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At The Auction

I recently posted an article, The Eleventh Hour, to try and help raise funds for the Rocky Mountain Animal Defense. They were going to be...

Horst Hoefinger  |  May 21st 2009


I recently posted an article, The Eleventh Hour, to try and help raise funds for the Rocky Mountain Animal Defense. They were going to be attending an upcoming dog auction and money raised would be used to buy dogs that faced almost certain death. The auction has since taken place and thanks to some generous donors they had enough funds to buy 56 beautiful dogs.

Sharon L. Peters wrote a special article for USA Today. It’s a very moving piece on what happens at the auction, you may want to get out the tissues.

Some 250 or so dogs and puppies were, before the sale, living in a brick warehouse-like structure (which I drove to in order to make sure that others’ descriptions were accurate) a stone’s throw from the interstate. The building, essentially windowless except for in the front, where customers view puppies, is surrounded by asphalt and commercial buildings with no place for dogs to be outside. Adult dogs are kept behind doors posted with “Employees only” warnings.

In early May, PBK decided to sell many of the dogs in advance of relocating, according to the seller statement filed with the auction company.

When Last Chance and the Rocky Mountain Animal Defense heard the dogs would be sent to auction, they offered to pick them up and find them homes, says Last Chance’s Julie Sarff. “The dogs are perpetually pregnant or nursing; they live their lives in cages,” Sarff says. “We wanted something better for them.”

When PBK said no, the animal welfare groups flew into action: One contacted shelters and rescue groups, one raised funds online. In four days, animal lovers had donated $16,000. The National Mill Dog Rescue near Falcon, Colo., which has rescued more than 2,000 mill dogs, was on board to send someone to Missouri to buy as many of the dogs as funds allowed, and Denver Dumb Friends League had agreed to take the animals.

I cannot even begin to imagine how horrible a dog auction is, attending one must be a life changing experience. There is actually an auction catalog that describes the pertinent qualities of the dogs, like they’re cattle. There were fifteen males who were described as “aggressive breeder,” this really translates into dogs who will persist in impregnation efforts no matter how unwilling the female. It’s beyond sickening to think this type of thing goes on.

When bidding began, the National Mill Dog Rescue representative followed the agreed-on strategy. Since rescuers couldn’t afford all 202, preference was given to the older dogs “already worn out,” says Sarff, so “they could finish out their lives in a loving home living like a normal dog” rather than being “sold to a miller to produce another litter or two.”

The 56 PBK dogs purchased that day (plus some Pomeranians the auctioneer offered for $2 each because they hadn’t sold and would be killed) were driven Saturday and Sunday to Denver. The Denver Dumb Friends League’s examinations found that many had bad teeth and gums (at least one needed all teeth pulled) and most had foot lacerations and extremely long toenails from walking on wire cages. Nearly all, says Sarff, had poor muscle tone from lack of exercise, and some had infected ears and eye issues. Almost all were fairly well socialized.

I would like to say thank you to the Rocky Mountain Animal Defense and all the other rescues that were there to help. The lives of 56 dogs will now be forever changed because of their efforts and willingness to get involved. It’s because of groups like this that we have Logan, our Bernese Mountain dog who was rescued from the same situation. Logan was terrified of everything when we got him but with lots of hard work he has become a loving, happy dog. He now wags regularly.

Somehow saying thank you doesn’t seem enough. I’m not sure how you sufficiently thank the people who step up to the plate and do this kind of work. I think for them, knowing the dogs they saved now have loving forever homes is all they need.

If you have a few dollars to help out the Rocky Mountain Animal Defense you can make a donation online. Remember, the next dog you adopt may be one they saved.

*Photo courtesy RMAD