Lolly was found in a small, dirty cage alongside her litter of puppies last fall.
dog rescued from puppy mill by vet
Credit: Courtesy of ASPCA

Without help from canine health and behavior experts, Lolly the poodle mix would've never been able to find a forever home after she was rescued from deplorable conditions in an Iowa breeding facility. 

Lolly was one of the 500 dogs the ASPCA and the Animal Rescue League of Iowa saved last year from a facility in Seymour, Iowa. The ASPCA says rescuers found Lolly in a small, filthy cage alongside her newly born litter of puppies. 

She was not only physically sick, but she was unsocialized and extremely fearful of humans. Yet, one year later, one of Lolly's veterinarians adopted her and she now helps other dogs recover from their own trauma at the ASPCA's Behavioral Rehabilitation Center (BRC) in Weaverville, N.C.

"Since many of the dogs at the BRC come from situations that cause them to be fearful of day-to-day activities, helper dogs like Lolly can provide support to fearful dogs during their treatments," her owner, Ashley Eisenback, DVM, says. 

Last October, Lolly's fur was matted and she was experiencing internal parasites, dental disease, and ear infections. Medicine and physical care helped with those, but her behavior was a bigger challenge. 

Darren Young, CPDT-KA and a behavioral rehabilitation specialist at the Behavioral Rehabilitation Center, says the BRC is the first facility of its kind, a place where canine victims of cruelty and neglect go to recover from their trauma. 

Lolly, and plenty of other dogs from her puppy mill, showed "severe fear" when they first arrived at the BRC. They cowered in their kennels and tried their best to avoid humans; acted frantic and panicked in a room of people; trembled; and refrained from eating or playing with toys. 

Specifically, Lolly was nervously pacing, so much so that her paw pads were sweating. There was a lot of work to do. 

"Without the medical and behavioral treatment she received at the ASPCA, she could not have been adopted as she was suffering so greatly," Young says. "She would not be experiencing the joy she does today as a companion animal with a family." 

The BRC team taught Lolly to associate positive things with people, places, and walking on a leash. Eventually, she came out of her shell, becoming excited to work with the handlers each day and seeking out pets and laps. After six weeks, she was ready to graduate from the program. 

That's about the time she was dealing with some discharge in the fur beneath her eye, so she was taken to Eisenback, the senior director of veterinary services at the BRC. She was in the market for a new dog to spend time with her daughters and her other dog. 

"Lolly seemed to be able to warm up to people fairly quickly, including myself and my assistant, and was having fun playing with larger dogs at the BRC, so we thought she would be a great fit," she says. 

And she has been a great fit, running around in her yard, playing with her canine sibling, and sleeping each night with Eisenback's youngest daughter. And she still accompanies Eisenback to the BRC, where she works as a helper dog with other pups who are experiencing trauma. 

She helps the other dogs gain confidence around daily activities and people and allows them to show some joy and playfulness. Who doesn't love a dog who gives back?