Animal Writes
From 25 May 2003 Issue

For Angel
By [email protected] 

I would like to tell you about an Angel I knew and loved. Please read down to the bottom of this article so you can see how to help thousands of dogs just like her. She was a purebred white toy poodle. Her family no longer wanted her so gave her to a breeder. Why didn't they want her? Who knows, they may have been moving and didn't even think about her or one of the other thousands of reasons that this throw-away society has when it comes to "pets." Whatever reason they had, they obviously didn't realize what a special being they were giving up. Did they know they were giving her to a breeder? Some people think that all breeders are animal lovers. Some think that because the dog is a purebred that it should be allowed to breed, as if this is a privilege for a dog. Some breeders lie and tell people that they will give the dog a good home. Whatever the reason that Angel lost her home, none was good enough to excuse what she went through.

I first met Angel when we got a call about a "puppy-mill" in Agoura, California that was closing down. The owner no longer wanted to be in the breeding business, so he called animal rescue organizations to remove his breeding stock before he took them all to the pound to be destroyed. He had 300 dogs. They consisted of Old English Sheepdogs, Poodles, Yorkshire Terriers, and Shih-Tsus. It wasn't easy, but we managed to remove all the dogs. Many had to be euthanized because they were in such horrible condition with tumors and other problems that were beyond fixing. There was no point in making them suffer further. Any euthanizing that had to be done, was done as gently as possible by veterinarians, with rescue workers holding the dog and probably giving it the only love that it ever had.

I fostered two litters of puppies and their moms. All were placed in new loving homes except one of the moms - Angel. I decided to offer Angel a lifetime home. When we got Angel, she was covered with sores and fleas. She was riddled with infections. She had very few teeth, and had to have most of the rest of them pulled. Some time in her past she had both front feet broken and with no medical care, they had formed to the side and she was only able to hobble on her "wrist" joints. Her kneecaps on the back legs were twisted to the inside. It took one month of nightly ear cleaning before the "black yuck" was completely removed from her ears. When she was touched by people, she held her breath in fear. It was difficult for the vet to listen to her lungs because she would hold her breath every time he tried. It was obvious that she had received minimum care, poor quality food, and in the opinion of her vets, she had been given hormones to help increase production of puppies. These puppies were being sold in pet shops. You don't have to worry if your breeding stock is dying, there are enough purebreds free in the newspaper and low cost in the pound to put much effort into trying to keep them alive for long.

We got Angel in 1986 and most of her time was spent in her bed where she seemed to enjoy watching the world go by. She would come out occasionally and pick up dog toys -- tennis balls, squeaky toys, etc. She would take these toys back into her bed and try to nurse them like they were her puppies. She was very protective of them. She loved to roll on her back in the grass. Since she had been living in a cement run, it took her awhile to learn that grass wasn't to be feared. She loved to eat lettuce and would come hobbling over anytime I was making a salad. She never did learn to trust people, except for our own volunteer veterinary technician. Angel wagged like crazy whenever this volunteer came into the room. It's amazing that she could accept any human at all after what she had gone through, especially one that had to take care of her medical needs.

No one ever wanted to adopt Angel. She wasn't perfect enough. But she gave us a lot of joy for the short time we had her. After a few years she had to be rushed to the emergency vet clinic because of breathing problems. It turned out that she had a cancerous tumor in her throat that was inoperable, and likely contributed to by the hormones the breeder gave her. We chose to euthanize her so that she wouldn't suffer anymore. The one person that she trusted held her. We miss our little Angel, but we know that we gave her the best part of her life, and we'll never regret that.

You can prevent other dogs from going through what Angel went through. How? Don't support the industry that supports "puppy-mills." Don't buy puppies from pet shops. One of Angels' pups was born with a sluggish immune system. We don't know how many times Angel was bred. We don't know how many of her purebred, pedigreed, AKC papered puppies were sold in pet shops. And of course, we don't know how many of those puppies went on to breed more puppies, all carrying numerous genetic defects with them.

The next time you are looking at those puppies in the pet shop window, please remember our beloved little Angel and walk away.

And now, you can do even more. There's simply no excuse for animal activists to not write to the USDA in support of their proposed new regulation. If passed, this regulation will force puppy millers to keep medical records for every shot, pill, wormer, and vet visit, etc., on every dog in their kennels for at least one year after they dispose of the dog. The USDA wants to better monitor their veterinary care program. This volume of recordkeeping will inevitably put a substantial number of puppy millers out of business.

Time is short. Your don't have to compose a lengthy letter. Just reference the docket number and say you support the proposed regulation. Please do it TODAY!

You must contact the USDA before June 10, 2003. You may submit comments by postal mail or e-mail. If you use Post Office please submit 4 copies to:

Docket No. 97-033-1
Regulatory Analysis and Development
PPD, APHIS, Station 3C71
4700 River Road Unit 118
Riverdale, MD. 20737-1238

Please state that your comments refer to Docket No. 97-033-1

If you use e-mail, address your comments to:
[email protected]
Please include your name and address in your message and Docket No.
97-033-1 on the Subject line.

This will not shut down puppymills, but it will be another hoop they have to jump through that will make it that much more likely to reduce their profit and encourage them to get an ethical job.

Go on to AR2003 Schedule Posted, DC Deadline Extended
Return to 25 May 2003 Issue
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