The man said she was “defective”. Waiting in the lobby of a vet’s office with her dog, Dimitra Molossi, co-director of Social Tees Animal Rescue, saw a man walk in holding a tiny Chihuahua puppy. He swiftly handed the dog off to the receptionist and left. “He told her that the dog was defective and wanted her to be put to sleep,” Molossi told us.

“The receptionist said he was a pet store owner nearby, and nobody was buying her. He’s dumped animals with them before.”

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In pet store

After looking at the puppy, the receptionist knew nothing was wrong with her. Aside from having a bent front leg and a little trouble walking, she was like any other happy puppy. And wouldn’t stop wagging her tail at all the new people around her.  

The vet checked her out immediately while Molossi called her rescue partners to arrange a foster home. They named her Clover — after the stroke of good luck that left her in the right hands.

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You could tell nobody paid attention to her.

Clover’s back legs are also slightly bent due to what the vet assumed was an untreated bacterial infection and no physical exercise during the first months of her life. After getting X-rays and some vaccines, Clover was sent to her foster home that night with antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medicine.

“She’s not in any pain now and is already starting to walk better,” Molossi said. “She was so smelly — you could tell nobody paid attention to her.”

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While Clover is safe and happy now, her situation is typical for thousands of other puppies for sale in pet stores throughout the country. Most of these puppies are bred and raised in puppy mills, large-scale breeding operations that offer minimal to no veterinary care or contact with humans.

When they are shipped out to be sold in pet stores, their mothers remain at the mills to continue breeding litter after litter until they are too sick or old to have puppies. Many puppies are sold ill or injured to unsuspecting buyers at pet stores for upwards of $1,000.

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She is just a baby

Small dogs like Chihuahuas are ubiquitous at puppy mills. So as their size enables breeders to house a more significant number of dogs in confined cages or pens. Some may never see sunlight until they are brought outside to be handed off to their buyer or to have their photo taken for an online advertisement. Their mothers can go their entire lives without seeing the sun.

“She is just a baby — so hopefully, she will never remember any of that,” Molossi said. “She was sitting in this box at a pet store, and everyone passed her up because of her leg. He was probably trying to sell her for at least $1,500.”

Luckily, it seems that Clover has quickly moved beyond her rough start in life and is just like any other puppy.

While Clover is still working on strengthening her legs, her foster mom continues to give her special massages a few times per day — and she should be ready for a forever home within the next few weeks.

“She has no idea that she is any different,” Molossi said. “She runs around and plays all day, and her tail won’t stop wagging.”

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