The headlines scream, 600 dogs rescued, 80% are pregnant. And I’m appalled. Totally appalled. Mostly because I know how much work 100 dogs is. We used to have about that many when I worked in the animal shelter. It meant 4-6 hours every day washing down pens in all kinds of weathers. I can’t imagine having 300 dogs each at a home, which apparently these ladies did. OK, so all the dogs are toy size, doesn’t matter, that’s a lot of poop.
And apparently they didn’t even clean that up. They found 80 dogs in small crates and pens in a converted attic, covered in urine and feces. The Snohomish county auditor said that the smell of urine permeated the building. I don’t doubt it. Dogs were crammed in crates and pens. Some were sick and dead. All were matted. It’s hard enough taking good care of one dog, much less a whole bunch of pregnant bitches.
And more puppies are already coming at the already overcrowded animal shelters the dogs were taken to. Even at a conservative litter size of three puppies, the population will double very quickly. Puppies need a lot of things, warmth, milk from mom, socializing. Can you imagine how much work that is? And mom needs good food to be able to feed the pups and have them grow strong. You just know in an operation like this that that wasn’t high on the agenda. My bet is the pups were weaned early and sold when they were too young, too. How else are you going to make money with this size of operation?
I’m just sick, and the dogs are sick. They were covered in fleas, had open wounds, and god knows what else. The situation is overwhelming animal control in both Skagit and Snohomish counties, as the veterinary bills rise. The Everett animal shelter is asking for donations.
The last puppy mill case in Washington was 12 years ago, and involved 200 dogs. They were much larger dogs, golden retrievers, English bulldogs and mastiffs. There were attempts to get the USDA to hold breeders to the licensing and inspection requirements of the Animal Welfare Act. Apparently that went nowhere. The state also tried to pass a law regulating so-called “puppy mills” (Warning: eye-rolling pun alert in that link. Where the hell was the editor?) Apparently that went nowhere, too. With a $5 billion state budget deficit, I don’t imagine we will get legislation on this issue this year, either.
I love dogs, I really do. But I wonder how they are going to find homes for 1200-1500 dogs, (by the time all the puppies are born). It wasn’t easy 30 years ago when I worked in the animal shelter. I put down animals that I knew would make somebody a good pet. But nobody wanted them. These dogs may have a chance because of the “oh, how cute” factor involved with toy sized dogs. But I would warn prospective adoptors that these dogs may have health problems all of their lives because of living in these conditions.
OK, I’ll get off my high horse now, and go be sick about man’s inhumanity to their best friend. But they’d probably better not let me near the owners of those puppy mills.