Ever thought about where that little “doggie in the window” of the pet store came from?
Or that cute little bundle of fluff at that flea market or trade day? Or the ones on Craigslist? Or in your local newspaper?
Chances are very good that someone that has to advertise a lot to sell their puppies (and kittens) is not raising them in the best of conditions.
No one who truly cares about the animals they produce will allow it to go out of their care to just anyone who has the sale price.
If you’re considering purchasing a puppy from anyone other than a responsible, dedicated breeder that comes highly recommended by their vet and fellow dog people, read B.B’s story below.
It happens all across the country. Thousands of “homes” (we think of them more like inhumane prisons) keep animals in this kind of filthy, cramped situations.
Their only attention comes when they are producing offspring that will make the owner a few dollars.
B.B. the poodle lived that life. She could tell you stories that would curl your hair…as curly as hers is!
And, she wasn’t alone. Physically as well as metaphorically. In that one cold, dimly lit basement, over 150 dogs lived in cages just like B.B’s.
They couldn’t interact. They couldn’t share their misery.
None of them knew there was a better life out there. They knew their hearts yearned, but they weren’t sure exactly what for.
This was B.B’s life. She was never allowed outside of this tiny wire cage. She had never had a bed, rug or pallet.
She ate, slept, pooped and gave birth on a wire grate. The papers in the tray beneath were only cleaned when they filled up to overflowing.
B.B. was resigned to her fate. She’d never known anything else. No one had ever held her, petted her, or brushed her hair. It was shaved off a couple times a year when it became so matted that it was endangering her health.
Even then, no one really cared if she got sick or felt bad. They only worried about the loss of income if they had to find another to replace her in puppy production.
B.B. had never slept on anything but the wire floor. She had never seen a rug. Sunlight had never touched her face.
Unless humans were in the room with her, her world was dark. Electricity costs money. And besides, what was there for her to look at anyway?
And then, one day B.B. woke up to changes. A lot of them.
That day, a team from the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) raided her home near Charlotte, NC. B.B. and 150 other dogs had finally been discovered by someone who cared!
No matter how many times these raids occur, those that carry them out are shocked by what they find. They think it can’t get worse … and then it does.
This time was no less horrifying. Cages stacked on top of each other. Filled with over 150 little living, breathing creatures. Surrounded by filth and stench and with no hope of escape, except for death.
“She was very tiny, and she looked like this helpless creature,” Jessica Lauginiger, an animal crimes manager at HSUS told The Dodo.
The rescue worker knew that an animal that has never known a loving hand may sometimes react adversely to it. She understood that.
“I put my hand up to the cage, and she’d come up and sniff a little bit. She was very hesitant for human attention, but she wanted it,” she added.
Finally, Lauginiger slowly and carefully opened the cage and took B.B. in her arms.
“I remember how tiny and frail she was in my hands. I pulled her close to my body, and she leaned into me,” she recalled.
B.B. and most of the other rescued animals were taken for immediate treatment and evaluation by the Cabarrus Animal Hospital, a local veterinary clinic.
This was where this unlucky little poodle became the luckiest dog in the world. She met her future owner, Brenda Tortoreo, who worked as a receptionist at the clinic.
Tortoreo recalls the day the clinic was inundated with the dozens of frail, sickly and terrified dogs.
“B.B. was in a corner. She looked pitiful. She was scared to death. She wouldn’t eat, she wouldn’t drink and I felt so bad for her. And I said, ‘That’s the one I’m going to take home,’” Tortoreo recalled.
And Tortoreo kept her promise … when B.B. was well enough, she took her home.
Although having watched hundreds of these dogs that have never known any affection or any creature comforts blossom under loving hands, Tortoreo knew that it wouldn’t be easy for B.B. to adjust.
She was right. The first time she sat B.B. down in her home, although she was terribly excited and happy, B.B. didn’t run around and check out her surroundings.
After living a lifetime in a small space the size of a regular bed pillow, B.B. did the only thing she knew how to do. She walked quickly around in a tight little circle.
Barking hadn’t been allowed in her prison cell, so she didn’t know how to yap with joy. So, she just walked.
In a tight little circle…the size of a pillow. Her brain could not comprehend this new “freedom”.
“I put her in the living room, and to go into the hallway, she would not cross that border [between rooms],” she said, adding that B.B. was also “terrified of rugs.”
Remember, she had never known anything except a wire grate beneath her now-toughened feet.
“She never knew what sun was. She didn’t know what grass was, and she was terrified of it,” she said.
Gradually, B.B. became comfortable in the new environment.
Tortoreo got her some stuffed animals … “she’d bring them to bed, and she would line them up like she was nursing them, and she’d lick them, lick them and lick them. It was just so heartbreaking,” she said.
Poor B.B. had had only a few bright spots in her life, the few weeks that she had company in her tight little cage. When she had a litter of puppies to care for.
She was never given toys. Never allowed anything to brighten her days.
And time after time the one thing she loved, her puppies, were taken away long before they should have been.
People who make money from puppies know that once the “cute wears off” a puppy, it becomes a liability instead of an asset.
So, they remove puppies from their mother far too early (some as early as 4-5 weeks, although experts say that a minimum of 8 weeks, with 12 weeks of age optimum for good social behavior and trainability).
There are now laws in effect against transporting puppies before the age of six-eight weeks … but how many cops know to stop a car and look in it’s back seat or trunk for its illicit cargo?
B.B. now lives a happy life and loves playing with the other dogs that Tortoreo and her family care for. She said that B.B. has also started to lick her, adding that “she’d never done that before.”
If B.B. could talk, once she got past thanking the HSUS and her new mother, we are certain B.B. would tell you to do your homework and research before you buy a puppy.
Make sure its parents aren’t living in the kind of hell that B.B. existed in for so many years.
May all of the rest of her years be filled with love and joy. And with as many stuffed animals as it takes to wipe away the memory of all of her puppies that were loved…and lost to her.
Bless the people who bravely enter these puppy mill situations intent on ridding the world of them.
And shame on every person who breeds a litter of any animal simply for the money they will make from sales.