Famed veteran actor Paul Sorvino of such movies as Dick Tracy, Romeo & Juliet and Goodfellas has joined his daughter Amanda Sorvino in a campaign to close the deplorable puppy mills across the country. This talented family including Mira Sorvino who won an Oscar for her role in Mighty Aphrodite, and romantic actor Michael Sorvino believe in bettering society by getting active and involved. Amanda Sorvino has created a nonprofit puppy mill rescue and adoption organization called Dogfellas. A puppy mill is a breeding facility where many different dog breeds are bred and kept in wire cages and filthy conditions. The many dogs that the Sorvinos personally rescue are kept in a loving, healthy and beautiful 4,000 sq. ft. farmhouse sanctuary in upstate New York, which also happens to be their home. Once the dogs are rescued they are cared for and brought to good health before being placed for adoption. The adoption applicants are scrutinized and have to pass strict qualifications, including providing a dog fence before being allowed to leave with one of the Sorvino’s rescued dog. Their heartfelt slogan is “No Fence, No Dog!”
Animal Fair’s Wendy Diamond visited Paul and Amanda Sorvino at their upstate farmhouse and dog sanctuary to discuss their impassioned vision for rescue animals.
WD: How did you get so passionately involved with your mission to rescue dogs from puppy mills?
AS: My brother Michael who just loved his dog Alvy to no end, was destroyed when his dog died and that put me on a rescue path with puppy mills. I set out to find a living relative to Alvy. I was able to locate and track his lineage to a small Midwest town where I found a related dog that needed rescue at a puppy mill. I was able to rescue this wonderful yellow lab named Labra. Next, I met a wonderful group of women that have gone undercover and investigated the puppy mill situation. They invited me to an annual event that they organize called “Puppy Mill Awareness Day”. Basically I found out that these dogs in Missouri, Pennsylvania Lancaster County, Nebraska, and Ohio are bred in squalid filthy cages in dark barns where there’s no sunlight. Sometimes they’re also left outside in rabbit hutches. They cook in the summer, all of the puppies and freeze in the winter. They’re debarked, which is done by an instrument that goes down the throat.
PS: In the heat or the cold, it doesn’t matter. I mean how can people do this? It’s enough that we’re spoiling the environment, we’re also abusing God’s creatures like this? I mean, what is that? People have to be made aware. Cruelty diminishes human beings. Cruelty diminishes all of us, any kind of cruelty.
WD: What would be your advice to people who would like to rescue or adopt a dog from puppy mills or your organization?
AS: First of all, I’d like to say to anyone that is a homeowner that owns or adopts a dog, “No Fence, No Dog!” That’s our slogan. We don’t adopt out dogs, period, to people that don’t have fences, because that’s then a great excuse to just put them out on a cable all day long. How do we know how long they’re cabling their dog? So we don’t like any tie-ups, we don’t like tethering of any dog.
PS: ‘Paulie the Muzzle’ says (in a commading voice): No Fence, No Dog! Amanda created this name for me on our website called Dogfellas. All of a sudden she got me involved in this whole thing.
WD: That’s a great name for a dog rescue website and organization, tell me more bout Dogfellas?
AS: We, Dogfellas, have huge goals, probably bigger than most rescue organizations. We can do more because we can, because of Dad’s celebrity. Through our adoption rescue we want to help the animals. Our long term goal is to start the “Dogotel”, which would be skyscraper buildings like a doggie Disneyland for rescued dogs. That’s our ultimate goal, to replace all kill shelters with “Dogotels” statewide. But in the meantime, we’d like to abolish puppy mills by setting firmer and tougher breeding standards. We rescue a number of dogs with our own outdoor dog sanctuary.
WD: This is a wonderful environment and home for rescued dogs, what are your plans for the dogs?
AS: I brought them into my 4000-sq-foot farmhouse and they live with my dogs. So we have created a sanctuary out there for the dogs to heal before being adopted. Eventually we will also rescue wolf hybrids, when we get the required license. Once the dogs get situated, learn how to become a family dog, they’ll be adopted. We usually keep rescued dogs a minimum of three months before we adopt them out.
WD: Paul, as a successful actor, sculptor, opera singer, family man and humanitarian, why do feel it is so important for people to get involved with rescuing animals from puppy mills?
PS: What we’re doing may be trivial to some people, because there is so many terrible issues in the world to contend with, and there are terrible things that happen in the world every day. But anything you do that’s on the side of the angels promotes you as a human being. Any kindness you show to man, beast, is something that adds up to your credit as a full and functioning citizen of planet earth. I also have an asthma foundation, there’s a lot of things I do, and Amanda does, our whole family does. Mira’s with Amnesty International, we all do these things. But do something, and if you love doggies, make this part of it. It’s not my whole life, it’s not Amanda’s whole life, it’s a part of what we do. So join us in this, and do the other things too. Do something and help us with the doggies.
AS: Because they’re helpless… they need us.