Everly’s story is unfortunately all too common for Amanda Giese, an animal rescuer and founder of the nonprofit called Panda Paws Rescue.
The French bulldog was saves from a puppy mill — where she was forced to have litter after litter while stuck in a wire cage with minimal medical care — by Bailing Out Benji, a group dedicated to finding loving forever homes for dogs that escape the puppy mill system.
“She had untreated eye issues, skin infections all over her body, infected ears and swollen, pink feet that were rotten with infection,” Giese told PEOPLE about Everly’s condition when she first met the dog. It is the state many puppy mill survivors are in when they reach Giese.
Bailing Out Benji and Panda Paws Rescue routinely work together. Giese’s nonprofit is devoted to taking in special needs dogs, canines that are disabled, suffering from severe medicals issues or are simply “on their very last chance.”
So where some may look at Everly and see a hopeless case, Panda Paws Rescue sees a dog that needs some serious TLC and is especially worthy of a happy ending. Giese picked up Everly in Texas while she was on a tour of the south rescuing dogs and filming her Animal Planet show Amanda to the Rescue.
As soon as Giese and Everly were on the road to Washington, where Panda Paws Rescue is located, the recovery work began, and there was a lot of work to do. The timid Frenchie wasn’t just suffering physically, she had emotional scars as well.
“She had a hard time walking on grass since she was used to walking on wire,” Giese, who rescued her first animal in elementary school, said. “It can be painful for them at first.”
Not only did Everly have to adjust to new surfaces, she had to adjust to new sensations, like love.
“When I first met her she was very timid, but you could see there was something there that wanted to like people,” the animal rescuer added. “She would tremble and shake when she was out of her kennel, because her kennel was her safe space. She didn’t know what to do with her freedom.”
After a few nights of hotel stays with Giese and her caring crew, Everly was more accepting to kindness. In Washington, Giese’s “pack” took over the emotional support, while the humans of Panda Paws Rescue focused on healing Everly’s numerous health issues.
Giese’s pack is a crew of four dogs and one cat who live full time at the rescue and have naturally taken on the task of teaching the dogs that come in how to be dogs. This means naturally helping Panda Paws’ last chance canine cases to embrace running around for fun, enjoying the company of other animals and accepting the affection of humans.
“You can see her watching the pack, and thinking ‘Wait a minute, I can do that!’ ” Giese said about the effect the pack had on Everly. “It’s like you could see the light bulb in her head get brighter. She was turning into a normal Frenchie, and it only took a couple weeks.”
With the pack’s guidance and Panda Paws’ care, the terrified puppy mill mom transformed into a pet ready for the love of a forever home.
Of course, the years of suffering that made up the most of Everly’s life could’ve been prevented if puppy mills weren’t part of the country’s pet supply chain.
Giese encourages animal lovers, especially those moved by Everly’s story and thinking about getting a pet of their own, to not get their new pet from a pet store or an online retailer, since these two sources often use puppy mills to supply their pets. Instead, look into adopting a pet. Animal shelters and rescues are full of every breed and age of pet. If you aren’t sure where to start, she recommends Petfinder.com.
“We have to challenge ourselves to see the harshness of commercial breeding,” Giese said, adding that the best way to put an end to puppy mills is by making them less profitable.
“Everything you put your dollar into, you are voting for. When we start hitting puppy mills in their wallets, that’s when we will see them reduce.”
To learn more about Everly and the heartwarming conclusion of her adoption journey, tune in to Amanda to the Rescue on Saturday at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Animal Planet