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.