List Info
General Info
List Rules

The Dog Rescue Email List Webpage


Puppy Mill Dogs
Part 1

Subject: [DOG-RESCUE] CLASS: puppy mill dogs
Date Mon, 2 Nov 1998 11:45:20 +0000
From: Pam Bishop - dobra@pe.net


Sorry for the late start....This week we will talk about working with dogs from puppy mills. Getting them, handling them, deciding which ones can be placed. Talking about the unique problems that they have.

Dina Zinnes will be the facilitator for this subject. She will be sending in an opening message for us soon.

For those of you that have worked with puppy mill dogs, please share you knowledge and experience. This is one of the hardest parts of rescue.

dog rescue class

Subject: [DOG-RESCUE] CLASS:puppymill dogs: to rescue or not?
Date: Tue, 3 Nov 1998 11:52:14 -0500
From: Dina Zinnes - d-zinnes@UIUC.EDU

Hi everyone!

Sorry to be a bit late on all this.

As a first topic, let me raise the question: should we rescue puppymill dogs?

I have heard a number of different positions on this one. Here are what I understand are the cons and pros:

The case for NOT rescuing from puppymills.

  1. Every time you purchase a puppymill dog from a puppymiller you put money in their pockets and keep them alive and functioning. Puppymillers selling their breeding stock who say they are quiting the business typically are lying. So you are supporting their business.

  2. Puppymill dogs are exceptionally hard to place. They are older, very shy and need lots of work. Housebreaking them can be a nightmare. This means they take up valuable space that more easily placed dogs need.

  3. Many of these dogs have known nothing else but a puppymill, so they are not really so badly off.

The case FOR rescuing from puppymills:

  1. Humanitarian: these dogs are in what amounts to concentration camps. They are often kept in terrible conditions, tho they are fed and typically given shots to keep them alive and breeding. The females are bred and bred and bred...every cycle.

  2. Not buying puppymill dogs will NOT stop this business. This boycott is too small to make a difference. If we are to boycott we have to do it at the other end --- make people stop buying from pet stores so they will stop buying from puppymillers.

  3. Yes, puppymill dogs take a lot of work. And yes, some will never be totally housebroken or completely socialized. But when it can be done --- and one does have to be somewhat selective about which ones are chosen to be worked with --- the rewards are terrific.

  4. If one has lived in pain and misery all one's life surely now is the time to give that creature another chance.

Subject: Re: [DOG-RESCUE] CLASS: puppy mill dogs
Date: Tue, 3 Nov 1998 14:26:13 -0500
From: Dixie Davis - dixie@FLASH.NET

My first experience with former puppymill dogs was rather interesting. I had done an unofficial CUR run from Texas to New Mexico, and I had planned to stay in New Mexico for several days. I took 7 dogs to NM and in return picked up 3 miniature Schnauzers that had come from a puppymill in California, and were headed to Illinois. I had my Great Dane with me.

The first couple of nights with the Schnauzers, we stayed with another rescue person, who provided us with wonderful hospitality. The first night camping, my Dane was reluctant to come into the tent with the Schnauzers already there, even though she had camped out with me many times before. It took just one growl from the Schnauzers to make my Dane burst through the mesh door of the tent. Sigh.

Things improved after that, though. The Schnauzers didn't have a clue how to walk on leash, but they fared okay. We travelled together for over a week before I finally delivered them safely to a Schnauzer rescue person in north Texas. The Schnauzers were friendly and outgoing, though one had worn her front teeth down to a nub on kennel wires, and she had a problem with hot spots.

I currently have a Corgi that we suspect was a brood bitch in a puppymill. When I first got her, she was emotionally vacant, with a blank expression on her face and a kind of shell-shocked look about her. Now, she gets a bright, happy expression on her face. She is still a bit afraid of being touched, but instead of the "been to hell and back" look on her face, her expression is now one of joy and eagerness and contentment. It's been a true pleasure to watch her change in the month I've had her.

One person said that it took about 6 months after they had adopted their former puppymill dog, for the dog to adopt them. It took that long for the dog to learn to trust and love. But once it did, its people were richly rewarded.

As far as the products of puppymills, it's a bit more of a crapshoot, because most haven't suffered the same miserable conditions their parents did. They may be extremely poor representatives of the breed, or may have horrible health problems, or they may be good-looking, healthy dogs. I've never had a pedigree accompany a rescue dog, so I can't usually tell exactly where one of my rescues came from.

Dixie Davis
Austin Corgi Rescue

Subject: [DOG-RESCUE] CLASS: Puppymill dogs
Date: Wed, 4 Nov 1998 01:42:53 -0600
From: Bob & Lysa Bea - bbeabass@ameritech.net

Hi folks,

Wanted to add something to this one... If you're going to foster a puppymill dog, talk to someone who's done it before! This way you'll know what to expect, even if it's not your breed the basics will remain the same.

I would be lost without my mentor, who has been in rescue for years now and done it "all," or almost all (we learn something new everyday)!

I've got or I should say we've got our first puppymill girl, 7 years old from the Grundy Center Mill that was shut down in Iowa this year. We've had her for two months (about) and she's allowing us to pet her, BIG step & we love it! She's not housebroken, but getting better. The best is when she plays with our other dogs, it's then you can see that in there somewhere is a cutie pie! Yes, she may live here forever & she wouldn't be a dog I'd pick, but so what! The point is that I knew this going in.

Get a mentor, it helps!

Lysa Bea
Keeshond Rescue, IL (Yep, Dina Zinnes is my mentor!)

Subject: [DOG-RESCUE] CLASS: puppy mill dogs
Date: Wed, 4 Nov 1998 09:00:40 +0000
From: Pam Bishop - dobra@pe.net

We have taken dogs from puppy mills twice in the past two years. In both cases the dogs were in fairly good physical condition (not skin and bones), but had every kind of worm and were filty dirty, matted. They had also not been socialized or housetrained. And fortunately for us, they were fairly young. The younger ones were pretty easy to place. They made the adjustment. It's the older ones that have been used just for breeding for years that are harder to work with.

First they tend to have a lot of medical problems. Mammary gland tumors, skin problems, most have had tumors and cysts on the uterus and ovaries. So you are usually looking at some serious vet expenses with these dogs. Most have bad ear infections from living in filty conditions for years and never having had any vet checks. Some breeds will have eye problems too. Toy breeds especially will have major dental problems. Low grade systemic infections are pretty common.

Then you have the mental problems. Most have been treated like a piece of meat. When handled it is roughly. Picked up by the scuff of the neck, etc. They see humans as a a creature that will only bring hurt and misery. They can't imagine a loving relationship with a human. Some will get over this, and many will not. Many will never make a "pet". At best they will learn to live with a human or will bond with one person and want nothing to do with others. These dogs are very hard to place and often live out their lives with the rescuer. Be prepared to keep these dogs, as you may not be able to find them homes.

I had a male Smooth that had a great first year in a home and then went to a kennel situation. He spent the next 6 years in that kennel run with little interaction with humans except some rough handling. When I got him, if you picked him up he froze. His eyes just glassed over and he waited to be hurt. He didn't know how to go up a step, or sit on a couch or play with a toy or other dog. It took several months of work on him and at first I really wasn't sure he was saveable. After about 7 mos of work, he was placed in a wonderful home and has finally bloomed there. I get updates on him all the time about how well he is doing. He is not the dog that he was supposed to be. But it could have gone the other way....I'm just thankful that I found such a wonderful home for him.

Fox Terrier Rescue

Subject: Re: [DOG-RESCUE] CLASS: puppy mill dogs
Date: Wed, 4 Nov 1998 19:50:26 -0600
From: "Virginia M. Elliott" - vmewlw@ntws.net

Pardon me ladies but I'm not getting any meat on the bones of this thread! How about some real help here? What is your proceedure with these dogs? Do you crate train? Do you confine in an x-pen? How do you start to potty train? Do you force them to submit to touching so they learn to relax?

It doesn't help anyone to know that A. has problems and B. has no problems if we aren't let in on the how-to's.

Personally, I have several old puppy mill dogs and unless I can learn some new tricks they'll be here for life. They all love me and follow me around and eat from my hand. They won't willingly come for petting except one old maltese who I forced attentions on. I feel it put her through so much stress it wasn't fair. I've never completely broke them from eating potty even though they have plenty of good food at all times. None are potty trained either.

HELP!!!! I need some tips on what to try next.

Virginia Elliott
Pekes and all other small dogs
Paradise, TX

Subject: Re: [DOG-RESCUE] CLASS: puppy mill dogs - The help Virginia requested with "touching"
Date: Wed, 4 Nov 1998 21:32:32 EST
From: Donna Malone - RAOTINC@AOL.COM

For the "touching" problem: Put their food in a bowl on the floor. Get as close to the bowl as possible, BUT just at the very fringes of the point where you can tell it makes the dog uncomfortable emotionally. The trick here is that the dog is uncomfortable but not too uncomfortable too eat. Do not want to evoke aggression with this activity.

As long as you do not get aggression, each day move a TEENY, TINY bit closer to the food bowl, MARK the floor with something that will come up easily so you can tell you are getting closer each day. Always try to remain as still as possible, make NO quick actions, try NOT to look at the dog at all, and, (DON'T LAUGH!), sing or hum a nice, sweet song in a very low voice. This is the time to take the phone OFF THE HOOK, ignore the door bell, etc., and try not to move until the dog is finished eating. Once you manage to progress to the point that you are all the way up to the food bowl, start sneaking a finger in here or there to push an EXTRA special treat into the bowl. Eventually stick your hand in there, again WITH SPECIAL TREATS.

Once the dog is no longer objecting to you or your presence at the food bowl, start trying to hand feed the dog slowly. Maybe just treats at first but as soon as the dog is confidentially taking the treats start trying to feed its regular food via hand. You want to do this for at least a week, preferably two weeks. After that SLOWLY start introducing some movement, slowly move your hand around, occasionally look at the dog, the object is to work up to actual physical contact. DO NOT GRAB OR ATTEMPT TO HOLD a dog that is not yet ready for it because you can rapidly UNDO all the work you have done to get to this point. Do not have any objects in your hand, no brushes, nothing.

Desensitization to touch and crate training should be done separately, if at all possible and especially by "novice trainers," as there is too much potential for problems otherwise.

Let me know if you have any problems.

Donna Malone, President
Responsible Animal Owners of Tennessee, Inc.

Subject: Re: [DOG-RESCUE] CLASS: puppy mill dogs - The help Virginia requested with "crate training"
Date: Wed, 4 Nov 1998 21:45:29 EST
From: Donna Malone - RAOTINC@AOL.COM

Do you crate train? Do you confine in an x-pen? How do you start to potty train?

Virginia, this may be your more difficult problem. The reason that I say this is that dogs that have come from a "dysfunctional" environment, grow up to be "dysfunctional," just like people do. For example, if you weren't taught proper hygiene and table manners as a child, unless you realize it and make an effort to educate yourself, chances are that you will not have them as an adult. Same thing with dogs. I am going to give you some basic guidelines for housebreaking BUT, keep in mind, these dogs may never have experienced "clean living." In other words, they may have a problem grasping the concept that laying in their excrement is not desirable. You will want to do everything in your power to take these dogs out as frequently as possible to avoid the potential for inappropriate elimination. In fact, forget the 1 hour/1 month rule in the following information, treat the dog like it is one month old no matter how old it is, okay? Then slowly build that 1 hour to 2 hours, etc.

Crate training is simple. It involves keeping your dog, when inside, confined to a large sleeping-living box (a crate) with supervised liberty. The dog should be taken outside frequently, where should be praised for relieving itself. At night or when you are going to leave the house for a few hours, the dog is taken outside to relieve itself and then placed in its crate. When you get up in the morning or arrive home, the dog is taken outside again immediately and then given some freedom to play in a confined area under your watchful eye. If you are having a difficult time supervising your dog adequately, there is a technique to make this supervision easier. We call it an "umbilical cord." Attach a leash to your dog's collar and then thread a belt through the loop on the leash and then attach the belt around your waist. The leash prevents the dog from wandering around, allowing you to supervise it more closely, and your hands are free to do other tasks.

If "accidents" happen, and they will from time to time, DO NOT SCOLD OR CORRECT YOUR DOG. Take the dog outside immediately to an area the dog has used previously to remind it that outdoors is the only permissible place to go. Be reasonable. A young puppy needs to eliminate often, take it out as often as possible in the early days until it develops a measure of control. A good "rule of thumb" is that a puppy can hold its elimination needs for approximately one hour per month of age, up to eight months/eight hours. However, the more often you take the dog out in the early stages of housebreaking, the more effective your housebreaking efforts will be.

Dogs must be taken out soon after each feeding. Gradually, with age, your dog will be able to contain itself for longer periods, and you can reduce the required outings to three or four a day. If you pay close attention, you may notice "signals" or "signs" that your dog needs to "go outside."

The crate should have only enough space for the dog to rest comfortably, stand and turn around.

Let me know if you have any problems.

Donna Malone, President
Responsible Animal Owners of Tennessee, Inc.

Subject: [DOG-RESCUE] CHAT: puppymill advice (pt. 1)
Date: Wed, 4 Nov 1998 22:29:39 -0500
From: Sidney Helen Sachs - sleddog@GTE.NET

Part 1:

Meat on bones? OK. We rescued 6 (a year ago from a mill) and have a nursing momma (from BYB) and 6 pups now, so...

Bring them home:

  1. Have an isolation pen already set up -- ISOLATION means no contact or common fences with other dogs. PERIOD. I'm SERIOUS (and treating 12 adults and 6 puppies for nursing momma's mange, thank you. I KNOW better.)
  2. Take pictures before you do ANYTHING. This will be for YOU when you get discouraged months later.
  3. Examine them. Every inch. Look for cuts, bumps, scrapes. Bald patches. Ear mites. Bad teeth. Eyes that reflect light funny. Lumps. Discharges. Bad breath. Take notes. In writing.
  4. Dip them in flea/tick/mange juice (once a week for a month).
  5. Treat ears anyway. Clean with wipes anyway.
  6. Give booster shots.
  7. Deworm with panacure for 3 days start today regardless of what Vet says -- tests can miss stuff.
  8. Bathe dogs. Again. Use something harsh as needed, or human shampoo, but get them clean. Remember when you bathe a dog you are cleaning the SKIN not the HAIR. Condition the h*ll out of them afterwards.
  9. Cut nails.
  10. Start dog on a good solid food. If fat, give Lite. If skinny, give HIGH protein -- not forever, just till you get the weight on them. No table scraps but a little oil in their food doesn't hurt poor coats.
  11. Feed in crate. If dog doesn't eat, so be it. Take the food up and put the dog out for an hour. And bring the dog back in the house (still wet, right? don't blow dry new dogs, freaks them out). Crate training starts tomorrow. For tonight give them crate in lot with door off. If they go in-- terrific. If not, OK, too.
  12. Start a Rescue Diary or Journal. Take pictures. Write down their medical treatments and progress because you will NEED this later when they are ready to go and when you are foolish enough to do this again with the next batch.
Get them to the vet (After bath, contrary to popular opinion vets do NOT like to examine dirty dogs):
  1. Vet exam -- give him your findings
  2. Do HW test (already have decided what you are going to do if Positive or she finds cancer, etc.)
  3. Rabies
  4. weight & age estimation -- do NOT tell him what the paperwork says, it can LIE.
  5. Let blood work, etc. wait until you have some idea what is normal for this dog.
Sidney Helen Sachs & Ken Copeland
Shaconagee & Sleddog Rescue
Alaskan Malamutes & Siberian Huskies

Subject: [DOG-RESCUE] CHAT: puppymill advice part 2
Date: Wed, 4 Nov 1998 22:30:44 -0500
From: Sidney Helen Sachs - sleddog@GTE.NET

Part 2:

Bring them home and start socialization:

  1. Crate them for at least an hour after feeding. LISTEN for them to freak out. Ignore it. Let them soil the crate if need be the first time. They will HATE it and not want to the second time. Work UP to overnight cratings. If worse comes to worse, feed them in the crate with the door open, but not off. But IN the house so they start thinking of the house as a place to be happy.
  2. Leash walk them as much as possible.
  3. Brush them every evening after work and before food so they associate you and brush with good things.
  4. Do NOT let them have contact with your other dogs for 2 weeks. That's TWO weeks. Fourteen days. Consider the incubation period of doggie diseases and stress attacks of worms and wait 14 days.
  5. Do NOT let them anywhere your dogs will be either. And throw your clothes in the wash before handling your other dogs.

Socialization after day 14:

  1. Introduce them to another steady dog. If male, try a female.
  2. Start car rides, short ones to the mailbox and back, to town and back for an ice cream. Expect car sickness.
  3. Crate them in the house with the others. Crate overnight.
  4. Take them to kennel club obed nights and don't take them out of the truck the first time. Or the second or the third.
  5. Have your friends come over and meet them. Especially (if you are a woman) tall male friends and young kids. (Think about it.) Don't hover and stress them, you want your friends to come in and sit down and watch tv the first time with no fuss.
  6. Introduce them to strange dogs in the park and at kennel club
  7. Go to a flea market with them. Be prepared to leave in 5 minutes or 15 if it is too much for them.
  8. Take long walks in the woods with them -- without your other dogs. It's called bonding and they may have never done this before.

Be prepared to keep them:

  1. Be prepared to keep them ALL forever. It could happen.
  2. At least for a long time. Our 6 Kansas Puppymill Siberians arrived in January and left in February (the one with the bad eye -- surprise), March (a pup and one vanished from a foster home), June (the 2 seniors), & September (the other puppy).
  3. Talk to the adopters tell them EVERYTHING, all the gruesome details, better they are shocked now than after the dog goes home.
  4. Do not under any circumstances add up what this operation has cost you -- this leads to mental instability, institutionalization, fights with S.O.s, and divorce (I am NOT joking, it happened to one of the rescuers because of these Siberian Puppymill rescues.)
  5. Follow-up like this is your first adoption and you are a Nervous Nellie. Tell the adopters 300 times that the dogs can always come home to you. Back it up (we did).
  6. Don't cry when they go.

Our 6 Siberian Puppymill rescues' story is at: http://home1.gte.net/sleddog/kansas.htm With my Rescue Journal notes and pictures.

Sidney Helen Sachs & Ken Copeland

"Puppy Mill Dogs"
Part 2

Send your questions to Pam Bishop, Pauline Gabriel and Bonnie Anthony, listowners at

Webmaster: Debbie Perry