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Boots: The Sad Story of a Puppy Mill Dog
'Boots' The Dog
Legal Action Pending
Both houses of the California legislature just passed a bill (AB 485), that will require that all stores selling dogs, cats, and rabbits must source them from local animal shelters, public animal control agencies and rescue groups, and not from mass breeding facilities, either in or out of state.
The law would take effect in January of 2019. This is a massive win for the animals and the people who love and care for them. As of this writing, (28 September 2017), the bill simply awaits the governor’s signature to turn it into law.
Why is this important? Because the puppy mills, as they are called, care nothing for the health of the animals; they are only interested in pumping out as many litters as they can, as fast as they can, for maximum profit.
Shocking abuses, neglect and mistreatment are the commonplace result of this sorry enterprise. The industry lobby tries to insist that pet owners, "...have a right to know the medical history of the animal…’ This is a specious bit of reasoning, because such records, if they exist at all, are liable to be sketchy at best, and false at worst.
First Hand Experience
When I was a kid in junior high school, back in the dark days before we knew better, we bought an adorable little Beagle puppy from a pet store. He was funny, smart, and loveable. We named him ‘Boots.’ Unfortunately, unbeknownst to us at first, he was also very, very ill.
In our ignorance, we mistakenly assumed that because he was ‘pedigreed,’ and came with “AKC papers,” that our purebred Beagle was a perfect example of the breed who would be with us for many happy years.
Our Assumptions Proved False
Boots was thin, severely underweight for his age, the veterinarian told us. He needed a high-protein diet to help him gain weight.
My mother spent a good deal of time cooking up ground beef to mix into his kibbles, and also bought him cottage cheese, both suggested by the vet. At the time, he was eating a small-sized kibble for puppies, and we would mix in the beef and cottage cheese very well. Apparently, Boots knew what he needed, and managed to pick out these goodies, tiny bits though they were, and leave most of the kibble behind!
Strike one for the breeder!
Yet Another Problem Developed
The special diet wasn’t working; he wasn’t gaining the expected amount of weight, and remained skinny. Why? It turned out that Boots had worms. Yuck! This is not uncommon in puppies and kittens; they often get them from the mother. (I’m not quite sure how that works, but it is the current ‘wisdom.’)
Back to the vet he went, for back then, de-worming was not an at-home easy process; it was messy, and you were happy to have the animal at the vet for them to deal with the mess resulting from the medication.
On picking him up, we learned that he had three kinds of worms all at once! Poor puppy! Those parasites were stealing all his nutrients! Thinking that was the last of the issues, we brought Bootsie back home to enjoy him.
Strike two for the breeder!
We Were Not Finished Yet!
All was well for a few months, but another curveball was coming our way. He seemed to all of a sudden have trouble peeing, and was squatting all the time, but nothing was happening.
Another trip to the vet: more parasites!! The vet was truly stumped, saying that these particular vermin were usually and commonly found in the digestive tract, but had gotten into the urinary tract instead. We were sent home with medication to give him.
Strike three for the breeder!
The Final Straw
Just when we thought we were through the worst, we were hit with another sucker punch.
The first sign was that he was always, always thirsty. He would drink massive amounts of water, and the output would be equal. We took him once again to the veterinarian, who diagnosed him as having diabetes. He was rather shocked, as he said it does happen in older dogs from time to time, but is virtually unheard of in puppies and young dogs. He also said that dogs don’t respond as well to insulin as humans do.
It was devastating. The only choice we had then was euthanasia; there was no sense in letting the poor little fellow suffer for years to come. He wasn’t quite a year old. I cried bucketsful.
No, never again would we buy a pet from a pet store. I was too young then to be politically aware, and engage in any kind of activism, but the next time we got a dog, it was from a private person whose dog had accidentally become pregnant.
We were able to go to their home, select the puppy we wanted, see that the conditions were clean and safe, and the puppies socialized. Plus, we were able meet both parents of the puppy, and assess their temperament. That dog, we named Rascal. He was a mutt, but he was a good and healthy dog.
The sad experience with Boots planted the seed, though, and I have been against puppy/kitten/bunny mills ever since, and I am a staunch advocate for animal rights and their humane treatment.
© 2017 Liz Elias