Papillon 911 Rescue and Adoption, Inc.
Marietta, GA 30067-7150 Haven4Paps@aol.com
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It was still sleeting on March 9, 2006, when the woman who we call the "Back Roads Lady" trudged through the mud to the back door of the vet's office. That day she had picked up several dogs from the farms known as puppy mills and among them were 9 Papillons for our rescue group, Papillon 911 Rescue and Adoption. These dogs were "culls" - throw away dogs that for one reason or another would have been starved to death or killed because they were no long deemed profitable. This is the story of just one of those dogs.
Papillon 911 Rescue and Adoption, Inc, formed in early April, 2004, with the specific mission of reaching out to save the breeding stock used in puppy mills. The founders vowed openly that these so called "forgotten butterflies" would not remain in wire crates and barrels. Every opportunity would be used to get these dogs to safety, restore their health and place them in loving homes.
With this goal in mind, a fortunate contact was made with a veterinarian in the heart of the Ozarks in MO. Dr. Goode (not her real name) was very happy to hear from us and joined us in the first steps of the rehabilitation process. All our incoming dogs from that area would go through her to be cleared before sending across the country to foster homes.
The first year, Pap 911 Rescue mostly bought dogs auctioned off to the highest bidder in the rural outposts of MO. In order to break the chain of abuse and neglect, we tried to win the bid on any Papillon headed for worse mills than they were leaving. Our focus was the older females who were destined to breed over and over again until they died. Toward the end of 2004, we met the woman who was to become the Back Roads Lady. Preferring that her name not become public, she quietly drives from farm to farm, chatting with the farmers wives and sharing morning coffee. In this manner, she began to introduce them to the idea of giving her the dogs that were not profitable to keep and feed. She found that many times, these country farming women were relieved to pass their old stock to someone else. They had learned from past experience that involvement with rescue groups could cause problems. Over zealous in efforts to close down puppy mills, some groups had been eager to take the dogs and then call in the authorities with charges of neglect. But this friendly non-demanding woman showed them that she could be trusted to keep their identity quiet and still relieve them of their problem animals.
By March, 2006, the Back Roads Lady was bringing in Papillons along with lots of other breeds. On this day, she had 7 females and 2 older males. Each had their own story, but generally they just were not earning their keep and had to go. Out of the 7 females, unknown to anyone, the millers had given up 2 females that were pregnant. They had given away their cash crop!
Papillon puppies only weigh a few ounces at birth, so even though the vet had checked all the Paps and run the necessary blood work, it can as a big surprise when Lydia, a scrawny undernourished female, gave birth to one tiny ball of fur. In celebration of the Irish holiday, the 4 ounce boy was named Patrick. 
Lydia and Patrick spent the first 5 weeks in the bedroom at Dr. Goode's house. Then a Pap 911 volunteer drove to MO and picked them up and delivered them to a foster home in W VA. Over the next 2-3 months, Patrick developed like a normal puppy, except that he got a frequent cough that would turn into pneumonia. His foster Mom noticed that his gait was stiff and sometimes awkward, but he seemed to be happy and growing just as expected, until he was 4 months old. All of a sudden, Patrick suddenly could not use his back legs.
Testing a the local vet's office indicated probable spinal problems and Patrick and his foster family soon made a trip to the specialists at the University of VA. The news was not good. Patrick suffers from a condition called hemivertebrae which is a marker for something even deeper going on like a malformation of the spinal cord. Since Patrick also has some difficulty directing his front legs as well, the malformation is probably in the neck area. Relieving this problem may not be something that can be done in veterinary surgery.
Saddened, Patrick's family has returned home. In less than three days, he has developed another case of pneumonia. It is probable that the muscles in the chest wall do not work well either, so he cannot expand his chest properly when he breathes and therefore does not clear mucus from his lungs.
Patrick's prognosis is not good. He is guaranteed a loving home and the best care available in the Papillon 911 Rescue family. But what if he had been sent out with other 5 week old puppies to end up in a pet shop across the country? Someone would have taken him home with the expectation that he would be a healthy loving companion for 15 to 18 years. All of a sudden they would be faced with all the suffering and insurmountable bills of a chronically ill puppy.
Hemivertebrae and the associated spinal cord abnormalities are thought to result from an underlying genetic problem/defect and an unusual maternal stress which occurred very early in pregnancy when the spine and the spinal column are formed. Puppy mills designed to churn out puppies with little to no regard for their future health feed puppies to pet stores across the nation.
Papillon 911 Rescue has other examples of the product that is sold to the public at exorbitant prices including hydrocephalus and epileptic seizures. Our goal is to educate the public to find their family pets and loving companions only through reputable breeders or to encourage them to save a life through rescue.
Patrick today:

 

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