On a day like today, Claire Stokoe was scrolling through her Facebook feed, looking at photos and catching up on what her friends have been up to when her life changed forever. Staring at her through the screen was a tiny chihuahua dog that had the most adorable eyes. However, the pooch seemed to be scared. It was tiny, which was made clear because it was seated next to a can of Heinz vegetables, which was much bigger than the dog.
“She could barely see over the top of it, and she looked so precious and vulnerable,” Stokoe told The Dodo. She felt called to act. She immediately called the local rescue group, which had posted the pitiful picture. Stokoe wanted to know what the deal was with the adorable little chihuahua that was standing next to the Heinz can.
Stokoe then heard an extremely sad story. The tiny chihuahua, which Stokoe would later adopt and name Brie, had a very sad past. She was bred in a puppy mill, which had the sole purpose of producing as many puppies as possible, regardless of the conditions, and selling them at an extreme profit. The puppy mill was run out of a nearby location in a rural area of Wales in the United Kingdom.
When Stokoe met her, she saw that Brie was scarred. Her legs were marked with scabs and other things that made her wonder just how badly the puppy mill had treated the small dog. But the truth was worse than she could have imagined. Brie struggles to open her eyes in the light, which made Stokoe think that the dog had been forever locked in a dark cage.
Although she was a small breed, Brie was malnourished and undersize. That’s saying something considering how small chihuahuas like her can be. Stokoe believes that the puppy mill did not bother to “waste” food on Brie for whatever reason. Nevertheless, the mill pumped her for puppies, forcing her to birth two separate litters, via c-section. The toll on her tiny, malnourished body was immense.
Although Stokoe and Brie were separated by a 600-mile round trip, the young woman was determined to take Brie home. But Brie was so much different in person.
“When I saw her I was shocked,” Stokoe said. “She was emaciated and shaking. She clung to the lady at the rescue, and I wondered for a second if I could really help her. She looked so pitiful, and it was really upsetting. She was crouched at the back of her little carry case, wide-eyed and scared.”
After making the long trip, Stokoe introduced Brie to her other dogs. The pooches hit it off immediately. Brie had finally found a place to call home.
“Vesper took to Brie straight away as if Brie was her puppy,” Stokoe said. “She cleaned her and sat next to her. Brie would walk all over Vesper, and Vesper let Brie do anything – even eat from her food bowl.”
Now Brie has a happy life – no thanks to the cruel Welsh puppy mill.
“How she survived two pregnancies, the cold, the hunger and the fear I have no idea,” Stokoe said. “She is made of stronger stuff than me, that’s for sure. It’s inspiring.”