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The Ruff Report: Dogs and Rescue

297 frightened dogs rescued from giant puppy mill;
4 have given birth to 19 pups, more expected

Two-hundred and ninety-seven dogs - some quite timid from being locked away all their lives in small cages in four old farm buildings with virtually no access to the outdoors - have been rescued from a puppy mill in Iowa after the breeder voluntarily shut down because the operation had become too big to handle.

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Many of the dogs - various breeds such as Welsh Corgi, Italian Greyhound, Pug, Boxer, Pekingese, Yorkshire Terrier, Shih Tzu, Beagle, Labrador Retriever, Bichon-Poo and Schnoodle - need socialization because of their ordeal, animal welfare officials say.

"These dogs have spent their lives small kennels and are not house trained and don't know how to walk on a leash or behave in the way they would expect regular shelter dogs to," said Sybil Soukup, executive director Humane Society of North Iowa, which took in 20 of the dogs, like this frightened Welsh Corgi in photo at left from HSNI.

Two of the dogs taken by the Humane Society of North Iowa were caring for puppies - a Yorkie with three and a Bichon-Poo with four - when they were rescued, another gave birth to five puppies shortly after arriving at the shelter and another is pregnant.

The breeder, located in Nashua in eastern Iowa, informed the U.S. Department of Agriculture that he wanted to close the operation. The USDA then enlisted the help of the Animal Rescue League of Iowa, which is caring for 65 of the dogs. The Animal Rescue League coordinated the placing of the dogs with 15 animal shelters across Iowa, including the Humane Society of North Central Iowa, which took in 30 dogs, and Cedar Bend Humane Society, which took in 36 dogs.

Lifeline Italian Greyhound Rescue of Fall Creek, Wisconsin, also is taking care of three Italian Greyhounds, including Mia - in photo at left from David Barrett - who gave birth to seven puppies shortly after being placed in a foster home.

"We're very fortunate that our three initial Italian Greyhounds from the puppy mill are
learning to enjoy human companionship," Lifeline Italian Greyhound Rescue official Jenny Hatten told MySetterSam. "All are in experienced foster homes
used to dogs who may be shy or fearful, so we know how to gain their trust
by desensitizing them using classical and counter conditioning."

The second dog, Webster, is a 6-month old pup that is doing well in foster care, but the third dog, Drusy, will need a lot of care, Ms. Hatten said. "Drusy broke her leg - while safely crated - on her third day in foster care. "She's so tiny - less than 6 pounds - with very fragile bones. Her leg has been surgically pinned and splinted, and she'll be on crate rest for at least eight weeks."

Drusy is also suffering from other conditions from being penned up at the puppy Mill, Ms. Hatten said. "She has almost no hair - we're not sure whether it's a nutritional deficiency or color dilute alopecia - and had pressure sores on her legs and body from her living
quarters at the puppy mill."

Ms. Hatten expects all the dogs to recover and eventually be placed into good homes. "All the dogs are blossoming and seem to enjoy attention from people," she said. "They're making very good progress with house training and learning to love the outdoors. Considering none had ever set foot on grass until three weeks ago, that's incredible progress."

Ms. Soukup says the breeder kept the facility in relatively good condition and most of the dogs - including this Pug named Enoch in photo at left from the HSNI - are reasonably healthy, but he let the operation become too large. "To the breeder's credit, the kennels were clean, well bedded and relatively feces free," she told My Setter Sam. "The dogs all had fresh water and plenty of food. The buildings were well ventilated."

But the breeder used poor judgment by letting the operation get so massive, Ms. Soukup said. "I'm not in any way defending the breeder here - he still had 300 dogs."

The breeder made a good decision to turn over the dogs - like this male Pekingese named Maurie in photo at left from HSNI - to shelters rather than other puppy mills, Ms. Soukup said.

"He could have easily chosen to sell the dogs at auction to other breeders and perpetuate the breeding cycle," she said. "He was trying to do the right thing to clean up the mess he was in."

Ms. Soukup believes that the rescued dogs can be rehabilitated and eventually placed into homes. "We are confident that all these dogs will be able to be adopted into the public, she said.

But anyone who adopt one of these dogs must understand that they lack social skills, Ms. Soukup explained. "We've been telling people that they would need to be very patient."

Twelve of the 20 dogs being cared for by the Humane Society of North Iowa have been put in foster care, according to Ms. Soukup. "Two of the dogs in foster care were placed because of their timid temperament. We thought they needed some one-on-one care in a foster home to get them to come around and so far, they are all showing some good progress."

Ms. Soukup saga of this breeding operation and the ensuing plight of the dogs - like this female Boxer named Constance in photo at left from HSNI - shows the importance as to why people should about pets from animals shelters.

"Their are over 400 licensed puppy mills in the state of Iowa that house over 23,000 dogs," she said. "Fifty-nine percent of them had violations during their annual USDA inspection last year. The Humane Society of North Iowa encourages people to rescue their next pet from a reputable animal shelter that promotes spaying and neutering."

The rehabilitation and care of the dogs is expensive, Ms. Soukup said. "With the 20 animals we rescued and the additional puppies yet to be born, we're looking at an expense of over $3,000 for these dogs. However, you can't put a price on rescuing these dogs from a life of breeding and confinement."

Lifeline Italian Greyhound Rescue also will incur large expenses to care for and rehabilitate the dogs, Ms. Hatten said. "We estimate our costs for the three original puppy mill survivors and the 7 puppies will be close to $4,000 before they are all healthy and adopted."

Most viewed reports about dogs and rescue:

1. 108 dogs rescued from filthy, rat-infested puppy mill
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3. Dogs rescued from waste-filled cages are 'skin and bones'
4. 240 dogs traumatized by incarceration rescued
5. One of nation's 'worst' puppy mills busted
6. Dogs in emotional shock after ordeal in tiny, filthy cages
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9. Beagles rescued from barbaric outdoor shelter
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237 dogs in filthy 'solitary confinement' rescued
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Waste-covered pets seized; rescuers wear masks

Those interested in adopting the dogs or making donations for their care should visit the Humane Society of North Iowa, Lifeline Italian Greyhound Rescue, Cedar Bend Humane Society of Waterloo, Iowa Animal Rescue League and Humane Society of North Central Iowa.

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