Last December, we helped rescue three puppies who were surrendered by the American Kennels pet store in New York City in the wake of our undercover investigation. The investigation revealed that sick puppies were left to suffer or even die in the store and that the store purchased puppies from puppy mills and puppy mill brokers. (Brokers are middlemen, sometimes called “class B dealers,” who purchase puppies from a variety of breeders and then transport and re-sell them, mostly to pet stores. Pet stores in New York City are not permitted to buy from brokers.)
Almost immediately after our investigation was released, New York City authorities visited the store and secured the release of three puppies who had been supplied by brokers and whom the store could not legally sell. Additional puppies were surrendered the following week, the store soon closed permanently, and the dogs were placed in new homes after receiving veterinary care.
Rosie was one of these dogs. She was fostered by Kathleen Summers, a member of our Stop Puppy Mills team, leading up to the holidays while she recovered from giardia and kennel cough. After finishing her treatment, she was adopted by Carlyn Schrouder, who works on our digital marketing team. She was a very active and playful dog, and Carlyn was so happy to give her the home she deserved.
But when Rosie turned 8 months old, something changed. Carlyn noticed she was limping and seemed to be in pain. When Carlyn took Rosie to the veterinarian, she was diagnosed with Legg-Perthes disease, a degenerative hip disorder. Rosie, who had already suffered so much, now faced another significant health battle. She would need femoral head ostectomy surgery to remove part of her leg bone and keep it from grinding against her hip bone.
“Our vet felt confident she has this disease not only because she is a small breed but due to being from a puppy mill,” Carlyn said. It is unusual for a puppy so young to require a procedure like this, and it’s suspected that the cause is genetic.
In August, Rosie underwent surgery with the best veterinary orthopedist Carlyn could find, and she continues to recover. Rosie should soon be back to her normal and perky self. The family spent nearly $4,000 to restore her ability to walk without pain.
Our Stop Puppy Mills team hears from heartbroken families like Rosie’s almost every day through our online complaint form. Most breeders who supply dogs to pet stores are puppy mills, which rarely go to the time and expense of health-testing the parent dogs for inherited conditions. Common inherited diseases found in dogs from puppy mills and pet stores include hip dysplasia, patellar (knee) luxation, and diseases of the heart, airway and liver. In heartier dogs, some of these issues may not develop until older age, but they can occur with more severity and at younger ages in poorly bred dogs from puppy mills. This can cause unforeseen costs, both emotional and financial, to families who love their companion animals.
Fortunately, New York State is on the verge of ending its pet store puppy problems for good. Both houses of the state legislature overwhelmingly passed the Puppy Mill Pipeline bill this year and the legislation is being reviewed by Gov. Kathy Hochul. Once signed, New York will become the sixth state to end the sale of puppies, as well as kittens and rabbits, in pet stores. New Yorkers will still be able to obtain loving pets directly from animal shelters and rescues and from responsible breeders, who should be screening their dogs for inherited diseases that are common in the breeds or breed types. By removing the market for puppy mill dogs and sending consumers to responsible sources of puppies instead, we will help prevent the pain and suffering of dogs like Rosie, as well as the stress and expense to their families.
Thankfully, things are looking up for Rosie. She’s mostly recovered from her procedure and is enjoying her life by playing with her “brother” dog and her two small human siblings. Recently she celebrated her first birthday with a party and dog-bone shaped cookie cake.
Follow Kitty Block on Twitter @HSUSKittyBlock.