On August 6, volunteers at a Pennsylvania rescue will be holding their breath and hoping that they can rescue up to 10 boxers from being used as breeding machines for the rest of their lives. According to the auction flyer, Just Pups kennel, owned by Randy and Kandy Hale in Missouri, is auctioning off 400-plus dogs tomorrow. The flyer says this is a “Total Kennel Dispersal.” These are dogs raised in a puppy-mill setting, all kept for the business of selling puppies in pet stores and online.
At least one rescue is hoping to save some of the dogs at the auction. Dawn Karam, president of Adopt A Boxer Rescue, is hoping that they can save all of the boxers being auctioned. “We are praying, hoping, that we can get these dogs.”
These types of auctions are often attended by other puppy mill breeders, often called “millers.” They hope to obtain cheap breeding stock for their own puppy “factory.” But even when they don’t want a particular dog that’s being auctioned, they might try to stop a rescue from getting it.
Karam worries because she has been told that when the Amish breeders attending the auction know that a rescue, rather than a fellow breeder, is trying to buy the dog, they bid against the rescue just to jack up the price of the dog. “Some dogs,” she told me, “have gone for over a thousand dollars.” She went on to say that for every hundred dogs she’s seen rescued out of puppy mills, only one or two have ever been vaccinated or seen a vet. No rabies shots, no vaccinations, no dental care, nothing.
The dogs come out of the mills totally unsocialized, terrified of everything, and often with huge medical bills. They usually have terrible dental problems from substandard food and no veterinary care. They may also have other health issues, and because many of them are senior dogs, they may have typical senior dog medical problems like glaucoma, arthritis, and heart conditions. In the meantime, the millers make millions.
“They are making millions, even the smaller mills,” Karam said. When asked about those numbers, Karam said that one Amish miller who gave her a dog past its breeding age said that this eight-year-old dog had been bred since six months old. He said he made over $50,000 from just this dog. She reflected, “It’s easy to make money on the dogs when you don’t spend a penny on them. No shots, no vetting, just used her ten to twelve puppies, sold them, bred her again. His plan was to keep one of her puppies to replace her.” Another life lived in a house of horrors.
Karam said that on vetting the dog, they were told the dog had heart problems. The canine cardiologist said that the dog had Stage 4 cardiomyopathy and that any puppies from her would have an even worse heart condition. He commented, “The Amish are keeping me in business.” When the miller was called to tell him about the genetic problem — so that he could choose not to breed dogs with this genetic defect — he hung up the phone on them.
No matter how the “millers” spin it, there is no way that any family can socialize and care properly for over 400 dogs. Puppy mill dogs notoriously live in cages for their whole life, never getting to run on grass, never getting any kind of loving attention, usually never receiving veterinary care, and giving birth to litter after litter of puppies from the age of six months on. When they get too old to have big litters, the lucky ones go to rescues to be rehabilitated and adopted. The unlucky ones?
According to Karam, during a recent Lancaster County commission hearing to allow a puppy mill to expand to a second mill for a family member, the owner was asked what happens to the dogs after they are no longer useful. He replied that the dogs are killed. Even more chilling was the response to the question about what they do with the bodies of the dead dogs. He stated in a matter-of-fact voice that the bodies go on the compost pile. Hundreds of killed dogs’ bodies rot on the compost piles of Amish puppy mill owners. At the very least on the compost pile of this particular miller.
Karam is hoping to have enough money to save all the boxers being auctioned with the help of a very small Michigan rescue. She knows the cost will be huge, both financially and emotionally. Living in the epicenter of puppy mills in Pennsylvania, she knows firsthand the condition that these dogs are in — physically and mentally. She’s prepared.
To help Adopt A Boxer Rescue, donate here or on their YouCaring site. The catalog for the auction is available online. To learn more about puppy mills, visit: The Puppy Mill Project, ASPCA, Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), and Paws.org.