The Real Cost Of That Puppy In The Window

The gravel crunched beneath our feet as we stepped out of our cars. Right away, we could smell the dogs housed in the several kennels that dotted the area. We waited as Fiona, Lisa, and Diane made their way to the puppy mill; we were expecting to rescue at least four dogs that day.

Puppy mills are ‘factories’ where dogs are put through intense suffering, abused by profit-seeking breeders. Breeding dogs are perpetually pregnant or birthing, and spend their entire miserable lives in cages so small that they hardly have any space to turn or stand straight. They will never feel the warmth of the sun on their backs or cool raindrops on their faces. These poor dogs stand on wired floors that dig into their feet, and are sorely deprived of proper nutrition. This leaves them often sick with infections and untreated open sores.

It was my first time joining in a rescue – I had no idea what state the dogs could have been in. Many of them spend their entire lives caged up, reproducing litter after litter of puppies, a wretched existence we desperately wanted to free them from.
First to appear in Fiona’s arms was Nora, a female poodle, estimated to be three years old. She had dry flaky skin (a symptom of ringworms) but was such a sweetheart. Apparently, she was always bullied in the farm, hence she seemed very afraid of her new surroundings. She didn’t dare to move, and later at the vet, she didn’t dare to eat. She was extremely afraid of getting attacked by other dogs and clung tightly onto the volunteer who was carrying her.

Fiona and Rina wrapping Nora in towels

Nora's leg

Gratitude in Nora's eyes

Nora was so terrified at the vet, she didn't dare move an inch

Joey was next – a male peki-pom with beautiful golden brown fur that begged to be stroked. He too, had ringworms, but otherwise showed no major problems. He was about a year old, and had a rather dignified manner about him.

Joey safely in Rina's arms
He was followed by a black male Scottish Terrier, whom we dubbed Rob. He was a handsome creature, also about one year old. He had ringworms but his skin condition was not as serious as Nora’s. On our way to the vet, he sat quietly in my arms in a watchful manner, wary and unsure of his destiny.

Rob, with bad skin

Rob waiting to see the vet

Ear mites observed under a microscope (mites were from Rob's ear)

Rob and Sarah waiting for the vet techs to take their blood samples

Then came Sarah, who made my heart wrench when I saw her. She is a Scottish Terrier, also about one, but with severe skin problems. Much of her black fur had fallen out in clumps, where gaping patches of raw inflamed skin were showing. She was also grossly underweight and too small for a Scotty. Carrying her, you could feel all her bones beneath her skin. She kept peeing blood but the vet had not diagnosed her problems yet. She seemed, however, unbothered by her forlorn condition and started sniffing everywhere, rocketing on a leash once we put her on the floor. She is such an easy-going dog who craves attention and cuddles.

Little Sarah

Sarah and Nora safe in the arms of Alicia and Rina

Cleaning up the dogs

Johnathan calming Sarah at the vet. Johnathan is one of our treasured male volunteers.

Sarah, with Joey in the background

Blood in Sarah's pee

Sarah's skin condition was the worst of the lot

Her skin around her eyes were flaky

Swabs from inside Sarah's left & right ears

Blotchy skin on the top of her head and neck

Lola came out last – a female Peki-Pom, also about one. Little to our knowledge, she had a surprise in store for us – Lola was pregnant! An ultrasound scan showed that she was carrying two puppies, and she was about 57 days pregnant (dogs carry puppies for 63 days before giving birth). We were fortunate to find a foster who was able to care for her in such a condition. Three days later, she gave birth to four adorable Peki-Poms! It was a stroke of luck that we got her, or else her pups might have had to spend the rest of their lives reproducing for commercial purposes as well. The vet said it was her first pregnancy.

Lola waiting for her turn to see the vet

Mommy Lola was heavily pregnant (that's Joey in the background!)

Lola's ultrasound scan

Despite the fact that none of these dogs have had an easy or comfortable life, they seemed in high spirits and ready to give humans a second chance. I admire their resilience, but I also felt sad, because it made me think of all the people out there who abuse the simple faith and trust that these dogs have placed in us.  

Despite living in the same farm, these dogs were seeing each other for the first time

Like all the dogs we rescued, all five dogs underwent a series of standard tests on the very day we rescued them to ensure they were in good health. We thank the fosters who showed up that day and waited patiently for hours to bring the dogs home. The dogs were tested on their kidney and liver functions, heartworm and tick fever, and a skin culture for mites and ringworm. Being thorough comes at a cost, but it is important that they are in good health before they are re-homed, lest they infect the family dog in the foster home.

For now, one problem all five dogs have in common is ringworm, a fungal infection.

All the dogs are now with fosters. If you are keen on adopting, please email Alicia at alicia@hopedogrescue.org. Please do note that ringworms generally take about two months to clear.

Only Joey and Sarah are available for adoption at this time. Adoption fee applies and all dogs will be sterilised before they are re-homed.

Each year, hundreds of companion animals are euthanized due to over-population and the neglect of irresponsible pet owners. We need to heighten public awareness and hopefully, with better understanding and compassion, the suffering of the voiceless will end.

Puppy mills sell mainly to pet shops, although they do also sell to individual buyers. These callous puppy mill owners are least concerned about the physical health or psychological well being of their hundreds of dogs. Most dogs are disease-ridden and all are continuously force-bred; just imagine the concept of constant gang rape. They live in filthy conditions that you will never witness, as these places are strictly off-limits to the public.

If you ever hear of anyone who is contemplating on buying a dog, tell him or her about Prince and the horrors that he suffered in a puppy mill. Tell them about the connection between puppy mills and pet shops. Every puppy purchased from a pet store means one more adorable dog from a shelter will never find a home. Help make the puppy mill industry a relic of the dark past by only adopting, and never buying a puppy again!

Please save a life – adopt from a shelter or rescue group.
This rescue was a huge team effort and it is not possible without the help of all our volunteers. They were here from 9am to 4pm – at the rescue; at the vet; sending dogs to the foster; and settling them in. Hope Dog Rescue sincerely thanks all 15 of you. This cannot be done without such a terrific and dedicated team.

Written by Lin YQ. Photo credits - Lin YQ and Diane Wong.