New Video: Nearly 200 Puppy Mill Dogs Get Freedom for Christmas!

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Since Sept 1st Hearts United for Animals has rescued nearly 200 dogs from Nebraska and Missouri puppy mills.  Many of the dogs were saved thanks to state authorities who realized that they would not survive winter in the horrendous conditions.  The dogs were receiving no veterinary care and one of the mills was only days away from running out of food for the dogs.  We were so glad to be able to assist in saving so many lives before the very worst happened, but also saddened at the condition of the dogs.  The extensive medical needs included horribly infected teeth and gums, severe heart conditions, fleas, painful ear infections, internal parasites, eye infections, mammary tumors and one female pomeranian who required emergency surgery for a hernia so large that all of her internal organs had fallen into it.  All of the dogs are so grateful to be rescued and are doing well in their recoveries.  The most challenging of the rescues involved 76 dogs from a mill that had trouble selling the pups but kept breeding them anyway until there was barely an inch of space left for any of them.  They were mainly large “designer” dogs consisting of Labradoodles, Aussiedoodles and Goldendoodles.  The HUA veterinarian spent two days at the mill vaccinating the dogs and getting them ready for transport, while HUA volunteers coordinated a massive effort to move them to reputable rescue groups in Nebraska, Colorado, South Dakota, Minnesota and the east coast.  Cargo vans were rented and volunteers were recruited for long trips in every direction so that the dogs could be rescued as quickly as possible and have warm places for the winter.  Most of the dogs are now in foster care, many are already adopted, and some will call the HUA shelter home until they find their forever families.  We are very grateful this holiday season to all of our volunteers and good friends in rescue who helped to save these lives, but foremost we are grateful to our contributors who provide the funding to make it possible for dogs like these to be comfortable, happy, warm and well for the first time in their lives.  Because of you this holiday season these nearly 200 dogs will have warm beds, full tummies, medication and people who love them and will fiercely protect their lives forevermore.

We invite you to meet some of the dogs here in our YouTube video, and ask that you please remember Hearts United for Animals this holiday season with a donation to help us rescue many, many more dogs who so desperately need our help:

Holiday Billboards are Back!

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They’re back!  This year we have several different designs rotating on a digital billboard at I-80 and 84th Street in Omaha.  The campaign is running from Thanksgiving through Christmas.  With the help of Lamar Outdoor and Immediate Solutions we have created several different types of eye-catching messages to inform over 80,000 travelers per day about puppy mills.  We are hoping that our “Don’t Shop.  Adopt.”  campaign will make people think twice about buying that darling pet store puppy for Christmas.  Our very own Renella is a mother of puppies sold to a pet store near the location of the billboard.  For the sake of all mothers like Renella, trapped for years in puppy mills, we want people to realize that buying puppies makes the misery continue for hundreds of thousands of dogs like her.   Click here to donate to future billboard or television advertising campaigns.

Here is Renella’s picture and message:

Here are our other messages.  Let us know which one is your favorite.  We are considering making the favorite into a bumper sticker!

Puppy Mill Awareness Day is Sept 18th

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Saturday Sept 18th is National Puppy Mill Awareness Day.  In honor of this day we have placed 7 digital billboards throughout the Omaha metro area for the entire week.  Thanks to our friends at Lamar we will be telling 150,000 people per day that they can stop puppy mills by sending the message “Don’t Shop.  Adopt.”  We hope people make the connection that buying from pet stores is precisely how puppy mills stay in business, and that it isn’t just about the puppies (as if that isn’t bad enough).  It is about the suffering parents of pet store puppies.  As long as there is demand the parents will be locked away in cages, suffering for years to churn out more product.  They will never receive vet care.  They will be there until their bodies give out.  They will never touch grass or know the love of a human.  Buying a puppy in a pet store sentences them to this life.

Our new brochure entitled “Where Did This Puppy Come From?” is available to the public.  Please write to us at to have brochures sent to  you to pass out at events, vet clinics, grooming shops, doctors offices – anyplace the dog loving public goes is a good place for outreach.  Please take the opportunity on this special day, and every day, to think of the mill dogs and spread the word.  Awareness is key to ending puppy mills in this country.

To help donate to the care of the mill dogs that Hearts United for Animals have rescued please click here go to our online donation form and put ‘for the mill dogs’ in the comments.  Thank you for your support that allows us to continue our missions of mercy to save these dogs who have suffered so greatly for an industry of greed.  And thank you for helping spread the word so that some day all dogs in this country may be happy, loved family members – as they are meant to be.

Puppy Mill Tragedy – Sariel’s Story

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Sariel was rescued from a puppy mill in Nebraska along with several other dogs who were in very poor condition due to years of neglect and over breeding.  Sariel’s name means “angel of guidance”, and at only seven years old that is what she soon will be.  Sariel does not have long to live.  Our hearts sank when we looked at her abdomen upon her return from the vet.  She looked like a jig-saw puzzle from all of the mammary tumors that were removed.  We remained hopeful that the pathology would be good, however, a week later we received devastating news.  Sariel’s cancer has moved to her lymphatic system.  Sariel does not have long but she is making the best of it.  In  spite of her recent surgery and painful infection in her eyes which is taking a long time to clear up, she is happy for the first time in her life.  We know we won’t have much time to spend with her, and we do not anticipate that anyone will adopt her knowing they will lose her so soon, so we will help to make the very best of every day she has.  Sariel loves people and is immensely enjoying her freedom at HUA.  She loves to explore the grassy yards and loves to stretch her legs and wander around the buildings, often stopping for a nap on piles of soft blankets and towels.  We tell her every day how precious she is and we make sure she gets plenty of lap time, kisses and hugs.  We also tell her how sorry we are that her life has been stolen from her by an industry of pure greed, for which we hold the utmost contempt.  Although she has every right to be furious with the world, Sariel holds no ill will.  However, we will not get over it.  We are angry on her behalf.  We will use this tragedy to fuel our passion to educate the public and let them know that Sariel’s years of suffering and life cut all too short did not need to happen.  When the time comes that Sariel’s pain is too great we will hold her in our arms and let her go on to the next life.  She will become an angel of guidance and hope for all of the mothers of pet store puppies still suffering in puppy mills.  Please help to make her powerful story of the tragedy of puppy mills in this nation live on forever.

Click here to donate online to help support and sustain our public education and puppy mill rescue efforts.  Feel free to leave a message for Sariel in the comments section of the donation form.  We will read your messages to her and give her hugs and kisses from you.

HUA Rescues 25 Pugs from a Deplorable Puppy Mill

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On July 20th, 2010, HUA rescued 25 pugs from a deplorable puppy mill in western Nebraska.  We are happy to say that this mill is now shut down…CLOSED FOR GOOD!  HUA rescuers traveled across the state to the Wyoming border to bring the dogs to safety.  The rescue, coordinated by Jane Denning, of Torrington, Wyoming, took place early in the morning.  As you can see from our YouTube video the conditions were frightful.  The dogs were loaded into the HUA van as quickly as possible with front and rear air conditioning blasting away.  They were so grateful to be able to breath well for a change, with cool air and away from the overwhelming stench of their filthy, dilapidated little shack.  As relief washed over them they slept the whole 9 hours back to HUA.  This was one of the most difficult rescues HUA has been involved in.  These dogs are so frightened of humans that it is completely heartbreaking.  Because of the large number of dogs all needing such intense emotional rehabilitation our friends from several rescues in Nebraska, Minnesota and Canada have stepped up to help us and take many of these sweet pugs into their foster based rescues.  We had many emergency medical expenses during the week and will have ongoing expenses with the dogs staying at HUA.  We would deeply appreciate donations for their care.  Please put “for the pugs” in the comment section of the donation form.  Many thanks to all who came together to make this a well planned, well executed rescue.  This is the start of a wonderful new life for 25 dogs who came from one of the most horrific man made tragedies we have seen yet.

1st Annual Poolside Pawty & Fundraiser – a Big Success!

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HUA’s First Annual Poolside Buffet Pawty and Fundraiser held on July 23rd, was a smashing success! Hosted by Bruce Billesbach at his gorgeous home in Ponca Hills, the benefit raised over $12,000 for the 400 canine and feline residents at HUA. The late Bexar (pronounced Bear) Billesbach, was the inspiration for the pawty.  His photo greeted the party attendees and we know that Bruce’s beautiful, loving boy was with us in spirit. The night could not have been more fun! There was live entertainment, valet parking, a buffet by Metro Culinary School and over 30 lovely items on the silent auction tables. We had many $500 or more level sponsors for the benefit.  Please help us thank them and support their businesses.  Sponsors were Mobile Animal Clinic, Three Dog Bakery, Immediate Solutions, Rebel Interactive, Pawsitively Treasured, Ideal Construction, Woodhouse Auto Family, Tenant Data Services, and Veterinary Eye Specialists of Nebraska. We can’t thank Bruce, our sponsors, our silent auction item donors and our party attendees enough for making the night such a wonderful time to remember! Please enjoy all of the many fun photos from the event in our album in the Photos tab of our Facebook page. They were taken by Lisa Tegtmeier, HUA volunteer, and Kim Justus of

A tribute to Bexar greets party attendees at the entrance.

Carol Wheeler - HUA Founder, Bruce Billesbach - Host and Dennis Wheeler - HUA Co-founder

HUA alum, Molly, flashes us a big smile of thanks for her home with Bruce.

This gorgeous quilt made by HUA supporter Susy Shafer of Virginia, was the top auction item of the night going for $1,000. The sentiment it expresses perfectly sums up the reason for the evening and our wish to see every dog have a wonderful home.

Hey There Hot Tamale! How ’bout We Go To Your Place…

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In your purse or on a plane, on the couch or on a train, in a bus or in your car, you can take a Chihuahua near or far!  HUA has over 40 fabulous Chihuahuas looking for love.  We’ve never had so many of this wonderful breed at one time.  Can you, could you, should you help to find them great homes? Yes…you can, you could, you should!  Take a look at all of these wonderful, smiling faces just waiting for the perfect home to call their own.

Did you know that if you have adopted from us before and your circumstances have not substantially changed that you are pre-approved?  All you have to do is write to Jenny ( and say, “Jenny, I would like to adopt a Chihuahua!”.  What will Jenny say when you tell her this?  She will say “That is wonderful news!  Do you have one in mind or can we help choose the perfect one for you?…Would you like to travel in the car or should we put him on a plane?”  Haven’t adopted from us before?  Not to worry.  Just fill out our online application and we’ll walk you through a simple process.  Just a few easy steps…make sure you have a securely fenced yard, a vet reference check, a brief home visit to make sure we have a good match and poof – you have a new family member!  We have home visitors across the continental US and can fly to most major metropolitan airports.

Why a Chihuahua?  Chihuahuas are the oldest dog breed in North America, and the smallest dog breed in the world.  Named after the Mexican state of Chihuahua, they are believed to have been sacred to the Mayan Indian Nation.  They are amazingly devoted, loving companions who are generally easy to groom and care for.  Their life span is 15 years or more.  Chihuahuas typically do better with adults or families with older children.  They come in many colors and can have short or long fur.  Many say that Chihuahuas are like potato chips – you can’t have just one!

Please look at all these wonderful smiling faces and send this post to your friends and family.  These adorable Chihuahuas need you to help them find happy homes!

Click on each dog’s picture to learn more about him/her:

HUA Rescues 20 Dogs from a Puppy Mill

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On June 3rd, Hearts United for Animals took in 20 dogs from a puppy mill near Valley, Nebraska.  The conditions were deplorable.  The dogs suffered in pitch darkness, locked in an old dilapidated barn with no windows.  Many of the dogs lived this way for years.  At first they cowered in fear not knowing what to expect of their rescuers, or even what to make of the sunlight that had never before touched their beautiful faces.  Tears fell from the eyes of one gorgeous little red Chihuahua as she realized her nightmare was over.  She stopped shaking as she was held in the arms of an HUA staff member.  Her eyes lit up, she held her head high and for the first time in her life a smile came to her face.

There were several puppies in the group.  Four of the puppies were only 6 weeks old and had been separated from their mother.  One of the four Papillon pups, a little girl named Mary, is very ill.  She cries for her mother, from whom she never should have been separated so young, but she is taking comfort in her siblings.  It will be an uphill battle but we will do all within our power to make sure that these pups survive.

The older dogs have extensive medical needs.  They have rotting teeth from lack of care and poor nutrition, mouths full of infection, hernias, mammary tumors, eye infections, fur loss from stress and urine scalding from the filthy conditions.  In time they will heal.  They will feel better and as they feel better they will blossom into the loving, adoring, trusting companions that they always should have been.  It may take time to find them the wonderful homes they deserve and at HUA they will get all of the time, medical attention and love that they need to give them their lives back.

Please watch our YouTube video to see all of the dogs rescued, and please consider a donation to help these dear dogs to recover:

Lincoln Store Helps HUA Dogs

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In December 2008 Sue Sturgis, from Lincoln, Nebraska, sold her business to dedicate all her time to the love of her life – helping animals.  With years of experience as a fashion coordinator and successful business owner Sue decided to open her own store, one where all profit would go to help homeless and suffering animals.  Sue and her husband Darren, and two rescued dogs Emba and Muggy (the official greeters) work day and night to help provide a better life for shelter dogs and increase awareness about animal welfare issues.

The store, Cause for Paws, located at 5700 Old Cheney Road in Lincoln, Nebraska, accepts gently used clothing and accessories and household items – anything in good condition.  It is not a typical second hand store.  Merchandise is all of good quality, beautifully organized and tastefully displayed.  It looks like an attractive level of a department store.  Customers receive great personal service.  People bring in donations and stay to shop.

Recently HUA directors Carol Wheeler and Sally Carter, along with Canary and Ciana, Chihuahuas rescued from a Nebraska puppy mill, stopped in to say hello at Cause for Paw and thank Sue and Darren for helping so many of the dogs  in need at HUA.  Ciana, who was not known to warm up quickly to new people, took an immediate liking to Sue and Darren.  It was soon decided they would adopt her to become the littlest animal rescue ambassador at Cause for Paws.  Ciana is carried around the store, always in Sue’s arms, and is loving her new life as storekeeper and beloved family member.  Her friend Canary was soon after adopted by a wonderful family in Lincoln.

Please consider helping Cause for Paws by donating gently used items or stopping in to shop.  Make sure to thank Sue and Darren for dedicating their lives to the animals in need.  They are appreciated tremendously by the Hearts United for Animals organization and the animals we rescue who are so very much in need of support.

You can visit the Cause for Paws website at

Sue, Canary, Muggy, Darren, Ciana, and Emba

Sue gives Canary a tour of the store

Darren meeting the new family member, Ciana

Canary says good-bye to Ciana and wishes her well

Puppy Thrown from Moving Car Survives Severe Injuries

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It was a quiet afternoon at the shelter when a man and his teenage son pulled up in a pickup.  The dad informed us that his son found a puppy in the in a ditch in the country the night before while out having a good time with his buddies and wondered if we could help.  We were anticipating a Labrador, or some other typical breed for the rural areas.  The son got out of the truck and presented our volunteer with a little yellow puppy who weighed less than 3 pounds.  He was the most adorable little thing we’d ever laid eyes on.  We of course said we were happy to take him.

We noted that the little pup was very snorty and his breathing was labored.  He lapped up soft food and water but we could tell he needed immediate veterinary care, so minutes later he was on his way to the Animal Emergency Clinic in Omaha.  We were thinking antibiotics and time on oxygen would fix him up.  We were very disappointed, as was the veterinary staff, to learn that he had severe injuries consistent with being thrown from a moving vehicle.  He had a scar on his head, his eye was red from trauma, a rib was fractured and his jaw was broken and severely displaced.  We were sick about it.  Despite his injuries this gorgeous little pup wagged his tail, squirmed and was so happy to be with people.  The jaw break was at the TM joint making surgery not an option.  The vet said that sometimes putting a tape muzzle on to make the jaw bone grow back into place works and that was our only option.  It would mean syringe feeding the pup for 3 to 4 weeks until the jaw healed.  We said of course, we have to try.  After a weekend at the emergency hospital our little pup, now named Kid Rock for his love of the music he listened to in the car on the way to the vet, was able to come back to the shelter.  The HUA staff fed him every 2 to 4 hours by syringe giving him pain meds through the syringe as well.  Kid Rock was so sad and in so much pain that it broke our hearts, but we knew if he could get through it he would be the happiest, sweetest puppy ever.  He whined and nuzzled his head into our arms for the first several days.  Although still not happy to have his mouth taped shut, soon after he was back to himself and begging for his next feeding.

Kid Rock’s jaw has healed faster than anticipated and he now has the tape muzzle off after 3 weeks.  He is still weak and fighting infection.  He is eating soft food for now with two different kinds of antibiotics administered.  His nasal trauma is still healing and he makes some snorting noises that sound like he is gasping to breath.  He is happy as can be though and got to play with the other puppies at HUA for the first time this weekend.  He thought it was positively delightful.  He loves lapping up every bite of food on his own and just can’t wait to get out to lavish hundreds of kisses on his care givers.  In addition to being too cute for words he has the sweetest, most loving personality.

We cannot imagine what caused someone to throw this gorgeous little pup from a moving car and leave him to die in a ditch in the country.  Perhaps drugs?  There is just no reason on earth for such a horrible thing to happen.  We are so glad that he was found and that he had such wonderful medical care.  The entire staff at two veterinary clinics have fallen madly in love with him and are as grateful as we are for the divine intervention that caused the young man and his friends to stop to check their tires at that very spot by the ditch late that night.

We are gladly accepting monetary donations for Kid Rock’s care (costs are currently at close to $1,000), and although he is not quite ready for adoption yet if you are interested please write to and she will keep you informed of his progress.  He still has some follow up vet visits to do and will need to be stronger in order to be neutered and micro-chipped but he would LOVE to have a great home waiting for him when he is ready to go.

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