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Tag: adopting

Are dog rescue groups helping support big time breeders? It sure looks that way

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Are animal rescue groups actually helping keep big-time dog breeders — both good ones and bad ones — in business?

That’s the question raised in this blockbuster report that appeared in The Washington Post this morning.

The newspaper’s investigation found that rescue operations, traditionally the nemesis of puppy mills, have been buying dogs from breeders at auction, using donations from their supporters to buy dogs in what it described as a “nationwide shadow market.”

The result is a river of rescue donations flowing from avowed dog saviors to the breeders, two groups that have long disparaged each other. The rescuers call many breeders heartless operators of inhumane “puppy mills” and work to ban the sale of their dogs in brick-and-mortar pet stores. The breeders call “retail rescuers” hypocritical dilettantes who hide behind nonprofit status while doing business as unregulated, online pet stores.

But for years, they have come together at dog auctions where no cameras are allowed, with rescuers enriching breeders and some breeders saying more puppies are being bred for sale to the rescuers.

Bidders affiliated with 86 rescue and advocacy groups and shelters throughout the United States and Canada have spent $2.68 million buying 5,761 dogs and puppies from breeders since 2009 at the nation’s two government-regulated dog auctions, both in Missouri, according to invoices, checks and other documents The Post obtained from an industry insider.

Most rescuers then offered the dogs for adoption as “rescued” or “saved,” and charge adoption fees that range from $50 to $1,000 per dog.

The article reports that it is likely the success of rescue groups in reducing the numbers of dogs needing adoption that has led to an increase in such organizations turning to buying dogs offered at auctions by commercial kennels: “As the number of commercial kennels has decreased, so has the number of shelter animals killed in the United States: A February 2017 estimate put the total for dogs alone at 780,000, a steep drop from estimates for all shelter animals that were as high as 20 million in the 1970s.”

One golden retriever rescue group turned to the auctions after seeing 40 percent fewer dogs coming in as of 2016. At the auctions, such rescuers describe buying purebreds and popular crossbreeds such as goldendoodles and maltipoos as “puppy mill rescue,” the article notes.

Some rescue organizations have paid more than $1,000 for a single dog.

Animal-welfare groups, including the ASPCA, HSUS, say rescuers are misguided in buying dogs at auction because the money they pay only encourages more breeding on a commercial scale.

While they may be keeping some individual dogs from being purchased by breeders for a life of breeding, they are also lining the pockets of breeders and helping to create a “a seller’s market.”

JoAnn Dimon, director of Big East Akita Rescue in New Jersey, says that buying breeding-age dogs at auctions makes it harder for commercial breeders to profit in the long run: “That breeder is going to make thousands of dollars off that [female dog] if he breeds her every cycle. I just bought her for $150. I just took money out of his pocket. I got the dog, and I stopped the cycle.”

The majority of the $2.68 million The Post documented was spent since 2013 at Southwest Auction Service, the biggest commercial dog auction in the country, with some additional spending at its smaller, only remaining competitor, Heartland Sales.

As the last remaining government-licensed auctions, they let buyers and sellers see hundreds of dogs at a time and are a legal part of the country’s puppy supply chain. They are regulated by the U.S. and Missouri Departments of Agriculture and open to the public.

“I’m not going to lie about this: Rescue generates about one-third, maybe even 40 percent of our income,” Bob Hughes, Southwest’s owner, told the Post. “It’s been big for 10 years.”

“I honestly think there are very good, responsible rescues that just love the dogs and want to get them out of the breeding industry,” he added. “And I think there are malicious, lying, cheating rescues that are in it for the money and the glory and the funding.”

Rescue groups generally are organized as nonprofit charities and raise money through fundraisers, adoption fees, grants and bequests. Shelters and rescue groups connected to the auction bidders have annual revenue that runs from $12,000 to $1.5 million.

Hughes told the Post that what happens at auctions shows that nobody has the moral high ground in America’s puppy wars.

“In their minds, the rescuers think they’re better,” he says. “The industry is all alike. We’re all supplying puppies and dogs to the general public in some form or fashion.”

(Photo: Dogs being sold at an auction in Michigan))

Magdalene comes back … as Dixie

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I was visiting the Forsyth Humane Society yesterday when word came back to the administrative offices that “Magdalene was back for a visit.”

Everyone rushed out to the lobby to see the dog who, before she was adopted about four months ago, had become a staff favorite (at least among those who admit to having a favorite).

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The name rang a bell, and when I saw her I remembered that I was among those she had impressed — to the point where I was considering adopting her.

About the time I became the humane society’s volunteer archivist, Magdalene had entered the shelter. And I — who took the position partly so I could visit dogs — must have gone back to see her four or five times, each time leaning a little closer to taking the big step.

DSC06165She is half white, half black, with each side of her face having seemingly chosen a completely different color, and ears that somehow couldn’t decide and came out speckled.

Big and gangly, she’s a classic mutt, who, while playful, seems to have the peaceful temperament that often goes along with a mix.

Alas, I (as I’ve done once or twice before in life) spent too much time thinking about it.

My dog, Ace, died last spring, and by the time fall came around, I was just about there, but apparently not quite.

One day, Magdalene wasn’t around anymore.

I adopted my new dog, Jinjja, about a month later from the Watauga Humane Society.

Magdalene went home with Amber Fuller, of Mocksville, who renamed her Dixie and, judging from her Facebook posts, couldn’t be happier about the dog she ended up with.

She was visiting Winston-Salem with Dixie yesterday and stopped by the shelter, where the staff seemed thrilled for a chance to see her again. And vice versa.

DSC06135 (2)She greeted everyone, curled up under the feet of the front desk receptionist for a while, and gladly submitted to some belly rubbing.

Fuller reports Dixie is doing great. If the video below is any indication– the humane society posted it on its Facebook page — Dixie is pretty relaxed in her new setting.

If only the real “Bachelor” was this good

A New Mexico animal shelter has produced a pretty brilliant two-minute parody of “The Bachelor” with women vying for the attention of a handsome cur named Stewart.

“… With Valentine’s Day it just seemed like the perfect time to do that,” said Jamie Merideth, a former TV news videographer who went to work last year as a videographer for the Santa Fe Humane Society.

“We’re trying to find these animal forever homes and it just seemed like a good platform to do that,” she added.

The video’s message, of course, is that the love of your life may be waiting for adoption in an animal shelter.

But the video’s beauty also lies in its highly professional, and highly hilarious, execution.

Most of the “actresses” work at the humane society.

They play the roles of a hair stylist, an art therapist, a professional dog walker and an attorney — all oozing drama and reflecting the kind of cattiness the program is known for as they compete for Stewart’s affections.

Stewart, the ever so hunky bachelor, was a shelter dog in real life. His owner (who’s also in the video) adopted him from the Washington Humane Society before moving from Maryland to Santa Fe.

He represents the 100 or so dogs available for adoption at the Santa Fe shelter on any given day.

“He’s an amazing bachelor. He has the look, just very handsome,” Merideth told KRQE.

The video was posted Friday on the humane society’s Facebook page.

The Santa Fe Animal Shelter and Humane Society, located on a four-building campus on a 100-acre lot, has long been regarded as one of the most progressive in the country.

Now we know it’s packed with some pretty talented humans, too.

Canine pipeline: Dogs who run out of luck in Las Vegas are ending up in Canada

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Most people involved in animal rescue know that homeless dogs in America are routinely shipped from southern shelters to northern ones to improve their chances of adoption.

But here’s a canine pipeline I hadn’t heard of — dogs from Las Vegas, like Pono (above), are being flown to Canada to find new adoptive homes. He was the 1,000th dog to make the trip.

Pono, a 3-year-old male Pomeranian, left a Las Vegas animal shelter in September and ended up either for sale or up for adoption (depending on your point of view) at Petcetera, a large pet store chain in Canada.

He made the trip through a program called Foreclosed Upon Pets Inc., which has been operating since 2008.  The non-profit organization began shipping Las Vegas shelter dogs to Vancouver two and a half years ago, and now ships eight to 16 every week.

In Canada, they they are adopted out — for a $500 fee — through Petcetera’s 18 stores, according to a story initially reported by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, and picked up by ABC News.

Both stories describe what’s happening — troubling as it is on some levels — as a simple matter of supply and demand: The U.S. has millions of surplus dogs; Canada, with its stricter regulations on spaying and neutering, has what some might call a shortage, especially when it comes to smaller breeds.

“For whatever reason, we have a shortage of small dogs here, and to be quite honest, we were shocked at the size of the problem in Las Vegas,” said Richard Kaga, the executive vice president of Petcetera, which operates big box pet stores from Alberta to British Columbia to Nova Scotia.

“Over here in the United States, we’re just one big puppy mill,” said Everett Croxson, FUPI executive director. “Las Vegas included … Let’s face it. People are breeding for money in their backyards, and the concept of spaying and neutering never enters their heads, even if the laws exist. Even if there are such laws on the books.”

Every week, Croxson picks up dogs from the Lied Animal Shelter in Las Vegas and takes them to the airport. After a layover in Seattle, they arrive in Vancouver. Since the program started in 2010, Croxson said he has exported as many as 1,100 small dogs, nearly three-fourths of them Chihuahuas. Croxson calls Las Vegas “the Chihuahua capital of the world.”

He started the organization to find homes for dogs that had been abandoned due to foreclosures, most of which ended up at Lied Animal Shelter,  a very high volume regional shelter that takes in more than 100 dogs and cats each day. In 2012, nearly 43,000 unwanted animals — nearly 23,000 dogs and 18,000 cats — came in, and many never left. An estimated 65 dogs and cats are put to sleep there every day.

Given that ugly alternative, it’s hard to find any fault with a program that’s bringing dogs happy endings in another country.

But what’s happening seems to make a pretty sad statement about our own country: “No, we can’t take care of our own.” “True, we tend to shirk responsibilities.” “Yes — cough, cough — our economy is a little unhealthy right now.” America in 2013 is producing refugees — albeit canine ones — who must be airlifted out of the country to stay alive.

Kaga, the Petcetera official, says there are no puppy mills in Canada and that Canadian pet owners  “would not think of having a pet” without spaying and neutering it.  Some might argue with that, but clearly Canada is a step ahead — or at least enough ahead that, when it comes to canines, it’s accepting our tired, poor, homeless and hungry.

Noble as it appears, the adoption program isn’t hurting business at Petcetera stores.

Kaga says the $500 fee the store is paid for each adopted pet covers the cost of the animals’ transportation, spaying or neutering, shots, health certificate, and their care and boarding at Petcetera.

But each dog adopted is going to need some food, and toys, and treats, perhaps a dog bed, and maybe a nice warm sweater.

“Like people, dogs have to have toys and food,” he says. “When we adopt a dog out, we hope the customer will come back to us for all that dog’s needs for the rest of its life. It’s worked out really well for all concerned — especially the dogs.”

(Photo: Foreclosed Upon Pets, Inc.)

Hero shelter dog finally finds a home

Nala, a pit bull-Labrador mix living at an animal shelter in Washington state, made headlines in December when she helped save another dog — a blind cocker spaniel she found freezing to death in a ditch while on a walk with a shelter staffer.

Despite the publicity and her newfound hero status, no one stepped forward to adopt Nala — who has what the Humane Society of Redmond describes as “some behavioral issues” — and, as of March, her stay at the shelter had stretched to a year.

This month, though, there was one more publicity push by the shelter, which established a Facebook page for Nala — and that helped lead to her adoption this week by Janet Roberts, 63, the Bend Bulletin reports.

A week ago, the Humane Society teamed up with a photographer, held a photo shoot with Nala and created a Facebook page for the dog. Reese Mercer, a board member, provided “first person” updates, from Nala’s perspective, about her hunt for a home.

As a result, Nala had fans from as far away as Finland, all of them rooting for her to find a home — but few of them volunteering to provide one.

Nala’s new caretaker, a court transcriber who lives on 80 acres in Powell Butte, first heard about Nala’s story in December. When she learned Nala was still without a home months later, Roberts offered to take her home for a trial visit. Roberts has four cats, two horses and an older dog. The dog spent the night Tuesday, and the next morning, Roberts decided it was for keeps.

“She was ever so sweet, and fit in really well,“ said Roberts. “She was so respectful of everyone here … She really wants to please people, which is really endearing,” said Roberts.

The official adoption took place Thursday.

“It’s going to be tough to say goodbye,” said Alan Borland, the shelter staff member who was walking Nala when she found the cocker spaniel.

Borland told the Bulletin the couple that the Roberts family has invited him to come visit Nala, but said he probably won’t.

“She needs to get on with her life, and forget about the year she spent at the shelter,” he said.

(Photo: From Nala’s Facebook page)

Greyhound racing is done in Wisconsin

Greyhound racing is nearing the finish line in Wisconsin.

Dairyland Greyhound Park, in Kenosha — the last operating track in the state —  announced Tuesday it will close its doors after racing ends Dec. 31.

Dairyland was one of five Wisconsin tracks that opened after a 1987 amendment to the state constitution allowed for a state-run lottery and legalized parimutuel betting. The others closed earlier, unable to compete with the state’s tribal casino offerings that began to emerge in the 1990s.

According to the Kenosha News, the 19-year-old track has lost $17 million over the last seven years.

Dairyland has remained in operation in recent years with the hope that the Menominee Nation wins federal and state approval to develop a $1 billion casino complex on the site. The tribe is now in litigation to overturn a January denial of the project.

Closing the track will put about 180 people out of work, and, track officials say, leave the 900 dogs that race at the facility in need of homes.

If you’re interest in adopting, here’s how to find a greyhound rescue near you.