aussi with pups

Very important: I must make it VERY clear from the beginning that the images that accompany this story are extremely graphic and upsetting.  Please understand this is not for sensationalism, but, for education and to show that this does go on in the industry.  The dog in the picture above is the dog in this story, and even though she looks "healthy" from this angle, she is not and it just proves that the instinct to be a good mother is so strong she'll endure the most horrific pain to keep her pups alive.- This article is a true story with graphic images and has been written by a person who works in the legal end of animal issues and also works very closesly with rescue.

She spent the first six years of her life in a tiny pen.   Her owners didn't have time for her and for six years she spent her life alone.   She was so traumatized by her life of solitude that she constantly walked in circles.

Unloved and un-spayed, she became a 'free to good home' dog.   The caller promised to give her a loving home.  The exchange was made and the six year old Australian Shepherd found a new home in a much larger pen with several other Australian Shepherds.  Fall came and went, and a mild winter passed with a large dog house and the other Aussies to keep her warm.  In late February she began to earn her keep, when she came into heat and was bred by the male Aussie in the pen with her.

On Easter Day she began to feel restless and in the wee hours of the night she gave birth to nine puppies.  Now she was seven years old and her first litter proved to be quite a challenge.  Two of her puppies died in the first few days and she nudged them away from the mound of hay inside the shed she now called home.   Eventually her owner disposed of the dead puppies and she spent her days and nights in the dark shed caring for her remaining pups.

The days grew warmer and the hot sun beat down on the metal shed that her new family occupied.  Some days were nearly unbearable but she only left her puppies long enough to eat and drink and do her 'business'.

The hay became wet and filthy as the puppies began to urinate and defecate without her assistance.  Flies began to live within the hay and the smell became overwhelming.  But she remained in the hay to nurse her puppies.   Her skin began to itch as bacteria began to take over her body.  It started with a spot on her back.  She chewed and scratched to try to relieve the itching and soon her hair began falling out in clumps.  The flies found the perfect place to lay their eggs and within a few days, maggots began living on her skin.

I got the call on a Friday.  "Are you the lady that rescues dogs?"  The anonymous caller couldn't tell me much.   They just begged me to do something.  I was given the number of the owner of the puppy mill, the place where the Aussie now called home, and I called posing as a buyer/breeder.

On Monday, I started my journey to the place to pick out my "new puppy."   It was a long drive and I knew the puppy mill owner would wonder how I knew about the pups, so I told them that I met someone at a dog auction that weekend and they had told me about the Aussie pups.  They didn't seem to think anything of it so they led me out to the pups.

The pups were only 3 weeks old but I told them I wanted  to put down a deposit on at least one puppy.  As I was led past the rows and rows of cages full of small breed dogs, I eyed the shed that had been described to me.  As I was led through the gate into the shed, I noticed weeks worth of feces in the fenced enclosure.  MILLIONS of flies covered the feces, only slighting disturbed by my invasion.  What flies bothered to move, simply landed again and resumed their work.   I really thought something was strange about this.  While flies on dog feces is not uncommon, I had never seen this many flies in one place.  It was actually deafening to hear the buzz of this many flies.

The puppy mill owner warned me that the she smelled bad.   I wasn't prepared for what I was about to see.  I was told that the mother dog would not bite, but when I turned the corner into the shed she jumped and barked in alarm.   It startled me slightly, but when she turned around to return to her puppies, I saw a very large bald spot  on her back.  I then put two and two together...the flies, the smell, the condition of the dog's back...and I spoke frankly to the puppy miller.

"This dog has maggots."  I said, with no attempt to hide my disgust.  The puppy miller denied it so I reached down and lifted one of the clumps of wet hair on her back.  To my surprise, the owner doubled over and vomited in the corner of the shed.  I knew I was taking a chance by assuming the dog had maggots, but when I lifted the fur, hundreds of maggots crawled in and around the inflamed skin.

The owner began apologizing immediately.  I didn't let up, I told them how painful it was for the dog and how the puppies were probably going to die because of the infection that the pups were getting through the milk.  It didn't take long to convince him to sell me the dog and the puppies.

************  Where I Came In  *************

You can't imagine what the trip back was like with this dog.   Even a convertible couldn't have masked the smell.  I didn't have a convertible.  No words could ever describe the smell.  Hours later and after a  few bottles of Fabreeze I finally made it home.  I set the pups up in my kitchen and my husband agreed to help me bathe the dog.  Shaving the infected area was out of the question.  I had made a vet appointment for the morning but I knew I had to get her cleaned up and try to get the maggots off her.  I  began by cutting clumps of hair from her back.   Each new clump revealed a new batch of maggots.  The dog never whined or whimpered and I think the warm stream of water felt good to her.  Tiny holes riddled her skin as each maggot fell from its 'home'

As gross as things were to this point, I could have never prepared myself for what I was about to see.  As I finished removing all the clumps of hair from her back, I moved to the tail are.  Being an Aussie, she had only a small stump for a tail.  At the base of the tail, the inflamed skin created a wrinkle, as I pulled the wrinkle forward, I found hundreds of maggots living between the two layers of skin.  Once I removed all the maggots in that area, I lifted the small stubby tail.  What I saw is something I will never forget as long as I live!

The tail had been eaten off by maggots.  The anus had been eaten to about four times its normal size and thousands upon thousands of maggots were living inside the anus. (warning: extremely graphic and disturbing!)  As tears flowed down my face, the dog whimpered for the first time.  I wasn't even sure if it was me or her that had let out the pitiful cry.  My husband stood silently, knowing that this was not the time for words.  I adjusted the spray to the strongest force and cried as hundreds upon hundreds of maggots fell into the wash tub.  With each clump of maggots that fell out, the damage was revealed.  I can't even begin to say how many maggots I washed out.   But after about 10 minutes, I could see about one inch into the rectum and all I could see was raw meat and thousands and thousands of maggots.

I knew there was no hope for this girl.  The flies on the feces at the puppy mill finally had meaning to me.  The flies were not attracted to the feces so much as the blood and pieces of rectum.

I took her to the vet and tearfully said good-bye to her right before she was euthanized.   "I'm sorry girl.  I'm sorry I wasn't there earlier for you."   As I drove home, I thought of her 3 week old puppies in my kitchen.  But the tears really began to flow as I thought of the one thing I hadn't thought of before....I never even knew her name.

I know I can call the puppy mill back.  I am sure she had a name (she came without papers), but I don't want to know her name.  Sometimes, not knowing is what keeps me sane through all of this.  Many of you will be sickened by this story.    I think puppy mills speak for themselves and pictures like these aren't needed to get the point across.  Many of you will be angry...and rightfully so.  The owner of this dog needs to be prosecuted.  I agree with that.  But by doing this, we only hurt the dogs still trapped in these situations.  This was a legal, licensed facility.  Dogs fall through the cracks all the time.  But I will vow to always be there for those that I can save.    I can't bring this girl back to life.  But I did make the choice that her body could not make for her any longer and helped her to leave in a gentle way rather than dying from the destruction being done to her body without the comfort of knowing someone cared.  I can't imagine the suffering that she would have had to endure over the next few weeks before her body finally shut down.   Words cannot describe the saddness I felt for these innocent dogs.

I just needed to share this with those of you strong enough to hear it.  I won't stop!!!  I'll never give up the fight to educate the public about the commercial dog industry in America and to work towards getting the laws for inspections improved! 

So, what are the solutions?  If the mills would comply to with the requirements for cleanliness and meet the humane conditions and requirments to breed dogs, then there wouldn't be situations as described above.  There are licensed mills out there that do meet the minimum requirement, and those are not the ones in question.  We can't stop mills, but we can work together to educate the public about those that do not meet standards or are not licensed.  We can work to get the laws changed to demand better inspections, frequent inpections and immediate close downs of those that do not meet the USDA requirements and those that choose not to change their method of operation to comply with the laws. 

Please keep in mind that if we become emotional about shutting mills down, we are losing the picture of what the problem is.  The mills may not be what we want for our dogs to have to live in, but, there are some responsible facilities.  If we try and shut down these facilities, they  will still continue to flourish, but, will sell their puppies to the overseas market, of which many already do.  If we lose our outlets here locally, then we lose the battle to help the dogs. The answer is to make the inspections tougher and demand that the USDA hire more inspectors and follow-up on their visits.  There should be frequent inspections, unannounced inspections and there should be immediate investigations into cases where facilities are turned in for conditions.  More than likely, the USDA will be very enlightened that there are hundreds of mills functioning without a license. Tougher laws is part of the answer.

Understand that I cannot divulge my name or correspond with anyone.  I have devoted my life to helping dogs and go to many places all over the Country doing so.  I stay rather unobtrusive so that no one suspects that I am watching and reporting on these people as well as working with a number of rescue organizations to help retrieve those dogs that need to be helped. --Thank you for reading my report and please work towards educating the public. 

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