WISCONSIN PUPPY MILL PROJECT
Our Drive to Save Lives:
An "Intervention" by a Coalition of Humane Organizations
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This was home...
"[The Adamses] had good intentions...but the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and this situation was definitely a considerable distance down that road for the animals involved. On top of that, in their untrained, unprepared and unfinanced 'rescue' efforts, these people SIGNIFICANTLY contributed to MORE homeless pets!"
John and Martha Adams love dogs. They love all types of dogs, large and small, but mostly the big ones -- huskies, rotties, and the like. In fact, they love them too much for their knowledge or means, and, in April 2006, found themselves in a "situation." They had over 70 dogs, limited space, limited money for dog food, and nothing left over to pay even the most rudimentary vet bills.
How did the Adamses (not their real names) acquire so many dogs? Well, John obtained sixteen from the local "no-kill" shelter, where he volunteered -- officially and unofficially -- several in June 2005 alone, and the last, in April 2006, when he already had over 70 dogs at his home. Even though the shelter had a spay/neuter policy, for some reason, seven of sixteen John brought home, including two that he had signed adoption papers for, "slipped through the cracks" and were unaltered.
Two of the dogs that came home with John, one just a puppy, were obtained in the shelter parking lot from their owners. They had been turned away by the shelter because of lack of shelter space. Only one of these had been altered.
Three were strays found by the Adamses; two were unaltered. One dog came from a shelter in a neighboring county that did, thankfully, enforce its spay/neuter policy.
Fifteen were "unsold stock" from John's former employer, commercial breeder Yvonne Skinner (whose kennel, "Woodland Pets," coincidentally, produced Mr. Peabody, guiding spirit of the Wisconsin Puppy Mill Project). They weren't worth their keep to her; if John hadn't taken them off her hands, they would have been "disposed of." To John's credit, he detested working for these people, and quit. However, eleven of the dogs he acquired from Ms. Skinner were also unaltered.
It isn't difficult to see where this is going: even as the Adamses brought home more and more dogs from the local shelter, the unaltered "rescued" mill and shelter dogs which they already had were doing what unaltered dogs will do when left alone together: they reproduced. Then, some of their (also unaltered) offspring reproduced.
As of 24 April 2006, 39 of the dogs present on the Adams property had been BORN there, some of parents who had also been born there. One such pup born to a former puppy mill mother had THREE known litters; pups from her latest two were still onsite. Two siblings from a litter born onsite a year and a half ago became parents to another litter before they were a year old. Because the Adamses routinely "rehomed" some of these pups and sold others, nobody knows for certain just how many unwanted litters have been produced.
What an ironic twist of fate for the ones "saved" from a known puppymiller, to have litter after litter born -- and sold -- while in the Adamses' custody!
The latest puppies came along in March. As they had done in the past when new puppies swelled the ranks of their huge canine "family," the Adamses put an ad in the classified sections of local newspapers to sell some of the animals.
Annie Jones also loves dogs. Annie, who also asked us not to use her real name, just happened to be looking for a husky pup, saw one of the Adamses' ads, and decided to pay their rural Wisconsin home a visit. Once there, she was shocked to find dozens of dogs and puppies packed together in the outside pen, with no room to run and play, and only a small lean-to shelter and a few plastic dog houses available to them to escape from the sun and rain. Though the concrete floor looked to be hosed down regularly, Annie's nose twitched at the smell of so many long-haired dogs in such a confined space (along with the inevitable doggy waste products between hosings). She couldn't believe it when the Adamses assured her that they let ALL the dogs into their small ranch-type home at night.
Annie could have simply bought her puppy and driven away, rationalized that the situation wasn't really that bad. At least, none of the dogs looked dangerously skinny or sick. She could have tried to put all of those furry faces and wistful eyes out of her mind -- but she didn't.
Instead, Annie called the local authorities to express her concerns.
Animal Control and a federal inspector visited the Adamses, and discovered a real "situation." Because of the vast number of unaltered dogs, the unchecked breeding, and the attempt to sell through the classifieds, John Adams definitely fell into the category of "large-scale backyard breeder," intentional or not. Conditions were beginning to resemble the very puppy mills the Adamses professed to hate, but inspectors could not find any violations of the state's inadequate anti-cruelty laws. Other than citing the Adamses for lack of county dog licenses and state-mandated rabies vaccinations, there wasn't much they could do.
Simply fining the Adamses would not get the dogs the help they needed, nor keep conditions at the Adams property from deteriorating further. After considerable head-scratching, the authorities contacted the Wisconsin Puppy Mill Project (WPMP). They explained the convoluted situation to Wisconsin Puppy Mill Project's Executive Director Eilene Ribbens Rohde, who is also a certified WI Humane Officer, asking if she could figure out a way to intervene -- even though the Adamses lived in another county and more than 100 miles away.
Her reply: "Of course!"