Stop Breeding Misery

There have been countless stories written about breeding farms and puppy mills. I have written many such stories myself but today, I decided not to write about how evil and irresponsible these breeders are, or how much these poor breeding dogs suffer in the hands of greedy humans out to make a fast buck from the poor defenseless animals. I am not going to persuade you to stop thinking about buying that cute little puppy from the pet store because if by now, you don’t know where your puppy came from or how they came about, then I doubt this story would change your mind. Instead, I hope these photographs will speak volumes of the suffering of puppy mill dogs, dogs born and bred in captivity.

Fresh from the farm
Five little puppies rescued from a breeding farm, ready to be discarded because they could not be sold, all of them barely a year old. The fact that the breeder had kept them alive for so many months, with no commercial use, amazes me because it’s extremely rare for these mercenary breeders to spend money on goods that bring no benefits or value.

When these little puppies arrived at the vet, the stench of urine immediately filled the sterile air at the vet. It was so bad that every few minutes, we needed to go out to take a breath of fresh air. They were soaked in pee and it wasn’t just from the journey from breeding farm to the vet. The dogs have been soaked in pee possibly almost from the time they were born; they smelled dirty and damp. White dogs had become brown dogs. 

Taking turns to be seen by the vet
Three siblings, two males and a female, could not be sold as they were cross breeds. The breeder did not microchip them as they were not sellable but they have since been microchipped by us. Despite countless guesses, we still have no idea exactly what crosses they are. All we know is that they look like miniature seals X polar bears. We named the two males Seal and Finn. The female is Dawn.

All three of them have demodectic mange, one worse than the rest. They are slightly underweight, had filthy, smelly ears that had probably never been cleaned and nails that were too long to walk with. They have been so used to being caged up in a small cage together, that they initially cried for each other whenever we took one out and we could see them looking lost. Again, for the fact that they had always been caged up, they feared open spaces. Each time we took them out, they would dash back into the filthy carriers that they were transported in.

Look at their photographs. It is often said that a picture paints a thousand words. In this case, their photographs depict their fear, curiosity, sadness, torture and even bewilderment and loss as to what was happening to them, why they were at the vet.

Drawing blood and running tests

Bad skin problems

Skin scrape test

Sad and pathetic looking


Meet Hansel, the white poodle cross. Filthy and reeking of pee, his coat was sticky and wet from the fact that he had never been cleaned or bathed. His stomach is distended so liver and kidney tests have been done for him. He is not more than a year old and he'll be a few shades whiter with some tender loving.  

Filthy, smelly and scared
Look at his paws

Hansel, the white poodle, cowering in fear and petrified just being out in the open
No life in his eyes

The poor brown poodle cross has the most issues – a bad ear infection, underweight, ringworms and decaying teeth.

Brown poodle, Elijah, feeling sorry for himself

Elijah's badly infected ear

Elijah's bad skin
Poor Elijah's elbow
Elijah's dry and flaky skin, and he has ringworms

Less than a year old and he has rotten teeth that need extracting when he is healthier

Life has not been kind to these poor dogs
In safe hands at last
By volunteer, Alicia Wong, relating her first experience with puppy mill dogs :
Fiona and her team brought the rescued pups to the vet for their check ups. There, they met dog lover Iris Chong, who, despite her shock at the condition the puppies were in and their stench that filled the air, kindly helped to look after the pups while they waited to be seen by the vet.

Even though the pups were far from the ‘pet shop perfect’ puppies we’re used to seeing, they managed to win Iris over, and she was kind enough to offer to foster the lone female pup of the lot. The female pup, Dawn, is about 7 months old, and might be coming in heat soon, so it was quite important to separate her from the rest of the male pups, as none of them have been sterilized. (They will be when they are healthier.)

Iris Chong, first time foster who has never been up close with a puppy mill dog :
“I'm happy to be able to help even though it’s just one of the pups. I wish I had the space and time to foster more.

I feel that the breeders are wicked and irresponsible. Even if they can’t sell the pups, whatever the reason is, they should at least provide basic care and meet the pups’ basic needs. They could easily seek help from the animal welfare groups to put up these pups for adoption!

It broke my heart when I first saw them; it was really my first time seeing puppies in such a bad shape! From head to tail, eye and ear infection, skin problems, infected with mites, fleas, ticks. Plus there are problems that cannot be seen, problems with their liver, kidney, heartworm, tick fever etc.

And one more thing: the smell. Wow… it cannot be described. I showered Dawn twice within a few days and she still smells bad! It will take many more washes to get rid of the smell completely. I don't think the breeders clean the pups, and they were soaked with pee and poo, and goodness knows what else when they were rescued, hence the stench.

As for Dawn, the pup I’m fostering now, she is such a sweetheart.

When she first settled in my house, the way she moved – she was crawling, scared, nervous and unsure. She moved slowly, sniffing away and was startled easily by the slightest sudden noise. When I set up the fence, she automatically went in and sat down. I almost teared. It was as if she was saying, “The cage is my home. This is the only life I know”. After showering and feeding her, I could see a slight difference. She seemed more lively and happy. She did not wag her tail that night though.

But the next morning, when she saw me, she wagged her tail. That’s the moment every dog owner loves to see! Now after a few days with me, she's doing just fine. Puppy nonsense surfaces – she’s playful, bites and pulls the rag, runs round in the kitchen especially after dinner, trying to get my own dogs to play! All dogs are beautiful in their own way. It’s some humans that are ugly.

This is my first time being a foster, and it is not an easy task. It’s more stressful than taking care of my own dogs. I have to see that they eat well, sleep well, don't fall sick and be careful not to pamper them too much so that her future adopters will not find them a nuisance and will love them.

Now, Dawn doesn’t like to go back to her cage! She loves to come out to play (at the moment in the kitchen only as she might have ringworms. We are still waiting for the skin culture results) and sit beside me when she's tired. All she wants is love, some human touch and most of all... . . the assurance that she is finally safe.”

By Alicia Wong :

With Dawn under Iris’ safe care, I met the remaining four pups on Monday at the vet, as they had to undergo some tests.

One of the first things that struck me was that they didn’t have that innocence and joy that young pups have. They looked scared and rather wary, some more so than others. One of them, Seal, was visibly shivering and because they never had the luxury of walks or ever leaving their cages, they were not used to being leashed and kept struggling on the leash.

But thankfully these pups are resilient. They were boarded at the clinic, and when I saw them on Wednesday, they looked so much happier. Maybe it’s because they are in a much more comfortable environment, or maybe it’s because they’ve finally experienced some care from people.

Either way, they looked more like puppies – active, noisy, inquisitive, playful. They were running around the room, pouncing on each other, peering out of the glass door, and bravely learning to climb the stairs. Finn, one of the pups, is too short to climb up the stairs properly, but it does not stop him from trying!

I don’t believe that it’s going to be an easy time taking care of any of these pups – it’s never easy taking care of an animal. But looking at them play today and the laughter they drew from those watching them, I just know that the joy they could bring to any household, if they have the chance, would make any effort more than worth it.

Now look at them! We see HOPE. Do you?

More info on the rescued pups:
1) Three siblings (2 males Finn & Seal + 1 female Dawn) – generally healthy although slightly underweight. They have demodectic mange and awaiting skin culture results to find out if they have ringworms. (Dawn and Seal are with fosters). (Finn needs foster)
2) White poodle cross named Hansel. Distended stomach, testing for liver and kidney problems. Awaiting skin culture results on whether he is positive or negative for ringworms. (Needs foster)
3) Brown poodle cross named Elijah. The one with the most issues. Bad ear infection, skin problems, ringworms, underweight and at 8 months, his teeth has decayed from poor nutrition. He needs a dental scaling when he is sterilized. (Fostered)

If you think such cruelty in breeding has nothing to do with you, please think again. The breeding industry, like all industries, is about supply and demand. If everyone stops the demand for “perfect pets”, the supply would eventually end. A true animal lover should never consider purchasing a pet.

Animals cannot speak or tell us how they feel, but they do not suffer any less just because they have no words. I hope these photos have shown you what they cannot say, and if by now you still harbor the thought of buying a pet from a store, I am not speaking to you!

To foster / adopt them or help with their vet bills, please email fiona@hopedogrescue.org

Special thanks go to Iris Chong, Iris & Nicholas, Lisa Goh, Joceline Loo, Haley & Tim, Alicia Wong, Rina, Sherry and Mabel for helping.

Written by Fiona Foo, Iris Chong and Alicia Wong.
Photographs courtesy of Lisa Goh and Joceline Loo.