My dog, Sweet Dee, is a puppy mill dog and I want to share a little more about what that means. Many of you have probably never heard of a puppy mill. I hadn't until the day I adopted Dee. I will warn you now that the following description is very sad.
The woman at the desk of the Humane Society had a worried look on her face when she told me that the little Maltese I'd fallen in love the day before with was a puppy mill dog. I found out that this meant she had spent her entire life inside a cage with the sole purpose of being bred. This was my first dog I would adopt myself, and I became very nervous learning about all the work required. Dee was part of a very large rescue from Missouri. Thirty dogs were shipped to that Humane Society. When they brought her into the room for me to meet her, she dropped to the floor in fear. She peed, when I touched her. And she clung to me when I held her. When she was put back in the cage, she had a spark in here eye. My mom said, "Oh, I think she'll be like that again after a while."
Despite the challenges I faced, I decided on the spot that I couldn't leave her there. My little brother offered to pay her adoption fee, because I was "doing the right thing." Her records showed that she had multiple c-sections. I had to hand feed her because her gums were sore. Dee's top front teeth had to be pulled and many are missing on the sides. She had a tapeworm, even after being de-wormed at the Humane Society.
Dee's progress has been incredible to watch. For the first week I had her, she barely moved. She spent as much time as she could in her crate. I had to physically show her how to go up and down stairs. After four months, she learned how to sit. I have had her just over a year. Only recently did she learn to jump onto the couch. Dee almost never barks while I'm home. When I leave, she still has pretty bad separation anxiety. She starts getting worried, even when I go to the basement just to put a load of laundry in. Her breath has a kick that could knock a grown man out.
My boyfriend and I once thought she pooped in the car, because of the stench of her panting. She likes to stay in the closet most of the time, where our two cats just jump over her to get to their food and litter. She prefers resting her head on uncomfortable things such as a bag of hardware to her dog bed.
Puppy mills put anywhere from 60 to thousands of dogs in unsanitary crowded conditions. They are malnourished, partially because they are fed the sweepings from dog food factory floors. They usually have no veterinary care other than when they give birth. When the dogs can no longer reproduce, they are killed. Although puppies are sold as purebreds, this is often not true.
As the puppies grow they will later show signs of illness and genetic problems. They are taken away from their mothers at six weeks and the Federal guidelines require puppies to be with their mother until eight weeks. There are no still federal laws against breeding animals in these conditions as long as they have shelter food and water.
I decided on the name "Sweet Dee" the day I saw her, and she has lived up to the sweetness. She is still a very peculiar dog, and I have to remind people that she is special needs and not just rude. She will never be normal. The stairs to our apartment are too steep for her so I have to carry her outside to go potty or she will tumble down them. Her favorite game is to play chase with me. She shakes with excitement, when it's time to get brushed or put a sweater on. She never yips or bites, which makes her a perfect dog for young children to pet. She loves affection. She spent three and a half years of her life in misery, and now it is her turn to be taken care of. Dee was lucky, because she was young enough to be rehabilitated. Many of the older dogs stay the same, which is very frustrating for the new owners. They walk in circles, because they aren't used to large spaces. Most chain pet supply stores now have adoption days , as opposed to keeping puppies all the time. I encourage everyone to rescue a dog.