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The Ruff Report: Dogs and Rescue

240 dogs traumatized by incarceration rescued

Two hundred and forty dogs, incarcerated in feces-filled small cages with only drinking water in algae-covered bowls and traumatized from lack of "exposure to other living creatures," have been rescued from a breeder in Indiana. One puppy was found dead.

Many of the dogs - Schnauzers, Chihuahuas, Yorkshire Terriers, Pomeranians and other small-mix breeds - have ear mites, eye infections, worms and painful dental problems such as tooth decay and oral infections, but the trauma from being confined is even more severe than the physical ailments, according to Pam Comer, an official with Pet Refuge, an animal welfare agency in Mishawaka, Indiana.

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"Emotional issues seem to be our biggest hurdle right now, Ms. Comer told Love of Dogs. "Everything scares them - the chirp of a bird, the closing of a door, a noise on the TV."

Officials from the Indiana Attorney General's Office, with assistance from the Humane Society of the United States, seized the dogs from Breezy Valley Dairy Farm in Mauckport, a community in southern Indiana. A woman and her daughter, owners of the breeding operation, have been charged with failing to register to do business in the state and not paying taxes.

"Today marks a new, happy beginning for the approximately 200 dogs rescued from deplorable conditions at the Breezy Valley Farm," Anne Sterling, Indiana state director for HSUS, states in a media release.

Pet Refuge has 35 of the dogs and one of them (at left in photo from pet Refuge) had six puppies shortly after arriving at the shelter, Ms. Comer said. The rehabilitation process will be slow because many dogs are severely traumatized.

"We are trying to keep the dogs in quiet environments in an effort to gain their trust and build their confidence," Ms. Comer explained. "Part of this process is placing them in foster homes with volunteers who are seasoned dog people."

Dogs like Murphy, (at far left in photos from pet Refuge), a Cocker Spaniel, and Butters, a Pomeranian, are getting the chance to feel grass - perhaps for the first time - in their new foster homes. According to the Pet Refuge web site, Murphy is enjoying being able to roam around the house and yard and Butters, who is staying with a groomer, is having fun getting pampered and having her toe nails painted.

The training includes getting the dogs accustomed to wearing leashes and hand feeding to acquaint them with human touch, Ms. Comer said. "This will be a slow process and people who adopt these dogs will have to understand that there will be no great successes but rather small successes on a daily basis as these dogs heal from the cruelty of the years spent in this puppy mill."

Tristan Schmid, an official with the Humane Society of Indianapolis, which is caring for 25 of the rescued dogs, says the animals received vaccinations and medical treatment (like the one at left in photo from the Humane Society of Indianapolis) upon their arrival. The dogs are doing well, but some are pacing in circles, a sign that they were confined in small cages for long lengths of time, he said.

"Some will need to be socialized around dogs, people and different environments in general, especially if they were kept in small cages their whole lives with little exposure to other living creatures or novel environments," Mr. Schmid said.

Like Pet Refuge, the Humane Society of Indianapolis will place many of the dogs into foster homes to help them learn social skills, Mr. Schmid said. "We're confident that exercise and time away from the shelter in foster homes will help the dogs who need some extra tender loving care before being adopted to the general public."

Rehabilitation of the dogs requires medical care, spay/neuter surgery, vaccinations and microchipping, and adoption fees fail to cover the expense, Mr. Schmid said.

The dogs that have dental problems will be more costly to rehabilitate, Ms. Comer of Pet Refuge said. "The dental issue seems to be our biggest expense at this point. ...This is a result of poor health care and repeated breeding and nursing of litters."

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Those interested in adopting the dogs or donating money or supplies to help with their rehabilitation should visit the Humane Society of Indianapolis and Pet Refuge.


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