From Puppy Farm To Peaceful Dartmoor
Many months ago I was contacted by Donna who was considering adopting an ex-breeding dog. We chatted online for a while. I shared my experiences, and our converations developed past adoption and into the wider issues around the puppy trade.
The months passed and for one reason and another, adoption didn’t happen. But Donna’s interest in the grim topic of puppy farming grew and desire to adopt stayed firm.
Yesterday, I’m delighted to say that it happened! Ella, one of the first dogs this year to have her eyesight restored through a Schnauzerfest Grant made to the Diana Brimblecombe Animal Rescue Centre now lives with Donna and her new brother Toby in Devon. And not just Devon, specifically beautiful Dartmoor.
When they arrived home yesterday Donna wasted no time introducing Ella to her surroundings, assisted by Toby who sadly lost his sister Tavy almost 2 years ago. While he has been a happy solo dog, he has immediately embraced being big brother to Ella, as Donna had every faith he would.
Donna has spent time understanding what she can about the puppy industry in preparation for adopting a survivor of a puppy farm. She wrote this to introduce Ella to her friends and is happy for me to include it here in the hope it may educate others.
Ella is between 5 and 6 years old (I have decided that, like racehorses, her birthday will be January 1st). Nobody knows her true birthdate as she was rescued from the brutal cruelty of a puppy farm, starving, neglected and blind, sometime in December. She had spent almost all her life in a small cage, probably with little bedding or comfort, never given enough food or water, never given proper medical attention, treated roughly and unkindly, and had probably given birth to 70 or 80 puppies before being rescued.
Hundreds, probably thousands, of dogs are kept like this, bred over and over again as long as they can ‘pump out puppies’ which are then sold for high prices – even higher recently, during lockdown, when the demand for puppies and kittens increased dramatically. I have been told recently, by local people, that schnauzers, for instance, can now fetch over £3000. Other breeds are the same.
Lockdown has played into the hands of ruthless puppy farmers, and the recently passed Lucy’s Law does little or nothing to stop it.
Ella is one of the lucky ones. She was rescued and taken to the Diana Brimblecombe Animal Rescue Centre in Berkshire. There, like so many others, she was nursed and cared for, her sight restored with cataract surgery and lovingly fostered in a home with several other dogs until she was ready to be rehomed.
It is thought that Ella might have been a loved pet before ending up in the puppy farm, as her behaviour is not typical of a puppy farm survivor. She is not terrified of every little thing (or even many big things!), she is friendly, outgoing and sociable, and she loves people. How she ended up in a puppy farm and how her owner would have felt if they had realised, will never be known. Perhaps she was stolen – but that’s unlikely, as she would have been chipped. Perhaps her owner died or could not look after her any more and let her go to what they thought was a good home. (Even in that case, she should still have been chipped.)
It is a mystery that will never be solved. But the great thing is that she finally came into the hands of people who cared enough to right the wrongs that had been done to her, and finally has found her way to me. I hope I will be able to give her the life that she should always have had – that of a normal, happy dog, with a warm, dry home, a bed of her own (quite possibly the one I thought was my own!), enough of the right kind of food to keep her healthy, going for lots of country walks and having fun with her doggy friends.
Ella is just one of many, many dogs spending their lives suffering the cruelty of puppy farmers. As long as people are prepared to buy animals often at high prices, without knowing with absolutely certainty that they have been properly bred and looked after, in good homes, this will continue. This inhuman trade is a money spinner. It goes on in remote areas, where nobody sees the rows of tiny enclosures or the cages piled on top of each other, where dogs live out their miserable lives, cold (or hot), lying in their own filth, hungry, thirsty and terrified. Some, believe it or not, are even registered and ‘inspected’. Most dogs never escape.
If you buy a puppy, be sure you see it with its mother – its real mother, not another bitch brought in to some nice person’s home to look like the mother. Be sure the puppy really was born and lives in that home. And never, never, never be persuaded to collect your puppy or dog from a motorway service station or other random meeting place!
Better still, give a home to a rescue dog, like Ella, now enjoying her first walks on Dartmoor..
Thanks to Donna for writing and sharing her thoughts. And for being so patient and adopting Ella after several months of waiting.
More can be read about Ella on the Schnauzerfest website: