How Do You Put a Price on Life?
In light of a recent article published by the Washington Post many rescue organizations that buy dogs at dog auctions are facing backlash from the public. Let's address a few things.
Please don't judge. If you have not been there, witnessed the sights, the smells and the sounds for yourself, please do not judge anyone who has been. Those rescuers who can walk into a situation, knowing they cannot possibly save them all, knowing that when they leave there, there will also be dogs leaving the same as them, but most of those dogs will never see the light of day again. And they can't do a damn thing about it but save as many as possible within a short time, with the limited funds that they broke their backs to raise, the limited space they have back home and the limited resources. Those rescuers are heroes. They wear invisible capes daily. From sun up to sun down, daily they do nothing but work hard for the dogs. It's all for the dogs. You as onlookers, supporters, and the public cannot possibly imagine, because it is still hard for me to imagine after each time being there, three hundred dogs stacked on top of each other in small wire cages, in a small metal building, cowering in the corners because a bunch of strange people are wondering around them, looking them up and down, talking about how well they will produce and how much money they can make off of them. You know who you should be judging? The people that are walking around only looking at those living, breathing souls as a way to make money. The people that will pay much more than any rescue would just to be able to win the highest bid on that dog, load them (and likely many others) up in rusty old wire cages and throw them into the back of a truck, van or in a cattle trailer to take them back to their place and sentence them to a life behind bars. Their only crime for a sentence of life behind bars? Being born and the ability to reproduce.
Some people do not agree with rescues going to auction and purchasing dogs because it puts money into the hand of the breeders. My outlook on this is simple. The dogs are there, the breeders are there and the rescues are there. Those dogs will be sold that day and money will be put into the hands of the breeders, whether that money is coming from another breeder or a rescue organization. But there are two different outcomes for the dogs. If they are purchased by a breeder, those dogs will be sentenced to a life behind bars, receiving little to no veterinary care, being used only to reproduce until their bodies give out and they face a slow and painful death, alone in a cold, rusty wire cage. If they dog is purchased by a rescue organization that dog will finally be in loving hands. They will be going to a home, with warm bedding, good food, their medical needs taken care of and eventually find a forever home where they will spend the remainder of their life as a pet. The same money. Two different outcomes. If you were that dog, which would you rather happen to you?
For rescue organizations like ours, going to an auction is nothing but work. First, we start off by trying to raise as many funds as possible to get as many dogs as possible and provide for them when we arrive home. With limited space and limited resources when we bring them back, we then get to work lining up as many fosters as possible for the dogs we will bring home. Once back home, after spending twelve plus hours on the road, we go through intake, clean them up, get them to the vet and into foster homes. Its an exhausting process. The work doesn't stop there though. Once they are in foster homes and vetted, then the rehabilitation process starts. Our fosters work hard to show our dogs what love is, to feel comfortable around humans, work with them on housetraining and manners and prepare them for their forever homes. We plan and attend adoption events with the dogs, tell their stories and wait until the right family comes along for them.
Let me tell you of those dogs' stories that we are talking about. Ranger. Ranger, Ranger, Ranger. Where do we start? Let's start at the beginning. Fast forward to the auction starting. We are sitting up in our usual corner with a good view of the place. The bleachers are already uncomfortable to sit on by the time things get going. First up are the Cocker Spaniels, all too high for us to bid. Then the Basset Hound, another no. Next up are the Beagles. We always have such a hard time with the Beagles. Who doesn't love a Beagle? And try looking into those gentle and sweet, loving eyes and try not to cry for them. There were only five Beagles on that auction and Ranger was the last one standing. There was no one bidding on him. Little did he know, as he looked out into the crowd, scared and wondering what would happen next, that there were two girls sitting up in the corner that wouldn't let him go to an unknown fate. With a shaking hand, I raised our number up just as they were picking him up to take him back. What would have happened if we didn't raise our number at the last minute and they would have taken him back? We don't know, but certainly do not want to find out. #10 was now 'SOLD' to bidder number 101 for $25. A measly $25 was all it took to SAVE Ranger's life.
When we got back from the auction to where we were staying, we unloaded and set up pens for everyone to run around. We were trying to come up with a name and I said 'Ranger, like Ranger Rick!'. What a perfect name for a Beagle. Ranger was given his name, a bath and then his very first collar (that wasn't a chain). When he was outside, on the grass for the first time, he was so scared all he could do was stand there and shake with drool hanging from his mouth. Little did he know what a great life would be ahead.
When I look back at the photos from that trip, looking at Ranger's face makes me tear up. I remember those days like it was yesterday and to see that face and to know how lucky he was that day makes me so happy, but I cannot help but think of the others that left the auction that day that will never know love.
After eight months of freedom, Ranger's foster mom adopted him and his new name is Buddy.
2nd Annual Freedom Walk
Saturday August 12th we celebrated three years of rescuing puppy mill dogs by holding our 2nd Annual Freedom Walk. It was held at Riverview Park in Cadott from 1-5pm and was a great time!
Celebrating 3 years!
Wednesday August 9th we celebrated three years of rescuing puppy mill dogs! Since August 9th, 2014 we have rescued over one hundred puppy mill dogs. We can't forgot to mention our first puppy mill dogs, Molly, Handsome and Badger.
Freeing our 100th Angel
On Saturday August 5th, we welcomed four new Angels under our wings. Those four are Ava, a 3 year old Shih Tzu/Maltese mix, Angie, a 10 year old Bichon/Poodle mix and Grace and Audrey, 8 year old Shih Tzu sisters. Angie was our 100th puppy mill rescue dog.
Last night was a great night! We were invited to attend a golf tournament where all of the money raised would be donated to us. Juniper also got to eat steak for the first time and loved all the attention she got. Thank you to everyone who helped put on the tournament, everyone who attended, Tractor Central and thank you Menomonie Golf and Country Club for hosting!
Spikes Pro Shop
Red Cedar Automotive
Menomonie Golf and Country Club
WESTconsin Credit Union
Peg's Pleasant View
Pinewood Golf Course
Cut Rite Meats
Kisshe Me Wood
Nancy's Everything Seasonings
The Silver Dollar
Recently we completed our 300th adoption! On Saturday May 27th, Colby was adopted. We are so excited to reach this milestone!
On Tuesday April 4th, 2017 Lil’ Rascals Refuge held their second annual Pizza for the Pups at Martino’s Restaurant in Stanley from 11am-10pm. All of the money raised will go toward caring for retired breeding dogs that Lil’ Rascals takes in, provides veterinary care for and rehabilitates them in foster homes while they wait to be adopted. At the end of the day Lil’ Rascals Refuge raised $220 for their cause. Big thanks to Martino’s Restaurant, Ron and staff and everyone who promoted our event and attended!
Alivia's 10th Birthday
Do you remember what you were doing 10 years ago today? Me either. I was 10 years old and probably in school. It was a Monday. But less than 3 miles from my house, out there is a shed. What was happening inside that shed on that day is why we are celebrating today. 10 years ago today a little girl Maltese was born, who two and a half months ago came to be known as Alivia. For the next 9 years, her life would be a living hell. Born in a small wire cage, where her mother lived all of her life, Alivia would do the same. Day in and day out, every day, all day long, she would spend her life just pacing back and forth in that small cage she lived in. Of course, most of her time she would spend being pregnant or nursing her puppies, because she was bred at every heat cycle. But one day just two and a half months ago Alivia, never known as a name, only a number, her life was turned upside down. On February 11th, 2017 Alivia was finally freed from that hell she had known all of her life. And now today we celebrate her first birthday in freedom. Happy Birthday Alivia!
Editor's note: Alivia came from the same place as Betty, who is now 14 years old and rescued last year. What if Betty is Alivia's mother? We'll never know, but it makes you wonder. Hmmm...
Things we need to remember
While everyone is ohhhing and ahhhing over our little Beatrice, we need to remember a few things. Number one, why does she exist? The exact reason Beatrice exists is because of the oohing and ahhing. Because selling old dogs or dogs that are not physically appealing doesn't make money. Beatrice's only purpose of being born was to make someone money. And you know what? Who can walk into a Pet Store... and see such a face and walk out without that puppy? (ME!) Not many. More than likely being labeled as a 'Teddy Bear' because she is MUTT (Shih Tzu, Bichon, Maltese), who doesn't want a little 'Teddy Bear' puppy? Second, why is a puppy with a retired breeder dog rescue? There is a trend here. Puppies are only released to rescue when they are sick/dying or have genetic/physical abnormalities. The only two puppies we have ever gotten were Elle and Paislee, both whom have passed away. Breeders can't sell puppies with obvious illness, injury, etc. to a broker. We're pretty thankful that the breeder did give Beatrice up instead of killing her. Most puppies born at puppy mills that are sick or injured are just killed. Now think about all the puppies that will never see the light of day. They never even get a chance. But people won't stop. They won't stop buying, so the millers won't stop supplying. Third, can you imagine the heartbreak for Beatrice's mom? Her last baby was just suddenly ripped away from her on Tuesday. Now that little Bichon/Maltese lays all alone on that cold wire cage, until her next heat cycle, when she is bred and it will happen all over again. Please help us change this. It's very simple, DON'T buy puppies/kittens from pet stores or online and do not shop at pet stores that sell puppies/kittens. As for Beatrice, we will be starting her in puppy classes at embark next week. As for the person/family who will eventually adopt Beatrice, just like the people we choose for our retired breeders, we will of course be looking for very patient and loving people, who will continue her socialization and puppy classes and who are interested in the actual cause and not just adopting a cute puppy. My hope for each of our dogs, just as I do with Juniper is that you adopt just for the pure joy of giving them life, to educate others and to help end this cruel and inhumane industry in which one million breeding dogs suffer in every year.
A Letter to Potential Adopters
We thank you for your inquiry and are happy to address your concerns. As a rescue organization that deals primarily with the rescue of retired puppy mill breeder dogs, we have found that, oftentimes, education is the key to understanding our dogs as well as our cause. One of the first questions we like to ask our potential adopters is: “Do you know what a puppy mill is?” because the answer to that question will give great insight into what to expect from a dog that you may adopt from our organization.
A puppy mill is a large-scale commercial dog breeding facility where profit is given priority over the well-being of the dogs. Puppy mills usually house dogs in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions without adequate veterinary care, food, water or socialization. In order to maximize profits, female dogs are bred at every opportunity with little-to-no recovery time between litters. Puppy mill puppies, often as young as eight weeks of age, are sold to pet shops or directly to the public over the Internet, through newspaper ads and at swap meets and flea markets.
In a puppy mill, dogs are often kept in cages with wire flooring that injures their paws and legs—and it is not unusual for cages to be stacked in columns. When female breeding dogs reach a point of physical depletion and can no longer reproduce, they are often killed.
Because puppy mills focus on profit, dogs rarely receive veterinary care. So, breeder dogs often have rotten teeth or no teeth due to years of no dental care and may even have mammary tumors due to overbreeding. Because mill dogs spend many years in a cage being repeatedly bred without veterinary care, upon rescue, they are often found to have serious internal problems, as well as parasites and other diseases. These dogs spend an average of 7-8 years confined to a small, cold wire cage with no socialization so they often suffer from fear, anxiety and other behavioral problems.
The average cost of veterinary bills for one mill dogs is $500. The level of veterinary care required makes it cost-prohibitive for many rescues to take in mill dogs. In addition to internal health issues that a rescue needs to address, mills dogs generally have serious external issues that require immediate treatment which include extensive grooming, severe matting, overgrown nails, lacerations, and untreated injuries.
Mill dogs are almost always in very poor physical and emotional condition; they need immediate and substantial veterinary care. Though most of our mill dog rescues are seniors, our adoption rates are set to allow us to provide the care needed once they are freed- regardless of their age. Those that choose to adopt our rescue dogs understand that our fees are in place to allow us to give that animal the care it deserves. Our adoption fees also allow us to care for future rescued breeder dogs because our mission is to rescue, rehabilitate and re-home as many dogs as we can.
In a lot of ways, though these mill dogs are often considered “seniors”, they are puppies at heart- because they have never had the chance to be a puppy! With our fosters – and in their new, loving adopted homes- they will feel the grass on their feet for the first time . . . learn to walk the stairs for the first time . . . sleep on a soft bed for the first time! Rescuing a senior dog that has never known happiness is not an easy endeavor, however, the love and joy you will gain – the bond you will form- will be one of the greatest gifts imaginable!
Our goal is to give these dogs a second chance a life. A chance they were denied. We commend you for making the choice to adopt, rather than shop for a loving companion. By making this choice, you are not only saving a life we have already rescued, but you are helping save the life of future puppy mill breeders.
Stacy Block (Currently, mom of two puppy mill dogs)