Today, Cheddar is a happy, playful, and well-loved pup living with his family near Honolulu, HI. His big eyes and floppy ears give him a carefree expression he never seems to shed, but the little dog’s life wasn’t always this good.
In May 2016, the Hawaiian Humane Society got a tip from someone who had seen their neighbor throw what looked like a dog into a trashcan. The man in question was James Montgomery. In 2005, 64 dogs were taken from Montgomery’s property where they lived in indescribable conditions. He was running a puppy mill and pleaded guilty to 55 counts of animal cruelty. Even with his guilty plea and evidence of how the dogs were treated, the case was deferred.
Fast forward 11 years later to May 2016, and Hawaiian Humane Investigators find Cheddar and a dog that was already dead in a trash can outside Montgomery’s property. The heartbreaking discovery lead to a subsequent search, and 33 more dogs were found living in a bunker with no light or ventilation.
Realizing Cheddar was still alive, investigators immediately rushed him to an emergency veterinary clinic. Hawaiian Humane Society Communications and Community Events Manager Suzy Tam told iHeartdogs,
“When Cheddar was found his fur was so matted with feces and urine that his natural white coat was dark brown and yellow, like the color of cheddar cheese…hence our officers named him Cheddar. One of his eyes was white with a corneal rupture and he was faced with possible blindness.”
Weak from starvation, it was several days before Cheddar could stand on his own. He was on a long road to recovery, but there were still 33 dogs suffering at the hands of the long-time animal abuser. The bunker where they were born and bred was strategically used to conceal the illegal operation and hide the filth in which the dogs were forced to live. After charging Montgomery with anther 33 counts of animal cruelty, the Hawaiian Humane Society took custody of the dogs.
Most of dogs, ranging from adults to newborn puppies, lived with no form of human contact outside of breeding. They were unsocialized and fearful, and transitioning to life outside the bunker wasn’t an easy process.
With clean fur, fresh air, and regular food, the 33 dogs, including Cheddar, slowly started to put the bunker behind them. They grew to love their rescuers, and when it came time for them to find forever homes, they met with potential adopters with hope and confidence. All 33 of Montgomery’s puppy mill dogs were adopted, and they’re now living happy lives across the island.
Back in court, the Hawaiian Humane Society was determined to finally bring Montgomery to justice. He had been free to operate his puppy mill for over 10 years, but this time, the charges stuck. On July 20, 2017 James Montgomery was sentenced to nine months in jail and four years of probation.
Cheddar’s transformation from a dog barely hanging on to life in a trashcan to the fluffy family member he is today is testament to the hard work and determination from the Hawaiian Humane Society. Montgomery was selling his puppy mill dogs out of his car, and people gave him money not knowing where the dogs came from or how they were treated. Tam said,
“The Hawaiian Humane Society cannot stress enough how important it is to insist on seeing where puppies are raised and to ask to see the parents of these puppies. By not doing so, you may be unknowingly perpetuating animal cruelty.”
With his past behind him, Cheddar is enjoying life as a member of a loving family. The Hawaiian Humane Society saved him, and they’re continuously fighting to end animal cruelty. Visit their website to learn how you can help.
Featured Image Source: Suzy Tam