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The Ruff Report: Dogs and Rescue

42 waste-covered pets seized from breeder;
sickening smell forces rescuers to wear masks

Forty-two dogs and cats, who were confined to tiny cages and forced to live in layers of their own feces and urine, have been seized from a "horrible" home-based breeding operation in Edmonton, Alberta, during a rescue in which animal welfare workers had to wear respiratory masks because of the sickening stench.

The case is one of the worst the Edmonton Humane Society has had to deal with in recent years, humane society official Shawna Randolph told MySetterSam.

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"These poor animals were confined to the cages in such horrible conditions for a very, very long time - and the smell in the house was absolutely terrible," Ms. Randolph said.

The 32 dogs - Chihuahuas, Pomeranians, Toy Poodles and Poo-Poms (cross between a Toy Poodle and a Pomeranian) - and 10 cats, mostly Siamese including three kittens - had been locked up for a prolonged period, had inadequate food and water, and had virtually no contact with people, according to the Edmonton Humane Society.

The breeder, who is expected to face animal cruelty charges, admitted to selling the pets on a popular buy/sell Internet site.

The Edmonton Humane Society has been trying to discourage prospective pet parents from buying from puppy mill operations by offering small, popular-breed dogs at its shelter that it takes in from California.

"We hope that people will either come to us first or dog rescue groups for these very popular small breed dogs or will approach a reputable breeder before turning to online or newspaper ads, where in many cases dogs are sold by puppy mills or puppy brokers working on behalf of puppy mills - selling these adorable and irresistible dogs to unsuspecting customers," Ms. Randolph said.

Many of the rescued pets have behavioral problems from the lack of humane companionship, Ms. Randolph said. When the pets arrived at the shelter, they were timid, shaking and snapping at staff members.

"We gave each one a couple of baths, and you could just feel them relaxing and enjoying the warm water and human touch," Ms. Randolph said. "They have been enjoying sleeping on blankets, playing with toys and other animals, and have been loving getting several snuggles from staff members and volunteers."

Some of the younger animals that have no behavioral or physical problems have already been put up for adoption, but others will have to wait for their new homes, Ms. Randolph said. About 25 dogs have dental problems which will require surgery and about 10 will need specialized behavioral training before they can be placed into homes.

"We will be slowly working with them by socializing them with people and animals and carefully assessing whether they are improving," Ms. Randolph said. "We predict that this will take several weeks or months for some animals."

One of the rescued dogs in the humane society's care, a 1-year-old Toy Poodle named Cinnamon (at left), has given birth to three puppies - two females and a male.

"They are all doing very well," Ms. Randolph said. "... They are in wonderful hands with our volunteer foster family, and we expect them to be in foster care for about two months or so. If all goes well, they will be available for adoption in about two months (including Cinnamon)."

Another dog had a pregnancy prematurely end probably because of "delicate health," Ms. Randolph said. "About a handful of the adult female dogs had infections in the uterus when we were conducting their spay operations. If left untreated long term, those types of infections can be fatal."

Those who adopt the rescue dogs will be given guidance about care, Ms. Randolph said. "We send the new owners home with a special DVD to help them with the training process. And also with every adoption, a member of our behavior department spends time with every new owner during a counseling session to talk about any possible issues with a particular animal."

The cost normally associated with caring for a pet at the shelter is about $250, which the humane society is able to partly recover through charging adoption fees, Ms. Randolph said. But the cost for these rescue pets will run into the thousands because of the dental surgeries.

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"We have a sick and injured animal fund set up to help offset costs for animals that come into our care with major medical issues - like in this case," Ms. Randolph said.

Those wishing to make donations can call 780-491-3507 or visit


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