1 Year Later: 104 Puppies Rescued from Avoca Van Crash
AVOCA, N.Y. (WENY) -- It's been a year since more than 100 pet store bound-puppies were rescued after the van they were inside overturned in Avoca. Today, four of those puppies still remain in the Southern Tier.
"One year ago today, I was sitting on my couch. I didn't know it, but just down the road, there was a crash of a panel van on icy roads with 104 puppies in it," says Connie Terry.
It wasn't long after that Terry received a message, asking whether or not she'd be able to help.
"He barely could walk," Terry says of her now eleven-month old German Shepherd, Chance. "It was evident he didn't have any muscle tone. He was dirty, he smelled like urine [and] he had feces on his legs and feet. We knew right away he came from a puppy mill."
The crash also left Chance with a broken sinus cavity and jaw.
But the issues--for more than just Chance--did not end there.
Another rescue, Big Papi, has grown to be abnormally large. He also has knee issues, affecting his walking.
Chance suffers from both kidney failure and dwarfism--all issues experts attribute to improper breeding.
"They never see the result of their poor breeding, so they just keep breeding the same parents together," says Karen Doucette, the Consulting Veterinarian for the Finger Lakes SPCA. "[That's when] you get things like pituitary dwarfism, heart murmurs, deformalities of internal organs or malfunctioning."
Since the accident, the dogs' owners and local veterinarians have began raising awareness about the conditions these puppies are bred in and the long-term effects.
"They're right in our backyard," says Doucette. "Yates county is the puppy mill capital of New York State. Steuben County has them--they're all over New York."
For Chance and Big Papi, their conditions are manageable. Chance will remain on regular growth hormones for the rest of his life.
However, that does not stop him from tagging along to Avoca Central School where Terry teaches health class.
"His life started out really bad, but we're hoping it's going to end up much better," says Terry.
That means making changes to puppy mill laws in New York.
Terry says the team will continue to fight not only for Chance, but for any puppy who could end up like him or Big Papi.
"Every time i drive down the highway and I see a panel van," says Terry. "I wonder, 'what's in that van?'"
Over the past year, the group has been able to close one local puppy mill. They also continues to work with lawmakers to try and ban the sale of these puppies altogether here in New York ..
They say they encourage everyone to speak to their local government about how these changes can be put in place.