Papillon 911 Rescue and Adoption, Inc.
Marietta, GA 30067-7150 Haven4Paps@aol.com
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Powered by RescueGroups.org
                                                                   

                                                       One Dog at a Time                      

                                                          Kelley L. Harris

                                                              July 2005

 

Have you ever heard a dog scream? Have you ever seen a dog that was so terrified that the scream was silent? Meet Bertie, a purebred   Papillon from a puppy mill. When Papillon 911 Rescue and Adoption rescued Bertie, she was so emotionally damaged that when any human approached her, she would cower in the back of her crate and silently scream. She had spent six long years in a puppy mill.

Right now, you may be asking, "What is a puppy mill?" A puppy mill is a dog breeding facility that mass-produces puppies. The owner, or miller, usually owns a variety of breeds and sells the puppies wholesale to the pet industry. The typical puppy mill has no breeding program, which is a plan to improve the breed by only breeding dogs with excellent health and personalities. Millers have no interest in genetics, no interest in where the puppy lives the rest of its life, no interest in the health of the puppy, and no interest in socializing the puppy with people (Woolf, 2005).

Conditions in puppy mills are dreadful. According to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), some of the documented problems are over-breeding, minimal veterinary care, low quality food and shelter, overcrowded cages, lack of socialization, and unethical disposal methods. Millers breed females from their first heat cycle, usually at six months of age, until they stop producing. Papillon 911 has rescued at least one female, Abby, who delivered her last litter at the age of 11. She was already blind, extremely malnourished, and she had fused disks in her back. She raised over 20 litters of puppies in a cage.

Due to the poor quality of the food and the lack of veterinary care, most dogs rescued from mills require immediate veterinary attention. They may have tumors, diseases, injuries, or other disabilities. Their mouths are so infected they cannot eat and usually lose several teeth when their dental work is done at the veterinarian's. On average, Papillon 911 dogs over the age of three years have only half their teeth remaining (L. McLaughlin, personal communication, July 29, 2005). Bertie now has only six teeth left after her dental work was completed. She also had a fistula, or an abscess, which was a hole through the roof of her mouth and into her nasal passages. When she sneezed, she sprayed blood. One can only imagine how painful that must have been.


Many dogs rescued from puppy mills have never touched grass or walked through doorways. One rescued dog was afraid of the sound of leaves blowing and it took months before this dog was comfortable enough to go to the bathroom outside (D.J. Traversa, personal communication, July 22, 2005). These dogs do not know how to go up and down stairs. They have no idea what to do with toys. Some of these dogs walk in circles after they are released from their cages because that was all they could do for years. The cages in which they are kept are usually in a barn or other building with no heating or air conditioning. Cages are stacked on top of each other and some kennels allow the urine and feces from the top cage to fall through to the dogs below. The fumes from the urine, with no ventilation, burn and damage their eyes. Many of the dogs are afraid to change surfaces, say from carpet to linoleum or porch to grass. Sometimes these cages are so small, the dog cannot stand up in it. One of the Papillon 911 members rescued a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel from a puppy mill auction. The dog dragged his back end around for several days before he realized he could stand up and walk (J. McNees, personal communication, July 22, 2005).

Many of these dogs do not know how to eat out of a bowl. Millers feed them food on the floor of the cages. Many of the people who foster these dogs for Papillon 911 find they have to feed them on a paper plate until they become accustomed to real food and learn how to eat it out of a bowl. One dog, Joey, urinated on his food to protect it from the other dogs in the house. It took some time before he learned there would always be more food for him (M. Romyns, personal communication, July 23, 2005).

Most of these rescued dogs are terrified of human contact, as Bertie was. They did not have opportunities to interact with humans or the interaction was negative. They have to learn that human hands can bring joy and comfort, food and treats. They have to learn that not all humans are rough and that not all contact is painful.

Why do these places exist? Why does such abuse occur? Puppy mills exist because they make money. Amish farmers operate puppy mills because they cannot support their families with traditional farming methods. Although not all puppy mills are operated by the Amish, the Lancaster County, PA puppy mill industry is valued at $4 million a year according to the Prisoners of Greed informational website. The Missouri industry is valued at $40 million. Note the difference is between a county and an entire state (Puppymills, n.d.). In order to maintain their profit margin, the millers skimp on quality of food, veterinary expenses, exercise, and space.

Puppy mills are regulated by the United States Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) in accordance with the Animal Welfare Act of 1970. This law regulates dog and cat dealers as well as laboratories that purchase from them. According to the USDA's interpretation, the law covers warm-blooded animals used in research; animals in zoos, circuses, and marine parks; and animals sold wholesale. The law does not cover cold-blooded animals used in research, retail pet stores, game ranches, county fairs, or dog shows (Puppymills, n.d.). However, as of 2002, the USDA only had 96 inspectors nationwide to oversee all these facilities as well as animals transported via commercial airlines (Get the facts, 2005). There are clearly not enough inspectors to enforce the laws on each of these facilities.

            Puppy mill puppies most often end up in pet stores across the country. The Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC) states that of the 12,000 pet stores in the United States, approximately 3,700 of them sell puppies and kittens. These 3,700 pet stores sell 300,000 to 400,000 puppies each year. Remember that the miller is concerned with the bottom line, not the breeding quality. These puppies tend to be sickly or generally not what is expected of the breed in temperament or size. The consumer who purchases a puppy from a pet store is usually the person paying for the carelessness and neglect of the miller. Check the HSUS Stop Puppy Mills web site at www.stoppuppymills.com for additional firsthand accounts of sick pet store puppies.

            When puppies are not sold to the pet stores, they may be sold to research laboratories or they continue to produce for the miller. The miller may take some stock to the local auctions and sell to other millers. This is where Papillon 911 acquires most of their dogs. One eyewitness account involved a female Papillon with an injured back and the dog could not stand up. The auctioneer held the little dog up by the scruff of her neck and acknowledged that she had a "weak back but she can still have litters." Papillon 911 did not win the bidding on this dog. Another miller purchased her to continue her life of imprisonment (Morris, n.d.).

            What can be done to stop puppy mills? Here are three things you can do to help stop puppy mills. First, educate others on the harm and abuse that occurs in puppy mills. Urge other people not to buy puppies from pet stores or over the Internet. Direct them to some of the web sites mentioned here.

Second, support the Humane Society of the United States. The HSUS has been monitoring the USDA's enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act over the years and they are pushing for tougher laws and punishments. You can also write to your local government representatives to encourage them to help write tougher laws.

Third, support rescue groups that work to save and rehabilitate these dogs. Papillon 911 is only one group, dedicated to a specific breed. There are many things you can do to support these groups: fostering or temporarily caring for a rescued dog; transporting dogs from shelters to foster homes or from foster homes to permanent homes; monetary or material donations; and adoption. When you are looking for a dog, or know someone who is, encourage them to seek out rescue groups to find that special pet.

Bertie has suffered greatly in her time in a puppy mill. She endured cramped and dirty cages, litter after litter of puppies, not enough food and water, no veterinary care, serious dental problems, extreme heat and extreme cold, and no loving affection. Bertie has been in her adopted forever home for four months. She now carries her tail up in the air and has a confidence to her walk. She is comfortable playing in her backyard. She will stand still for short periods of petting now but still does not care to be picked up and held (L. Clark, personal communication, July 19, 2005). Since April 2004 through July 2005, Papillon 911 Rescue and Adoption has rescued 136 Papillons and placed 97 of them in permanent homes.

 

                                        Bertie

                                                                                                                References

 

Humane Society of the United States. (2005). Get the facts on puppy mills. Retrieved July 18, 2005, from http://www.hsus.org/pets/issues_affecting_our_pets/get_the_facts_on_puppy_mills/

 

Humane Society of the United States. (2005). Stop Puppy Mills. Retrieved July 18, 2005, from http://www.stoppuppymills.org/

 

Morris, J. (n.d.). An eyewitness account of a puppy mill auction. Papillon 911 Rescue and Adoption. Retrieved July 18, 2005, from http://www.pap911rescue.org/anews.htp

 

Papillon 911 Rescue and Adoption, www.pap911rescue.org

 

Patterson, S. (2004). What is a puppy mill? Puppymills.com. Retrieved July 18, 2005, from http://www.puppymills.com/

 

Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council, http://www.pijac.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=1

 

Puppymills Ӣ a national disgrace. (n.d.). Prisoners of Greed. Retrieved July 18, 2005, from http://www.prisonersofgreed.org/Commercial-kennel-facts.html

 

United States Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Animal Care. (n.d.). The animal welfare act. Retrieved July 18, 2005, from http://www.aphis.usda.gov/ac/info.html

 

Woolf, N. (2005). Just what is a puppy mill? Dog Owner's Guide. Retrieved July 18, 2005, from http://www.canismajor.com/dog/puppymil.html

 

                                            Page 3 Poems & Letters            



 

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