Adopting a Puppy Mill Survivor

betsyhacApril 1, 2011

A friend of mine is considering adopting a couple of rescue dogs that came from puppy mills. Both are about 7 years old, female, and in the same foster home. One is a Maltese mix and the other a Havanese. The little Maltese is missing all but 2 of her teeth. According to the foster mom, the two have become pals. Have any of you adopted a puppy mill dog, and what was your experience? Obviously, they both have trust issues and potty training issues. I've adopted many "damaged" animals over the years, and my belief is that with love and time, animals are amazingly resilient. So, of course, I'm encouraging her. But, I have not adopted a puppy mill dog, and we all know the horrendous conditions those poor dogs come from. I'd appreciate anyone's account of firsthand experience. My friend doesn't have access to internet until next week and is not an internet nerd like I am, so I offered to ask the question and do a little research to help her out.

Thx in advance,

Betsy and Mary

P.S. Yes, she's had dogs before.

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It just makes me ill when I think of those little creatures, caged up and pregnant as often as nature will allow and total disregard for basic vetting like dental care. One of our shelters is full of 'worn out' puppy mill dogs. I think there is a special place in Hades for people who do this and there has to be ways to trace animals back to the perpetrators. It would be cheaper in the long run to enforce the laws.

My husband and I adopted an eight year old lhasa apso from our local shelter. I don't know if he was a puppy mill dog, or not, but given his undershot jaw, he would not have been anything someone would have taken from a breeder since he was a purebred.

He had one eye missing and was in absolute terror of brooms and canes. I found out after the fact he had been in the pound, adopted out then returned, in the shelter and adopted out and then returned. He came with a lot of baggage......but lived another eight years in our house and was much loved. I suspect he trained us more than we trained him, because we found ways to work around his little foibles and it took a lot of patience but he gave back as much as he took and was missed by many when he finally passed away.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2011 at 6:43PM
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The BEST way to determine if the dog you or anyone else is interested in is by spending time with it. In my opinion it is the only way to figure out if the "fit" will be right.
Any dog, whether it is a back yard bred dog, a puppy mill dog or a carefully bred dog can have emotional or health problems. Just because a dog is a pure bred dog does not mean it will be perfect either emotionally or physically.
My recommendation = ask the foster person if your friend can take the dogs on a temporary basis. The bad part of this set up is that it is hard on the dogs, the good part is that it gives all beings (dogs and humans) ample opportunity to figure each other out and if things are not going to work it allows for that.
Good luck. Kudos to your buddy for considering adopting dogs that are older and may have special needs.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2011 at 2:27AM
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There's a special place in hell for owners of puppy mills.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2011 at 3:06AM
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and there's a special place in heaven for those who adopt these dogs. :)

i agree with mazer 100%. only time will tell if these dogs will be suitable for your friend. one issue i would worry about is that putting 2 females together can sometimes be dicey. however, if these girls have already become friends, maybe they will be one of the many exceptions. i truly hope that is the case!

best of luck and i hope it all works out. it's a wonderful thing your friend is doing!

    Bookmark   April 2, 2011 at 7:44AM
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spedigrees z4VT

----and there's a special place in heaven for those who adopt these dogs. :) ---
Thank you for a very nice positive thought, Nina.

I hope this will be a successful adoption. I imagine any dog coming from such a grim situation will have a lot of issues.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2011 at 6:23PM
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so true, these dogs come with lots of issues but with time, patience, lots of TLC and good food, the satisfaction of watching them thrive is well worth the effort!

while my second dane rescue girl was nowhere near "puppy mill", she did come with issues from being totally unsocialized and neglected for 2.5 years by her former owners. watching her blossom into a carefree, loving, happy dog has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. although we had some things that took months to work out, i would not give up one minute spent with her. :)

    Bookmark   April 2, 2011 at 10:28PM
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I don't have dogs from puppy mills but I have one who wasn't wanted and probably neglected. It is a joy to see him develop a personality and be happy. And there is a special place for those who take in the really abused animals. It isn't easy but very rewarding.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2011 at 1:23AM
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firstly, bless your friend for thinking about taking in these dogs. I haven't had ex puppy mill dogs but I have taken in abused dogs and I think the number one thing needed is lots of patience and a commitment to work through any baggage they come with, and initially that may mean overlooking certain behaviours and just building up trust with the dogs.

It is such a rewarding thing to take in dogs that may be distrustful and fearful, and that may include fearful aggression, and just see over a couple of months as their true happy personalities emerge and they do blossom. But they need to feel safe and loved and build a bond with you that they have never experienced before in their lives so it is all new to them but as they learn to trust and feel safe and relaxed in their new home you really do see a totally different dog come out, it's amazing.

Once I have their trust I tend to make a mental note of the issues, and work on them one by one with training and positive reinforcement, once one issue is sorted, I'll work on the next one with them and this can take months to do but it is what has worked for me and just focusing on one behaviour problem at a time means you don't get caught up in thinking "this dog has so many behaviour problems - how do I deal with it all" etc.

If your friend takes these dogs in, then starting with building a bond, and house training because these puppy mill dogs are not used to being in a house so they've never learned these basic things.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2011 at 12:53AM
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