If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and a man. Mark Twain

Monday, June 28, 2010

Away from Prying Eyes

Behind the scenes of a Puppy Mill

With the recent news about breeding dogs in the press and in the animal welfare circle, once again it brings us to the issue of proper breeding standards of dogs in Singapore.

Most people would have thought that with Singapore being the best in almost everything, our countrymen would at least have a heart. Do we really? If you have been following certain animal welfare blogs, Facebook, the local papers, etc...  you would have read and seen the sorry state of the dogs rescued from local breeding farms here in almost perfect Singapore.

Did you know such abuse existed? We did, but sadly nothing has been done by the authorities. The usual reply would be “we need proof”.  Are the sad conditions of the 80 rescued breeding dogs not proof enough? How many more have gone unnoticed? How many more are there from where these came from?

Source: The New Paper, 17 April 2010

The authorities say that the public should be educated enough to buy dogs from reputable breeders – how would the public be educated when there has been no clear public education nor obvious guidelines from the authorities on who the reputable breeders are? And what exactly does being a reputable breeder mean? Does caging a dog in a big kennel with ample space, little water, even lesser food and almost zero medical care mean that the dog has sufficient space and that the breeder has not broken any laws and is treating the dog kindly?

Obviously there has been a lack of public education. If there was, then we would not be in the situation where people are led to believe that their 8 weeks old puppy they bought is already 3 to 4 months old? Or that the puppy they bought already has a microchip and they didn’t need to register it? But we’ll leave these topics for another day.

Let’s talk about the poor breeding dogs that have been used and abused over and over again, almost all their lives until they can no longer make money for the breeders, then they are either given away, abandoned or sold for $50.  Does it make you sad that that the lovely pedigree puppy you have in your home comes from a female dog that is now lying on the road somewhere hoping for a kind soul to pick her up, or locked up in a cage somewhere waiting for a slow death, because the breeders that they have made a lot of money for, cant even spend a few hundreds to euthanize her and put her to sleep with that final dignity?

Penelope was found lying on the road under the hot sun along Pasir Ris.

A kind soul immediately brought Penelope to the vet for treatment. Sadly, her freedom was shortlived. She passed on, too weak to fight and pull through.

Do buyers ask to see the puppy’s parents before buying them?  Do they know that the cute puppy came from parents that are perhaps 8 yrs old, blind, deaf and malnourished?  Do they know that the female dogs are mated on every heat non-stop, till they can no longer produce puppies?  Or that the breeder will only stop when the entire litter of puppies die? Then the female dogs are left to die a slow horrible death, often old, sick and weak with tits dangling from years of abuse.

The Singapore Kennel Club (SKC) has guidelines about breeding dogs:

• No breeding the bitch from the first heat

• To ensure that the bitch is healthy and in good physical condition and to provide special medical care during pregnancy and after whelping

• To ensure that the bitch is rested after two consecutive litters

• No close breeding or in breeding – meaning no breeding a bother with a sister, or a puppy with a parent

• To refrain from breeding after the bitch reaches 6 yrs of age

Do the educated public know that these female dogs are sometimes taken for a cesarean section, puppies removed, and then made to mate again even before their stitches have healed, even when the dog has not fully recovered? Maybe this is why we need national kindness movements to educate us? Or is kindness limited only to humans?

A Labrador with skin cancer and a deformed leg.

Do these same educated buyers question why the puppies they buy often have skin problems? Poor, weak hind legs? Are they aware that the breeders breed dogs that have hip dysplasia? And the results? Needless to say - such poor genes will be passed on to the puppies. Perhaps these educated buyers dont even know that their dog has weak hind legs? Or do they think that their puppy has skin problems because of food allergies, wrong shampoo, going to the park too often etc?

Do educated consumers know what in-breeding and over-breeding is? Something that happens pretty often here with local breeders. That in-breeding causes recessive genetic diseases, reduced fertility, increased congenital defects such as heart defects, cleft palates, lower birthweight, higher neonatal mortality, slower growth rate, loss of immune system function and skin problems?

Do the educated public know that over-breeding causes severely depressed immune systems, dehydration, malnutrition, wasting away from constant pregnancy, hip problems / hip dysplasia, mange and death.  The puppy that they have at home may have been bred between a brother and sister or mother and her son!

Look at the pictures below of the Shihtzu – what kind of puppies do you think she would produce? Do you think her puppies would inherit her skin problems? Would her puppies be weak, sickly and have constant health issues because the mommy did not have proper nutrition? And what happens when your puppy grows up with skin problems or hip dysplasia? Does it then not equate high vet bills and extra efforts to care for these dogs? And the sad outcome? Abandonment? When the vet bills start piling up, when owners tire of their dog's medical issues, they tend to abandon them. Over the years, we have found and rescued MANY abandoned dogs, mostly above the age of eight.

Sad, lifeless eyes staring at an empty future.

As long as the public chooses to buy and not adopt, there will always be business for breeders. Is there any harm in choosing to adopt a pet? Or adopting a middle-aged dog? This topic of adoption will be discussed another day.

The local authorities should have very clear regulations that perhaps state how old these dogs can be bred from, how many times they should be bred and not exceed that. Also clear rules on what breeders can and should do with breeding dogs after they have retired – rehome them? Euthanize them? Whatever the decision – be kind and humane in the stipulations.

"Life Imprisonment"

Checks should be carried out more stringently and more regularly. Heavier fines should be imposed. A $1000 fine is nothing but water on a duck's back. Authorities should sometimes give the public the benefit of the doubt and investigate a complaint without proof as sometimes the dogs do genuinely need help and getting proof is not always possible. Sometimes time spent gathering proof could mean a fine line between life and death for the poor dogs.

If these can be carried out by the authorities, and proper education is freely available to the public, then we would indeed be a country that is genuinely kind and gracious towards our companion animals, with or without government enforced courtesy campaigns.

Stay tuned to our blog for the next few weeks, as we provide you an insight into the lives of breeding dogs - raised solely to be used and abused.

Acknowledgement of Photos: Monica Eng and Davis KK Lee

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