Saffy’s Story – The Story of a Rescue Dog That Will Melt Your Heart



This is a Puppy Mill

As I write this story, tears are streaming down my face and my heart is broken. Saffy died yesterday afternoon.

In spite of this, her story must be heard.

Saffy (or Saffron Cleopatra – the formal name my husband gave her), was rescued from a puppy mill, also known as dog hell. For those of you who don’t know what that is, I urge you to look it up right now. It’s too important not to.

We rescued her 9 months ago (January 2013) from a shelter where I volunteer.

Saffy puppy mill rescueShe had been there since the previous April (2012) when she was rescued, having spent 7 years in a chicken coop, breeding for pet shops and online sellers.

The head vet tech told us, she was the worst case they had ever come across.

We had rescued many senior and special needs dogs from that shelter, but their problems were always physical. This is the first time we encountered one with emotional damage.

With no guidance or advice, we were totally unprepared for this challenge.

Surprisingly, I couldn’t find much practical help online, so we lived and learned.

We quickly discovered that: looking at her led to uncontrollable shaking, she wouldn’t let anyone walk behind her, and bending down to put her leash on led to her peeing and pooping from fear.

The heartbreak at watching this poor dog is indescribable, but we never give up on any animal we bring home, and we were not about to give up on her.

Saffy puppy mill rescueShe spent the first few days in a corner of our bedroom, back against the wall. I would leave her food and water, walk out and shut the door, before she would even go near her bowls. If she caught me watching her, she would run back onto her bed.

After a few days she started venturing out. It was quite obvious she wanted to be a part of things, but had no idea how.

Thankfully we had another dog in the house (for readers of my website that dog is Red), and she quickly attached herself to her for comfort.

Once out she needed a new safe spot, and she quickly decided that would be our couch, her back against the corner. Close enough to the action, but far enough removed to feel protected.

She was more petrified of my husband (the kindest soul to animals on the planet!), then of me, and when he walked into the room she would run across the couch like a lunatic, then pee.

I have all the patience in the world for animals, but that was too much. Peeing on a tile floor is one thing, a fabric couch another. We ended up covering the whole thing in garbage bags, with blankets on top. Quite the sight, but what don’t we do for our animals?

For several months, she was driven by fear. She had never been on walks, and would freak at the sight of a car, or another human being.

One day while on a walk with my husband she panicked, and got out of her collar. Even though that collar was a proper fit (I’m a bit paranoid about that on any dog!), sometimes it happens, and you can only watch in horror as they take off.

Have you ever tried to catch a dog that was nothing more than a bundle of adrenaline? We all know you can’t chase a dog, so we tried to get her to run after us – forget it. My husband tracked her on his bike and watched helplessly as she swam across canals, and darted in and out of traffic.

We called the humane unit of the police department, and animal control, then hung flyers around the neighbourhood.

At least we knew if she was picked up, we would get her back because she had ID tags on her collar, and was microchipped.

Once it got dark, we had no choice but to go home.

Saffy had been gone 6 hours, when there was a knock on the door. A policeman had found her, and she was sitting in the back of his police car, like nothing happened.

I will always be grateful for the care they showed, calling me as they drove around the streets all evening, looking for her.

After this, we decided to only walk her in a secluded area behind our house.

I was so paranoid about her escaping, that I took extra precautions. I had her wear a harness and used 2 leashes – one on her collar, the other on her harness.

Saffy puppy mill rescueCan you imagine all this happened in just two months? Then we returned to England where we live most of the year, and over time she started to gain confidence.

What helped is the fact that I spent 24 hours a day with Saffy. She became very attached to me, and would constantly look for me whenever I left the room.

You can’t possibly imagine how great that felt!

Incredible progress, after such a horrific life.

Sadly it wasn’t to last.

About 3 weeks before she died, we had a breakthrough! I petted her for the first time, and I cried. Imagine how far Saffy had come, to allow me to do that. No shaking, no fear.

What was even more amazing was the day she let my husband pet her.

And so it was – after 9 months, and virtually overnight, she was becoming a confident, well adjusted dog.

Then tragedy struck our family. She wasn’t eating well, and her behaviour had changed – quieter.

Long story short, she died in surgery and we have requested an independent body to investigate. It was sudden, and inexplicable, but we say the vet panicked and didn’t know what to do.

To say we are heartbroken doesn’t even begin to describe how we feel. It’s not an exaggeration to say, every minute of our lives for the past 9 months revolved around helping Saffy gain confidence.

We were looking forward to years with her.

It all seems so cruel doesn’t it? What hurts the most is, knowing she will never have the life she was just beginning to enjoy.

Close Down Puppy FarmsIf you’re considering bringing a pet into your lives, please rescue one from a shelter, rescue group or animal control facility. Animals from pet shops, and sold online come from puppy mills, no matter what they tell you.

Every year, around 4 million healthy and adoptable animals are killed in shelters throughout the U.S. Each one of them deserves a home. Please adopt, don’t shop!


This was written Oct. 1, 2013 one day after Saffy died.



  1. Vicky

    What a touching story. You were both lucky to find each other. Saffy finally got the home she deserved, but unfortunately not for long… so sorry for your loss. Hugs to you!


    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      Hi Vicky, truly heartbreaking what that poor dog went through, sheer hell in a puppy mill. It makes me so angry when people buy dogs from so-called breeders, allowing this torture to continue. Hugs are welcome thanks!!

  2. Lynne

    Hindy I have helped foster animals before and growing up we had plenty of rescue animals in our home.
    I am very familiar with how an animal behaves when it has been abused.
    I remember I got a rescue cat about 15 years ago. He was pitch black and his name was Zorro. He was about 3 years old and he had been at the animal shelter since he was a young cat.
    I suppose he just lucked out because the way I understood it he arrived just past being a cute little kitten that everyone looks for, just a tiny bit older than everyone was looking for.
    When I went to go choose a myself a pet he caught my eye immediately and I never even looked at any other animal.
    The care givers there cried when I took him. I think partly out of happiness he had finally found a home, but also sadness that their beloved cat was leaving. I had him for 5 months and he died of feline aids. Yes it was very sad but I would like to tell you about the day I took him home.
    See TEARS has a no putting animals down policy, but that means they have so many animals they have to look after. They have hardly any space. The cats cages were sand at the bottom.
    When I let Zorro out into the garden for the first time and he walked on the grass he was amazed, you could see it. He couldn’t get over the way the grass felt under his feet. It was pure kitty joy and happiness.
    I am sure that Saffy was happy and felt secure for the first time in her life. She just didn’t know how to show it. Deep down she must have known her life had changed. The point is that yes she died, but when she did she was safe, secure and loved. I am sure she knew that.

    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      Hi Lynne, thanks for sharing your story. Zorro was definitely a very lucky cat. It’s incredible to watch them as they learn what life should be like, and what an incredible feeling to know it’s because of you. I know Saffy was happy, and everytime she let me pet her, or didn’t run away, she showed me that she trusted me. I still can’t get over her not being here. Every other animal was sick and there was no choice, but Saffy died from incompetence, and I’m still heartbroken every day.

  3. Diane

    Hindy, What a heat wrenching story. So sorry for your lose. Thank God there are animal advocates such as yourself to give these poor animals a chance at a normal life. Do all shelter require that the pet be spay or neutered? I think that may be the reason some people don’t go to shelters for a new pet. Blessings to you and your husband for all you do, Diane

    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      Hi Diane, thank you. There’s no blanket policy on that, but it is more responsible if a shelter spays or neuters a pet before they get adopted. Where I volunteered you had to pay a deposit if you took an unfixed animal, and could only get it back when you proved it was done. Not sure what you mean by that being the reason some people don’t go to shelters. I think it’s because shelter animals have a bad reputation, and people think all shelter animals are wild and badly behaved. A lot of people also say they want a puppy that’s why they don’t go to a shelter, which is nonsense because there are puppies in shelters.

  4. Neale Reimers

    Hindy, I am sorry your time with Saffy was cut short. It is tragic that she was not able to enjoy her time with you longer. I am glad that you saved her and gave her a good life with your family even though it was short. Four of the dogs I have had have been rescues, and they were all wonderful companions. I hope that your story will inspire more people to rescue a dog from a shelter. There are so many out there that deserve a home.

    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      Thank you Neale, it is certainly tragic, and it makes me furious. I’m always so happy to hear when people tell me they’ve rescued their pets. I always look at them as such kind souls. I must admit I get so angry when I hear people tell me how they just bought their dog. They have no idea how many of them are supporting the puppy mill trade. I do hope all our stories inspire people to save a life.

  5. Dinh

    Hi Hindy,
    I am so sorry to hear about Saffy.
    The story melted my heart and made me cry. I can’t understand how inhumane people can be to dogs to make the dog suffer like that. Saffy was so traumatized and was only getting better after your and your husband’s help. I am glad she was adopted by you and had a better life for a while.

    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      Hi Dinh, thanks. It really is shocking how people see them as nothing more than money makers. My husband spotted her in the shelter, looking petrified so he decided she needed to get out of there. So glad he noticed.

  6. Marc Parsons

    Hey Hindy

    Truly sorry to hear about Saffy.

    It’s so sad how life throws curve balls just when we think it is starting to look up.

    I must commend you on a fantastic job with Saffy though! It sounds like she started to see the human side of people and realized that she was in a safe and loving family. I am super glad to hear that she managed to relax around you. Couldn’t imagine living all those year being terrified of everything.

    As far as puppy mills and the other kind of horror, dog fighting goes… It blows my mind to think that people can be so sick and still call themselves human beings.

    Keep up the awesome work with your ‘puppies’… You are clearly making an amazing difference to each one of their lives.

    Chat soon.


    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      Hi Marc, thanks, I often wonder how she would have “turned out” if she had stayed with us longer. I imagine she would have been able to go outside and take walks like other dogs. I guess they must be missing a soul – there’s no other explanation. My dream is to make a difference on a much bigger scale by creating The Saffy Pearson Retirement Home for Animals. That’s why I’m so grateful to have found WA. Take care.

      1. Marc Parsons

        Sounds like a dream worth chasing Hindy… I’d love to see the Saffy Pearson Retirement Home for Animals when the doors open!

        1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

          Here’s hoping I live long enough to make it a reality! I’ll send you pictures one day.

  7. Clark

    Thank you for sharing this story. I’m sure Saffy found happiness in the short time that she spent with you and your husband, and I think that is all that matters.

    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      Hi Clark, thank you for the comment. I agree with you, I’m sure she was happy, but she deserved more.

  8. Maja

    Hi Hindy,
    Your story made mu cry. It is not very much of a comfort but Saffy had a chance to experience happiness with you, at least for a short time. When I was a kid, my dream was to build a shelter for dogs, but not a usual shelter, a big cosy shelter, somethig like a hotel for dogs with everything they need to be happy and to employ the people who love dogs like I do to care about them. Life took me elsewhere and I still haven’t done it but I didn’t forget about it and I know the time will come when I will have enough money and time to do it. I’m happy to know that there are people like you and your husband. You are doing such a great work. I wish you all the best.

    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      Hi Maja, thank you for your kind words, and believe me I still cry about Saffy, so unfair it still affects me terribly. It’s a great dream you have, and hopefully you will make it a reality one day. That’s pretty much all I want out of life – aside from health of course, is to open my retirement home for animals. Let’s hope it happens for both of us.

  9. Vivia

    Hi Hindy,

    My heart goes out to poor Saffy. I am so glad that you were able to rescue her and she at least got to have some good times in her life. i am sure those are what she has taken with her.

    Well done to you and your husband there, and thanks so much for sharing Saffy’s story.

    Love, light and laughter.

    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      Hi Vivia,
      Thanks for your kind words. To think of the torture that some people inflict on such helpless creatures, all in the name of money, is impossible to understand. When you see the consequences up close, it’s even more horrific. I hope she’s happy wherever she is, and got to experience some joy, no matter how short lived.

      1. Vivia

        Some people sell their souls for money…it’s so sad, as there really isn’t any true happiness there. It’s really a shame that so many beautiful creatures are suffering for it.

        1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

          Let them sell their own souls, but don’t take these poor babies with them.


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