Maggie Rescues Herself

Florida Puppy Mill Dog Finds a New Home Thanks to a Dedicated CAPS Member

On a recent investigation, CAPS President Deborah Howard teamed up with the CAPS Lead Investigator Julie Workman to rescue a dog from a puppy mill in Florida. CAPS had received a complaint from a concerned citizen who had rescued a Jack Russell Terrier from this facility. The dog bit this woman's mother and an animal control officer and had to be euthanized.

The breeds at this small puppy mill included Chihuahuas, Hairless Chinese Cresteds, Shih Ttzus, St. Bernard mixes and Cocker Spaniels. The Cockers were the only dogs that were clean and well-groomed. The owner persuades the local shelter to give her purebred and mixed breed dogs. It is clear that animal control won't do anything about the puppy mill because of this arrangement. In addition, the sheriff's office told the woman who had purchased the Jack Russell Terrier that they had visited the facility and found no violations. In rural Florida, keeping dogs in dirty conditions is acceptable. The owner's fiance, who gave a tour of the facility to Ms. Howard and Ms. Workman, said that he and his fiance had nursed some of animal shelter dogs back to health. Unfortunately, some of these dogs had been used for breeding.

Ms. Howard and Ms. Workman noted many areas of concern. There was a lot of junk, old dilapidated cages, filthy open bags of dog food, fecal accumulation, filthy drinking water, chickens, turkeys, goats and sickly cats. The burn and garbage piles were overflowing with debris. The smell was very unpleasant.

Ms. Howard and Ms. Workman saw several matted Shih Tzus on soiled newspapers on the back porch. This area had feces and standing puddles of urine. The porch was enclosed with rough pieces of scrap boards and chicken wire. In some areas of the chicken wire, the dogs had chewed holes. This caused the wire to project in towards their faces. One Shih Tzu was missing an eye. Sharp wires and improperly constructed cages can cause serious injuries.

There were two tethered dogs. The man admitted that a tethered dog had been electrocuted during a lightning storm. Yet, the dogs seen by Ms. Howard and Ms. Workman were chained to very tall trees. He said that the large dog tethered in the woods away from the other dogs had saved his fiance's life. They were grateful to him and therefore provided him a home. We thought this was a very sad way to show gratitude.

During the CAPS visit, a mixed breed, Maggie, was running loose on the property. She followed Ms. Howard and Ms. Workman and tried to make friends with them. The man said that that a family had moved away and left Maggie in their care. Maggie had had eight puppies a couple of months earlier. Two of her puppies lived on the filthy back porch with the Shih Tzus. When the man brought out the puppies, Maggie immediately went to them. The man shoved her away and said that they weren't her puppies. One of the puppies looked just like her. He said he was selling the puppies for $25 each and added that a woman had given them the puppies to sell. The woman who had rescued the Jack Russell Terrier told Ms. Howard and Ms. Workman that she had seen Maggie with the eight puppies a few weeks earlier and that they were definitely her puppies.

When Ms. Howard and Ms. Workman were leaving the facility, Maggie ran out to the car and tried to get in. The man yelled at her to get back in the yard. Then, he told them that they could take her for free. At first, they declined because they didn't have a foster home for her. Maggie, however, was not about to let them leave without her. After the man went back into the house, she slid under the fence and tried to get into the car again. It was obvious that she wanted to get out of this place. Once Maggie was in the car, Ms. Howard frantically called all of her rescue friends in Atlanta, but they had too many dogs.

So, in the end, Maggie actually rescued herself. One of our dedicated and very generous members in Atlanta paid for Maggie's veterinary bills and found her a home with a very kind retired Episcopal priest. He had recently lost a mixed breed dog to cancer and was looking for a dog that needed him as much as he needed her.

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Deborah Howard

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