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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Call to Action!

Rescue is a difficult job. It attracts people that are passionate, emotional, and strongwilled. This creates a lot of clashing of the wills within rescue groups as well as between rescue groups. When you start doing animal rescue, you do it because you are willing to invest your time, your money, and your feelings into doing something that you passionately believe is the right thing to do. Eventually you wittle down your time and your money. Your emotions become raw from experiences that melt your heart and scarred from experiences that scauld your heart.
In rescue, when one thing goes wrong, emotions fly! It's the nature of the game. Much of it is likely displaced anger. Years of frustration suddenly erupting after one unrelated stressful event.  We start to judge other groups and other rescue people and forget that our goal is the same regardless of our differences.

I work with many groups, with many volunteers. I have seen transports fall 6 hours behind schedule, resulting in irate transport volunteers. I have heard rescue groups getting upset with other groups over whether they do home visits for adopters prior to adoption, whether all the appropriate vet work is done on their animals prior to adoption, whether they adopt out to just anyone to increase their numbers. I am not trying to belittle these arguments. They are valid points and if we all had the personel and the finances to do everything perfectly,  and equally, I think we would. But we don't. There are groups that are financially better off than others. There are groups that have access to more volunteers than others. There are groups that have better facilities, easier access to supplies, more affordable veterinary care, bigger donors...   Need I continue? We do things differently because our situations are different. But we need to unite on one front, and we need to do so now.

The time, money, and feelings that we each invest in our rescue efforts are all personal items that we give away, not just at our own expense but often at the expense of our family and our friends. When something goes wrong in a rescue, we take it personally because we are invested,  and usually overdrawn in our time, money, and emotional accounts.

We get angry. We judge. We refuse to work with certain people or specific groups. We blame. We whine. We vent. We quit.  We return. We complain. We cry. We FORGET.

We forget WHY we are doing rescue work. We forget that if we don't work together, especially here in Iowa, and especially right now during this legislative season, we are going to let down the most important group involved: the thousands of dogs that are living in substandard commercial breeding facilities throughout the state. The dogs that spend year after year producing litters of puppies that are sold on the internet, in the newspapers, and in the pet stores.  Puppies that go to new homes while their parents never leave their cages, never touch grass, never get hugs. Puppies that go to new homes while animals of all shapes, sizes, colors, temperaments, breeds are euthanized in our shelters daily.  These are the faces you do not want to let down.

We need to stop bickering and start acting.  If we could all designate ONE or TWO volunteers (or more of course) to be dedicated to writing letters to our legislators about our experiences, oh what a difference we could make.  On, there are 131 rescue groups and shelters registered within the state of Iowa.  But there are more than that.  There are many groups that do not use petfinder for lack of computer access and other reasons.  Imagine all those letters flowing in to our legislators.  Words that come from experience.  Words that come with passion.  Words that come from the heart.  Even without first hand knowledge of these commercial breeding facilities, we all experience the extreme strain of the pet overpopulation problem.  We know that adding thousands of puppies to the market during an economy when beloved pets are being heartbreakingly relinquished by their owners due to job loss, housing changes, or marital changes is not to the betterment of our state.  We see it.  We feel it.  We need to share it.

You don't have to be a "good writer" to address this issue with your legislator.  You simply need to know how to send an email or place a stamp on an envelope.  If you know how to do either, it is that simple.  If all your letter states is "please support the puppy mill bill", it still says a lot to your legislator because they see that it was important enough for you to take the time and effort to send it. 

If you are from Iowa, read the following information about how you can make a difference in our state.  If you are not from Iowa, find out where your state stands in relation to puppy mills by contacting the or to find out how you can make a difference in your state.  Especially if you are from Missouri, Nebraska, Kansas, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania.


The "Puppy Mill Bill" as it is being referred to (HSB604) is moving through the legislative process quickly -- so that means we need to get to work! Please call or write your legislators -- both senator and representative -- and ask them to SUPPORT the Puppy Mill Bill/HSB 604. We need you to do this ASAP!

Key points to mention in your conversations/emails:

**YOU as their constituent want Iowa to have better oversight of the USDA-licensed breeders in our state.

**You want them to support HSB604 and vote yes to a clean passage of that bill (meaning, no amendments).

If you don't know who your legislator is; you can find that information easily here:

Additionally, if one of the following is your representative, we need you to especially get in touch with them -- they really need to hear from their constituents on this issue. Ask for their commitment to the 'clean' passage of HSB604, The Puppy Mill Bill. Please include a comment that this bill addresses the recommendations unanimously agreed upon by a bipartisan interim study committee. I've attached a link to their website page at the Iowa Legislature which will allow you to see information on them; as well as email them easily/get phone numbers to reach them.

Deborah Berry (D, 22); Waterloo area;jsessionid=0CCE20BC3187AD9CFF77F17014094F1F?id=298&ga=83

Curt Hansen (D, 90); Van Buren county;jsessionid=0CCE20BC3187AD9CFF77F17014094F1F?id=10340&ga=83
Jerry Kerns (D, 92); Lee county;jsessionid=0CCE20BC3187AD9CFF77F17014094F1F?id=7498&ga=83
Linda Miller (R, 82); Quad Cities;jsessionid=0CCE20BC3187AD9CFF77F17014094F1F?id=6487&ga=83
Christopher Rants (R, 54); Sioux City;jsessionid=0CCE20BC3187AD9CFF77F17014094F1F?id=3&ga=83
Mark Smith (D, 43); Marshalltown area;jsessionid=0CCE20BC3187AD9CFF77F17014094F1F?id=64&ga=83
Doug Struyk (R, 99); Council Bluffs;jsessionid=0CCE20BC3187AD9CFF77F17014094F1F?id=262&ga=83

Roger Wendt (D, 2); Sioux City;jsessionid=0CCE20BC3187AD9CFF77F17014094F1F?id=170&ga=83


For further updates on what you can do to help, visit and register with  You will receive updates in your email box that will keep you current on the progress of the bill.

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Friday, January 22, 2010

Meet Casper: Part 2 in a series of Meet the Sweets

Casper is a young shih tzu that ended up in a high kill shelter.  The term high kill is very misleading.  High kill shelters range from poor quality animal control facilities that don't put any effort into rehoming their strays after their hold time is up, to shelters that put extra effort into rehoming the strays but are simply overwhelmed by pet overpopulation.  Not all high kill shelters are heartless.  In fact most of them have wonderful volunteers and staff that are simply overwhelmed with the number of animals entering the shelter and have limited space available on the adoption floor.  In this economy, adoptions are down and owner relinquishment is up due to divorces, job losses, housing changes, etc. The shelters are forced to decide at a glance, which animals are most likely to find homes quickly and those animals go to the adoption floor.  The animals chosen are often those that are younger, those with more somber temperaments, those that are smaller in size, those that are not all black, and those without any medical ailments that would require special veterinary care that the shelter cannot afford and that would make an adopter think twice about adopting.

You can see the dermoid on his left eye...

Casper is such a sweet dog.  He is a small, friendly, white, adorable little dog that has no personality flaws, but he does have one medical ailment.  He has a "dermoid" on his eye.  An ocular dermoid is a mass of skin with hair follicles and glands that is growing on the cornea of his eye.  They can be quite painful and can cause ulcerations and ultimately rupture of the eye if not treated.  He also suffers from dry eye, which is when the eye is incapable of producing the proper amount of tears to lubricate the eye properly.  He requires surgery to remove the dermoid from his eye.

Casper was in a high kill shelter.  The shelter has an agreement with a local dog grooming salon.  The salon routinely grooms dogs that appear adoptable for the shelter before they end up on the adoption floor.  Once this grooming salon groomed little Casper, getting those long whisps of fur out of his face, they noticed the eye abnormality and they knew that once it was noticed by the shelter personel that he might not make it to the adoption floor. 

They kept Casper in a kennel at the grooming salon for months trying to find him a home.  This kept him safe from euthanasia, but no one wanted to adopt him fearing that this growth may be a cancer.  So there he sat.  Being treated very well by caring people, but without a family or a home of his own.

One day I went to work and when I checked my email I read the following plea:

"I went by the shelter today to get some pictures of the dogs and there are shih tzu's (all kinds of dogs) EVERYWHERE. There were some adorable ones that are off of stray holds and there is no place for them to go on adoption row. When I was there taking pictures the workers were going thru the stray hold area and pulling certain dogs out and walking them out the back. I asked where they were going (even though I already knew) and they were being walked back to get gassed. It broke my heart. The dogs were so happy and excited when they were taken out of their pens and one of them kept looking at me as he went out the door. I left crying. There are so many dogs there that ones that are off of stray hold are going to be gassed without even a chance to see if they can be adopted because there is no room for them. (A worker) had to put 30 dogs down yesterday alone. I got a lot of pictures today but I wont be back until tommorrow night to transfer them to my computer and send them out. If you know of anyone that will help let me know. I am pulling some dogs tommorrow that I have rescue for."

I have a Shih Tzu.  Let me tell you something.  I grew up with Pomeranians, then went to a Border Collie mix, then to Golden Retrievers, and NEVER thought I would get a Shih Tzu.  They just were not my breed, and I did not want a dog that needed to go to the groomer.  But he is wonderful!  Shortly after getting him, I took a "How well do you know your dog breeds" quiz on the internet, and there was a question,

" Which dog breed is well known for being cat-like?" 

I cannot remember the answer for certain, I think it said Shiba Inu,  but I was sure the correct answer was Shih Tzu after owning Kirby!  He is so playful, so cat-like that I could not believe Shih Tzu was not the answer!  But it wasn't.  I think the person who wrote the quiz needs to own a Shih Tzu.  Then he/she may rewrite that answer!

So my new affection for the breed pulled me into this rescue effort.  I told them I would take two Shih Tzus even though we were full of adoptables ourselves, but I felt compelled to offer help.  The situation seemed so desperate.  Unfortunately this situation goes on daily throughout our country! 

I have good news and bad news.  The bad news is that we did not get the Shih Tzus that were in dire straits  from that shelter.  The good news is that the shelter had so many offers to help that they ran out of dogs before they got to my offer of help!  All the dogs that were at risk, were saved.  Woo hoo!  Then one of the shelter's volunteers thought of Casper, still sitting at the grooming salon waiting for a family.  I am sure with me being a veterinarian, they thought I would be a safe rescue for this handsome little fellow.  I saw the photos and they described the eye lesion to me.  I agreed to take him in, even if it meant him losing the eye.  He deserved a chance at a good home. 

Casper arrived at our clinic about a week later, groomed and handsome wearing a little doggie bandana.  He had a little note from one of the girls from the grooming salon describing him and his likes and his dislikes to the best of her ability.  The affection for this little boy was obvious.

I updated Casper on all the veterinary care he was lacking, which was a rabies vaccine, and a microchip, deworming, and flea and heartworm prevention.  He was already neutered, and had a distemper combination vaccine at the shelter.  We performed some tests on his eyes and discovered that he had dry eye, and began treatment for that right away.

A volunteer/friend of mine took Casper to a veterinary ophthalmologist to be evaluated.  His dermoid would require removal for best eye function and comfort.  His eyes were inflamed so he started Casper on medications to decrease inflammation prior to the surgery.  His recheck visit will be next week.  At that point, if all goes well, he will be scheduled to undergo the surgery.

Here is the part of rescue that I dislike.  Requesting help of others.  We need to raise about $900 to cover the costs of the surgery, exams, and testing done on Casper by the veterinary ophthalmologist.   This is the expense for the veterinary ophthalmogist, not for what our rescue has provided for him.  If you would like to help, please send a check or money order to South Hamilton Animal Alliance PO Box 354 Jewell, IA 50130, or make a paypal payment to at , or we can take credit card donations over the phone at the office.  If you prefer to call the veterinary ophthalmologist's office where the surgery will be performed so you can put money down on his surgery, just let me know at and I will forward that information on to you.  Soapbox done.

Now for the great news.  Casper has a new family.  They are a couple with seven (yes I said seven!) children ranging in age form pre-kindergarten to high school.  Casper is LOVING living at that house and doing very well!  When he is declared healthy after the surgery, he will officially be theirs.  I rechecked his eyes today and the tear production is at it's highest level, the inflammation is all but gone, and there are no signs of ulceration or damage to the cornea at this time.  He is healthy and loved by his new family.  His new Dad is a big bear of a guy that turns to a cub at the mention of his new dog.  His new Mom is slowly being cured of her fear of dogs, as Casper inches his way into her heart.  He has made that family his own.  This is a happy ending for Casper.  It was all made possible because caring people stood out on a limb for a dog that they knew deserved to be loved, and had so much love to give. 

When is the last time you stood out on that limb?

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Monday, January 18, 2010

The Special One

This week I ran into a website that absolutely disgusted me. . The owner of the site states that he/she wants to buy the stray dog that wandered into your yard, or the unwanted litter of puppies you have, to satisfy the need for medical research animals, to aid in the progression of human medical research. The person makes you feel awful that you would consider bringing an animal to a shelter where they may humanely euthanize an animal, rather than sell it to research to cure childhood cancers.

Quoted from the site:  "Every day, animal shelters wastefully exterminate valuable dogs and cats. Shamefully, the medical need is so great, while the supply of quality test animals are so few. I beg you not to destroy the trial subject who can make the difference between life and death for a real live human being. Animal research has played a vital role in virtually every major medical advance of the last century and now YOU can be a part of that proud tradition and make money at the same time! Rather than uselessly squander those invaluable lives which can make a profound difference in our current lifestyle, call me and let's turn those unwanted beasts into survival opportunities for sick children and dollars in your wallet. By disproving the lethality and/or side effects of chemicals used in modern medicine, these beautiful innocent souls can make the ultimate sacrifice in our and our children's behalf. These former pets are afforded all the respect and compassion as is humanly possible."

TRUTH "Every day, animal shelters wastefully exterminate valuable dogs and cats."  According to the ASPCA, "3 million to 4 million animals are euthanized each year (60 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats entering the shelters).  This is a very sad truth.  So many animals killed and yet breeding in mass numbers continues daily in this country. 

In Iowa alone, there are over 400 USDA licensed commercial breeders (see map of licensed breeders throughout Iowa as above borrowed from ).  Breeders no longer focus on purebred dogs.  The latest trend is selling mixed breed dogs for the same price or more than they charge for the purebreds. There are Goldendoodles, and Labradoodles, Puggles, and Shih-Poos, Teddy Bears, and Lhasa-Poos.  You name it, they make it. 

There are an estimated 23,000 dogs being bred in Iowa's licensed commercial breeding facilities alone!!  Remember that this number does not include backyard breeders, unlicensed breeders, hobby breeders, farm cat breeding as "there would be no cats on my farm if they all got fixed", unintentional breeding of the pet they meant to get fixed last month, the "just one litter so my child learns about birthing" breeding, or (dare I say it) responsible breeding.  Add these into the mix, and the number continues to rise. 

The majority of the dogs in these facilities are females, since one male can impregnate several females.  I am not a math wiz, but if you add 2 to 3 litters a year per female dog in Iowa alone, that number is HUGE!  Now think about the other states.  Iowa ranks 3rd in the having the highest number of licensed commercial breeding facilities, so there are only two more states with numbers higher than these!  We pump out the puppies and euthanize healthy, loving, yet homeless adult dogs and cats.  According to the HSUS, 25% of dogs in shelters are purebreds.  They range in all ages, sizes, and colors.  Yet 3-4 million animals lose the battle of who will find a home when the next family stops in the shelter.  Most don't even make it to the adoption floor due to lack of space and are euthanized before a family even gets a chance to see them.  Once their hold time is up (ranging 3-10 days usually), their life time is up.

Please watch this video I found on YouTube entitled "The Truth About Euthanasia"  .  This will help you understand what it is like to be a shelter employee.  And if you missed Oprah's show on the truth about puppy mills, here is one segment of it regarding the animal shelters and the pet overpopulation problem... .  You can visit youtube and watch the rest of the Oprah show as well.

So, the truth is that the animal shelters are euthanizing mass numbers of animals daily in the United States.  There are No-Kill shelters out there, but the name is misleading.  When a No-Kill shelter is FULL, they say no to other animals who need to come in,  and those animals go to the shelters that will euthanize for space out of absolute necessity. 

TRUTH "Animal research has played a vital role in virtually every major medical advance of the last century" .  But times are changing and while I do believe there is a need for animal research in medicine, a lot of research has sought out alternative means of researching so that animals are not involved.  Some research facilities need consistent genetic lines of animals and breed their own animals and would not be involved with dealing the animals, unless they were able to be sold after the research is done.  I am certain that some animal research done today is quite necessary and performed in as humane a way as possible, but I am just as certain that some animal research done today is unnecessary and inhumane.  If an animal is involved in finding a cure for a childhood cancer, wonderful!  But don't tell me that the makeup I am wearing needed to be tested on monkeys or rabbits.  Just another reason I don't adorn makeup!  Anyway, animal research is just too big of a discussion to go into too deeply for now.  But Class B Dealers would be needed if a research facility had animals that have completed their research but still "usable".  The class B dealer would sell them to another facility and gain the original research facility some money back for their project.  This is how the license is meant to be used.  And unfortunately, it is also intended to purchase animals from overwhelmed shelters.  These animals are going to be euthanized in days if not hours, and they will now go to research facilities instead.  I hope the knowledge they supply is important. 

The Animal Welfare Act defines Class B Animal Dealers as those that can obtain dogs and cats and sell them to researchers. implies that he/she is a class B dealer, and buys animals from you and sells them to research facilities.  This is not legal.  Class B dealers can only obtain animals from licensed shelters or pounds. They cannot accept stolen dogs or cats.  That being said, if someone was willing to steal a dog or cat to make a buck or two, they are not going to admit that the dog was stolen.  (Read this as "Microchip your pet today if it isn't done so already, so it has a permanent identification linked to you!)

However, it would be easy for a person from  to obtain a shelter or pound license which is often free or very inexpensive.  In Iowa, there are so many counties without any source of humane animal control, that this person would be quite busy with intakes of animals in need.  This "pound" then has the ability purchase dogs from any source ie newspapers, craigslist, flyers, or take in animal for free from free to good home ads, take in town strays, and take in owner surrendered animals.  As a shelter, they would be able to sell these animals to the class B dealers, who would then sell to the research facilities.

Now that we see how easy it is to make ibuystrays  a reality, let me tell you what you don't know. is not real.  There is no one at the other end really wanting to buy your dog.  It is a hoax.  It was set up by an animal welfare advocate to educate people about what can happen when the wrong person gets their hands on a class B dealers license and how easy it would be to do.  The person that is at the other end wants you to get riled up about the weak law (The AWA has several weaknesses...just look at the mandatory cage size)  and motivate yourself to step up and try to make a change.

I applaud the way they did it.  It got my attention.  And I have learned alot evaluating the site.  Perhaps you learned some too?

I cannot help but think of my first dog, Immy.  She was a beautiful border collie mix.  I was in veterinary school, and I was at the school late studying for an exam one night.  It was only a few months after losing my dog at home to kidney failure.  As I walked down the hallway that led me to the parking lot, I heard barking coming from a place in the school that usually did not have dogs.  I followed the barks and walked into a room with about 6 or 8 dogs.  In the cages are all purebred cocker spaniels.  (I understand now why there were so many purebred dogs throughout my veterinary school experience...breeder relinquishments.)  Among these cockers was this very thin border collie type dog.  I took her out of the cage into the hall.  I sat on the floor with my back against the wall.  She laid down next to me and rested her chin in my lap and closed her eyes.  That was it.  I was in love. I decided this was worth staying up later for.  I pulled out a book, and read as she cuddled next to me.  Her third eyelids were protruding from her eyes, which now I know means she was dehydrated, but wasn't sure then what it meant. 

I got up super early the next morning.  Checked on the dog to be sure she was still there.  I wrote down the information on her card and headed off the Lab Animal Research to find out if I could have her.  I was so scared they would say no!  When I got there, they said she had been in a junior anesthesia lab earlier in the week, and I could have her but I had to pay them to purchase another dog to take her place in junior surgery.  Junior surgery is where third year veterinary students perform surgeries on dogs and the dogs never wake up.  They are euthanized after the lab while still under anesthesia.  After writing a check for $44, the woman said I could not take the dog until later that day.  I agreed but went straight to her kennel, and took her out.  I brought her to the ophthalmology wing to get those funky eyes checked.  I was a first year student, and really new nothing yet.  I wanted to make sure she didn't have a brain tumor or something!  Because this exam was a freebie, every ophtho student had to look at my new dogs eyes.  Three hours later, the revelation was that she just needed food and water and would be fine!  Immy was about 5 months old then.

That $44 dog was the best friend I have ever had.  There are certain dogs that are just different.  She was one of those.  If you have had one of those, then you know what I mean.  I am unsure in the 12 years that I had her, whether I took care of her, or she took care of me.  When I finally had to put her down due to cancer...much of the guilt I felt and still feel is that I knew for her sake that I had to let her go, but I wonder if she was ready to let go of me.  I miss that dog every day.  Don't get me wrong, I love every dog I have had prior to her and since her.  But she was that special one.  I put Immy down when I was pregnant with my daughter.  I make a quilt for my daughter with animals on it of course.  Under the square with the dog, in the embroidered grass, you can read the name, "Immy".  I rescued her days before her end was to come. 

I wonder how many special ones are being euthanized today in shelters across America.

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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Meet Cookie: Part 1 in a series of Meet the Sweets...

Many rescue groups, shelters, and humane organizations utilize my veterinary services.  As a result of this, I have seen a significant number of commercial breeding dogs that are relinquished to these groups by breeders.   There is a lot said about the health of puppies coming out of these large, poor quality facilities.  We also see the results of the unlicensed backyard breeders that have little knowledge about the breeding process and health implications of the animals involved. While I believe the health of the puppies is a considerable concern, I think we neglect the bigger issues. 

The issues that need to be addressed are the health and care of the "breeding stock" in high output, poor quality breeding facilities as well as regulation of the unlicensed breeder.  Dogs that live their entire lives in cages, often suffering from poor, inhumane conditions with little human contact.  People often walk away with a new puppy in their arms without ever seeing the place where the parent dogs, along with 30, 50 or 100's of other breeding dogs live out their lives.  The puppies go on to new homes, new lives, and new environmental conditions. Their parents are left behind to produce more litters.

The breeding dogs in these high output, poor quality breeding facilities and those of the backyard breeders are rarely, if ever, examined by a veterinarian.  There are some commercial breeding facilities that routinely employ a veterinarian for their animal care and I applaud that.   But for many at the lowest end of this profession, the veterinarian is considered an unnecessary business expense.  The result of that is dangerous and inhumane.  When diseases are being discovered, it is usually because the puppies are afflicted with SEVERE conditions, and being returned by the purchaser.

If the breeding stock has undiagnosed conditions, it may be a mild form of the disease, but that can lead to an increased percentage of puppies affected within the litter and an increase in severity of the same condition in the affected puppy.  This means that if either or both parents have a mild form of the disease, the puppies may get the severe form of the disease. 

Meet Cookie!

A family purchased Cookie at 4 months of age from an Iowa breeder after seeing her, her 2 month old younger siblings, and her parents advertised in a local newspaper for $50-$150 each.  When they got there, Cookie was the only one left.  Her parents and the other 2 month old litter were all sold.  Cookie was purchased for $100. 

By five months of age Cookie presented to their veterinarian with an “odd” gait or stride.  She could not jump or bear much weight on her hind legs.  She was painful when getting up or laying down, stretching her rear legs out often, seeming stiff and uncomfortable. Cookie's X-Rays revealed severe hip dysplasia.  Cookie's owners could not afford treatment. They relinquished her to a rescue group, knowing that she needed more than they could give her.  Cookie had her surgery at the expense of the rescue group, costing the group $3-4000!  She was adopted by a man who continued to take her to physical rehabilitation during her recovery and is now living a normal happy life. 

But the family that bought her suffered a major loss.   Their choice was either euthanize the dog they had grown to love, which many people would have chosen to do, or find a safe place for her with a new owner that could afford to do what they could not.   Not a lot of people can afford to invest that much money in a family pet.  Not a lot of rescue groups can afford to invest that much money in a dog that they aquired.  I think we all as pet owners wish we could afford anything our pets needed, and there are those that will do so.  But there are many who simply cannot. 

Hip dysplasia is a genetic disorder passed from parents to offspring.  It is possible that the breeder did test the parents and still produced puppies with the disease.  Radiographic testing of the breeding pair at two years of age for the disease and NOT breeding a dog unless it tests negative for the disease will reduce the likelihood of hip dysplasia significantly.  It is still not perfect but perhaps with DNA testing we will get better as we learn more.

Cookie After Surgery:

If I had to guess where Cookie came from, judging by the fact that the breeder was selling off all of their dogs, including the parents, and the younger siblings, Cookie may have come from what is often referred to as a backyard breeder.  Being the only one sold at this age, perhaps she was returned to the breeder by the people who purchased Cookie when she was 2 months old because they realized she had problems that they were not prepared to deal with.

A backyard breeder is a person that purchases a dog or dogs, hoping to make a little money off the selling of the puppies.  They keep their population of breeding dogs under the limits of the requirements for state or federal licensure so there is no oversight of these breeders. As a result, this type of breeder is not required to be licensed.  These people may, or may not,  have good intentions and they rarely have the information needed to make good decisions about breeding the dogs.  One would hope that  their veterinarian would attempt to educate them about the proper breeding of dogs, if there is one involved at some point.

In my experience as a veterinarian, with these breeders, they may come in for vaccines or a check up on their newly aquired dog or dogs.  They may care a lot about the dog or dogs that they have.  When spay or neuter is suggested they mention that they may want to breed.  I try to discourage it unless they wait until the dog is two years of age, and they do appropriate testing for the diseases appropriate to the breed of dog involved.  This may include joint checks such as hips and elbows, eye checks, or genetic/DNA testing.  In my experience, this rarely happens.  The dog often has a litter long before turning two years old and the tests are not performed.  The puppies arrive and may be completely healthy, or some may have issues.  I am often awakened from my sleep during the night with a panicky voice on the other end of the phone, "My dog is giving birth, what do I do?" 

Go to the library and get a book is what they should have done to educate themselves on the birthing process. 

Perhaps the owners of sexually intact dogs should be required to have and maintain a breeding license until proof of spay/neuter is done.  This license should involve educational classes, proof of veterinary care, and inspections of the the dogs in their residence.  Paying an annual breeder fee for keeping a dog intact, might encourage those in it for the wrong reasons, or those who just have no motivation to get that surgery done, to get the dog spayed/neutered thus decreasing the incidence of the "unexpected and unwanted litters" that often crowd our shelters.

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