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Penny: For your thoughts


Penny, an 8-year-old sheltie, was one of 202 small dogs that Prairie Bark Kennels, a large commerical breeder of dogs in Colorado, needed to unload in connection with the company’s plan to relocate.

All breeding stock — Yorkies, papillons, dachshunds, pugs and Chihuahuas among them — Penny and the other dogs were crated, loaded on a truck and driven 788 miles from the Denver breeding operation to be put on the auction block in Missouri, where they were mostly likely to be bought by other commercial breeders.

But the little dogs weren’t the only ones headed for Missouri.

A group of animal welfare organizations, hearing of the Denver breeder’s plans and hoping to spare the dogs from continued lives in puppy mills, had contacted the company, offering to take the dogs and find them homes. The breeder declined the offer, so the animal welfare groups started a fund drive, raised $16,000, and sent a representative to Missouri to purchase as many of the dogs as their finances permitted.

As a result, 66 of the dogs, Penny included, ended up making the trip back to Denver — all tolled, a 1,500-mile journey to end up just 8 miles from where they’d started out a few days earlier.

USA Today’s Sharon Peters told the fascinating story in her “Pet Talk” column yesterday.

It started in early May, when Prairie Bark Kennels decided to sell many of its 250 dogs in advance of relocating, according to the seller statement filed with the auction company.

When Last Chance for Animals and Rocky Mountain Animal Defense heard the dogs would be sent to auction, they offered to pick them up. “The dogs are perpetually pregnant or nursing; they live their lives in cages,” Last Chance’s Julie Sarff says. “We wanted something better for them.” When the offer was turned down, Peters writes, the animal welfare groups flew into action.

National Mill Dog Rescue near Falcon, Colorado, which has rescued more than 2,000 mill dogs, agreed to send a representative to Missouri to buy as many of the dogs as funds allowed, and Denver Dumb Friends League had agreed to take the animals upon their return.

Of the dogs shipped to Missouri, 17 were pregnant, and 48 of them carried registrations from the American Kennel Club (including Shih Tzus, Cairn terriers, Malteses, cocker spaniels and Yorkshire terriers), according to auction documents.

The groups lacked the money to buy all of them, so they bid on older dogs. That way, says Sarff, “they could finish out their lives in a loving home living like a normal dog” rather than being “sold to a miller to produce another litter or two.”

Penny was one of 66 dogs -that arrived back in Denver Sunday. Examinations at the Denver Dumb Friends League found that many had bad teeth and gums. Most had foot lacerations from walking on wire cages. Nearly all, says Sarff, had poor muscle tone from lack of exercise, and some had infected ears and eye issues.

Penny, unfortunately, was in even rougher shape. She had two large mammary tumors, requiring complicated surgery, and her uterus was adhered to her intestines, which likely would have killed her in her next pregnancy. She also had a badly infected mouth, and 25 of her teeth had to be removed.

Penny, while being cared for by Colorado Sheltie Rescue, fought to recover but didn’t make it. She was euthanized Monday, bringing some sadness to the ending of a pretty amazing story.

(Photo: Top, Penny, courtesy of Colorado Sheltie Rescue; left, one of the rescued dogs, from Last Chance for Animals, Julie Sarff)


Comment from Patrice
Time May 25, 2009 at 7:58 am

Penny definitely has a pretty amazing life story but I am sad it ended up.

Comment from Animal Lover
Time August 7, 2009 at 6:48 pm

I got one of the dogs. He is a small doxie and was in terrible physical shape. What is worse though is his fear. He is afraid of everything and everyone one. The owners of Prairie Bark Kennels should be put in jail. Why is this not animal abuse? The vet was Jones, DVM. I hope the money was worth it, Doctor. I don’t know how these people sleep at night.

Comment from Sassie’s Mom
Time June 24, 2013 at 4:05 pm

I just found this site and I am pretty sure I too got one of these poor babies. I adopted her on Aug 8, 2009. Almost 4 yrs. later I can tell you she is the most gorgeous, loveable, sweetest precious pup you ever saw! She is a Yorkie/Bichon mix and she looks sooo different from the day I first saw her. Under all those matts was a truly adorable pup and I mean everyone loves her and says how beautiful she is. Her personality matches her looks! She was picked out for me by the Denver Dumb Friend’s League staff so I had no idea that her brother was also there at the time. I would have taken them both. They never told me and I didn’t go in the back where they all were. They brought her to me. I am very sad to know now that I could have jkept

Comment from richie
Time December 28, 2015 at 6:20 pm

Was this place run by the Hardins? That’s about all I can find. We got a yorkie and they seemed like nice people….sad to hear