Sadly, Oprah's beloved cocker spaniel Sophie died on March 10, 2008. "Sophie gave me 13 years of pure unconditional love," Oprah says. "She was a true love in my life. In fact, she's been one of the greatest reasons for me to be a kinder, gentler person."
Watch a tribute to Sophie.
Just before Sophie passed away, Oprah—and thousands of drivers—saw a billboard just off the Kennedy Expressway in Chicago that read, "Oprah: Do a show on puppy mills. The dogs need you."
The man behind the billboard is Bill Smith, founder of Main Line Animal Rescue. Every year, Bill and several volunteers rescue hundreds of abused, unwanted or abandoned animals, rehabilitate them and adopt them out to families. Many of the animals Bill rescues come from puppy mills, which he describes as places where bad breeders care more about the profit they make from puppies than the health or welfare of the animals. He says the dogs in puppy mills face deplorable conditions including inbreeding, minimal or no vet care, limited shelter and overcrowded cages.
"We were so frustrated ... and no one seemed to be helping them," Bill tells Oprah. "I know that you're a huge animal lover. I just thought that you would be able to spread the word and educate a lot of people."
The billboard certainly worked. "It is my belief that when you actually see this, America, with your own eyes," Oprah says, "that you are not going stand for it."