The Washington Post
recently published a story alleging that several animal rescues are actually funding puppy mills by paying exorbitant prices for dogs at auctions (see
). The author is concerned that this practice is encouraging puppy millers to breed more dogs to meet the demands of rescues.
It should be emphasized as you read the Post article that the vast majority of rescues are performing invaluable work - rescuing dogs from abusive and neglectful situations and giving them a chance for a loving home for the first time in their lives. It is hard work and often without any human rewards. This is what makes it so tragic when we learn about unscrupulous rescues.
Unfortunately, while painting with a broad brush all rescue
organizations, the author defends the actions of the auction operators. In our Fall Newsletter, the Alliance reported on the incessant sale of sick and injured animals at these dog auctions as well as the inhumane practices prevalent at the auctions (see
While there is undoubtedly much truth in the article, the reader should be aware that the intent of the author is to divert attention away from the cruel practices of the commercial dog breeding industry and focus the public's attention on animal rescues.
It should be further emphasized that the author of
The Washington Post
article has in the past defended some of the worst breeders in the industry including Ervin Raber (see
For example, the author failed to point out that Hank Grosenbacher, operator of Heartland Auction in Cabool, MO, has banned several rescues that have reported his facility to the state for abusive practices and the sale of sick animals.
It should also be pointed out that contrary to the article's assertion that rescues are not regulated, many states do regulate rescue organizations including the state of Missouri. The Missouri Department of Agriculture was recently responsible for closing down one of the largest rescues in the country due to improper care of the animals.
The article does serve a valid purpose, however, by informing the public of the excesses of a
few rescue organizations. Especially since these problems have been increasing over the years.
In fact, several rescues are now bypassing the auctions and buying dogs directly from the breeders whom they met while at the auctions. While some are paying minimal prices or just accepting "old breeding stock", a few are paying high prices and purchasing puppies. Rarely do these rescues report the substandard conditions they encounter when purchasing dogs at the breeding facilities.
Most alarming, some rescues are actually breeding puppies. One rescue in Missouri recently closed down when the rescue's veterinarian reported that the rescue was actually breeding and selling the puppies as "rescued puppies from puppy mills."
One concern that was reported on in this article, is the fact that the majority of rescues that purchase dogs at auctions do not inform the adopters that the dogs were purchased at auction but rather, the potential adopter is told that their dog was "rescued" from a puppy mill.
The adopter is unaware that while their dog might have escaped the puppy mill system, another dog is being bred to take its place. The number of dogs in the system remains the same
. The purchase of the so-called puppy mill rescue dog is just adding more money to the coffers of the puppy millers while not decreasing the number of dogs in puppy mills.
When the terms "rescue" and "purchased from a puppy mill" are synonymous, how are some of these rescues any different from Petland, especially when they both buy dogs from breeders? Can Petland now say that THEY are rescuing dogs when they sell them at their pet stores?
The most disturbing development is the number of puppy mills that are now forming non-profit rescues. The impetus for this is the large number of municipalities, including the state of California, that have banned the sale of dogs in pet stores except
for dogs from shelters and rescues. Many breeders are attempting to circumvent these bans by establishing non-profit rescues and claiming their dogs are "rescues". It is difficult to determine how long this ruse will continue before there is legal action to stop these fraudulent practices. The Alliance has already informed a few municipalities of fake rescues from Missouri that are supplying dogs to pet stores that have bans on commercially bred puppies.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
Educate yourself about the work of rescues as we need to support our good rescues while we weed out the unprincipled rescues - especially any that are operated by commercial breeders