B.B. started life in a dark place, stuck in a filthy cage in a suspected puppy mill in Cabarrus County, North Carolina.
The Humane Society of the United States, along with the Cabarrus County Sheriff’s Department, rescued 105 dogs (including B.B.), 20 cats and three goats from the unsanitary and unsafe conditions.
“North Carolina is one of a handful of states that has failed to enact any regulations for commercial dog breeders,” Erica Geppi, North Carolina state director for The HSUS, said in a statement.
Because of this, HSUS rescuers believe B.B. was relentlessly bred in these disgusting conditions, giving birth to litter after litter that she barely had time to bond with.
Thankfully that life is over. Now, B.B. lives in a loving home where she is showered in toys that she treats like the pups she never got to raise.
“Her favorite thing to do is ‘nurse’ and collect her seven babies. She likes to play with her stuffed animals. She knows when one is missing and will go around the house searching for them,” B.B’s forever mom, Brenda Tortoreo, told PEOPLE.
Tortoreo adopted the curly-haired canine after meeting her while working at the Cabarrus County Animal Hospital.
“I looked in the back at Cabarrus County Animal Hospial and saw B.B.— she was in the corner, shivering, shaking, scared. And I saw her and I loved her. The next day, she was getting spayed; her jaw was deteriorating and all but three teeth were pulled. I kept going back to check on her after her surgery. I kept putting my hand in for her to sniff me, but she was terrified,” Tortoreo said.
She felt an instant connection to the little dog, and made it clear to B.B.’s other admirers that she was going to give the pup a forever home — that day came after B.B. fully recovered from the treatment the HSUS and Cabarrus County Animal Hospital provided.
The transition wasn’t seamless. It took B.B. some time to shake off her frightening past and embrace the happily ever after she had been given.
“She was very scared and kept looking around, I would put her down and she would spin in circles. I would put her down and she wouldn’t walk out of the room. She was terrified of rugs, because she did not know what rugs were. She would squint when she went outside because of the sun, she wasn’t used to it. She was terrified of grass because she didn’t know what it was,” Tortoreo explained of B.B.’s first days at home.
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But now, B.B. is comfortable and confident, revealing an affectionate canine who loves to give kisses.
“She will jump up and down and wants to play. It’s like she smiles all the time! She takes her afternoon naps, she started barking 3-weeks to 1-month ago. She started giving kisses 3-weeks to 1-month ago. I gave her kisses on her face and tried to get her to kiss me and now she won’t stop,” Tortoreo shared. “Before you could see a sadness when she was rescued. Now, you can see the sparkle in her eyes, always. Just a happy girl! Her appearance – she’s gone from 3.5 to 10 lbs.”
B.B.’s story doesn’t end with her. Because of her big heart and unbreakable will, B.B. became the face of The HSUS’s Day of Giving, a day dedicated to encouraging everyone to help animals like B.B. and the pets she was rescued with.
By sharing her story, B.B. helped raise thousands for other dogs like her, still trapped in reckless breeding facilities across the country.
“I mean, out of all the animals , I just really thought she deserved it. I was excited, I was happy, I wanted the story to go out on puppy mills and animals being bred over and over again,” Tortoreo said of B.B.’s fame.
The proud pooch mom hopes that B.B’s plight encourages other to crack down on illegal dog breeding and save puppy mill rescues like B.B.
“Be the person and call it in, it doesn’t hurt for people to check it out. I want people to be empowered to speak up against puppy mills,” she encouraged.