WASHINGTON (WTNH) — Harper loves playing in her new backyard and taking breaks to give kisses.

“Be patient and wait for your dog to come,” said Zilla Cannamela, the president of Desmond’s Army Animal Advocates.

Harper was also patient, waiting six years for the right home, her early years spent in a puppy mill.

“The vet could tell she had been overbred,” Cannamela said. “A puppy mill will take a dog and make them produce until they are dead.”

Some of Harper’s puppies were sold at dog stores in Connecticut. The dog, who was in Indiana, is now spayed. Her breeding days are over, but some signs from the puppy mill are permanent.

“She was kept in a kennel small crate by the way her hind legs fold under her,” Cannamela said.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) is introducing two bills to crack down on puppy mills.

The Better Care for Animals Act gives the Department of Justice the power to remove animals, impose penalties and take action against puppy mills. Another piece of proposed legislation, Goldie’s Act, would require the Department of Agriculture to inspect, report and remove animals while holding breeders accountable.

“The U.S. Department of Agriculture is failing to enforce the law,” Blumenthal said.

Dan McCabe, the president of Dog Star Rescue, said the dogs are stacked in crates on top of each other. 

The non-profit uses foster families to house dozens of dogs, running an opposite business model of puppy mills. McCabe said the mills breed for profit and push more dogs onto rescues like his.

“We’ve been contacted by puppy mills,” McCabe said. “The whole premise of rescue is to take dogs from bad situations and put them in good situations, and these people are creating the bad situations.”

The report below is from News 8 at 6 p.m. on May 8, 2023.