, providing us with lots of moving rescue stories.
While we await the definitive end of puppy mills, we can't say it enough: rather than buying a your pet, adopt!
Rescue centres are full of adorable cats and dogs who deserve a second chance.