Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Shutting Down a Puppy Mill: A Rescue Story

Bear just after rescue




           
            My partner, Fox, is an Animal Communicator.  She's the real deal, she's not a poseur playing at "Pet Psychic" and taking people's money.  Her ability is quite inexplicable unless you embrace some beliefs that tax the empirical world view. I have several of these but I don't advertise the fact.
          About three years ago Fox was called to the home of a toy and teacup poodle breeder.  It was a long ride but she was getting some strange intuitions that she could not ignore.
      As soon as she arrived she knew the place was a puppy mill. Most of the dogs were hidden behind closed doors but she could feel the suffering.  She could smell it, hear it and she could sense it like low hanging clouds suffusing the house and grounds. The assault on her emotions was overwhelming.  There was such distress, such cruelty, such greed and cynicism!
            Fox consulted the owner regarding two dogs.  Why were they so aggressive?
          ARE YOU KIDDING ME? she wanted to scream.  STOP TREATING THESE BEAUTIFUL ANIMALS LIKE COMMODITIES!
          She kept quiet.  She was scared.  She knew that she was among criminals and she had to tread cautiously. 
Bear a few weeks after rescue
            The puppy mill was catering to a market of wealthy Chinese buyers.
This new class of upscale Chinese are fueling a worldwide vogue for tiny dogs. A documented four-pound poodle can fetch five thousand dollars in Shanghai,Canton, Hong Kong and Beijing.
            Fox carefully asked the owner to change the way she treated her dogs.  The owner was not receptive to Fox's advice.  She was making huge amounts of money.  One of the techniques she used to keep puppies small was to confine them to tiny spaces.  They were drugged on tranquilizers to retard their growth.  They had nowhere to move, no exercise, so they didn’t develop any mass.  The lighter the dog, the more expensive.  The unwitting yet culpable participants in this racket, the customers in the orient, were paying thousands of dollars for a puppy that would be sick and crazy.
            Too bad.  All sales final.  You saw the photo of the puppy you were purchasing.
You saw the AKC documents.  You sent your money and we sent you a tiny poodle.
            While the breeder was taking a phone call, Fox entered a small room and looked down at a little brown puppy.  He was confined to an aquarium, not much bigger than a shoebox.  He had an IV needle stuck into his leg.  He looked into Fox’s eyes.  She heard the words as clear as a bell: Help me!  Get me out of here!
Bear at one year
            Without thinking, she opened the top, removed the IV and scooped the puppy inside her coat.  The little guy stayed quiet.  He just kept looking into Fox’s eyes.
            In a few minutes Fox left the house with the closed bedrooms and high fenced backyard full of suffering animals.  She drove to a nearby mall and called the police.  The result of her action was that arrests were made, the puppy mill was shut down and forty seven puppies found new and far better owners.
            Fox made the ninety minute drive home with this shivering puppy inside her coat.  His hair was very long.  He looked like a little Ewok in need of a barber.
            That puppy became our Little Bear.  He is now a seven pound dog of disproportionate strength.  He is also absurdly intelligent, perceptive, stubborn and willful.  He has quirks.  He has bad memories.  He suffers from PTSD.  He can go crazy when grooming implements appear.  Anything like gleaming steel, needles or tubes can trigger a momentary aggression.
          Bear is, however, happy, healthy, spoiled and loved beyond all reason.
Bear as he is today.