Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Dog Auction Capital of the US – Missouri

Puppy Mill dogA couple of days ago I brought you information about the Buckeye Dog Auction in Ohio and told you that these despicable events are not confined to only Ohio, let’s talk about the dog auction capital of the US, Missouri.
At a recent dog auction that took place in Jacksonville, about 50 miles north of Columbia, more than 250 dogs were put ‘on the block.’ Some sold for as little$12.50, some for as much as hundreds. And some poor dogs almost couldn’t be given away despite the auctioneer’s cries of, “Anybody want that dog for a $10 bill?”
Just imagine walking in and this is the sight that greets you;Puppy Mill dogs
The wire fox terrier trembled as she stood at the front of the room.
A woman steadied the dog, stood the animal on her hind legs and awkwardly showed the dog’s belly to the crowd. The dog was pregnant, due at any moment, and wore a collar that identified her as No. 145.
“This dog is going to have pups right away,” the auctioneer said. “Ain’t nothin’ but money in the bank.”
This happens again and again, auction after auction. Scared, trembling, sick dogs passing from one life of hell to another. Dogs stuck in metal cages, hour after hour after hour, often without food or water.
“The animals are literally sold like cars in used auto auctions,” said Stephanie Shain, the society’s director of outreach for companion animals. “Cars are probably treated better than these dogs.”
Spend some time at a dog auction and one thing becomes clear: The target audience is not Mom and Dad looking for a new family pet.
At these auctions, the sales pitch is about one thing: producing puppies.
“She’s in heat,” the auctioneer said of a dachshund shivering on a nearby table. “And she’s young. She’s an ’07 model. She’s ready to go to work.”
About another dog, he said: “He’s an aggressive breeder.” And another: “She’ll do nothing but make you money.”
The sellers are trying to feed America’s fascination with dogs, to tap into a culture in which there are about 75 million dogs as pets and 39 percent of U.S. households own at least one dog.
The buyers are looking for cash crops. Presale catalogs include such descriptions as “proven stud” and “due in heat anytime.”
At the auction in Jacksonville, officials sold a dog about every 58 seconds, at an average price of $155, and they replaced the sold dog with a new one almost immediately.
Meanwhile, behind the auction area and a sign that read “No video cameras or cameras,” the dogs were in cages stacked two and three high. Some dogs sat in their own feces. In one cage, a bull terrier cowered in the corner. In another, an Italian greyhound shook almost uncontrollably.
None of the dogs was being abused, said Marilyn Bodine, a breeder from Madison, who attended the auction.
“Are you going to abuse a dog you can sell for $200?” Bodine asked. “You don’t abuse stuff you can make money out of.”
Auction supporters of course deny that anything inhumane is going on using the reasoning that they are closely regulated by state and federal inspectors.
“We try our very best to make it humane for the dogs,” said Betty Dwiggins, who with her husband put on the Jacksonville auction.
Besides, Dwiggins said, the auctions serve reputable breeders from Missouri and elsewhere and are simply the byproduct of a market that Joe Public supports every time he buys a purebred dog.
“Without these auctions the dogs would all be mongrels,” she said.
Well, people like Dwiggins can say anything they want but the truth is that these auctions supply puppy mill dogs to puppy mills or other large commercial dog breeders. This has nothing to do with ‘reputable breeders.’ Reputable breeders do not breed their dogs every time a female goes into heat, over and over until their uterus protrudes from their body. Reputable breeders do not house dogs stacked in metal caged often living in their own urine and feces never knowing the kindness of a human touch or sunshine or a walk. Reputable breeders DO NOT sell their puppies to pet stores!
I could continue on with the differences between reputable breeders and puppy millers but if you want to know more, take some time to read ‘The Horrors of Puppy Mills,’ it will give you an education you wish you never had!
According to the Missouri Alliance for Animal Legislation the number of dog auctions in Missouri has exploded in recent years;
According to the organization’s data, there were 10 auctions in 1995. That jumped to 28 in 2000 and 67 in 2005. This year the number promises to grow, and the number of dogs changing hands is likely to exceed 18,000.
“Missouri is the dog auction capital of the world,” said John Coffman, the alliance’s legislative director.
Why? It’s simple, Coffman and others say.
Missouri has more commercial breeders licensed with the U.S. Department of Agriculture than any other state, and many of them use dog auctions.
Dogs in these auctions, regardless of claims, are not necessarily purebred, paperwork is often shoddy including medical records. Genetic problems, skin diseases and other medical conditions are rampant in puppy mills due to the conditions inherent in the mills. Close are housed close to and on top of one another in often unsanitary cages, among other things.
Jerry Eber, the head of Missouri’s kennel inspection program, said that auctions aren’t abusive and are seldom a problem. His office, within the state Agriculture Department, licenses and inspects auctions. Inspectors look to see whether the dogs are handled properly, have enough space in their cages and are not subjected to extreme weather.
Eber pointed out that most auctions are open to the public, which serves as “surveillance.”
“If something is wrong, the general public knows and tells us,” he said.
Actually this really is bull! One of the things you’ll see posted at these auctions is that cameras are not allowed. Why not if everything is so wonderful? Regardless of what these people say, these are almost ‘dirty little secrets.’
Sure, inspections reports may show few violations, mostly with the building or cages, but what about the dogs? What about their welfare? For 10,000 years dog have been bred to be companion animals and whether you agree or disagree, that is different than typical livestock, although I don’t think any animal should be abused. To me and to many people, there is a difference, a big difference!
“Any Missourian who is civilized and has a reasonable grasp of the responsibilities to provide decent care to companion animals is going to be horrified by the auctions and the puppy mill industry that spurs these auctions,” said Rep. Beth Low, a Kansas City Democrat who is interested in animal-welfare issues.
Sadly, this is not the case with those involved in these auction and even those who oversee them.
Eber and others, though, said that most complaints about dog auctions were philosophical.
“Whether you like it or not, dogs are essentially a consumer product,” Eber said.
Think of it this way: Should dogs be considered working animals, no different than breeding stock, and traded like cattle? Or should they be considered members of the family, trusted and loved companions who deserve a spot next to us on the couch?
I don’t even need to give my answer to this question, I already have. If you still aren’t sure, take a look at this video then tell me what you think, if you can.

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