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.