When I found out that the topic for the next national Blog the Change for Animals Day was puppy mills, I knew I had to speak with Sarah Little, Manager of Admissions and Animal Healthcare at Wayside Waifs in Kansas City. I asked her about the role animal shelters and rescue resources like Wayside Waifs can play in our fight to eradicate puppy mills in America. Here's what she told me:
"There are so many reasons to become involved with the puppy mill problem. You're helping the animal community but you're also helping the human community.
The truth is that some animals are living in horrid conditions because some - not all - breeders either do not have or choose not to use the financial resources necessary to maintain a basic quality of life for these animals.
In Missouri, there are some decent, licensed breeders but there are also many unlicensed breeders who keep their animals living in terrible conditions.
Our goal is to help get the dogs out of there so they can be given the proper nutrition and medical care they need, they can be rehabilitated and given a chance to live a normal life.
We've seen some serious issues with the dogs we rescue from puppy mills. The biggest issue by far is dental. The animals are fed such a poor diet that young dogs only a few years old are losing teeth. In some cases the teeth have rotted away and the decay has gone into the jaw bone. In one particular case, the decay was so pronounced, portions of the jaw were eroded completely and the jaw was, in fact, broken in places.
They have found frequent cases of mammary tumors in dogs who had whelped too many litters, some benign, others tragically malignant.
Then there are skin conditions that are easily treated but ignored as extraneous expenses: cherry eye, a common congenital eye defect in various dog breeds easily corrected by surgery, is just one example.
All I can say is that to be able to give these dogs the medical help they need is more rewarding than words can express."
Many thanks to Sarah for letting us interview her for today's national Blog The Change Day, and giving us just a brief glimpse into how rewarding it can be for a local shelter to help carry the torch as we all seek to bring an end to puppy mills in the U.S.
Please...encourage your local shelter to consider implementing a similar program, and Join The Change for Animals, too.
The above interview touched on some of the more common physical and medical situations associated with puppy mills. But there are the socialization issues, too. In most cases these dogs have had such little human contact that they're painfully shy and uncomfortable. To learn more about the emotional and psychological condition of these animals and what shelters can do to help them, please come back tomorrow to read part 2 of this Blog the Change post.
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