Peeling Back Yet More Layers

huffpost-screen-shotIn 2016, I published the book The Dog Merchants: Inside the Big Business of Breeders, Pet Stores, and Rescuers. A person who read that book was keenly interested in Chapter One, which took readers inside America’s biggest legal dog auction and showed that not just breeders, but also nonprofit rescuers are regularly doing business there. About 18 months after I first spoke with that person, in April 2018, I published the article “Dog Fight” on the Sunday front page of The Washington Post. It documented, for the first time in American history, a multimillion-dollar river of cash running through dozens of rescue nonprofits and into the pockets of the very breeders they decry as “puppy mills.”

Now, there’s another layer. A person who read the article “Dog Fight” reached out to me about six months ago and essentially said, “But wait, there’s more.” Today, my latest story about what’s really going on behind the scenes of America’s dog industry came online. It’s my first-ever piece for HuffPost, titled “When ‘Puppy Mill Rescue’ Blurs the Line Between Saving and Selling Dogs.”

The new story alone is based on interviews with nearly 40 people (including more than a dozen current and former staffers, volunteers and directors from the multimillion-dollar nonprofit rescue that is the focus); the rescue group’s inspection reports going back to early 2017; a slew of documents, photos and videos from inside the nonprofit; and more than 7,500 documents received through open-records requests in seven states where the nonprofit sources dogs and puppies.

To the best of my knowledge, this new story is the deepest-dive investigation ever taken by any journalist into the business model known all across America today as “puppy mill rescue.” And it’s eye-opening, in quite a few ways.

I wonder who will read it and reach out to me with more information next.

28 Comments on “Peeling Back Yet More Layers

  1. My comment is that I have a dog from National Mill Dog rescue that would not be alive today but for NMDR. He was rescued from a puppy mill, who after 8 years of breeding him would have euthanized him if NMDR would not have taken him. He was shy and terrified when we got him–and still is very very timid of people, noises and new things even after almost 3 years at a loving home. It is apparent that the writer has never been to NMDR and not seen what they do.

    • Hi Amy, thanks for your comment. And you’re right: I unfortunately have never been to National Mill Dog Rescue. I offered to go while reporting this article, as did another HuffPost team member. Theresa Strader, the nonprofit’s founder and CEO, would not allow us inside.

      • And why would they? It’s hard to believe you’re not in the pockets of the breeders or their lobbyists. Are you on Richard Berman’s payroll? We’ve been involved in rescue of dogs from commercial breeders for the past 7 years, and find your article unconscionable. The conditions allowed in commercial operations by the AWA are abysmal to say the least. And even those shoddy requirements aren’t enforced. Dogs we see that are fortunate enough to be rescued from commercial breeders are most often un-socialized, suffer from lack of preventative veterinary care (requiring treatment for dental disease, mammary tumors, untreated eye and ear infections, and paw damage from living on wire floors). The thought of confining “man’s best” friend to cages year after year for the sole purpose of making a profit from their breeding is disgusting. And you chose to highlight the failings of the rescuers, rather than those who exploit innocent animals for profit. Shame on you.

      • Hi Fran, thanks for your comment.

        Perhaps the breeders where you get dogs are not the same kind where National Mill Dog Rescue gets its dogs, given the documentation that clearly shows the majority of dogs entering the National Mill program do not have the types of problems you’ve described. In fact, a followup article published just this week cites state-investigation documents showing that in some cases, National Mill doesn’t even know the names of people supplying their dogs, let alone whether those people are even breeders at all.

        Nobody, including me, defends dogs being treated badly. This particular article is about the business practices of a multimillion-dollar nonprofit rescue, which the State of Colorado has since put on probation and slapped with the biggest fine the regulatory agency’s director can recall ever being levied for repeated, direct violations of animal-welfare laws.

        People dealing in dogs while failing to follow animal-welfare laws is newsworthy, no matter whether those people are breeders or rescuers. If you truly do care about the welfare of dogs, then I would hope you’d agree all types of wrongdoing should be exposed. That’s what journalists like me do.

  2. Hi Kim, excellent article! I would like to speak to you about another issue in the underground dog world as I call it and that is in regards to animal hoarding and hoarders with 501 c 3.status. I have been following a few cases for the last couple of years and it seems to be a nationwide problem. Myself and many advocates have contacted local officials clear on up to the top to include the attorney general’s office and department of Agriculture in regards to one in Kentucky and nobody seems to care. I care! We need national attention.

    • Please see the contact button on this website. That’s where to find me. Thanks!

  3. I don’t see a Reply button for your response to my comment, so I’ll reply here. NMDR generally gets their dogs from commercial breeders. The groups I volunteer for generally get their dogs from commercial breeders. There have been times they’ve gotten them from auctions to prevent old worn out dogs from being put back into breeding service. Or disabled puppies from being put into breeding service. Imagine a three legged female puppy being kept in a cage to be bred year after year starting with her first heat. (Actually I recall NMDR at one time rescuing a two legged female that had been used for years for breeding.) I don’t care where NMDR gets their dogs. If it’s from bunchers who would otherwise sell them to research establishments, more power to them. If it’s from shelters that are overcrowded and would otherwise have to euthanize the dogs, more power to them. If it’s from local rescues that are overwhelmed, more power to them. If it’s from someone who hasn’t gotten the spay/neuter message and has ended up with 40 dogs in their home, more power to them. What exactly are the circumstances you object to? If a $15,000 fine is the largest levied by the state agency, then the state agency is not doing their job. There has been at least one hideous breeder in Colorado, and I suspect more. Has the state not seen fit to fine them? One of my dogs came from a Kansas breeder. The state and USDA saw fit to slap her hands and make her give up most of her dogs (because some of her paperwork was fraudulent!). The dogs in her possession, including my darling Nellie, were in pitiful condition. Half of the dogs taken from the breeder were put to sleep immediately by the state because of the condition they were in. None of the ones rescued with Nellie had any socialization and were beyond fearful. It took weeks to get her to come out of a corner. She was too afraid to even eat if anyone was in the room. And the breeder wasn’t fined a single penny for her disgusting practices. I don’t resent one bit of the money decent rescues bring in. NMDR does better than most, but they have provided an important service in bringing attention to the practice of breeding dogs merely for profit. Just imagine a puppy being caged for 8 years. Whether the cage is rusty, whether it has clean food, whether it is ever groomed, whether it ever sees a vet, whether it’s subjected to temperature extremes – it’s still in a cage, most likely never touching grass or being inside a home. Have you read the AWA to see what is allowed in commercial breeding facilities?
    You’ve done a great disservice to the rescue community with your articles. It may make you a star in some circles, but I think it’s at best naive and at worst damaging to people who are actually trying to make lives better for innocent animals. If you need to do an expose – how about researching the AWA and the shoddy breeding practices it allows. How about looking into a puppy’s life from birth in a commercial facility, to transport to a pet store or internet buyer, to conditions in pet stores, to buyers it’s given to only because they have a credit card or have enough credit to be able to finance the puppy. You’ll see far worse circumstances than any reported at NMDR.

  4. Actually, the Colorado official spoke to your concerns. He said that in that state, it’s rescuers, not breeders or pet stores, who have become the bulk of the animal-welfare problem. As we reported:

    “Fisher suggested that some of the so-called rescue organizations are really just ‘dog flipping’ as a way to make quick cash ― he exempted National Mill from that particular criticism ― and that regulations have not kept pace with the evolution of the marketplace. ‘What we see with a lot of these rescue groups is that it’s an easy way to make money,’ he said. ‘You throw up a website, you’re in business, you go to another state and get dogs, and you adopt them out. They don’t have to put a lot of money into them if they get them from a shelter … that just gives them a dog, and then here, they adopt them out for a $400 or $500 fee.’ Part of the problem is the halo effect around dog rescue, he added. ‘Rescues and shelters have such a positive connotation that everybody should get their dogs there,’ Fisher said, ‘but a lot of the stuff we see happening with these rescues and shelters is pretty bad. Our hope is that other rescue groups look at what happened to National Mill Dog and say, ‘Well, I better get my act together, because if I don’t and somebody files a complaint on me, I’m going to be in trouble.’”

    So, you’re entitled to your opinions, and of course to your personal experiences, but I will make no apologies for reporting about any organization (especially a multimillion-dollar one) that repeatedly violates animal-welfare laws and is seen by a top official as part of a far larger problem for the dogs.

    Anyone who cares about the welfare of dogs should want wrongdoing exposed wherever it’s happening. Demanding that journalists only write about animal-welfare laws when breeders violate them is not a defensible position.

    • Your “top official” exempted National Mill Dog from “dog flipping” rescues. Read his quote. Yet you wrote about them as if they were flippers. That’s contradictory to what he said. (And, by the way, if he believes NMDR is the problem and the breeders aren’t, he’s maybe in the wrong profession.) Your article was a hit piece on NMDR. Not the fake rescuers he referred to. And you apparently don’t see the difference.

      NMDR files 990’s every year. You can see their income and expense. You can see the compensation of their principals. They bring in millions and they spend millions. I’d rather see them spend every last cent rescuing more dogs from puppy mills (and IMO all commercial breeders are puppy mills), but if that’s not their financial model at least they’re contributing to the rescue of a huge number of dogs. Before organizations like NMDR, breeders used home euthanasia, including putting no-longer-producing dogs in plastic bags and dumping them in water. Or shooting them in the head. At least NMDR and the other mill dog rescuers have provided an outlet for discarded dogs so they have a chance for a decent life after the mills.

      Before they get to a position even close to break-even, real mill dog rescuers like NMDR invest an enormous amount of resources in saving dogs – sacrificing more than any of us desk jockies would ever consider. If they’re able to get to a point they can begin living like normal human beings and still rescue dogs, seems to me they deserve it.

      The mill dog rescuers I know all work thru intermediaries. The breeders don’t want them on their properties – seeing and filming the conditions dogs are kept in – so they have to work thru intermediaries. One mill dog rescuer has stopped rescuing dogs from places like Arkansas because just about every discarded breeder dog from there has heartworm. They get buried under vet bills that are impossible to cover with adoption fees. I expect there are many breeders who will not surrender dogs to NMDR, because NMDR has been outspoken about their practices. Other mill dog rescuers have toned down their opinions about breeders because they want to keep the pipeline open for discarded dogs, so the breeders aren’t once again destroying the non-productive ones in the most expedient way.

      You’re picking on the good guys. NMDR may not be perfect, but they are the good guys. I didn’t see one fact in your article that made me believe otherwise. How you could even consider them the problem, and give breeders a pass, is Twilight Zone material for me.

      Pick out some large scale breeders. I’ll send you a list of some that supply pet stores in Colorado. Ask to visit their operations to see for yourself the dogs who live in cages for 7, 8, 10 years. I doubt any will let you in, but if they do, at least you could compare the value they offer the world and it’s innocent canine inhabitants, to the value NMDR and the other legitimate mill dog rescues offer.

      • You’re entitled to your personal opinions, Fran.

        Though it’s true, your opinions are contradicted by eight months of investigations at multiple state agencies, an order of license prohibition because of interstate dog trafficking and other animal-welfare violations, a cease-and-desist order for practicing veterinary medicine without a license, my own interviews with nearly 40 people as well as more than 7,500 documents obtained from open-records requests in seven states.

        But you are entitled to your personal opinions.

        Best of luck to you.

  5. My opinions are based on the reality of puppy mill rescue as I’ve experienced it personally. Having been an auditor, I know you can make anyone look bad if you dig enough and you can use language to exaggerate findings to suit your premise. Question is: should the failings you unearth be shared with the world, or should the organization under investigation be given the opportunity to correct their failings without public shaming? Might not pay your rent, but the latter is often the ethical thing to do.

    You make it sound as if NMDR’s violations involved cruelty to animals. None that you cited involved cruelty to animals, nor could their actions even come close to the cruelty imposed by commercial dog farming. NMDR apparently needed some housecleaning, but in the scheme of things they’re still the good guys.

    “Interstate dog trafficking”, “animal-welfare violations”, “practicing veterinary medicine without a license”. These all sound like such serious infractions, but if you look at the actual practices cited in your article, they’re not that serious. There are rescues who use donations for personal purposes while neglecting and even abusing dogs. That’s not the case here. Those are the rescues that deserve public shaming. Not NMDR.

    My opinion here is that you’re not looking at the big picture, and it’s a shame to dig until you find dirt on an organization whose mission is saving animals, while giving a pass to the real culprits. Please take the challenge and look closely at the breeders and at the dogs they discard. Then decide who should be publicly shamed. Commercial dog breeding is the real tragedy here and worth as much scrutiny as possible.

    Shalom.

    • Again, you’re entitled to your personal opinions, and you’re entitled to give rescuers a pass because you believe they mean well.

      The officials from multiple state agencies disagree with your opinion of what constitutes a serious violation of animal-welfare law, and I disagree with your opinion of what is newsworthy.

      • One more (long) point and I’ll leave you alone. I said above that NMDR rescued a two legged dog that had been bred for years. That wasn’t accurate. The dog (Ziva) actually had her back legs – she just didn’t have back feet. Chewed off by her mother shortly after birth. Most likely because the mother was an inexperienced 6 month old puppy herself, when she was put into breeding service at her first heat in a stressful kennel environment. You can see Ziva’s picture in the article: https://nmdr.org/five-days-of-freedom-a-tribute-to-ziva/. Imagine how uncomfortable even the mating process was for Ziva. Imagine what it was like for her to drag herself around in her kennel with a belly full of puppies twice a year for five years. Whether the kennel floor was concrete, wire, or dirt, she had to suffer. Heartworm killed her before she had a chance at a decent life. Heartworm can be easily prevented, but breeders don’t bother. And you and “officials from multiple state agencies” apparently think NMDR’s procedural infractions are more grievous than what breeders do each and every day to their dogs. The claim that commercial breeders offer a home like environment to their breeder dogs is nonsensical. I’ve seen enough of their cast-off dogs to know better. If you chose to not pursue the truth about breeders, so be it. As I said before though, it’s a shame you had to sensationalize NMDR’s infractions, while ignoring those of the people who do the real harm.

        Here’s a partial list of breeders who supply Colorado pet stores. Go check some out. See the reality of dog farming. Then decide for yourself who is the greater evil, and who really needs to be exposed.

        Becky and Sam Mosshart, SBM Kennels. Protection, Kansas- 211 adult breeding dogs (down from 357), 150 puppies . Mosshart is an opponent of a new Kansas law regulating rescues and breeders. She doesn’t want surprise inspections. She also has a long list of violations including: Dogs standing on hard wire flooring, standing water in outdoor kennels (spilled), excessive flies, kennels so rusted there are holes, beetles crawling through food dishes, food bowls have excessive grime/oil buildup, dogs couldn’t access food and water without walking through excessive feces.
        Brian Warren, Crittersville Enterprises LLC. Culbertson, Nebraska- Large scale Dog Broker out of Nebraska. They have previously sold puppies with parvo to pet stores.
        Angie and Casey Schaff, Nebraskaland Pets (AKA Big Red Country Kennel). Atkinson, Nebraska- 202 adult breeding dogs, 185 puppies.
        Lorilee Thomas, Whiting, Kansas. Lorilee Thomas, Puppies Extraordinaire. Whiting, Kansas- 642 adult breeding dogs and 288 puppies with a history of violations including: dogs with hair loss, wires poking into kennels, excessively long toe nails, evidence of mice, etc.
        Sharon Monk, BJ’s & Guys. Menlo, Kansas- 759 adult breeding dogs, 453 puppies. Not only are they a very large scale puppy mill, but they have a history of violations including too many dogs in cages, and structurally unsound cages. They were also named one of the worst puppy mills in the entire country .
        Devaron and Robert Zimmerman, Zimmor Kennel. Sterling, Kansas- 74 adult breeding dogs.
        Sharon Curless, English Sage LLC (AKA Ruff Pine Kennel). Pine Buffs, Wyoming- has been named one of the worst puppy mills in the country for failing to provide veterinary care to sick and injured dogs, and Curless also received an official USDA warning due to her violations.
        Becky Busboom, Dannebrog, Nebraska. Dog Broker with a history of violations, including using pig medications on puppies.
        Milton Lewis, Rock Hill Dog Ranch. Newport Nebraska- Lewis was named one of the worst puppy mills in the country due to their long list of violations including: dogs with legs torn off; sick and injured dogs; admittedly euthanizing dogs and puppies instead of sending to rescue (including dogs who only had burrs stuck in their fur); and young puppies without their mothers.
        AG Beukelman, J Michaels Kennels. Sioux Center, Iowa- 95 adult breeding dogs, with a history of violations including: excessively rusted cages, wires broken and poking into kennels, build up of dirt/grime, excessively chewed bowls, dogs with untreated eye problems, and dead mice found floating in dogs’ drinking water. Although Beukelman is a veterinarian himself, he is known as one of the worst puppy mills in the country.
        Judy and Steve Thiesse, TZ Kennel. Mitchell, South Dakota- 21 adult breeding dogs with a history of violations including: Rusted wire and tin poking into dog kennels and run areas.
        Laurel and Barbara Gilbertson, Broken Bow Nebraska- unable to access current dog count. However, the Gilbertson’s were named one of the worst puppy mills in the country because of their severe violations and received an official warning from the USDA.
        Roxanne Castens. Ludell, Kansas- 33 adult breeding dogs with a history of violations including: dogs so thin you could see hips and spine, giving dogs “cocktail” of medications without directions from a vet, and for not having an adequate veterinary program . Castens received a fine from the USDA for not allowing an inspector on the property. Castens was also named one of the worst puppy mills in 2015 and 2014.
        Shelli Kershner, Walnut Creek Kennel. Rush, Center Kansas- 171 adult breeding dogs (down from 201 adults) with 96 puppies on the property. Kershner has a long history of violations including: missing inspections, failure to provide adequate veterinary care, failure to provide safe housing for dogs, dogs with eyes crusted shut, dogs with excessively long toenails, and dogs with dental disease. Kershner was given an Official Warning from the USDA and was named one of the worst puppy mills in the country.

        From what I can see, there are also around 22 licensed puppy mills in Colorado, including (at the most recent count available to me) one with over 150 breeder dogs, and one with over 200. That ought to be fertile ground for investigation as well.

        The monsters above will hopefully discard their used-up dogs to rescues like NMDR. It’s only at that point, the dogs can begin to heal and have a decent life. Too bad you’ve chosen to attack the ones saving them, rather than the ones using and abusing them.

  6. Again, you’re entitled to your personal opinions.

    I do think it’s telling that you are upset about an article that exposed years’ worth of animal-welfare violations, simply because the organization named on those inspection reports (and an order placing the group’s license to operate on probation, and a cease-and-desist order against the executive director for practicing veterinary medicine without a license) happened to be a nonprofit rescue.

    But you’re entitled to your personal opinions.

    • Animal welfare violations. Animal welfare violations are what you see at the hands of the breeders. Did you not read the list? I could supply many more. These are not made up. They’re fact. NMDR committed procedural violations. What the breeders commit aren’t procedural violations. They’re true animal welfare violations that cause repeated harm to helpless dogs. No where in your articles did I see NMDR doing anything to cause harm to helpless dogs for the sake of profit. There is a non-profit rescue in our community I reported to authorities because of their unrepentant neglect of animals. I had no hesitation in doing that. NMDR is not the same situation, and I’m not sure why you aren’t getting that.

      • Hi Fran –

        The dog with her back legs chewed off was Ziva, a Keeshond. She was never bred. Ziva was truly a tragic story. She was tested for heartworm and was carrying a very heavy load. Five days after she arrived at NMDR, a volunteer found Ziva dead in her cage. She had not yet started heartworm treatment and was not medically fostered. NMDR continues to do business with Ziva’s breeder.

        That’s the rest of the story. And yes, I have emails to back that up.

  7. Again, you’re entitled to your opinions. They differ from the facts. Among the violations in the National Mill case, as we reported, were dogs being “severely injured,” according to the State of Colorado, while in National Mill’s care.

    • “Severely injured” – referring to a dog fight right? That could happen in my home. It could happen in any multi-dog home or kennel. It happened last year in the home of a great foster provider for another national puppy mill rescue and a dog died.

      THIS ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?reload=9&v=11oB85ncFuo&fbclid=IwAR0BxesbWJN9aki82oQyEOekl8xZecyVqvFWC3__hXNPwyRfWrAkm-BCtB8 ) is the difference between breeders and rescues. And “Pete” is right – he was instrumental in taking down one broker/breeder, but there are too many more out there. And you chose to go after a rescue. I have a hard time understanding your motivation. Please watch it to the end, to see the difference between those (breeder/brokers) who do more harm than good, and those (rescues like NMDR) who do more good than harm.

      • Again, you’re entitled to your opinions that animal-welfare laws should only apply to certain people, and that the media should only report serious violations when breeders commit them.

        Luckily for the dogs, people with the ability to enforce the law and report violations to the public do not share your bias.

  8. I give up. You appear to be unwilling to see the difference. You can’t possibly watch the documentary and equate NMDR with broker/breeders like CC Baird (and too many others like him). You just can’t. Leaves me to believe you must be working on behalf of breeders or their lobbyists, which is what I suspected initially.

    • It’s unfortunate that we live in an age when people who disagree with reported, accurate facts (substantiated by multiple state investigations) accuse the reporters of bias simply for reporting the truth. Hopefully, our society will return to rationality and civility soon.

      • It’s called spin. I read your other article regarding puppy mills – puppy mills which we are to believe are not so bad after all because, shucks, if only someone had told them earlier their behavior was unacceptable they would have changed. And that based on research funded at least in part by guess who – oh yeah, the breeders themselves. So, you haven’t denied being paid by breeders or the groups that lobby for them, and I have to take from that you probably are. Our society will return to rationality and civility as soon as integrity returns to print and honest, unbiased reporting becomes mainstream. The readers aren’t the problem.

      • So, just to set the record straight: I didn’t write anything regarding my personal opinion about breeding kennels of any kind. I wrote a story about years’ worth of research into dog breeding by a team at Purdue University. The sources of their funding were clearly stated in the article as well; none of them were breeders. (People can read the story for themselves here: https://leapsmag.com/puppy-mills-are-not-all-as-bad-as-we-think-pioneering-research-suggests/)

        As to my personal integrity, again, I always appreciate when people attack it, accuse me of taking bribes, call me names, and generally act with a complete lack of civility and rationality. Anyone who continues to attack the messenger that hard knows the facts I’ve reported are right on the money. Thank you for that compliment on my work.

  9. There you go: the best defense is a good offense. Learned that early on in my career. Generally used by people who took shortcuts or had something to hide.

    If PIJAC isn’t a breeder mouthpiece, I don’t know who is. “PIJAC is a nonprofit industry group that . . . lobbies against initiatives that seek to curtail the sale and availability of pets.” “PIJAC members include . . . companion animal suppliers . . . and other trade organizations.”

    Typical positions: > https://pijac.org/press/pijac-statement-humane-societys-2019-horrible-hundred-report > https://pijac.org/press/leading-companion-animal-advocacy-group-condemns-misleading-rescue-shelter-practices

    They meddle in legislative attempts to protect animals: > “Some legislation can be detrimental to pet ownership. Excessive licensing fees for breeders or pet owners can make pet ownership more expensive and potentially prohibitive. Pet sale bans and limits on the types of pets people may own can cripple legitimate businesses and foster an underground, unregulated market for pets in the future. PIJAC is the national watchdog organization that addresses these issues . . .”

    They are hiding behind feel-good self-promotion in the same way Humane Watch is. Who knows maybe Berman is behind PIJAC too.

    • Once again, I’m forced to point out that your personal opinions differ from the actual facts. PIJAC does not represent breeders. It primarily represents pet stores and their suppliers, as even a cursory look at its Board of Directors makes clear.

  10. Then why is PIJAC working so hard to support breeders? It would be bad PR for them to make breeders their public face. If they’re trying to convince people their goals are in the best interest of dogs, that portion of their membership has to stay in the background. Please look at what they do, and not what they say.

    And let’s suppose it is pet stores and not breeders that make up their membership. How is that any better? If you want an interesting story, go into some pet stores and pretend to be a terrible dog owner. See if it deters them in any way from selling you a puppy. Tell them you had a 14 year old Shih Tzu, but she started losing her hair and her mouth stunk, so you donated her to the pound [I worked at a shelter and people were always bringing in their no-longer-convenient-pets to “donate” to us.]. Now you want a puppy to replace her. Tell them you need a puppy that won’t bite because your kids are rough with dogs. Tell them you want one that won’t bark, because you don’t want it to disturb the neighbors when you leave it in a cage 14 hours a day while you’re gone for work and shuttling the kids around. Tell them you want one that will be a good breeder, because you’ll need to start breeding her as soon as her first heat to help with the payments on her financing. Tell them vets are a rip-off and you don’t believe in wasting money on them. Tell them you want to take the puppy to the dog park as soon as you leave the store. Pick out a puppy and ask to see its paperwork. See how much it was loaded up with meds as soon as it got off the broker’s transport. See how early it was taken from its mother. If it seems ill, see if they even care.

    There was a big ruckus when AZ overturned local pet store bans, and it made me curious about pet stores. So I went to one at a mall – owned by a family that owns all the major pet stores in our area. Very nice store with pictures in the window of puppies playing in grassy meadows. After I said all of the above things to them, they still couldn’t wait to sell me a puppy. They even offered to drive across town to one of their other stores to get a female that was a “better color” so I would have an easier time selling her puppies. I held one in the store that was clearly sick – hot to the touch, with crusty mucus on her eyes and nose. Her paperwork showed she had luxating patellas. The clerk at the store told me all puppies had them and not to worry about that. Taken from a breeder in Arkansas at 8 weeks. Given 11 different meds as soon as she arrived in Phoenix. I told them I wasn’t going to take the puppy until she was seen by a vet. It was hard to leave the poor little thing there, and all I can hope is they were motivated enough by a possible sale to get her some vet attention.

    We apparently won’t find common ground on the subject of the commercial production and sale of puppies. My opinion isn’t based on what I’ve read or been told, but on what I’ve seen the past six years with the pitiful discarded breeder dogs we’ve fostered in our home. And my opinion is that it’s a cruel and immoral industry.

  11. Another good story and one that would be a real service to rescues, shelters, the public, AND commercial breeders/distributors, would be to highlight the burgeoning backyard breeding industry now being facilitated by Craigslist and Facebook. Both those groups have rules prohibiting the sale of puppies on their sites, but Craigslist counts on the public to enforce the rules, and Facebook allows entire pages dedicated to the selling of puppies.

    There are groups organized across the country to flag such ads on Craigslist, but they can hardly keep up with the volume. I takes around 10,000 volunteers to successfully flag and bring down ads in a large metro area. For a few months, I spent 6 – 8 hours a day posting ads to be flagged in our area, and finally gave up. If we were lucky enough to get an ad removed, the seller would just repost on Craigslist or post on Facebook. Sellers were threatening and doxing flaggers. I have pictures taken from Craigslist ads of terrible conditions for puppies and their parents. The breeders apparently don’t care who sees the conditions the dogs are kept in. For a while I reported the worst to our local enforcement agency, but it was a waste of time. We had a Sheriff with a robust and dedicated Cruelty Investigation Unit, but he was voted out of office. His successor gutted the Unit down from four/five investigators to one and eliminated the tip line. Now if you want to report animal cruelty, you call the same tip line you would call if you suspected your neighbor was cooking meth in their basement. With limited resources, guess which tips will be acted on. I have screenshots of people complaining about the puppies they bought from Craigslist ads: puppies their vets say are no more than four weeks old, fake vaccination records, puppies sick with parvo, parasites, and distemper. Buyers meet in apartment parking lots to buy the puppies, so have no recourse against the sellers because they’re long gone. You can say “buyer beware”, but it’s the puppies that suffer the most. Some of the backyard breeders are local, many are bringing puppies in from Mexico. The volume of ads is enormous, and nearly every day you see posts from buyers complaining about the sick and dying puppies they’ve purchased.

    Just maybe a high profile article in Huffington Post or Washington Post would be what it takes to embarrass Craig Newmark, Mark Zuckerberg and their Boards to begin enforcing their own rules, and eliminating puppy sale ads on their sites. Without those advertising vehicles, sellers would have a much harder time selling their puppies and just maybe they would slow down the senseless breeding. Our shelters are constantly overwhelmed. Our shelters are trying their best to not kill dogs for space, but they have an impossible task. Right now, they’re giving dogs away and shipping dogs to shelters and rescues out of state to make room for the constant stream of new surrenders and strays.

    I can’t post the Craigslist pictures and screenshots here, but would like for you to see them. I’m not very techy but will try to get them on a photo sharing site. The pictures should set anyone’s hair on fire. I collected them to send to Craig Newmark, but never found an address for him that appeared to be current.

    • Again, Fran, you have made yourself clear. You want the media spotlight shined exclusively at breeders, no matter how many violations of animal-welfare law a rescue group commits. I understand your point.

      And you’re right: You will find no common ground with me there. The law applies to everyone, and it’s in the public interest to report the truth about rescuers too.

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