It all started when Andrew Nibley and his wife adopted their Cocker Spaniel, Maisey, from Laura Flynn-Amato, founder of No More Tears Rescue. Their dog had been debarked, and they wondered where and how such cruelty could take place.
Nibley and his wife contacted Flynn-Amato, who told them Maisey had come from a puppy mill and spent most of her life in darkness. Nibley said because of these conditions Maisey had some issues with light when she first came home; she had really bad ears and paws, matted fur and was an emotional mess.
Nibley and his wife took action and formed a production company called Umbrella Girl Media to support their project. Nibley said he took a year and a half off as the chief executive officer of Burson-Marsteller, Inc. to film Madonna of the Mills because he thought it was such an important issue.
Madonna of the Mills chronicles Flynn-Amato’s fight against puppy mills hoping to inspire others to follow in her footsteps. According to Nibley, making the film was extremely emotional for everyone because week-after-week, they had to see hundreds of physically and emotionally-abused dogs.
Interwoven within the story behind Madonna of the Mills is Nibley’s love for his wife and his desire to help her raise awareness about puppy mills.
“I have a confession to make,” he said. “My wife produced the movie because she loves dogs and I directed and wrote the movie because I love her.”
Although Nibley himself did not go inside the puppy mills he was able to describe what his crew experienced based on their video footage.
“If you look inside a puppy mill facility you will see row, after row of cages stacked on top of one another,” said Nibley. “The dogs are stuck in cages where they’re defecating and urinating on one another. They’re never petted or loved; never get a chance to exercise outdoors and never learn how to play with toys. Essentially they become organic birthing machines that pump out litter after litter while the farmers make a profit.”
According to Nibley there hasn’t been enough education for people to make the connection that puppy mills are what produce the puppies that get sold in pet stores.
“If you ask the question ‘do you support puppy mills?’ 90 percent of respondents will say ‘absolutely not they’re horrible;’ if you ask the same person where they got their pet they’ll say ‘I got it at a pet store,’” said Nibley.
Nibley recommends a national educational program in elementary schools to narrow this information gap. He believes this would show parents why they should not buy puppies from pet stores just as education has taught them not to smoke cigarettes, for example.
He adds nearly 100 percent of puppies sold in pet stores come from puppy mills and their parents are essentially in concentration camps, where they are never let out of their cages their entire lives — they’re never walked, petted or bathed and when they can’t produce puppies anymore they’re taken out and shot, drowned, stoned or starved.
However, Nibley stated that he and his crew intentionally stayed away from showing graphic images in the final version of the film because he wanted to make the movie about the courage of one woman and her attempt to save these animals.
“We want people to see that ordinary people can do extraordinary things if they put their mind to it,” he said.
Nibley and his wife are living examples of what people can accomplish when they are inspired to make a difference, no matter what their source of motivation and inspiration. Their film has earned them a nomination at the U.S. Humane Society’s 26th Annual Genesis Awards held this Saturday, March 24 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in California.
See the Madonna of the Mills Trailer:
Watch Madonna of the Mills:
- On TV via HBO
- On HBO Go via your I-Phone or computer
- Buy the DVD or watch the trailer at www.madonnaofthemills.com
Written by Christine White Photos Courtesy of Best Friends Animal Society