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The Ruff Report: Dogs and Rescue

Rescued dogs in emotional shock after ordeal in cages

Fifty-four dogs - most suffering from emotional problems so severe that they may require months of treatment after being penned up all their lives in tiny, filthy cages exposed to the harsh outdoor elements - have been rescued from a breeder in Tennessee.

The dogs - mostly Pekinese, Australian Shepherds, Spaniels, Pugs, and Shetland Sheepdogs, Spaniels and Pugs - also have eye and ear infections, dental problems, fleas and ticks and skin dermatitis (like Hope, an Australian Shepherd at left in photo from the Nashville Humane Association), according to animal welfare officials.

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"The medical issues are easier to deal with than the long-term emotional issues," Mary Pat Boatfield, executive director of the Nashville Humane Association told Love of Dogs. "Puppy mill dogs historically can have house-training issues and at times are reluctant to bond to people."

The emotional problems are so severe - as seen in photo at left of these Shelties staying in back of kennel because they are frightened - that the Nashville Humane Association plans to have its animal behaviorist provide follow-up treatment for the dogs after they are placed into homes, Ms. Boatfield said. The behaviorist "will help any adopter with issues related to house training, socializing and integration into a world they know very little about."

The owner of the breeding operation in Cumberland Furnace, Tennessee, agreed to surrender the 54 dogs, along with 18 cats, to the Humane Society of the United States, which worked in conjunction with the Dickson County sheriff's office and the district attorney's office on the case. Twenty-seven horses were also found at the home.

The investigation was prompted by a complaint from a person who purchased a puppy through a classified advertisement.

"These animals have been held in constant confinement their entire lives and suffered physically and emotionally for the sole purpose of creating a profit for the puppy mill owner," Scotlund Haisley, HSUS senior director of emergency services, states in a media release. "We commend the Dickson County Sheriff's Department for ending this abusive cycle and permitting the HSUS to assist in rescuing these animals."

The Nashville Humane Association is caring for 19 of the dogs - including 8 puppies in foster care - and the 18 cats, while the Shetland Sheepdogs are being sent to Fresh Start Sheltie Rescue in Collierville, Tennessee, and the Australian Shepherds to Aussie Rescue and Placement in Indiana.

"Because of the specific behavioral characteristics of these two breeds and the environment they were coming out of, it was deemed better to place them with individuals experienced with the breed and the financial resources to provide continuity of medical care and breed expertise with placement," Ms. Boatfield said. "We have been advised they are doing well and responding to the care being given."

Wynne Ton, the Indiana repre-
sentative for
Aussie Rescue and Placement, says she is caring for two of the rescue dogs, including Hope (an Australian Shepherd at left in photo from the Nashville Humane Association) and Ellianna (at left below relaxing in her new yard), and two other Aussies are being cared for by another organization representative in Canada.

"The two girls I have ... are doing great and, from what I've been told, so are the two Canadian girls, Ms. Ton told Love of Dogs. "They have adjusted to home life wonderfully.

Hope - a Blue Merle in the 8 to 10-year-old range - has E. canis, heartworm and missing teeth as well as the severe skin problem, according to Ms. Ton. The dermatitis is likely from flea infestation.

"Hope is a real love, she loves to be touched and playing with Ellianna, who came with her," Ms. Ton said. "It is a real joy to watch both of them running free in our back yard. Ellie is also a sweetheart of a girl, lots of love to give."

Hope and Ellianna are a little nervous about their new accommodations, Ms. Ton said. "But they have the desire to be with people, live, learn, and love - a real tribute to the breed and more than worth the eight-hour drive to pick them up. These dogs deserve their first chance at real life."

The Nashville Kennel Club helped to bathe and groom all the dogs to help get them ready for adoption, Ms. Boatfield said. A few have been adopted, others are ready for adoption and are in various stages of preparation process.

"We are hopeful the dogs can be as rehabilitated and successively retrained in their new homes," Ms. Boatfield said. "If there is a problem with a new home that cannot be resolved, we always take our pets back. Those that need more intensive one-on-one rehabilitation may be sent to one of our prison dog training programs at either the Tennessee Prison for Women or the Davidson County Men's Detention Program."

The cats will be staying for a while at the humane association, Ms. Boatfield said. "The cats have been undergoing medical treatments for severe upper respiratory infections, anemia. It will be a while before any cats are released for adoption."

The normal cost to prepare a dog for adoption can be as high as $375, but puppy mill dogs a d said, but the organization still needs help, Ms. Boatfield said. "The dogs from situations such as hoarders or puppy mills require extensive dental treatments and some extractions, in addition to other procedures which can add $200 to the care of these pets."

Behavioral issues and follow-up care with a behaviorist can add another $100 per pet.

"It is a long process for the Nashville Humane Association to prepare these dogs for adoption as each dog has specific needs," Ms Boatfield explained. "The adopter that works best for these dogs is understanding and patient. There are medical conditions that may not be apparent at the time of adoption."

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Pedigree Dog Food Company has contributed the food for the dogs and puppies, which has eased the burden on the Nashville Humane Association, Ms. Boatfield said. But the organization still needs help paying for the care and treatment of the pets.

Those who wish to make donations of money and supplies should visit the Nashville Humane


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