Monday, December 13, 2010

A Cold Winter Night

I went to Puppies of Westport tonight after I got off work at around 5:00 and stayed for an hour and a half.  The wind seemed to pick up and become more piercing as I stood there shivering with my sign.  I shuffled back and forth desperately trying to stay warm.  All the horns honking in support and smiling faces through car windows did much to warm my spirits.  However, I'm sure that some people must have thought that I'd gone absolutely bonkers to stand out there on such a night.  I'm just very determined.  It seems like I'm giving up something so small by standing out there in the cold when I think about all the dogs in these wretched mills.

At times I had to fight back the tears as I thought about the thousands of dogs stuck outside in this weather all day and all night, day after day through the long Winter.  I'm haunted by images and reports that I've read and want to shout at anyone who dares to even walk into that store!  Don't they know what they're doing?  They make me so angry!  But, alas, not one puppy left the store while I was there! Store patrons saw me across the street with my sign, as I was fighting the fierce wind to get my message across.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Earl's Story

I got my beautiful purebred Basset Hound Earl from an animal rescue group when he was eight weeks old.  He is proof that you can get a purebred from rescue and that you can get an adorable puppy from rescue as well.  Finding a purebred puppy can be challenging, but they show up in rescues quite often because people buy puppies on a whim.  After they've had their fluffball for a few months and realize how much work training a puppy is, they dump their puppy as disposable.  Rescue groups are quick to scoop them up, but they go fast.  It takes patience, but it's possible to find a purebred puppy from rescue.

Earl came into rescue when many dogs were confiscated from an unlicensed puppy mill.  We drove up to a ranch that was fostering the two Basset Hound litters and a litter of French Bulldogs.  We had our pick from the pile of Basset puppies, and it was so hard to take home just one. 

The rescue took Earl when he was just five weeks old.  His dad Rouge was adopted almost immediately, but Earl's mom wasn't saved from the mill.  I think of her often and wish she had had the opportunity to get out of there too.  I think of her sitting in a tiny cage, cold and alone, afraid of the world and it's hard not to cry.  I remind myself that those horrible backyard breeders, took a significant loss when they were raided.  I am glad that all those dollar signs (puppies) they had been counting on, were taken away from them.  It feels twice as good knowing that my adopting Earl meant those breeders not only lost profit but lost their investment as well, and that the rescue group was able to take in some additional funds to help with all the other dogs in need of care.

When I got Earl, he was infested with fleas.  His belly was bloated and filled with worms.  He had spent the first five weeks of his life in a cage, which I hope he has long forgotten.  After pampering him and treating him for the worms and fleas, I made sure Earl got all of his shots and that he was neutered.  Approximately 500,000 puppies are born in puppy mills every year.  Many pets are abandoned and are living on death row in shelters across the country.  Even though Earl is adorable and would make beautiful puppies, I knew I had to get him neutered.  Many reputable breeders, selectively breed to maintain breed standards, so I know quality Bassets are always on their way.  I did the responsible thing to do, and I hope others can take that path as well and leave the breeding to those qualified to do so.

Earl turned two last month and is very happy living with me, my boyfriend, and our other Basset Hound Duke.  Every day I am thankful, that he was confiscated from that mill because he avoided the auction.  He made it!  He wasn't sold to a research facility or another mill.  He wasn't shipped in a tractor trailer cross country to a pet store to sit in another cage until someone took him home on a whim.  He has a forever home and will never bounce around from family to shelter to family and back.  Earl was very very lucky.  He is a success story.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Current Breeders' Inspection Reports

BREEDER: Rhonda Gear 423 McKinley Galt, MO 64641 USDA# 46-B-3613

Inspection Date: Sept. 8, 2010

 "An adult female Cocker Spaniel "Blackie" had fleshy protrustions in the medial aspect of each eye. These masses were approximately 2mmX4mm and extended into each eye.. there was a thick yellow discharge.. This item was non compliant on Jan. 20, 1020 and May 17, 2010"

"In two enclosures inside of the sheltered facility there were two male Rottweilers that were not tall enough to allow the dogs to sit, stand, and lie down in a normal manner, and to turn around freely."

"One of the inspectors observed a dog in an enclosure licking the plug of the wire in the outlet."

 Inspection Date: May 20, 2010

"..the enclosures had greater than a daily accumulation of fecal material and there was a thin layer of accumulated fecal material covering nearly the entire floor surface.. This is a repeat non compliant item.. the licensee was instructed to address this non compliant item by the close of business on Wednesday 19 May 2010." 

Inspection Date: May 17, 2010

"There was a very strong and prominent odor present in the sheltered facility 'rottie building'."

"On the east side of the sheltered facility the drains have become detached allowing effluent to flow onto the ground."
Inspection Date: Jan 20, 2010

"A female gray and white Shih Tzu was present with a heavily matted face and chest."

"A female lemon and white Beagle was present with excessively long toe nails causing the dogs toes to be splayed in an abnormal manner."

"A male Dachshund was present with severe dental issues.  The gums were reddened and inflamed with a thick brownish tartar like accumulation on all teeth."

"In one outdoor enclosure the entire area was covered with wet mud/feces making it difficult for the animals to remain clean and dry.  In an adjacent enclosure there were standing puddles of water.  A strong fecal odor was also present."

"In the indoor whelping facility there was a distinct and prominent ammonia odor."

Inspection Date: Jul. 1, 2009
"I female Dachshund measured approximately 13 in. and the primary enclosure measured approximately 17 in. in height." 

Inspection Date: Nov. 17, 2008

"Throughout the outdoor housing facilities, affecting 75 dogs, there was some buy not enough bedding.. The temperature within the last few days had dropped down in the 20 degree Fahrenheit range and is expected to drop into the teens this coming night."

BREEDER: Debbie and Ken Turner Cozy Country Kennel 476 Teer Rd. Macks Creek, MO 65786 USDA# 43-a-2939

Inspection Date: Oct. 4, 2010

"The following dogs are in need of veterinary medical attention:1) female, black and white cocker spaniel: Her left eye has a reddish colored mass of swollen tissue in the corner and has a brownish colored discharge around it.2) female, red and white Pomeranian is holding her right eye in a closed position and squinting.  She also has matted hair around her bottom.3) female dachshund: both of her eyes are sunken and the eyelids curl inwards and have wet discharge around them."

"None of the enclosures in the first set of outdoor, chain link runs closest to the house, containing a total of 21 dogs, had shade at the time of inspection."

"The shelter for 2 Yorkshire terriers contained an accumulation of old, dried out fecal material.

Inspection Date: Nov. 9, 2009

"These are fish amoxicillin and a fish cephalexin.  These are labeled for fish use only."

"There were several metal self feeders in the whelping building interior and the outdoor runs for the adult dogs that have become rusted on the interior."

Inspection Date: Sep. 24, 2008

"the shelter boxes provided to the animals consisted of blue plastic barrels.."

"the bottom of the self feeder was caked in the bottom and was also a moldy, green color."

BREEDER: Amy Woodley Dreamland Kennel 4603 CO Rd 5030 Willow Springs, MO 65793 USDA# 43-a-4512

Inspection Date: Sep. 8, 2009

"The Miniature Pinscher puppy has swollen irritated eyes and a swollen abdomen and generally appears like she doesn't feel well.  This puppy must be evaluated by the veterinarian this day and the treatment plan followed."

"The broken wires cause sharp points that can injure the dogs as they move about."

"Insects, pests, rodents, and snakes can use the grassy area for breeding, living and travel areas.  When they are in close proximity like this, the can contaminate the area and food."

"Inside the puppy room there are numerous rodent droppings around the water heater and door.  There are rodent droppings on the floor in the whelping room.. This affects 144 adult dogs and 87 puppies."

Inspection Date: Sep. 2, 2009

"The metal sides are very rusty and have large holes in them and there are jagged edges in the walls.  The air conditioner is dropping water onto the concrete and the water is green and slimy with algae."

Inspection Date: Oct. 17, 2008

"Inside the whelp building there are 3 enclosures that do not provide the 6" if space between the dog's head and the top of the enclosure."

"The feeders that are attached to the raised enclosures on the inside of the whelp building have an accumulation of hair, dirt, and other unidentified matter."

BREEDER: Betty Fetters Fetters Furry Friends 16903 State Hwy 6 Novinger, MO 63559 USDA# 43-b-3484

Inspection Date: Jul. 20, 2010

"There was an end pen with a poodle that had a corner covered with older chicken wire.  Some of the wire was loose and starting to break."

"There was one pen where the panel wire had been bent and broken by the dog."

"The dogs in these pens can stick their legs and heads through the openings."

BREEDER: Mike and Melanie Moore Mam Kennel 137 South K K Hwy Lamar, MO 64759 USDA# 43-a-5625

Prelicense Inspection Date: May 3, 2010

The one outside enclosures has a bottom brace pole that is rusted from halfway point all the way towards the front of the enclosures.  Need to maintain the enclosures to keep them in good repair."

"There are 7 enclosures to hutch style, that have wire sticking into the enclosures and could injure the canines."

BROKER: Jeff Conger 5097 Hwy W Mountain Grove, MO 65711 USDA# 43-b-3588

Inspection Date: Feb. 25, 2009.

"At the time of inspection there were 17 puppies on the truck.. This inspection was conducted at the Red Roof Inn, Rowe Ave. Milford, CT parking lot."

BREEDER: Magdelena McGowan Orchard Kennel 11200 Hwy 38Cabool, MO 65689 USDA# 43-a-4545

Inspection Date: Jan. 30, 2008

"The owner needs to remove these items from the kennel area in order to keep the grounds in good repair and to reduce or eliminate breeding and living areas for rodents, pests, vermin and to keep the premises free of accumulations of trash, junk, waste products, and discarded matter."

"Inventory: 208 adult dogs and 90 puppies."

BREEDER: Alisa Breedlove Breedloves Unique Kennel 21309 Risky Road Waynesville, MO 65583 USDA# 43-a-4023

Inspection Date: Sep. 13, 2010

"The owner needs to establish and maintain a program of cleaning that assures that all surfaces of housing facilities are cleaned and sanitized when necessary to satisfy generally accepted husbandry standards and practices in order to be in compliance with this regulation."

"There were 12 hutches that had chewed edges around the entry ways to the housing units."

Inspection Date: Aug. 6, 2008

"The owner needs to sanitize all hard surfaces as to remove mineral buildup in order to be in compliance with this regulation."

BREEDER: Bobby Schmitt Paws and Tails Puppies 4601 Rhea Dr Hartville, MO 65667 USDA# 43-a-3795

Inspection Date: Dec. 8, 2008

"At the time of inspection, four of the outside doghouses did not have adequate windbreaks around the doors."

BREEDER: Linda Brasher Elite Puppies 10821 Lake Cut Off Rd Havana, AR 72642 
USDA# 71-a-0762

Inspection Date: Jul. 29, 2008

"At the time of this inspection, the surfaces that the animals come into contact with were dirty with grime and caked-on feces."

BREEDER: Carmen Whorton Cripple Creek Kennel Rural Route 2, Box 81 Mansfield, MO 65704 USDA# 43-a-2780

Inspection Date: Dec. 29, 2008

"The Program of Veterinary Care was last signed on 9/21/2007."

BREEDER: Charles Feldman 27062 S. 1625 Rd Sheldon, MO 64764 
USDA# 43-a-1704

Inspection Date: Dec. 2, 2009

"There are several surfaces on several buildings that the dogs have chewed the wood on the doors, dog houses, and dividers.  These surfaces should be maintained on a regular basis.. Inventory: 79 adult canines, 18 puppies."

BREEDER: Betty Mings Bet-ter Kennel 7930 Hwy 95 Mountain Grove, MO 65711 
USDA# 43-a-516

Inspection Date: Dec. 21, 2009
 "At the time of inspection, several of the outdoor dog houses did not contain adequate bedding.  The dogs had pulled the bedding from the houses and scattered it in the enclosures. The owner stated that the straw bedding would be replaced in the house after inspection was completed.  To protect the animals from extreme temperatures, bedding should be replaced often enough so that the dogs have an ample amount of bedding material to create a nest to sleep in.  This affects approximately 20 animals."

 Inspection Date: Dec. 08, 2008
"At the time of inspection, there was a large pile of waste material, old bedding material, and other debris, behind the whelping building.. This affects ten animals."

Don’t Put Animal Cruelty on Your Shopping List

Look up Puppies of Westport on the Web, and you’ll see the store’s proclamation that they are “committed to shutting down puppy mills.”  And, they should be.  Puppy mills are a breeding ground for animal neglect and cruelty.  An intact female can legally spend her entire life in a tiny cage that is only six inches taller than her and six inches longer than her body length.  She is never given any human attention or toys to play with, can be kept outside in the cold of winter and the heat of summer, and is often caged with several other dogs.  Though, Puppies of Westport claims to be against this sort of treatment of animals, they continue to purchase puppies from breeders with multiple USDA violations.
                Those who selectively breed, don’t sell to pet shops and aren’t required to be USDA licensed as they breed ten or fewer intact females.  Breeders with puppy mills do.  While Puppies of Westport may have adorable puppies, the dogs these pups leave behind often have fur that is severely matted and nails that are so long they become ingrown.  They can be covered in their own feces, have algae, mold and/or excrement in their food and water dishes and can suffer from untreated health issues.  This situation needs to change, and you can do something about it.
                Visit one of the many local shelters and ask to see a dog that has been rescued from a puppy mill.  You will witness, for yourself the psychological and physical damage these dogs endure.  By buying a puppy from Puppies of Westport, you are directly supporting animal cruelty and neglect.  I urge you to Boycott Puppies of Westport in Norwalk.
                Animal rescue groups have many purebred dogs available and adorable puppies as well.  By adopting an animal, you are saving a life and are helping to solve the problem. is a great source for finding your new family member, but if you can’t find a rescue dog that’s the perfect dog for you, many reputable breeders do exist.  Reputable breeders screen potential homes thoroughly, are proud of their animals, want you to see the puppies’ parents, won’t always have puppies available, and typically stick with one breed.
                Please ask the owner of Puppies of Westport, Monty Kaufman, to stop selling puppies and to focus instead on selling pet supplies or suggest that he host adoption events for local animal rescue groups.  Ask Mr. Kaufman, why he says on his website that, “We’re committed to shutting down puppy mills” when that is where he buys his puppies?  Ask him to show you the USDA inspection reports on his current breeders.  He claims, “We will only deal with breeders who have three years of clean USDA inspections.”  I personally visited his store on Sunday November 28th and photographed the identification cards on each puppy’s cage.  After searching USDA records, here are just a few of the violations for the breeders listed on these cards:
Breeder Rhonda Gear was inspected on September 8, 2010 and was found in violation for the following: “In two enclosures inside the sheltered facility, there were two male Rottweilers that were not tall enough to allow the dogs to sit, stand, and lie down in a normal manner, and to turn around freely,” and also, “An adult female Cocker Spaniel ‘Blackie’ had fleshy protrusions in the medial aspect of each eye… This item was non compliant on January 20, 2010 and May 17, 2010.”
Breeder Debbie Turner was inspected on October 4, 2010 and was found in violation for the following: “The following dogs are in need of veterinary medical attention: 1) female black and white Cocker Spaniel.  Her left eye has a reddish colored mass of swollen tissue in the corner and has a brownish discharge around it.  2) Female, red and white Pomeranian is holding her right eye in a closed position and squinting.  She also had matted hair around her bottom.  3) Female Dachshund: both of her eyes are sunken and the eyelids curl inwards and have wet discharge around them.”
If you have purchased a puppy from Puppies of Westport and it is sick, Connecticut has passed a new puppy lemon law that allows you to keep the puppy while getting up to $500 towards veterinary bills.
Please be aware that these are merely a couple violations from a few breeders.  Many other breeders that sell to Puppies of Westport have also violated the Animal Welfare Act.  Anyone can access these reports on the USDA’s website.  I hope that you will join me in my boycott of Puppies of Westport.  Hopefully, together, we can encourage Mr. Kaufman to honor his commitment and stop supporting cruel and inhumane puppy mills.