by Lee Juslin
Colin came in to Sunshine State Westie Rescue (SSWR) as a puppy and the poster child for the evils of puppy mills. Though he didn’t have any physical issues, as many puppy mill dogs do, his pronounced psychological and behavioral issues were severe.
Like many mill puppies, Colin was sent to a pet shop and purchased by a well meaning woman. Unfortunately for Colin, the woman worked full time so he spent at least eight hours a day shut in a carrier with another dog. Colin tore at the crate, threw himself against the door, and barked incessantly. When neighbors in the townhouse community complained, the woman called SSWR.
It immediately became clear that Colin was not a typical, happy go lucky puppy. He was terrified of crates and, with any type of confinement, he would try to hurt himself in his efforts to escape. Aggie of SSWR and the organization’s vet felt that he had been taken from his mom too early and never properly weaned.
In his foster home, Colin tried to suckle from everything: fingers, toes, even the elderly female Westie he lived with. During his several weeks in foster care, Colin learned a number of valuable Westie lessons from the female Westie and his foster mom. He stopped his frantic barking, learned to appreciate and enjoy his freedom, and he learned about toys.
With no physical issues, SSWR listed Colin for adoption but knew he would need a special family. Fortunately, an older couple fell in love with him. “It’s the perfect home,” said Aggie. “The mom is retired and at home, there is a fenced yard, and there is also a young Westie sister to play with. This couple has the patience to work with Colin, now called Jackson, and he is making great strides. They even have a pool which Jackson loves.”
Colin/Jackson came from a Kansas puppy mill that was inspected by the USDA and found to have a number of violations. There were six hundred seventy five adult dogs and two hundred and sixty six puppies! Despite the violations and the untenable number of dogs housed in sub standard conditions, the puppy mill is still open and operating.
Large puppy mills generally sell their dogs through “pet shops” where customers uneducated on the puppy mill conditions and the possible diseases and defects in these puppies, fall in love with a cute puppy, and can’t bear to leave it in the store. Puppy mills and the pet stores count on gullible customers falling in love with the puppy. Please know that buying a puppy in a pet store is supporting these awful puppy mills where buyers run the risk of a badly damaged puppy. Cruel conditions, poor care and nutrition, and removing puppies from the mother too soon, guarantee a dog with either physical problems or severe emotional problems like Colin. People think they are rescuing a puppy but, in fact, there is always another one to take its place. Never buy from a pet store. Go to a reputable rescue where dogs have been vetted and are honestly presented with any problems listed up front. Or, if you must have a puppy, which rescues seldom have, go to a reputable breeder. Do your due diligence before committing to a dog.
You can learn more about Sunshine State Westie Rescue on their FB page. Volunteer, make a contribution, apply to adopt a rescued Westie, or sign up to be a foster parent which are sorely needed at this young rescue: SSWR.
Check out more animal rescue & therapy animal stories in our Pets section.