Clark County Humane Society
Dog Auction Update
Report of Dog Auction, June 2, 2007
Another dog auction was held at Horst Stables on Saturday, June 2nd. 203 dogs were auctioned at the sale, with prices ranging from $20.00 to $450.00. Below you will find an eye witness account from Shelter Manager Chuck Wegner, who attended the auction. We are also including some photos of our day at the auction.
Another Dog Auction, Another Sad Day
by Chuck Wegner, Executive Director, CCHS
You know, it’s possible that a person could actually “get used to this” I thought to myself as I attended my third dog auction in Thorp on June 2. This one was a “surprise” auction that kind of just popped up out of nowhere. It had not been on the schedule but then apparently someone decided to sell off all of their dogs. In the trade this is known as a “kennel dispersal”. I guess that sounds a lot better than saying “I’m getting rid of my breeding stock”.
At any rate, the day started out exactly the same as the other two auction dates. It was the usual mix of Mennonites and “English” (as all of us non-Mennonites are referred to). Some people were there to just see the dogs and the auction itself. There are actually people who bring the kids and they will be seen sitting on the bleachers eating popcorn, ice cream cones and drinking soda during the auction, like it’s some weird kind of family entertainment or something. Other people are there to buy dogs for their breeding programs. They may dream of great quality dogs being sold for low prices so that they can set up their own puppymill and strike it rich. There are also “hobby breeders” who just like a particular breed and wish to add to their stock. Some of these are good and some are bad. It’s just like anything else in life. Some are conscientious and others are not.
I strolled through the cages stacked or arranged in back of the straw-bale walls and studied the collection of dogs that would soon be going up for sale. It was an incredible mix of many small breeds, a few large breed dogs, and of course, the latest fad, designer dogs. What was very different this time was the average age of the dogs. Many of them were 5 – 7 years old and some were up in the 9 and 10 year old range. Wow, how sad is that? Just imagine the poor creatures in cages every hour of every day for 10 years! I myself would much rather be dead. They don’t even have the luxury of making that choice.
I am an optimistic person by nature and I always think things are going to get better. Even when faced with what may seem to be impossible odds or a guaranteed bad outcome, I still have this feeling that things will work out for the better. Maybe this is what keeps me going to these very sad events. I think most animal-minded people are optimistic people. It keeps us doing what we do.
The worst part of the auction for me, and there are a lot of bad parts, is the look on the faces of the dogs. Some of them, usually the younger ones, will come to the front of the cages and act frisky like they would like me to take them out to play. They have a sparkle in their eyes. Life is quite new to them. They have not had their spirits crushed yet by the relentless drudge of years in a cage.
Then there are those who look at me with very sad eyes. They have the eyes of realization. They have been in the system long enough to know that there is likely no escape from the situation they are in. They don’t like it, but it’s what they know. They still have the faintest look of hope in their eyes. Maybe this will be the day that they are released from a life of misery.
Then comes the worst thing about the auction. That is the eyes of the older dogs. The ones that have been in the system the longest. They no longer have any hope in their eyes. They are often expressionless. They don’t even lift their heads to see the gawking public. You can tap on their cage or make noises (whistle, etc.) but they don’t react at all. Theirs are the eyes of total despair and resignation. They have come to understand that there is no hope. Each day will be the same as the last. The future holds nothing for them and that in itself is absolutely depressing. Maybe somewhere in the recent or distant past they were brought to a sale previously. The possibility of a new beginning might have sparked some promise of a better life. Then they, like so many others around them, were sold to another puppymiller. Life as they knew it continued on and they realized that there would never be any escape. They have totally given up.
When the event was over, the people gathered up the dogs they had won by outbidding others. Various large crates were loaded. Some had five or six dogs in each one. Most of the dogs were silent as if contemplating their fate. Would they be going to a rescue organization, a humane society, a good, caring family, a good breeder, or to another puppymill? For most of them we’ll never know. We can only hope for the best for them. For seven of them, the ones that the Clark County Humane Society bid on because they weren’t drawing any bids, we do know that they will be properly taken care of. Their medical needs will be attended to. They will be fed good food and have a chance to play with other dogs and be exercised regularly. They will be spayed or neutered and ultimately adopted into the loving homes they deserve. At least for those seven dogs, life has just taken a turn for the better.
As I said in the beginning of this article, “It’s possible a person could get used to this”. Not a feeling, compassionate, or caring person however. That seems to be the difference here. On one hand there are the people who see this as an industry and are in it for the money. I’m not saying that they don’t care about the animals they are breeding and selling (although many of them seem not to). What I am saying is that the bottom line is the money. On the other hand there are those who will do whatever they can to try and help make the lives of the dogs better. I much prefer to count myself among the latter group.
There is a new Pet Facilities Law being worked on in Wisconsin. It includes provisions for minimum standards to ensure a better quality of life for animals being used in breeding programs, held for sale at pet stores, used in hunting and sled-dogging, as well as animals held at humane societies. The law would probably include provisions for the inspection of the aforementioned entities. Any decent humane society, pet store, dog sport enthusiast, boarding kennel or breeder should welcome these inspections. After all, it they are doing things right, there is nothing at all to fear. The biggest outcry against regulation or inspection always comes from those who have something to hide. That tells a lot right there.
There have been several investigations into puppymills and irresponsible breeders lately. They have brought some of the ugly parts of the business to light. The vast majority of the public was shocked to see the conditions in those businesses. Hopefully anyone who sees those conditions will be moved to take action to help end this atrocity that is making Wisconsin it’s new home. Sadly of the 57 licensed commercial breeding facilities in the state, 22 of them are in Clark County. That is shameful! I am embarrassed that this has been allowed to occur. It is time for all of us to stand up and be heard. It’s time to end this shameful blight on such a beautiful state. Please read the other articles on our website or go to the www.nowisconsinpuppymills.com site to read more about this “industry” and what you can do to help stop it. Please sign our petition, read case histories of auction and puppymill dogs, see pictures of actual auctions and mills and find out who your senator or representative is and how you can contact them to urge them to take action.
Help us put that sparkle of hope back in the eyes of the puppymill dogs. Help them to know that there is a better life out there for them. Help us give them the care and love they deserve.
Dog cages in the waiting area before the sale
More dogs sit terrified in cages, unsure of their fate at the auction
More dogs sit in cages, scared of what their future may hold
A Saint Bernard appears to have given up all hope
Dog Auction taking place
More dogs are on the auction block. Note the "inspector" to the left.
After the sale, buyers load up their new purchases
A Frightening Observation
by Chuck Wegner, Clark County Humane Society
Something I observed at the third Thorp dog auction on June 2, 2007 is still haunting me to this day. Prior to each dog or puppy being brought up to the bidding table, a bearded man wearing Mennonite attire was seen to be “inspecting” each animal. He checked the genital area and also checked each animal’s mouth and teeth.
When I first saw this I thought to myself, at least this time they are making an attempt to be somewhat more honest in catching any abnormalities such as undescended testicles, bad dentition, overbites, etc. He even had latex exam gloves on. As the auction proceeded, I noticed that he was checking each and every animal and then it hit me…….. Oh my God! He never once changed his gloves for any of the 203 animals he “inspected” that day!
You may view a picture of the “inspector” above. He can be seen to the left of the bidding table. If you look closely you will see the “exam gloves”.
If any animal had any disease transmissible by exposure to saliva from another animal then this “inspector” just spread disease to all of them following the diseased animal. This is probably the very best way to spread disease among animals short of directly injecting them with it. The more I think about this the more I realize these people have no idea about proper sanitation, or health and safety protocols. Any person with common sense realizes that you don’t drink from a glass a stranger with an unknown medical background has used, you don’t brush your teeth with a strangers toothbrush. You just don’t put anything from an unknown source into your mouth unless you want to get sick.
I am very concerned that no one from the “buying public” or anyone else involved with running the sale noticed this or felt that it was an egregious oversight that could lead to the transmission of some serious diseases including some that are transmissible to humans. Indeed, two dogs sold at a prior auction held at the same auctionhouse, turned out to be Brucellosis positive. Once again it is very apparent that if these auctions can not be banned entirely, there need to be some strict regulations governing them.
The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture (Animal Health Division), the Wisconsin Department of Regulation and Licensing, and Wisconsin Department of Agriculture (Trade and Consumer Protection) really need to decide which agency or division thereof is in charge of these events and then put forth the call for regulation to the legislative entities who can make the laws that will protect all of us from the danger of buying a diseased animal and the possibility of unknowingly infecting our own pets, ourselves and our family members.