Several weeks ago, we received a phone call from another rescuer. A breeder wanted to relinquish 21-25 retired breeding Pomeranians. This breeder operates a puppy mill and has given us Shih Tzus, Pomeranians, Poodles, Poodle mixes, Terriers, Schnauzers and Schnauzer mixes in the past.
We have had Pomeranians for adoption before, some of them were from the same breeder, others were not. Unfortunately, we often have a tough time finding homes for them. I cannot explain why Pomeranians seem difficult to rehome, perhaps people are less aware of their breed as compared to others. I was raised with Pomeranians, and my sister continues to keep only Pomeranians. She no longer buys them, and will only adopt rescued Pomeranians now. Two of hers, came from our rescue group, also retired breeding dogs, but not from this particular breeder.
We often turn to breed specific rescue for assistance, but Pom rescues seem hard to find. If you search for Golden Retriever rescues or Cocker Spaniel rescues, you will find them in abundance. This is not the case for Pomeranians. In the past when we have had only one or two Pomeranians, we kept them until a home was found, regardless of the time invested. When we received this phone call I knew we were in over our head in sheer numbers with this one. We immediately sought help from breed rescue. That meant we had to find responsible Pomeranian breed rescues, and quickly. Breed rescues are often limited by their number of volunteers, foster homes, and budgets just like any other rescue or shelter, so we were concerned with such a large number of dogs. We would have to find LOTS of Pomeranian rescues to cover this number of dogs...or so we thought.
There was a non-breed specific rescue group that we have worked with before that was willing to take up to five pomeranians. That was comforting and much appreciated, but we were still anxious. That would put five dogs into safety, and brought us down to 16-20 poms still needing rescue. This is still a very high number. My facility and staff are just not big enough to hold that many dogs for an extended period of time.
The rescuer who asked us for help with these dogs, made another inquiry. It was asked if I was comfortable taking in all the dogs and euthanizing them. The explanation given was that they would be better off dead than being sold to another puppy mill. She had discovered that the breeder was listing the dogs for sale on craigslist. I declined that option, "Just get the dogs to us and we will get them rescue."
I proceeded to search Google and Facebook for Pomeranian rescues. I must have emailed at least a half dozen rescues asking for help with these dogs. Finally, one group stepped up in a HUGE way.
Southern California Pomeranian Rescue jumped in head over heals! They called us almost immediately upon receipt of my email. They agreed to take all the dogs! We researched this group first to make sure these dogs would be going to a place where they would be spayed and neutered, and placed in loving homes. We checked personal references. We checked veterinary references. We dissected their website. We talked to their Volunteer Representative to be sure we understood them, and they understood us.
The good news was sent to our rescue friend just a few days before the first transport of Poms was due to arrive at the clinic. She was overjoyed with the news that rescue was found for all of the dogs. The tough part was going to be getting the dogs to my clinic. It is a few hours drive, and she has a small car. The plan was to do a small, single car run on Friday. On Sunday, another person would join the force and bring back the rest of the Poms in one transport consisting of two vehicles and 14 more dogs.
The Pom rescue requested that rabies vaccines be done. They would have the rest of the vet work done when the dogs arrived. The dogs would be making the trip to California within days of their arrival. We had little information about the types of transportation or the extent to which we would have to participate.
Normally, I prefer to completely vet any animals prior to transports. That way they have a microchip for permanent identification, and if they were to escape during a transport, they cannot end up as a breeding dog again. That part of their life is over. But this rescue required a deviation from our routine. There was no way to vet all these dogs in such a short period of time.
She brought the first transport of seven Pomeranians to the clinic on Friday. All in all, these guys were filthy, but seemed fairly well socialized. They were not afraid of people and movement like we often see with relinquished breeding dogs. They were all in dire need of dentals, pedicures, and grooming. Their teeth were coated with tartar, many of which will likely fall out when the tartar is removed. Their haircoats were full of matts and held an odor that was almost palpable and could not be removed by bathing alone. All of this is all familiar to us. But is the Pom rescue ready for this?
Looking at these faces, we could not stop at just rabies vaccines. It seemed wrong to just cram them back in a cage and wait. So we gave them each a dewormer, rabies vaccine, trimmed their overgrown toe nails, and did emergency grooms as they came in the door. They were fitted with collars and had their ID tags placed on them immediately. A few of the ones that we shaved were given baths when time permitted. They wagged their tails, and jumped on our legs to say hello...and pooped on our floor. In our business we happily take the bad with the good...
We were expecting another transport of remaining 14 dogs in two days, with my wonderful staff ready to sacrifice time on a Sunday to help these dogs in need.
But on Saturday night, I received a phone call...
To be continued...
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