Got an email this week from Hazeljane’s Blessings, one of several rescue organizations I support. They were asking for help raising money to purchase 7 Italian Greyhounds who were being put on the auction block. The goal was to purchase all of them so that the Amish puppy mill owners would not get them. It was a chance to save 7 dogs from spending their lives in a hell hole, suffering as they produced litters of puppies for profit. As we have successfully done before, the ones we were fortunate to get were vetted and adopted into loving homes.
As few days later we learned that we were only able to save 3 of the 7 dogs. The Amish (known throughout the rescue world as the worse type of mill owners) had outbid us on the other four dogs. One, a particularly stunning young female was lost; we had been outbid by less than $100 dollars. But already at the top of our limit per dog, we could not rescue others if we went any higher. It broke our hearts to know that this little girl was going to be put in a cramped cage for the rest of her life, where she would be starved and forced to breed repeatedly until she died. Even now the tears come as I write this.
But then it occurred to me that I can do more. I can use the weekly messages as a way to get the word out; to educate those who are unfamiliar.
Puppy Mills (aka hell holes for dogs)
For those who are knew to the idea of puppy mills, a puppy mill is a place where puppies are mass produced. Except for rare instances the dogs are kept in horrible conditions. Most are put in small wire cages for their entire lives. They don’t receive adequate food or water and rarely receive medical care. Most are left out in the elements, with little or no shelter where they through driving rain, freezing snow and blazing heat.
In other mills, the dogs are kept inside barns in the dark where they rarely see the light. Their vocal cords are cut; a painful surgery done with no anesthesia, in order to lessen the noise. Many of these dogs will go insane and eat their limbs off trying to get out of the cages. And most of them will have some sort of disease ranging from worms to mange. Many will go blind from being hit in the face by a power washer, the preferred method for cleaning cages. These dogs will never know what it is like to have a full belly, their feet on solid ground or the comforting touch of a human hand.
Females are bred from their first heat at 6 to 9 months old. They are bred repeatedly until their bodies give out. Many puppies die immediately after birth because their mothers are too weak to feed or care for them.
Most of the mills use the most inhumane methods to dispose of dogs that can no longer produce sufficient litters. They either starve, electrocute, or as the Amish are fond of doing, take them out and shoot them.
What keeps these mills in business?
What keeps the mills in business is the money made from the sale of puppies in a pet store or online. The mills survive–and thrive–because people either don’t know, or don’t care about where their puppy comes from. I was once one of the uneducated. Back in the early 80s I bought a little Shih Tzu from a puppy mill in Texas. When my dog began showing signs of ill health, I was too ignorant to understand that his problems were from poor breeding practices. Today I know better.
How can we stop this abuse?
Though many are working from the political end to get legislation passed making it illegal to sell mill dogs and cats in pet stores and online, the best solution is to end the demand. Just as public awareness about the horrors of the fur trade eventually made it socially unacceptable to wear a fur coat, we work now towards the same goal for dogs.
What you can do.
If you are ready to have a dog or cat, consider adopting instead of buying. The shelters are full of dogs and cats, many who are purebred, needing a good home. Many pet stores including PetsMart and Petco both provide space for rescue groups to show adoptable dogs.
If you decide that you want to use a breeder, check them out first. Ask to see the parents and go on site to do so. Don’t trust photos provided on the internet. Many mills have resorted to selling online by disguising themselves as a family with only a few dogs. When I was looking for a pocket beagle (12” beagle) I searched online. Locating one in Texas, I asked to see the parents and was willing to drive the 9 hours to view the “farm.” Each time I tried to schedule a weekend visit, the breeder let me know he was not available. After 4 attempts I realized I was dealing with a puppy mill owner.
If you are not ready to be a dog owner, consider fostering or donating. If neither of those are an option, please educate. The next time a friend tells you they are thinking of getting a dog, ask them if they are going to shop or adopt. You may be saving a life.
In closing, ascension is more than spiritual awareness; it is also about changing systems and behaviors. How we treat those who have no voice, the children and the animals says a lot about who we are. Be a voice for those who have none.