Melanie Kahn thought she had her life planned out. Her career goal was to become a television news reporter, and she was well into that goal when a news assignment story caught her eye and veered her onto another path. About a year into her reporting job in Louisville, Kentucky, she was assigned to cover a story about a Humane Society of the United States puppy mill raid. “It was unlike anything I had ever seen before, and it affected me in a way that I didn’t expect it to,” explains Kahn, who today is the campaign senior director of USUS’ Stop Puppy Mills campaign. “It’s so unbelievable that not only could people abuse animals in this manner but then on top of it be okay with making a profit from it.”
For the next year she continued in her journalism career but used every minute of her free time volunteering for The Humane Society and learning as much as she could about the puppy mill industry and animal abuse. During the volunteer hours, Kahn began meeting people within The Humane Society. She became so well known for her passion for fighting this specific animal cruelty that when a position opened up within The Humane Society, Kahn was put up for it and without hesitation she took it.
“I didn’t come to the position with any animal welfare background, other than being a person and having a dog, but I’m passionate about this and driven and I think I can help change things,” says Kahn, who attended the 2nd annual Palm Beach To the Rescue! From Cruelty to Kindness Gala, benefiting the Humane Society of the United States’ Stop Puppy Mills Campaign. The event, which took place earlier this year, was hosted by Wayne Pacelle, the president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States and co-chaired by James Berwind and Therese Mersentes. Special guests Jill Rappaport and Amanda Hearst were also in attendance.
Ignited with passion from the abuse she saw, Kahn decided to use her journalistic voice in a new manner as the senior director of the Stop Puppy Mill campaign, which is the largest issue campaign in the country focusing on puppy mills. Kahn got to work right away.
“The biggest shock has been realizing how much vehement opposition there is to ending this. I never thought it’d be hard to save puppies but it’s unbelievably political. People genuinely think that it is ok to treat dogs like livestock and to profit off of that.”
Even with opposition, the campaign has managed to pass 10 state-level bills that crack down on puppy mills, 19 localities including large cities such as Phoenix, Chicago and New York City and also finalized two major federal rules.
Despite Kahn’s obvious success in this position, she hopes this career isn’t too long. “When I started this position, my supervisor asked me during the interview, ‘Where do you see yourself in ten years?’ I told her that in ten years I see myself working somewhere else because I will have done my job well and puppy mills will no longer exist in this country.”