One of the hardest parts about rescue is having to deal with people who are the worst of the worst; the puppy millers and the backyard breeders.
What is the difference between a puppy mill and a backyard breeder (byb)? A puppy mill is a large scale operation with hundreds of dogs usually kept in deplorable conditions. They may or may not be USDA licensed and may or may not have inspections. A backyard breeder is a small scale puppy mill. They are not “hobby breeders” (people who breed rarely and typically only have a few dogs). They typically keep within the proper numbers for local laws to not have to be licensed. Some do have kennel licenses. But they are the same as mills in that the dogs are not pets, they are a money making commodity. They are kept in kennels or garages and get bred over and over, the same as dogs in puppy mills. Unlike licensed puppy mills, backyard breeders usually never have inspections.
So, what do rescue operations do to shut down puppy mills and backyard breeders?
In order to file a complaint and have an investigation you have to have years of documentation regarding the mill or the byb. Photos of how the dogs are kept, photos of the dogs that come from the mill/byb and their condition. Vet records about the condition of the dog when it comes into rescue. There are organizations that are solely for shutting down puppy mills. The Humane Society, the ASPCA, PETA and Best Friends all have teams for this. They know what they are doing and have the means and manpower to conduct full investigations.
The problem with puppy mills and bybs is that the laws and legislations regarding dogs and breeding are too lax. Check out this fantastic website for more info: http://www.thepuppymillproject.org/relevant-laws/ . In most states the bare minimum requirement for puppy mills is that the dog has food, water and shelter. Now, for us, that is horrible. That is unthinkable. But in the eyes of the law, dogs are “things”. Dogs are business. They are stock. So as much as the idea of a dog kept in a cage barely big enough for it to stand up and turn around in horrifies us, to the law, it is “adequate”. Neglect, which is awful to anyone who loves their dogs, is a fine line legally. When is neglect abuse? That varies by state, by city, by legislation. I was told by two different investigators that neglect is not abuse unless there is proof of PHYSICAL abuse. So, in the case of the dog we got in….he had a cage, he had shelter, he was given food and water. He had matted fur, ear infections, a hernia and rotten teeth. BUT he had been seen by a vet only 1-2 years before. Adequate care. No signs of physical abuse. NO investigation, no matter how hard I pushed. There was not enough evidence of abuse to warrant an investigation. If you haven’t already, go to our Facebook page and check out the album Flynn-now Finny to see the photos of his condition when we got him into rescue.
The problem with many investigations into mills and bybs is that a lot of times the investigations and accusations are made before there is enough evidence. Once they are tipped off that they are being watched, and find out firsthand from the investigators what they are looking for, breeders can then even more easily make sure they are within the bare minimum of compliance and keep operating. Even puppy mills that have horrific charges are given the chance to clean up their act, get re-inspected and keep on breeding. A great website to see this in action is http://www.caps-web.org/research-investigations/investigations/reports-and-videos . Check out this site to see the findings from investigations. It is disheartening to see that many of these mills are still in operation.
So, if they are within compliance of their license, if they are within compliance of the number of dogs, and if the dogs are in small cages with food and water….they are good to go. The dogs can be matted and filthy and have some medical issues, but as long as it’s not too bad, it’s neglect and not abuse and neglect is hard to define and even harder to prosecute.
I find that horrific. I am appalled that a dog can be kept in those conditions and it’s considered to be legal. But that is a fight that has been going on for years, and one that I don’t have time to participate in and still run a rescue. Here are some fantastic tips about what YOU can do to help stop puppy mills: http://www.prisonersofgreed.org/actions.html
So, I do what I can. I get as many dogs out as I can. I take their pictures. I share their stories hoping that it will open people’s eyes to the reality of puppy mills and backyard breeders. It’s one thing to read about a puppy mill dog and to see the photos online. It’s another thing entirely to hold that dog. To smell the stench that clings to them despite bath after bath. To see the rotten teeth, the oozing ears. The burns from lying in urine for years. To see them tremble at the gentlest touch because they have never known kindness. To see them cower when you reach for them because they have never been held. The fear, the sadness in their eyes is heartbreaking.
Giving money to the people who do this to these dogs is not something I like to do. It’s not. But when the other option is turning my head from them and allowing them to stay in those conditions for their whole lives- well, there IS no choice in my mind. Our goal is to get the dogs that are at the highest risk. The puppies that are older and getting ready to go into heat or have physical defects or medical issues. Those puppies that don’t sell when they are young are at high risk to end up in another mill or with a different byb or in an auction. Then there are the dogs that are still old enough to breed that the mill or breeder are getting rid of without spaying or neutering so they can be bought by ANOTHER breeder or mill and continue to be bred.
I know that when they come into rescue they will get medical treatment, they will be spayed or neutered and they will be rehabilitated as much as they can be in the time we have them to prepare them for life as a member of their adoptive family. Some of these dogs have never been touched or held. Getting them into rescue removes the chance of them being bought by another mill or backyard breeder to continue breeding. The mills and bybs will get their money, one way or another, so we choose to help as many dogs as we can get out and have a chance at life.
And we will keep hoping that somehow down the line the laws will become stricter and that eventually even the laws will reflect the idea that pets are family, not things. At CCR “All Lives Matter.”
These 29 dogs were all rescued from backyard breeders, puppy mills or auctions. Each of them, save for Haley who died during complications from her spay due to her time as a breeding dog, are now healthy and happy in their forever homes, given a chance at life many dogs in their situations never get.
I have had people question me about “breed specific” rescues. Some have indicated that they feel breed specific rescues are wrong, that they are snobby, elitist people and that they don’t care about all dogs or they would rescue ALL breeds.
The thing is, I honestly feel that BOTH types of recues are vital to saving dogs lives.
All-Breed Rescues-As it says, they rescue ALL breeds. They do not discriminate. The people that run these rescues are usually very knowledgeable about a variety of breeds and their needs and temperaments. They are better able to identify breeds in a mixed breed dog and in that, help a potential adopter know if that dog will fit in their home. Without all breed rescues, millions of “mutts” would die every year in shelters.
Breed Specific Rescues-They specialize in one breed, or maybe a few breeds of a similar nature (ie, spaniel rescues or terrier rescues). Depending on the rescue, some will take mixes or “designer” dogs of that breed, some deal only with purebreds. The people that run these rescues are especially knowledgeable about their breed of choice. They know the temperaments, the health issues and the common good and bad traits of that dog. They can assess a dogs compatibility with a potential adopter because they know the breed, and can educate people unfamiliar with that breed of the good AND bad of that particular breed. Because they are knowledgable about the health issues of that breed they are better prepared for dogs with medical conditions common to the breed. Without breed specific rescues even more purebred dogs would end up in shelters (and plenty of them already do! Shelters are NOT just “mutt” dogs!) and millions of “purebreds” would die every year in shelters.
You see, ALL rescues have (or should have) a common goal. To save dogs. Rescues should (and most do) work together for the common goal of saving dogs and finding them great homes. By cross posting, transferring dogs and working together, even more lives are saved. Rescue shouldn’t be a competition, though for some it is. Rescue should be “All About the Dogs”, and hopefully as social media brings rescues together with each other and with potential adopters, the number of dogs that die in shelters every year will go down.
The one thing that ALL rescues have in common is that they are always in need of good, loving foster homes. So if you want to help save lives, contact a local rescue and ask to be a foster! You may not change the world, but you will change the world for that dog!
We are having an auction to help raise funds to help cavaliers in need!
We have had a busy year with more dogs coming in so far this year than all of 2014! At the rate we are going, we will have more dogs this year than ALL of the prior years combined! It's not a record I hoped to break, since it means more displaced dogs needing homes.
Many of the dogs we've gotten in this year have needed extensive vet work, including skin infections, horrible teeth requiring extensive dentals, gastrointestinal issues and one who has been sick for a month since she came in.
So we are trying to raise some funds! Please head over to our Facebook page to check out the items available to bid on. These items were generously donated by friends and supporters of CCR and these wonderful people not only donate items but ship them out as well! I am so grateful to have such wonderful supporters.
We are also still selling hand drawn Cavalier Silhouettes. Each one is slighly different from the next, making them truly one of a kind. They can be personalized with your dogs name or a phrase. They are 5x7, on matte board and ready to be framed. They are $20 for a cavalier, shipping included. $25 will get you the breed of your choice. ALL of the funds go to rescue!
And if you don't want an item, we welcome donations of any size, which can be sent via PayPal to firstname.lastname@example.org
Today's Former Foster Feature is Nick and Millie.
Nick (Was Mick) came into rescue as an owner release. His mom got divorced and was unable to give Nick the attention he needed so she did what was best for him and released him to rescue. Due to the changes in his life he had gained a lot of weight and came to us at 38 lbs.
Millie (was Midge) came to us via a local high kill shelter. She ended up in the shelter when her elderly mom and dad could no longer care for her and their son dropped her off at the shelter where she was pulled and transferred to us. Millie was also overweight at almost 30 lbs and extremely fearful.
These two were adopted by the same family who live full time in an RV and were able to give these two lots of exercise, which, combined with a healthy diet, has gotten these two into great shape! Nick has lost a whopping 12 lbs and Millie has lost about 6-7 lbs.
Thank you so much to their wonderful family for working so hard to get these pups healthy and for giving them such a wonderful, loving home!
The seedy world of Dog Auctions is something many people have never heard of. Most people, by now, have heard of puppy mills and most people agree they are a bad thing and need to be stopped. But an offshoot of the puppy mill trade includes Dog Auctions.
What is a Dog Auction?
A Dog Auction is when a breeder/puppy mill wants to sell off a large amount of their "stock" quickly. They work with a dog auctioneer to sell of the dogs at once, at auction. Sometimes this comes about when a mill is shut down, or closes down. Sometimes it's when they have older puppies they didn't sell and want them gone. Sometimes it's older dogs who aren't breeding as much and aren't profitable. They take these dogs to an auction house where they are housed in little cages. When the auction is opened up breeders and millers come to "inspect" the stock and prepare for bidding. The auctions are run exactly like livestock auctions, with the dogs hauled out in front of the crowd while the auctioneer shouts out their specs. "Proven Stud, Good Mother with Big Litters, About to go into Heat, In Heat, Possibly Pregnant, From Champion Lines, Good Markings." This is what these dogs are known for. Not for their personalities and most times not because they are good healthy dogs. It's all about the money, and what kind of money the buyer will be able to make on the dog. Small dogs and young females are highly sought after, especially if they are about to go into heat. Stud dogs with proven litters are also wanted, and females who have already had big litters. Champion lines are a bonus as they know their offspring will be worth more money.
Most of these dogs have never lived in a home or been a pet. They have been born and raised in a puppy mill with little to no human interaction. They are known by a number around their neck, not by their name. In many cases they are matted and have ear infections and overgrown nails. The older dogs have rotten teeth from years of eating cheap food and no vet care. The females nipples and stomachs are stretched out from years of having one litter of puppies after the next.
For the most part, the dogs that end up in auctions go from one mill to the next. They are "stock" and nothing more.
This is COMPLETELY LEGAL. There is nothing illegal about selling dogs off in an auction like livestock. There are no regulations as far as the dogs health or temperament goes. The dogs can be neglected, sick, have ear infections, eye infections and genetic issues. There is nothing regulating the health of auction dogs.
But for a lucky few dogs, there are angels that work behind the scenes and go into the auctions and bid on and buy out dogs. These lucky few dog end up in rescues where they get the vet treatment they need. They are spayed and neutered and groomed. They go on to find wonderful homes and finally get the life that they should have had from the beginning.
There is a lot of controversy around people buying out auction dogs to go into rescue. A very high profile auction of Cavalier King Charles Spaniels took place in 2014 where hundreds of thousands of dollars were raised to buy out a hundred plus dogs from an auction from a mill that was shutting down. It got widely publicized and it was well known that the rescues were going to be there bidding on dogs, and prices were driven up to unheard of prices.
Is it right or wrong to buy out these dogs and put them into rescue? That is a question that each individual needs to research and decide for themselves. There are cons, to be sure. Since that auction, prices for Cavalier King Charles Spaniels in auctions have been elevated. The millers know if they publicize the cavaliers in auction that rescues might show up and drive up the prices. Which is why most of the time the individuals that go into auctions go in under the guise of being a breeder and don't let their rescuer status be known. This helps keep the prices low so more dogs can get out of the auctions.
The pros are that each dog that gets out of the auction and into rescue is not only spared a horrific life of neglect and breeding, but also they are taken out of the breeding pool. Each female dog that gets spayed means hundreds of puppies will not be born. Each male that is neutered means less pregnant females.
For each dog that is taken out of a mill....it makes a difference to that one dog, who will learn what it is to be loved and adored. To live in a home and sleep on a couch and have toys and beds and good food. To not have to have litter after litter of puppies. To not have to live in a cage with wire cutting its feet. To not have to live with untreated ear infections, eye infections and other diseases. To that one dog, it means a life free of pain and suffering and full of love. For that one dog it means a chance at life.
And for me, that makes it worth it.
One thing that comes up a lot in conversations with other dog parents is what human foods are dangerous for your dog and what human foods are okay. So I have compiled the following list, which is available as a word document at the end of the post for you to save or print out!
Toxic to dogs:
Coffee with caffeine, including beans
Hops-if you home brew beer
Onion and Onion Powder
Potato leaves and stems
Tea with caffeine
Tomato leaves and stems
Anything with xylitol: Gum, candies, cookies etc
The following human foods are okay for your dog:
Peanut Butter-all natural with no salt or sugar. Don’t over feed as peanut butter is high in fat and calories. If you use peanut butter in your Kong’s, freeze it before giving it to your dog so it lasts longer!
Cheese-some dogs are lactose intolerant, so try out small amounts first. Also high in fat and calories, so use sparingly.
Yogurt with no artificial sweeteners or added sugar
Pumpkin-pumpkin is a tasty treat and helps with digestion
Green Beans-low in fat and calories and sugar. Feed freely! Frozen green beans are a great treat!
Apple Slices-a tasty treat that helps freshen breath. High in sugar, so limit quantities and make sure no seeds are present!
Carrots-carrots make great treats frozen as well. They have natural sugars, so should be fed sparingly.
Oatmeal-cooked oatmeal is a great treat that is filling and has fiber to help with digestion
Sweet Potatoes-sliced thin and baked, sweet potatoes make a great alternative to rawhide!
Jet was found as a stray, wearing a sweater. He had no collar or microchip and was never claimed.
When you find a stray dog, the first thing you want to do is help the dog, so you pick it up. If it has a collar and tags you call the owner and get the dog back to them. It’s a great feeling when you help reunite a lost pet with its owner!
When you pick up a stray dog that doesn’t have a collar or tags, it’s a little more difficult. The first thing you should do is immediately take the dog to the shelter closest to where you found it. If it is late at night or on a weekend and the shelters are closed and you want to take the dog home to make sure it’s safe, that’s great. But the first opportunity that you have to take the dog to the shelter, you should do it. Make sure you take it to the shelter closest to where you found it and tell them exactly when and where the dog was found.
Many times when people find a stray dog they think “Oh, I want to find the dog’s owner, I can’t bear to think of taking it to the shelter!” So they take the dog home, put it on a classified ad, maybe put up some flyers, and hope that the owner calls. In most states, this is illegal. Check your local ordinances, but in most cases it is illegal to keep a stray dog. The reason for this is simple: the first place most people will check for their lost dog is the shelter. Not everyone has access to the Internet or even think to look on Facebook or Craigslist or KSL for their dog. And dogs can run far when they are lost. The posters you put up near where you found the dog could be miles away from where it came from. Or someone could have picked it up and then dumped it off somewere else, there is no way to know. In many states when a dog is taken as a stray to a shelter it goes into a database that owners can search for their lost dog. You keeping that dog in your home could be preventing that dog from being reunited with its owner. Maybe you find that dog and it is in terrible shape and you think “This dogs owners are horrible people. I am doing it a favor by keeping it.” While there is a chance the dog is from an abusive or neglectful home, there is also the chance that it got away weeks or months ago and that is why it looks like it does. Again, by keeping it, you could be keeping it from going back to a loving home and people that have been searching for it. Another thing that happens often is dogs run away after a car accident. These dogs can be injured and could seem abused, but they are not. There’s also the matter of microchips. Many dogs have microchips and the shelter will scan it and contact the owner. They also have the ability to trace the microchip back to where it was implanted and can possibly find the owner even if the chip is not registered or has a bad phone number.
The sad truth is, every day dogs go missing, and every day people, thinking they are being good Samaritans, take dogs home thinking they will find the owner. But many times they never do. Sometimes these people keep the dog themselves, which is breaking the law. And other times when they don’t find the owner, they then sell the dog or give the dog away. Thus even further lessening the chances of the dog to get back home.
If you find a stray dog and want to help, please do. But do it the right way and take it to the shelter so it has the best possible chance of finding its way home.
Finley came to us from a puppy mill with his brother Brando. Finley and Brando had never walked on grass, had never lived in a home, had never known what it was like to be loved. They were both terrified of people.
Both boys made big strides in their time in foster and were adopted by wonderful families who are committed to helping them grow and learn to trust.
I made a video documenting Finley's journey from terrified puppy mill survivor to the happy dog that he is today. You can see it here.
Finley still has a long way to recovery and will likely always have some fears because of his time in the mill. But at least now he has a chance.
This is why there needs to be an end to puppy mills. To save the dogs like Finley and Brando who aren't lucky enough to make it out and spend their whole lives there, never knowing love.
Official Breed Standards can be found here:
Height: 12-13 inches at shoulders
Temperament: Happy, friendly. Aggression, nervousness and shyness are not tolerated in show dogs and dogs with these traits should not be bred.
Blenheim-pearly white with chestnut markings. White blaze with even chestnut markings around eyes. “Blenheim spot, Queens thumbprint” on forehead is desirable.
Tricolor-pearly white with black markings. White blaze with chestnut “eyebrows”, cheeks, under ears and under tail.
Ruby: solid chestnut. No white markings.
Black and tan: black with chestnut “eyebrows”, cheeks, under ears, on legs and under tail. No white markings.
Faults: heavy ticking (freckles) on the white of blenheims and tricolors. Any white markings on rubies or black and tans. Aggression, shyness, nervousness.
* * *
Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are wonderful dogs. I have been owned by them for 6 years now and in that time I have owned several and have fostered dozens of cavaliers. Through our monthly playgroup and cavalier groups on Facebook I have met dozens of cavalier owners and cavaliers.
I get phone calls and emails all the time from people who are interested in adopting or buying a cavalier and want to know more about them. Many times they have read about them online in an article or something and think that they sound perfect!
The truth is, I love cavaliers and can’t imagine my life without them, but they are NOT for everyone. This is something I am brutally honest about when talking to people who do not know the breed. Many of the “breed profiles” you read online gush about the many positive qualities of a cavalier; they are loving, friendly, sweet, happy dogs. They are all of those things. But many times the profiles do not mention the not so good along with the good. And there is a lot of not so good! Or at the very least, there are things any potential cavalier owner should know about before buying or adopting.
I’ll start with the big one. Cavaliers are a very unhealthy breed. From years of bad breeding by puppy mills and backyard breeders, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is prone to a host of health problems. Cavalier Health.org is a fantastic resource that every cavalier owner or cavalier owner wanna be should read and book mark. Among the health issues they are prone to are:
MVD (Mitral Valve Disease)
Deafness (PSOM can be a contributor)
…and many more
If you are buying a cavalier puppy it is VITAL that you buy from a breeder whose dogs are regularly health tested and certified. They should be able to show you the proof of the health checks and certificates. If you buy from a pet store or a backyard breeder these dogs are most likely not tested and dogs with health problems are regularly bred with no thought to the consequences. Our first cavalier was bought from a backyard breeder back when I knew little about the breed and what I read online didn’t emphasize the importance of testing. He has epilepsy, which has cost us thousands of dollars over the years in tests and medication, not to mention the heartache of watching him have seizures. I can’t emphasize this enough. Make sure the breeder health tests the parents or you are risking spending thousands of dollars on surgeries and treatments if your dog has one of these disorders. They are all genetic.
Now that the health issues are out of the way, let’s talk about behavior.
Cavaliers are known for their happy, outgoing personalities. They can make fantastic therapy dogs because of their gentle demeanor.
BUT…cavaliers are also prone to many behavioral issues which are common to the breed and that many many owners will tell you about.
Cavaliers can be big barkers. Be it the dogs next door, the dogs on TV, the doorbell ringing or a particularly interesting leaf blowing by, many cavaliers are prone to barking. Yes, many of the breed profiles say they are quiet. And with proper training they can be, but most of the cavaliers I know are indeed big barkers! This is something that should be addressed when they are young, as it’s hard to untrain a barker.
Cavaliers are very food motivated. They are known be food thieves and to go to great lengths to swipe food from their owners tables or even right out of their hands! They are also prone to weight gain and obesity. And obesity is VERY bad for any dog, but especially for dogs like cavaliers that are prone to heart problems. Extra weight on a cavalier means the heart has to work extra hard and even just a slight amount of extra weight can cause a heart murmur, which can be deadly in a cavalier. It’s important to watch your dog’s weight. Do not free feed your cavalier. And use healthy treats like carrots and green beans.
Cavaliers are prone to separation anxiety. Cavaliers are, first and foremost, companion animals. They were bred to be “Comfort Spaniels” and were bred to be royal lap dogs. They have not forgotten this! Cavaliers want to be with their people. ALL. THE. TIME. They follow you from room to room, they stand guard outside your bathroom door (if you don’t just let them come in with you!). They sit next to the tub or shower and wait for you. And the instant you sit down…they are in your lap! This is life with a cavalier. If you do not want a furry little shadow, you do not want a cavalier. There are exceptions, of course, but as a whole, this is the common cavalier behavior. They do not want to be alone, and some develop very bad separation anxiety, where they bark and scratch and even become destructive when left alone. Having another cavalier can definitely help this, and most cavaliers do best in pairs. They bond as strongly to their dog companions as they do their human ones, but just because they bond to another dog doesn’t mean they don’t want to be with their people, as some breeds tend to do. Cavaliers are absolutely NOT outdoor dogs (in my opinion NO dog is an outdoor dog). They need human companionship. If you want a dog to leave outside, a cavalier is NOT for you.
Cavaliers are adaptable and can be great apartment dogs as long as they get enough exercise. However they tend to be notoriously bad off leash. They are descended from scent hounds and will take off without a second thought, right into the street and in front of a car if they see or smell something they want to investigate. It is important to keep cavaliers on leash unless they are in a secured area.
And I cannot emphasize this enough: Cavaliers shed. They shed a LOT! If the ad says they are low shedding-they are not being honest. Any cavalier owner can tell you this. They are heavy shedders! If you want them to have the long, flowing coats of a show dog, you will have hair everywhere and you will need to brush your cavalier a lot to keep them mat free! You can read more about grooming your cavalier in my last blog post!
Cavaliers are sweet, loving and unfailingly loyal. They tend to get along well with everyone. They also tend to get along well with cats and other household pets. They are smart and eager to please, so tend to train quickly with positive reinforcement training.
If you are looking to adopt an adult cavalier, some of these behaviors may be deeply ingrained and hard to break. Be sure when you apply for an adult dog to be completely honest about behaviors you can and can’t tolerate so that the rescue can help make a good match for you AND for the dog.
So…cavaliers aren’t for everyone, but when you’re heart is stolen by one it’s hard to imagine your life without one. Or two. Or three….or…. :)