A January 24 raid in West St. Paul, Manitoba resulted in 79 sick and mistreated dogs being taken into custody, the Winniepeg Free Press reports. The residence, on the northern outskirts of Winnipeg, was the site of a backyard breeding operation, with the dogs living in crowded conditions in a large barn. The dogs were crowded into metal cages, three in each one. A number of breeding and animal cruelty laws were violated in the operation.
The raid came as a result of complaints from neighbors about the deplorable conditions the dogs were living in. When the dogs were taken into custody, many had a host of health problems, including gum disease and fleas. Almost all were thin, covered in feces and had been receiving no exercise.
Last week, the deadline for appeal of the seizure was reached. Since the owner chose not to file one (presumably to avoid any more bad publicity), the dogs officially passed into provincial custody and, through long-standing agreements, were moved to different shelters for veterinary care and eventual adoption. Ten moved to a no-kill shelter in Darcy. The rest are at the Winnipeg Humane Society.
None of the dogs have had to be euthanized. One dog has given birth to puppies, with two more still expecting. All need to be observed for temperament and emotional trauma before they can be considered for adoption. All dogs, adults and puppies, will be spayed and neutered as well.
Though there’s no set schedule, the dogs will become available for adoption a few at a time over the coming weeks. On their Facebook page, the Winnipeg Humane Society suggests potential adopters interested in a dog from the seizure fill out the adoption form as soon as possible. Due to the number of dogs and different medical conditions they are treating, it is impossible to say in advance how many dogs will become available for adoption on a given day. Adoption forms can be found here.
That concludes the breaking news portion of the article. At this point, I’d like to hop up on my soapbox. My family includes two WHS adoptees. Maxwell (tri-colour, top picture) came from a seizure much like this one, though smaller in scale. He’s not a purebred beagle, but probably his parents were close enough that someone thought they could make some good money with a breeding operation. We have precious little information about what this place was like, other than the physical and emotional scars.
I usually avoid using the term “rescue” with reference to my adoptions. I feel it gives me undue credit. I’m not a hero, sweeping in to save the day with no thought to personal gain. I’m not a martyr, taking in a defective dog out of pity. I get far more out of the relationship than Maxwell does (who is, I’ll add, far from defective).
Having said that, Maxwell certainly was rescued — by the Humane Society. His early life was hell. His sister, who was adopted by another family member, is missing a part of her ear, apparently from frostbite. Maxwell himself remains extremely timid around strangers. What people did to him for his first six months left him with a persistent fear of anything that walks on two legs.
But there’s no point in denouncing the individuals who run these operations. They obviously have no concern about animal suffering and won’t be easily made to feel guilty. Our target has to be the people who keep them in business. Kids and kid-like parents who impulsively buy animals without thinking through the responsibility. People who think of dogs as trendy toys, and want one that looks a certain way instead of one whose emotional and physical needs match up with the family.
Adopt from a shelter, not a breeder — especially backyard breeders or puppy mill operations that mistreat their animals. Not from a pet store, which amounts to the same thing. If you do this, I don’t even have to remind you to spay or neuter your pets, since shelters will do this automatically before allowing any animal to be adopted.
Perhaps more importantly, tell your friends and family how you feel about this issue. Let them know the right way to adopt an animal. The people who keep these kinds of facilities in business aren’t outwardly malicious, but they’re clueless about the effects of their consumer actions. Help them to do better by educating them on the topic.
Photo credit: Vanessa Cruz-Gochez