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Wheatland Puppy Mill Dogs Reunite a Year Later

Ernesto has come a long way since his rescue last year.2 / 2

Nearly 200 puppies were found deprived of food and water one year ago at a puppy mill in Wheatland North Dakota.

In the past yea, those dogs have been adjusting to life outside of the brutal conditions. That's thanks to some very generous families and organizations.

The dogs were matted, unsocialized and malnourished when they came to 4 Luv of Dog Rescue in Fargo.

After some long hours -- and plenty of patience -- you wouldn't even recognize them now.

It's hard to believe, but just a year ago these happy, healthy, well-fed dogs had barely seen a single human.

Denise Schrader's fluffy white dog Ernesto lived 2 and a half years in a cramped, filthy cage before being rescued. He was one of almost 200 seized dogs and rescuers simply called him "Male Number 50."

Denise Schrader/Adopted Wheatland Dog: "He was very skiddish, very scared, did not know how to use stairs... didn't know what rawhides were all about."

But it didn't take long before Schrader realized Ernesto's unique challenges gave him a special place in her heart.

Schrader: "We just fell in love with him. And the other dogs adopted him."

Volunteers brought more than half of the dogs seized from dire conditions in a cramped Wheatland trailer to 4 Luv of Dog Rescue in Fargo.

Less than 2 months after some serious grooming and socialization, all of the animals found new, loving homes.

Olson-WrayBrenda Olson-Wray/Dog Owner/Volunteer: "The stories that you hear of people that love these dogs and the emotions from where they came from... and they're so proud to be an owner."

For some of the volunteers who saw the dogs at their worst, watching the playful pups interact with their owners is a treat.

Natalie Helm/ Casselton Vet Tech: "They haven't had the easiest start in life. And they deserve it, just like every other dog. To be able to help them come from a, you know, shy, timid, scared to social and happy and active is super rewarding."

And owners like Schrader wouldn't trade the experience for anything.

Schrader: "I smile every time I see him playing outside... it just fills my heart with joy."

4 Luv of Dogs is a 100% volunteer-run pet rescue.

Even though all of the Wheatland dogs found owners, the group still has plenty of animals looking for a good home.

You can find more information on volunteering or adopting a dog at  click here

Catherine Ross

Catherine joined the WDAY 6 News team as a reporter and photographer in April of 2014 and is honored to bring you stories from around the Red River Valley. She grew up in a suburb of Minneapolis and got her first taste of the news industry during a high school mentorship at Fox 9 in the Twin Cities. Catherine graduated from Emerson College in Boston where she participated in the student-run TV station WEBN and spent a semester in Washington, DC working at Voice of America. Those opportunities gave her a front-row seat to the 2012 Presidential election cycle, reporting at the Iowa Caucuses, Republican National Convention and President Obama’s second inauguration. Now happy to be back closer to family, Catherine enjoys exploring the nature and culture of the upper Midwest. She’s an avid runner, novice foodie and lifelong Twins fan. If you have any story ideas or just want to say hello, Catherine would love to hear from you!

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