I’m feeling much better today, so I don’t think I’ll be ripping my own head off anytime soon as was considered yesterday. I did take some medication, put ice on my head, and took a long nap until Husband and Youngest Son got home from work and school, respectively. I was hoping yesterday that today’s weather would be good and I was surprised. It’s not only good today, it’s awesome! So nice and just the right temperature with just a hint of a breeze to make you feel like springtime is here.
Today we went and took Harley to the groomers at SetPmart. She needed a bath and her nails ground again. I clip them often but it’s much nicer after they’ve ground them down with the Dremel tool because she’s much quieter on the hardwood floors. I know Cat doesn’t like it because Harley can sneak up on her, but I find it enjoyable. We decided that since there was still the chance of cold weather in this area for the next few weeks we wouldn’t get her “Spring Shave” done until the weather stays warmer for a while. Now because she’s part poodle, she’s all fluffy and “poofy” but still has the schnauzer face. I know it won’t last because she’s not a girly dog and has already attempted to roll in something unpleasant in the backyard already.
One thing I was very glad to see in the town we visited is that another pet store — Petland — has gone out of business. They’re notorious for selling dogs from puppy mills and even though they’ll tell you they don’t it’s so obvious they do. I went into that store once when Cody (my previous service dog) was getting older and thought about self-training another sheltie to take-over his job (that’s before the state laws were changed and you could train your own service dog). I’d been to the shelters and pounds and Humane Society kennels and hadn’t found a sheltie. I thought, just for giggles, I’d go into Petland and see what they had. They were stocked with all of the designer dogs and purebred puppies everyone has been trying to get their hands on. So many kids were sitting in the little “viewing boxes” where they could play with a puppy while their parents sat there and listened to the kid promise and promise to take care of it every day as they were actually trying to decide how to finance the cost of the dog because, being a designer dog, they were very expensive.
I looked around and finally one of the underpaid worker-drones came up and asked if there was something specific for which I was looking. I said that I was looking for a sheltie because my current service dog was getting ready to retire and I wanted to have another of the same breed so that they would bond and the new one could learn quickly from the old one. She said that they didn’t have any there that day. I feigned disappointment (I knew about the company and wasn’t going to buy one of their dogs anyway) and thanked her for her help. She told me to wait a moment and ran off to the back room. She quickly came back with a piece of paper that said if I paid $1000 that day I could have a sheltie puppy in a week.
What?? No reputable breeder is going to just happen to have new puppies available johnny-on-the-spot. The only way you get what you want, when you want is when you use a vending machine — and that’s just what puppy mills are like. They cram dogs into small wire cages and breed the heck out of them. Then when they’re no good for breeding or have gotten older, they dump them or, usually, kill them. Puppy mill dogs are so inbred they have many diseases and deformities that aren’t identified to the new owners who take their lovely/expensive new puppy home and watch it begin to get sicker and sicker, if it doesn’t just up and die first.
Cody was a rescued puppy mill dog. They used him as a breeder and dumped him when he got older. You could tell he’d never had human contact. Food was just pushed into a cage and if it stayed there he could eat and if it spilled that was too bad for him. He had no idea how to play. You could roll a ball towards him and he’d either look at it as if it was something amazing or he’d run and hide. When we got him after he’d been dumped, they’d shaved all of his beautiful long fur off except for his head and tail. Many puppy mills will do that so they don’t have to worry about the dogs’ coats getting matted or caught in a cage if they’re a profit-making dog. If they’re just one of the many waiting to be sold, they often don’t care what happens.
I told the Petland clerk that I was not interested in a puppy mill dog and she became quite angry that I would even suggest that their dogs came from puppy mills. I told her that I’d reconsider my opinion if she would provide me with the name and phone number of the breeder so that I could check him/her out and see what types of reports might have been filed by other puppy owners from their dams and sires. She said she couldn’t give me the information because I might go to the breeder and just buy the dog myself there instead of through the store. I asked for just the name of the breeder so I could check with the AKC (American Kennel Club) and the Department of Agriculture (that inspects breeders) to make sure I’d be getting a healthy dog. The clerk adamantly told me that she could not give me that information and that my puppy would be healthy because they have a vet on-staff (next door) who checks all of the puppies as they come into the store.
Sure, I’m going to trust a veterinarian that I’ve never met; never seen references regarding; and who isn’t always there at that store to check-over an animal that the company plans to make a large profit on and believe that they’re not being pressured to say everything is okey-dokey. I even went back to the vet’s office and couldn’t get any specific information on the vet, where he/she went to school, their specialties, etc.
After this encounter I saw reports on the news about Petland and how many groups were protesting their sale of puppy mill dogs. The state where I live is one of the largest puppy mill “sanctuaries” because people don’t report the owners of the puppy mills and, if you did try to report them, they have no problem showing you by force (usually through the end of a firearm) that they don’t want you messing in their business. There are many veterinarians in and near the town in which I live that I researched before I ever took my pets to one when we moved here that had many, MANY bad references and notices online for dealing with puppy mill dogs and signing health certificates of dogs that were transported across the country to new owners — only to have the puppy become critically ill or die soon after arrival.
I am SO happy that Petland is closed. Okay, yes, if people want to argue about it, it’s not good that there are workers from the store who now don’t have jobs in this poor economy. But, I usually do research on any company/organization with whom I’m applying for a job, so if I knew that Petland was marketing in puppy mill dogs, I’d never work there. I’d rather work somewhere else for less pay than to watch the dogs suffer as they come in, aren’t well, and are handled repeatedly by people who are “just looking” and can’t really give the dog a forever home. Heck, I’d work part-time for minimum wage at the local pound or shelter before I’d take a full-time higher-paying job at a store like Petland. What kills me is that the website for this particular store is still up and the parent company is still taking “special orders” and operating out of another town. They had said they were closed for remodeling. Guess it was to remodel their way the heck out-of-town.
As I walked into SetPmart to pick up Harley from her beauty appointment, I took a moment and looked at the dogs and cats inside and outside the store that three different shelters had brought in hopes that they would be adopted. I saw many families looking at the dogs and playing with them. The puppies were obviously the most popular ones but I saw a few looking at some of the older dogs and even overheard one family saying they wanted to adopt an older dog because it wouldn’t chew-up the house and they wanted to give it the best last years it could have. I smiled and looked down at Celeste who was staring at me as if to say, “You already have another pest in the house. You don’t need any more.” I scratched her ears and smiled at the shelter personnel and the families there. True, when Celeste’s time comes to retire I’ll have to have another certified service dog and will 99% get one from the breeder/trainer where I got Celeste. But when Harley’s old and gray and her time here on earth is over, I’ll definitely be back at the shelter. And whether it’s a puppy or a senior dog, it doesn’t matter. Shelter animals love you even more because they know that you’ve just saved their life and they’ll do anything to make yours happy and safe.