Westport puppy mill protesters subject of documentary

By JILL BODACH
Norwalk Hour Staff Writer

Norwalk, CT, June 17, 2009 — A Westport-based grassroots animal activist group will be featured in an upcoming documentary warning consumers about the dangers of purchasing dogs bred in puppy mills.

The film, “Madonna of the Mills,” was produced by Umbrella Girl Media, headed by former Connecticut journalist Andrew Nibley and Westport native and advertising executive Kelly Colbert.

The documentary, slated for distribution in 2010, tells the story of puppy mill dogs who are rehabilitated.

“I am confident that no one will ever buy a dog from a pet store again once he or she has met the courageous dogs who survive the horrific puppy mills and the human heroes who sacrifice so much to get them out,” Nibley said.

Nibley and his wife learned of the issue of puppy mills after adopting a puppy mill dog.

“These are pretty horrific places, and my wife suggested we make a film to expose the problem,” Nibley said. “But we wanted to make a film for people that wasn’t so full of horrible images that people turned away. We want people to watch.”

Nibley and his crew spent one year following a Staten Island woman to Pennsylvania where she rescues puppy mill dogs and helps place them with families.

“These animals would be killed if she didn’t rescue them,” Nibley said.

Nibley also followed the dogs once they’re adopted.

“There is one amazing story about a golden retriever who spent six years in a cage with barely enough room to move,” Nibley said. “Now, she is with a family who has an autistic son. The son has blossomed. The dog has blossomed. The whole neighborhood has blossomed as a result of having this animal in the house.”

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