This past weekend while I was in Missouri I learned a lot about an industry in our country that I knew existed, but never had actually come in direct contact with it. Until now. I have to admit that I had no idea when I went searching on the Internet for a tiny Yorkshire Terrier for my mother that I would end up five days later here.
It seems that Missouri is the "puppy mill" capital of the United States. Now perhaps it is lack of funding, perhaps it is lack of caring by government officials, but there are laws in place to protect these dogs. Missouri passed important legislation in November 2010 that would have cracked down even further on these types of breeders. I was back in the woods on a dirt road with pot holes as big as my SUV and no way to turn around, I drove through three creek beds to get to this property. I was never warned about these conditions by this "breeder" and I used that term loosely here. This was nothing that it seemed on the outside. I did end up getting Bria aka by the puppy mill as "Ziggy", and thank god I did. This dog is 2.5 years old and weighs in at 4.2 pounds she is a tiny Yorkie. Some in the marketplace call these dogs TCups. Although that is not a recognized breed standard. In fact the AKC states that reputable breeders do not try to breed these tiny dogs as there life spans are so dramatically reduced by their tiny size. That in fact these tiny babies are flukes of normal breeding and they should never be bred. There is a huge demand for them not only by the average person but also by celebrities. Some of these dogs sell as high as $2700.
Well there are people out there who do not give a damn one iota about the dogs. They are in this for the money as I was so aptly told by the owner of this kennel. Yes they are licensed by the USDA and the MODA, but they are not being monitored at all. I was told by the US Humane Society that they have 480 dogs on this site. The poor dogs are so traumatized by living in small cages sometimes three to four in a cage. They are not socialized either with each other or people. Bria had a deer in the headlights look when I picked her up out of this playpen they had her in. The room in the house that they chose to display her was clean except for the strong dog urine smell that radiated throughout.
These puppies are being neglected and my vet said they are victims of a throw away society. Once the breeding female is used up or considered no longer valuable, they sometimes sell them as in my case with Bria or they simply kill them.
Bria did not know what grass was, she is quickly learning that she loves it however. She did not know anything, she was so frightened that first 24 hours we had her. The vet said hold her, love her, sleep with her, do not let her out of your sight. This is to instill the bond that she needs, to realize she is loved and will never again feel the cold steel of a cage on her pads, or the rub of the cage wall on her tail (where some of the hair has been worn away). He said dogs are resilient and they can recover. He told us had this been a child, they probably never would.
This kennel sells to one of the larges pet chains in Missouri. The owner is all over the posts regarding Proposition B the legislation that was passed by voters last year to crack down on the "puppy mills" within the state. She was strongly against this legislation. I found all of this after the fact. I did a search on the Kennel name and owners and found all sorts of things I did not like about them.
I have filed complaints with the Attorney Generals Office in Missouri and the USDA and the Missouri ODA. I have talked to many officials the past five days regarding this ordeal.
The sad story is there are so many animals being treated in this fashion not only in Missouri but all over this country. I am a huge animal lover. It broke my heart to see these dogs in these conditions. To know that I had left all those tiny puppies behind. I had no idea what were in the barns on the property until I got back home. The US Humane Society Rep told me about this woman and her operation. The number of dogs she has on site.
I just want everyone to be wary of ads on the Internet. Research the owners or "breeders" before you purchase. I am sick that I put $200 into the hands of these horrible people. Who have been in business for 23 years.
Until we the American people stand up and say this is wrong and we need to stop it. Then make certain the agency in charge is doing their jobs in enforcement of the law. The "puppy mill" problem will never be corrected.
I truly thought I was rescuing a dog when I drove 6 hours to get Bria! I did in the end, am so grateful to have her she is already snapping out of her odd behaviors. My golden retriever Max is already winning her over. I know that they will be best buddies.
Mom has spent the week with us, to help Bria assimilate better to people. She will go home this weekend. I am tired it has been a long week, with emails and phone calls and complaints. I have learned almost too much about these awful operations. I had to vent!
Maybe my voice will do some good!
"Happy Friday" everyone