Back yard breeding and animal hoarding has always been around but with the internet making it so easy to sell animals quickly and anonymously, this unethical practice is booming. In the city, where one can only have three or four dogs, this type of operation requires keeping the dogs hidden from neighbors. The breeder doesn’t want to risk detection by taking the dogs to the vet so the animals continue breeding – brother to sister, father to daughter and so on – until there are dozens of sick dogs living in filth.
If you bought a puppy off Craigslist or from someone selling dogs in a grocery store parking lot, chances are your puppy came from a backyard breeder/hoarder.
In 2012, a backyard breeder/hoarder in a quiet Los Angeles suburb lost her house, and she had to find someone to take over 40 dogs that no one – not even her next-door neighbors – knew she had. These dogs had never been outside, never seen the sunshine, never had medical care and were terrified of the outside world. There were puppies, pregnant mothers, dogs so matted it was impossible to tell what breed they were. As with any situation where dogs are inbred, there were several with congenital defects – in this case several were born without front legs.
Then there was Rosie…
Rosie was born on Valentine’s Day 2010. At birth, she had congenital deformities of the face, jaw, spine, and legs. By adulthood, twice the amount of teeth was crammed into her long, skinny, misshapen upper jaw. Oversized curved teeth hooked up from a half-sized lower jaw preventing her from closing her mouth. To eat she had to scoop food backward into her mouth and roll it back and forth because her tongue was trapped in the back part of her mouth – there was no room for it to stretch out beyond her teeth in that crowded little mouth and there was no way to chew.
When she was a few months old, her front leg bones stopped growing and fused where they met to compensate. She learned to walk on the first third of her front legs rather than on her foot pads. Her feet are twisted and her toes curve onto one another but it is unclear if they were always like this or if the malformations are caused by the way she scoots them ahead of her as she moves. It is also unclear if her scoliosis was present at birth or developed as she learned to walk. Inadequate nutrition and dirty living conditions brought on a case of demodex mange that robbed her of most of her fur. Living in darkness all her life, her eyes had trouble adjusting to the sun or even to the light in a bright room.
Despite the severity of her deformities, she managed to survive by crawling across urine soaked floors through years of feces to eat what bits of food the others left behind. Hoping to demonstrate that Rosie was normal intellectually, the breeder told her rescuer that she tended to hide under furniture to avoid being trampled by the other dogs.
Three months after rescue, Rosie has undergone two major surgeries to remove her extra teeth and repair her jaw. She is sprouting fur on about half of her body. Her eyes are adjusting to light normally now, and she is no longer afraid of a squeaky toy – she dives in and gives that toy a good shake. She wiggles when she sees her family enter a room and gets excited at mealtime. She enjoys every day and looks forward to whatever it brings.
There are thousands of dogs like Rosie and awaiting rescue. Some of them are in need of a little socialization and some good food, others like Rosie need patience, medical care, and lots of love.
The purpose of this page is to shine a light on backyard breeding/animal hoarding. If what happened to Rosie bothers you – good! Call your local animal control agency and ask if there is a law to prevent backyard breeding and if they are enforcing them. If there isn’t a law, then gather some like-minded neighbors and get your city council to write and pass one!
We also hope to inspire visitors to rescue a special needs dog like Rosie. As Rosie learns how to be a dog, discovers the joy of a clean bed and a soft blanket, we hope that visitors will adopt a dog that requires some extra help to live a normal life. Dogs like Rosie have value. They bring love and happiness to their families just like any other dog…watch this page and you will see that’s true!
This poor little angel dog needs to be the poster child for all those vermin that call themselves animal breeders. Disgusting. I do hope Rosie survives and lives a wonderful life filled with love, care protection and safety forever and I do hope these breeders get a hefty fine that they will never be able to crawl out of and big time jail time. – KP
I was on the FB thread where she was getting saved, her before picture was like a punch in the gut, her after picture made me cry out of relief. Dog Rescue people are the most under rated heroes we’ve got! XO! I love you, Rosie! – PT
These kinds of things need to be put out there for all to see, not just those of us who work so hard to save these babies. I bet 75% of the population of the USA have no clue as to what really happens with breeders, puppy mills, or even some pet stores. That doesn’t even include the slaughter houses. Like I do, I’m sure you all feel helpless and up against a wall. – BB
Photo © Evelien Lupo Malibu Vet Clinic