Puppy Mill Auction

Attending a MO dog auction with the intent of rescuing dogs is not for the faint at heart, and one should be prepared for what they will encounter.  The first thing you will likely notice is the horrible smell of dogs that have been living in their own feces and urine.  It’s an indescribable odor and it’s always the same.  If the auction is being held at the actual puppy mill where the dogs have lived, you need to prepare yourself to be faced with the realization that these dogs have lived in these conditions for their entire lives, except for the really unfortunate few who had at one time known human love and then found themselves in this cruel, horrible reality after being offered in the paper or craigslist as “free to a good home.”  You will see cage after cage of dogs living on wire.  Many will have injuries from cages with sharp edges or flooring that has such large openings their feet are falling through the wire.  The dogs are filthy, many with dried feces stuck to their hair. I’ve had to cut chunks of dried poop from between the pads of their feet of some of the puppy mill dogs I’ve rescued only to expose red, raw, sore skin.   The long coated dogs are often severely matted.  Most have overgrown nails, sometimes even curled and growing into the pads.  They have splayed feet from standing on wire their whole lives.  Some dogs will have obvious eye infections, some will have cherry eye.  You will see older dogs that are pregnant, and their bodies are just plain worn out.  The females will have large nipples from nursing litter after litter after litter.  I’ve heard of vets saying that when they spay these females that have been bred every heat cycle year after year, their uterus will literally fall apart in their hands.  Many will have mammary tumors.  All will have horrible dental disease due to poor quality food combined with their bodies being robbed of the little nutrition the food provides from carrying and nursing puppies.  As far as their emotional condition, you will see dogs that are pleading with you to get them out of there and others who are totally shut down emotionally just staring off into the distance.  Some will come to the front of the cage and ask for your attention with tails wagging, others will cower in the back of the cage as if to say “please don’t hurt me!”  You might also see semi trailers filled with dogs that have been trucked from some other mill, often hundreds of miles away, to be consigned at this auction. 

Once the auction starts, you will be faced with a whole new world as far as how dogs are viewed by those in the dog breeding business vs. those of us who consider dogs to be members of the family.  As they bring the dogs to the auction block, often several dogs at once, the first thing you’ll notice is how they hold them like they’re carrying a sack of potatoes.  Sometimes there will be children holding the dogs, and then you might see a little bit of petting.  When they place the dogs on the auction table, many of them won’t be able to stand up because their muscles are so weak from having no exercise, not to mention most have never stood on a solid surface before.  The handler will often jerk the dog around trying to get them to stand up.  They might hold them up high so everyone can see.  Many of the dogs will be shaking with fear from the noise of the auctioneer and just the unknown of what’s happening to them.  Occasionally you’ll see a wagging tail, which just breaks your heart because the dog is finally getting human “attention” and is trying to say “please just love me!”  Perhaps the most disturbing thing you’ll experience as the dogs are being auctioned off is the way the auctioneer talks about them.  For the males, it’s all about how aggressive of a breeder they are.  They’ll make comments like “This one really knows how to get the job done!”  For the females, it’s all about how many puppies she usually has, whether or not she’s coming in or out of heat, if she’s been “running” with a male (meaning she may be bred but it’s too soon to know).  The all time worst is when they bring a visibly pregnant dog to the auction table, hold her up to show her belly and say something like “Look at that belly full of money.”  They often proceed to say how much each puppy sells for so that the greedy puppy millers in the audience can calculate how much money they’ll make off of this poor girl’s suffering.   

As you’re observing all of this, you’ll want to cry, you’ll want to scream, you’ll want to stand up and just shout “What is wrong with you people?  How can you possibly think this is okay?” but you have to try to contain yourself or you will be thrown out of the auction.  The auctioneers make it clear at the beginning of the auction that “animal rights activists” are not welcome!  They will talk about how they need to fight the HSUS and their agenda to end animal ownership.  Of course they exaggerate and try to make everyone think that if laws go into effect to protect breeding dogs that no one will be able to even own a pet, and oh my, the farmers better look out because they’re coming after them next!  Proposition B passed last fall, but unfortunately is being gutted by the new MO state legislature.  That’s a whole other topic. 

When the auction is over, everyone goes to pay for their dogs and load them up.  Those of us in rescue are thrilled that we were able to save a few from further cruelty, but that excitement is soon dashed as we watch breeder after breeder loading up their dogs to head to yet another prison down the road or even in another state as millers come from far away to buy their “breeding stock.”  It’s especially disturbing watching the Amish load up dogs in their buggies pulled by emaciated horses who also suffer at their greedy hands..  And then there are those with open trailers to haul their “stock” in.  Oh so disturbing.  You want nothing more than to grab the dogs you’ve saved and get the hell out of there! 

On the way home, your car is filled with puppy mill fumes.  Sometimes it’s so bad you have to put perfume or something on your nose to try to cover the odor.  You could care less, though, because you know you have precious cargo that has just been freed from a life as a sex slave!  Sex slave may seem like a strong term, but truly that’s what the females are.  When they are in heat, they are raped over and over again, often by several different males.  I’ve rescued dogs that were in heat that were very matted and filthy with dried blood all over their bottoms, from being mounted over and over again.  It just makes you want to cry.  And you do!  You cry for the years of suffering these dogs have endured.  You cry for all the ones that you couldn’t save that are going back into a different form of hell.  You hope that some will go to a “better mill,” one that’s a little cleaner, with bigger cages, better food, and clean water.  You cry for the ones who may be going to a worse form of hell, if that’s even possible. 

When you get back home after a long day of being drained emotionally and exhausted physically, it’s time to unload the dogs and give them some much needed food and water.  Many haven’t eaten all day, or who knows when they’ve had their last meal!  You set up exercise pens in the grass so these little angels can feel the soft grass under their feet for the first time.  Then it’s time to clean crates and put fresh blankets in for their overnight stay.  It’s too late to do any bathing and grooming, so you save that for tomorrow.  Tomorrow will be a long day as well, but you’re energized when you wake up and go see the dogs you’ve saved and start thinking about their future as a beloved pet instead of a puppy making machine. 

There’s nothing more satisfying than knowing that you prevented a dog from continuing in the breeding system..  You’ve freed them from further abuse.  They have been through so much.  Not only have them been living in filth with little or no human contact producing litter after litter, but then to be auctioned off like livestock?  There is no dog more deserving of rescue, in my opinion.  There is much disagreement in the rescue world about whether rescues should be attending these auctions or not.  I personally believe rescuing dogs from dog auctions is the ultimate rescue.

author unknown……

(I am only cross posting, but can personally attest to this brutal industry of dog auctions)