Monday, August 23, 2010

How I Ended up Fostering TRex

Will His Eyes Always Hold A Little Sadness?
When we're at adoption events and we're talking to other volunteers about their fosters, we always ask each other "What's their story?"    For some reason it seems so important to us to understand how these dogs came to us.   I don't know if we need to hear the reminders of why we're doing this, or to be reassured by the hopefulness in what we do.    TRex came to me in March, 2009.    I attended a "puppy mill" auction with another volunteer to pull some dogs out of the puppy mill system.   It's a very controversial topic - are we helping the dogs or are we helping these breeders by lining their pockets?    I personally feel very satisfied  when we pull an older dog from a puppy mill.    They're the ones that literally have no chance of making it out alive if a rescue doesn't take them.    If they're in the 6+ age range, they're probably not as profitable as they used to be.   And there's absolutely zero chance they can be sold to the public at a profit.

I really don't know what happens to dogs that are brought to an auction and aren't bought by anyone.    We all pretty much have a good idea that they're euthanized ... either humanely or not.     This is especially true if there's what's called a "breeder sell out" which means that puppy mill is getting rid of their entire stock - for whatever reason.     The dogs that came with them to an auction, are definitely not going home with them.    If nobody wants them ... what else could possibly happen to them?

The one and only auction I attended was in Cabool, MO.    What's really sad, is this was what  is considered a "good" auction.    It was a very difficult situation for me because the culture and attitude toward animals at an auction is completely foreign to what I feel and believe about dogs and cats.       Before the auction starts, there's a viewing room and you go through a room and just see dozens and dozens of dogs in cages.    A lot of these cages are stacked on top of each other.       When the auction starts  the dogs are brought out and set up on a table while the bidding starts.   Each dog has a  number tied around their neck with a piece of twine or something similar so you know who you're bidding on.    Pregnant dogs are the most sought after - imagine how much they're worth to a puppy miller!   Big deals are made if a dog was "tied" to another one or was in heat recently, etc.    One thing that I really have a hard time understanding is the people who bring the dogs to the table are all teenagers.   It's both girls and boys and none of them seem to have any affection or empathy for the animals.     They're holding them like they would any other livestock, showing no emotion.   One of the most offensive things I heard at that auction was when a dog was being bid on, the auctioneer bragged that she was a virgin and that apparently made her more desirable.   It felt like a rape was being planned for this dog.  I don't mean to be overly dramatic, but that's really what it felt like to me.

TRex Putting on his "cute" face
For some reason, I was drawn to TRex in the viewing room and he even let me rub his belly.    Now that I know him, I can't believe he trusted me enough to allow that upon our first meeting.  :)    It so happened that when TRex came up for auction, the person I was with had gone to the restroom.    NOBODY bid on TRex ... and they were even getting ready to take him back to the viewing room.    I couldn't take a chance on what might happen, so I grabbed my friend's bid number and raised it in the air.     He was $25, which is the minimum bid a dog must get at this auction.   Well when I broke the news to my friend, she didn't say much but I definitely was not supposed to have done that.    Having bid on a dog that we had no plans of getting, I knew it was going to be my responsibility to foster him.   And foster him I do.

TRex still shows mental scars from his days in the puppy mill.    He's missing a number of teeth and his remaining teeth look as though they've been filed down.     After seeing how upset and stressed he gets in a crate or an XPen, it's pretty clear he spent his entire 6  years trying to chew his way out of his cage.    He doesn't trust all men - even male children.   My nephew will come to spend the night and TRex will bark up a storm.    Then, they make friends and everything is ok.   But when we wake up the next day, it starts all over.    I've noticed at adoption events he reacts very negatively to men with hats, beards and grey hair.      My ex husband happens to have a beard and TRex will still act like he'd like to chew his foot off rather than look at him when he sees him.   I can't even bring myself to think of the life TRex must have faced to still be holding on to this baggage.

Even though he still has issues, he's doing so much better than he was when I first got him.   He is a different dog than he used to be.   He's much calmer at adoption events and he's even started playing with some of my other fosters at home.    He's started showing affection to some other dogs in our house,  which is to lick their eyes.   As usual, everything is UNusual in TRex's world.     I think he's decided my dog Jingle is his Mama.   He is always cuddling up to her, even putting his arm around her.    It's very sweet and I feel relieved knowing I got one dog out that might not have made it otherwise.

TRex is an example of why so much work was done this spring to get  the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act on the November ballot, otherwise known as Proposition B.    The breeders of Missouri have fought tooth and nail to keep it off the ballot.    Thousands of signatures had to be gathered and notarized to get it on the ballot.    While the signature gathering was going on, various breeders in Missouri would find out where meetings were going to be held and call ahead and "cancel" their reserved spaces.     Once the signatures were collected and turned in,  there was an attempt to have special legislation passed in the Missouri congress  to prevent it from being on the ballot.     Then, when the signatures were ratified and approved a suit was filed stating the wording was unfair so should be kept off the ballot.    When you read the proposal,   it's hard to understand why anyone would fight it.    It's asking for basic, humane care for all dogs in Missouri  breeding facilities.   It's asking for sufficient food, clean water, regular vet care, daily exercise, clean cages which are big enough for them to move around in, shelter from the elements, and rest between breeding cycles.    What person would ever oppose dogs being treated in such basic, humane ways?  

This is NO Life

To learn more about this proposition - please visit this web site.

Missourians For The Protection of Dogs


  1. Kim I agree with you, the most offensive thing I found when going to the auction was watching these dogs being lined up on a table and sold to the highest bidder like they were inanimate objects! Sick humans that can look at those poor innocent animals being put on a table, while they are shivering and scared and not have 1 ounce of sadness for what they are going through. Oh I could go on and on about puppymills...

  2. you will be happy to know that the breeders efforts to fight the puppy mill bill has put them is some serious financial hurt. heard all about it at the last auction we attended. they were auctioning off afghans and dogs donated to try and make money to pay off the lawyer and other fees they have incurred. they didnt make much. none of the rescue folks attending bid on those dogs and there were at least 4 rescues