The Trip: Part 3By Immydog
The cold metal handle on the door opened up a whole new world to me. It was a world that I have heard about, one of which I had seen photographs, one that I have fought actively against. But this is my first time stepping into a puppy mill. I was hesitant, but how could you fight something wholeheartedly without having truly experienced it?
The cages were made of wire mesh coated with a black plastic. The mesh made up all four walls, the ceiling, and the floor of every cage. The dogs barked and bounced within their cages. There was a strong ammonia smell from the urine and feces. The one thing that no photograph or video can give you is the intensity of that smell.
Animal Welfare; Solid Resting Surfaces for Dogs and Cats, Final Rule." Federal Register Vol. 64, No. 75 (20 April 1999), 19251-19254.
As you step into the building, your feet hit a concrete floor. There were cages to the right and to the left of us, with a solid object, possibly a ventilation unit, running down the center of the room. We were led through the first room of the building.
The design of the cages' waste trays was creative, to say the least. The design was intended to minimize the work required to clean the entire building. Beneath each kennel, was a waste tray installed at an angle, creating a ramp onto which the feces and urine would drop onto after making its way through the wire mesh floor of the cage. The ramp would cause the urine and feces to roll down the ramp into a trench that ran the length of the building on the floor. Unfortunately, the trench was on the other side of the narrow walking space on the floor. The walking space was probably around 12-18 inches in width. The urine and feces were meant to roll down the ramp, across the walkway into the trench. That which did not make the trip on its own, sat on the ramp, or on the walkway. The walkway on which we were walking.
The kennels housing the dogs were similar to those seen in the photos below with the exception of the box attachement intended for shelter. There was no box or any shelter area as in the photos below because these cages were inside a building. Most of the cages had more than one dog, most had two or three. They all barked and danced on their hind limbs at the front of the cages excitedly. They were likely hoping that we were there to feed them.
The cages lacked any toys, blankets, and there was no solid resting surface upon which the dogs could rest. The Federal Animal Welfare Act was amended in April of 1999 removing the requirement for dogs to have any solid resting surface.
"Summary: We are adopting as a final rule, without change, an interim rule that amended the regulations under the Animal Welfare Act pertaining to primary enclosures for dogs and cats by removing the requirement that primary enclosures with flooring made of mesh or slatted construction include a solid resting surface."
The amendment removed the requirement for facilities like this to provide a solid surface within a wire kennel for an animal to rest upon. There was no way for the dogs to get their feet or bodies on a solid or soft surface. There was nothing other than the wire mesh that they rest upon for their entire reproducing life.
I could see Pomeranians, Dachshunds, Shih Tzus, Lhasa Apsos, Pekingese, Bichon Frises... but I didn't spend long looking at them. I knew that if I fell in love with any of these dogs that I could not take it with me. I could not take one home that was not already on the "to go" list. As I walked down the room's small walkway, I avoided making eye contact with the dogs. There would be no visual or momentary bonding, because my hands were tied.
If I were to do or say anything to upset the owner, the outcome could be that the owner would discontinue his work with rescue. The dogs that routinely left this place to be vetted and await a new family with their rescue group, would no longer have that outlet. The only options without rescue would be sending the "discontinued" dogs to auctions or dog sales, selling them directly to other breeders to continue this life of production, or euthanizing them hopefully by a veterinarian, but that is not always the most economical decision for large commercial breeders.
View this video to hear a breeder discuss his option for putting down dogs...
If a veterinarian is not euthanizing the dogs, how is it being done???
There are more videos like this at http://www.caps-web.org/ , the website of the Companion Animal Protections Society. Perhaps there is one from your state.
Being aware of these other "options", I appreciate any breeder that will "dispose of their outdated stock" by giving it to rescue. It costs rescue groups a lot of money, as well as emotional expense, to house and care for these animals before they get adopted, but if you ask most rescuers, these are expenses they are willing to pay when presented with the other options.
Halfway down the building was a tiny office. We were led into this tiny office where the owner consulted a list of dogs needing to go. Some of the dogs were no longer producing well due to age or health reasons. Some of the dogs were members of a breed that he was no longer interested in selling.
I stood inside the office as he went through the list of retirees with the rescuers in charge of this particular rescue. The kennel owner consulted his book and listed off the breeds still in the kennel that he was willing to retire. I stood back and casually observed the tiny office. There were towels on the floor, some spotted with blood. The whelping dogs were kept in another building, so perhaps the blood was from vaccinations, or implanting the dogs microchips, or even a brief dog fight or cage wound.
Then, I glanced outside the office door, and that is when I saw her.
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