Pet  Tips 'n' Tales
Puppy Mill Rescue
 

  Photo by Mary Ellen "Angel Scribe"
Grandma Phyllis, daughter Peggy, and granddaughter Kelby--three generations who love animals.  Tinkerbell is the newest female in their family, arriving into their lives from a Puppy Mill.  This is an educational rescue story with a happy ending that will tug at your heartstrings.

TALES

No animal enjoys or wants to live in a cage, and recent Puppy Mill raids have brought this point home.  A Pet Mill is where purebred female dogs and cats are caged, and kept pregnant delivering litter after litter, until they can no longer produce puppies or kittens or die in the process.  The operators of Pet Mills are not animal lovers; they consider puppies and kittens to be cash crops.

Yes, their puppies and kittens are adorable, but it is torture and slavery for the poor mothers, leaving them emotionally traumatized and often medically untreated.  Imagine a pet with a loving heart, receiving no human touch, kindness, or exercise.  Most of us take walking on the ground for granted, but not an animal at a Pet Mill.  They spend their life standing on a wire cage floor that hurts their feet.

The trapped dogs are afraid of water hoses. When their small cages, often stacked one on top of the other, are "cleaned," their entire cage is blasted with a high pressured stream of cold water.  There is nowhere for the dogs to escape the incoming water; it drenches and terrorizes the cowering dogs in their small wire enclosures.

Last winter, two Puppy Mills were raided and an unbelievable 400 caged, neglected and suffering dogs were rescued.  Because of someone's greed to breed dogs, the end results are enormous costs and an overwhelming burden for society and taxpayers.

Phyllis and her daughter Peggy, both avid animal lovers, watched the raids, heartbroken, from the comfort of their home.  Many of the dogs could not walk.  Their muscles had atrophied because in small cages an animal cannot complete a full walking movement.

Wanting to help, Peggy went to the receiving Humane Society shelter for an adoptable dog. Peggy found an irresistible six-year-old, four-pound Yorkshire Terrier. The dog was so thin and required surgery for a hernia, spaying, and extraction of eight rotten teeth.

The dog had known only a life of confinement, repeatedly birthing puppies, and unkind human interaction.  Her captors had "some how" cut her vocal chords.  She can no longer bark and has scarring in her throat.  These pet criminals were willing to breed the dogs but not to listen to the dogs object to their imprisonment.

The staff at the SPCA wanted Peggy to bring in her two dogs, Brio and Buddy, to see if the dogs would blend.  The staff understandably felt that this little dog had enough trauma in her life, and she did not need to be bullied by larger dogs.  Brio and Buddy instantly took to the new tiny dog, and she to them.

"We named her Tinkerbell, because her large ears stick straight up and look like fairy wings," smiles kindhearted Phyllis, who loves all pets and people.

"Brio weighs 10 pounds, more than double Tinkerbell's weight, and he is so gentle with Tinkerbell," reports Peggy.  "I rescued Brio, now a beautiful Bischon, tattered and torn, running back and forth between cars on a four-lane Seattle highway."

Peggy stopped, coaxed the dog into her vehicle, and spent time and money trying to find his guardian.  No one called, so Brio stayed.  Brio understands terror, and is very gentle to his new Tinkerbell.

"Today, as Brio lay on the floor, Tinkerbell climbed up onto him and settled down. I watched closely for Brio's reaction.  He did not move a muscle.  Buddy, our very energetic one-year-old miniature Phantom Poodle, doesn't understand why the new dog doesn't play! 
 
Sadly, she never learned, Tinkerbell never had the opportunity, space, or toys. Buddy is also very gentle with her.  It is like our dogs understand her circumstances and trauma and just as we were to them, they are willing to open their home and hearts to her," proudly states Phyllis.

Adopting a rescued animal with an uncertain past requires a special family.  Tinkerbell, at six- years old is finally being potty-trained.  She knew a home only consisting of wire; four walls, a ceiling, and floor.  She never had the option of keeping her cage or herself clean.  She is a smart dog and is educating herself by following Brio and Buddy's lead on how to act like a "real" dog.

"Surprisingly, Tinkerbell loves being cuddled.  She sits quietly, an hour at a time, cuddled safely in Kelby's arms.  Mill dogs are generally afraid of human hands because they are never handled with kindness.  The terror of human touch runs deep in Mill dogs. Tinkerbell's healing is a slow process.  It is a joy watching her come out of her little shell.  We love her sweet spirit, and luckily...we are patient." admits Phyllis.

When Phyllis and Peggy brought their new-found treasure, Tinkerbell, home, Kelby was so excited!  They immediately went out and bought Tinkerbell a little pink bed, pink collar with bling, and a pink leash.  Guess who is the most spoiled female at their home now!

When I arrived to photograph the family, all three dogs ran to the door to welcome me, barking like automatic door bells.  Phyllis told them to hush, which they did. 
 
Then little Tinkerbell, so excited to see someone new, ran back to the door. She began joyfully whisper-barking and bouncing up and down on her four little feet.  Tinkerbell kept looking at the door.  It was obvious that she was hoping someone else would walk through the door so they could all begin barking in unison again!  It was heartwarming to see her eyes sparkle as she anticipated another person arriving to add to the excitement.  Tinkerbell is now one happy dog!  And it is a joy to behold!
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TIPS

After years of abuse, Tinkerbell is one of the few lucky ones to emerge alive from an inhumane breeding system and into a caring home.

Don't think Pet Mills are only operating in other cities; keep your eyes open in your own neighborhoods.  They are often crammed in backyards, garages, or bedrooms.

Twenty-five percent of all available animals, of all breeds, are at Humane Shelters; adopting  one financially supports the Society's good works for other animals in your community, it saves a life, and stops the proliferation of Puppy Mills.

"Often animals purchased at pet stores, over the Internet, and through newspapers are sickly, and cost the owner more than the original purchase price.

Animal Control Agencies and Humane Societies receive complaints from people who purchase their pets with no idea that they are Puppy Mill offspring.  Irresponsible pet stores who deal with Puppy Mills, and the Mill owners, are responsible for huge financial burdens for good citizens who unknowingly purchased the "cute little face in the window" not realizing they were buying diseased and genetic disasters.

Once the health issues show up, the new owners and their veterinarians have some difficult decisions to make.  "Most often it is with heartbreak and tears," emphasizes Janetta Overholser, President of the Humane Society of Cottage Grove. "Before spending good money on a pet to love, read the Humane Society's Pet Buyers Guide.  Don't unknowingly support a puppy or kitten mill!"   

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Mary Ellen and Miss Wings
Tips 'n' Tales Newspaper Columnist , Mary Ellen with Miss Wings
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