Dog auctions are a side of puppy mills most people do not know even exist. But they are another example of the inhumane way dogs are treated… they are not feeling companions, but just another number to be sold to the highest bidder to make yet more puppies. Lone Star Dog Ranch recently attended an auction and shared this emotional recounting of the day. (There is controversy in the anti puppy mill community about buying dogs at auctions, does it help or hurt the effort in the long run? We are not offering an opinion either way, but want to share this story to illustrate the horror that puppy mill dogs live.) We thank Lone Star Dog Ranch for allowing us to share this story. It will break your heart… but it is reality.
From Lone Star Dog Ranch
Jessica and I got there very early at 8:20 before they will open their doors at 8:30, we sat in the car and watched some of the mill owners unload their dogs, they don’t want you watching them do this because they don’t want to touch these dogs compassionately. Several of them didn’t care that we were watching and grabbed adult dogs out of their horse trailers, trucks, etc by the scruff of their necks and they would hang them all the way inside the building. Others were more discreet and actually carried them the way a dog should be carried.
The owners of the Akitas opened the back of their SUV and started piling them out, none of them would walk on leashes so they wrestled their way inside the building with each of them.
There were far more Amish at this auction than the previous auction that I had gone to, I knew that the one mill owner who was Detweiler had many dogs for sale at this auction and I also knew that he was on the list of the worst mills in our nation. He was there with a huge quantity of Golden Retrievers that I would attempt to get, I had tried to speak with a Golden Retriever rescue ahead of time but I wasn’t successful and I had no idea what would happen to these dogs or how much they would even go for.
We walked inside the building and I was relieved to see that there were only half as many dogs as the previous auction which would make my task at least easier from that standpoint. It is always chaotic when you first enter the building, the noise, the smells, the sights…It takes you a few minutes to get your bearings and to knuckle down to the task at hand.
The first group of cages I walked past were filled with lots of small dogs shaved down, many of them difficult to decipher what breed they even are, Poodles, Bichon, Havanese, Coton, even the ShiTzu, and the Peke, they all blend together with their radical shave downs that took place the previous day so that no one would see them in the condition that they all really live in every day.
I found myself looking at a tiny Shih Tzu with the eyes of a doll, and a wagging tail, I continued walking past Poms, and Peke’s assessing where each and every breed was, I stopped and spoke to a very small Poodle that was precious and still, she was terrified, and I could tell that she was a girl with an old soul and an even temper, a huge dog fight broke out with the Akitas that could not be broken up and this little Poodle looked on with horror and fear as she was right next to them, several men went into the enclosures to attempt to break up the bedlam as blood is streaming down the legs of both of the Akitas.
We walked over to the Dachshunds trying to determine where the pup was that was listed in the catalog, he was a no show but there was this little dapple red girl with her tongue sticking out that was so animated and trying to grab my attention no matter what, I stopped to look into her mouth to see what might be wrong with her because her tongue stuck out but to my surprise her teeth looked pretty good and I could see that her tongue sticking out was just a silly little quirk that went with her personality, I wrote her number down #7 , I moved to the next cage and there was the most beautiful long haired Dachshund with her flowing black hair sitting there so quietly, I reached in and spoke to her and she was very quiet and calm and i told her that I would help get her out of this life, # 8
I wrote the little Poodles number down #62 and Jessica and I agreed that she would not be living in this life of hell any longer. We continued to walk around and we both found ourselves in front of a cage with a very big boy Bulldog in it, he had the same look in his sweet face that I had seen when I was looking at Edith, he was gentle and kind and so very polite. I opened his door and gave him a couple of scratches which he was grateful to have, I told Jessica that he was going to be leaving with us and, I wrote down his number #143.
I was sure that his value would be small, you see he was not registered at all, no AKC, no APRI, nor any other B.S. registries that exist, in this world of make believe that the AKC actually means anything, well, here in the world of selling dogs is where it does, which is why the AKC needs to take action against these mills, but instead they turn a blind eye to continue to profit from the registration of all pups that are born to these mill dogs.
I circled back around to the Poms and met the tiniest little silly girl that I knew instantly was going with me, #42, I looked over to the other side and inside this cage was a very small shy Pom that was completely shaved down, I opened the door and said hello to her and she closed her eyes in case I was going to do something bad to her, when I didn’t she sat very still while I petted her and told her that I would make sure that she was on my list. I wrote down #47.
I simply had know idea how much these dogs would go for and I knew that the Frenchies would come up last and I couldn’t wrap my head around trying to budget my funds without sacrificing the lives of the dogs chosen that would come up before them.
I stopped at the end of the aisle looking at a little Peke that would look at me and then look away, to nervous to keep her eyes on me. I stopped and opened her cage and she was so nervous for me to focus on her, she melted once I touched her but her eyes darted back and forth the whole time, I knew that she would be a damaged one, but I didn’t care, if we can heal Vespa then we can certainly try and help this little Peke too. I wrote down #33, once again I moved down this aisle and there she was again, the little girl with doll eyes and a wagging tail.
We moved over to the Frenchies and could see a line of beauties all in a row, there were two on the end that were in together that we could see there was a struggle with, they tussled a bit and someone came along and separated them. I stopped and spoke to each one of them, the most beautiful of all was a solid white girl who was very still when I came to talk to her, she was the one that was struggling with the other in the cage. I approached her but she couldn’t acknowledge me because she was absolutely terrified I wrote down her number #146, and moved to the next dog, she was silly and nutty and rolled upside down on her back and reminded me of Rita in the face, she was a delightful little nut and I wrote down her number #147.
As we walked down to continue looking at the Frenchies we realized that some of them were missing and we then noticed a car backing up to the door to the auction building, we looked on in horror as we saw this car pop open the trunk of their car and inside the trunk were their vary kennels that had the Frenchies that were missing in them. This was how they were transporting their Frenchies to the auction……in crates…in the trunk of a car, a breed that cannot cope in any heat……It is more frustrating than you could even imagine to watch people do this kind of thing and know that you cannot say or do anything about it. You just have to look at it and keep your mouth shut…….
We turned away to stop looking at the dogs in the trunk to get back to making our selections and met another cream girl that looked very similar to the one that was removed and separated, we didn’t know then that these girls were sisters but I knew that they all looked very similar to each other, this girl was completely shut down and frozen in place, I wrote down her number down #148 and moved to her neighbor, in there was a very pretty girl that they called a pied but in reality she was all white with just a couple of black speckles around her face, I reached in and talked to her, she was so kind and gentle, she reminded me of Martha, very quiet and dignified I wrote down her number #149 and we moved over to the next aisle, there she was…..#154 the old girl ….she was completely bonkers in there, spiraling with excitement and I stopped and realized that this was probably the only time in her life that she left her mill, and this was more than she could even possibly begin to comprehend, 9 years old and here she was with dogs and humans all around, imagine how overwhelming this would be for her….I stopped and talked to her but she just couldn’t get a hold of herself, I unlatched the cage and reached in, once I put my hands on her she began trembling and she froze, I spoke softly to her to see if she could focus, and she tried looking at me but it was so exciting that her eyes moved everywhere, I cupped my hand and placed it under her chin and continued talking to her, and she melted, she completely stopped wiggling and pushed her face into my hand and looked into my eyes to let me know that she is in there, over the years the insanity sets in, but I could see just a bit of her, and I knew there was hope that she could be a normal dog.
We moved down the aisle and there were all of the boys, this very funny boy with one eye, his face was so black, and missing an eye on one side and his eye being so dark on the other side it was difficult to look into the eye that he had, but he was so overjoyed that we would take the time to speak to him, I opened his door and he wiggled and flipped over on his side and we could have stood there all day long talking to this funny boy. #156.
Next to him was a very large Frenchie boy with a damaged eye, a very big boy for a Frenchie, just a big mellow boy that seemed as sweet as could be #158. I walked down to the end of the aisle where the Frenchie girl that had been separated from who I now know was her sister, and she was a bundle of nerves, very hard for her to focus and I couldn’t determine who the instigator of the problems was but I now know that this is #145 who has turned out to be the one who dislikes her sisters. The last of the Frenchies included a 5 year old girl cream and very quiet but when you spoke to her she rolled over on her back, I wrote her number down #153.
We walked over to the big dog runs to determine if we could pursue any of the Golden Retrievers not knowing their fate, many of them were completely unfriendly and would not approach the front of the dog run for us to even speak to them, Jessica and I both connected to one older female that was very calm but interested in talking to us. She was 8 years old and we assumed that we could get her and that she couldn’t possibly go for very much money, we wrote her number down and hoped for the best. I had some time to cruise through the aisles one last time and there she was again with her little doll eyes and her wagging tail, this time I went straight to her and reached in to give her some affection, she never stopped wagging her tail, slow and steady while she turned her little doll eyes to look at you wondering if she could trust you. I wrote down her number #24 and told her no matter what this was her last day of suffering in her 6 years of life.
The auction was now beginning so we had to take our seats and watch the spectacle of selling pallets of expired dog food, greenies, grooming equipment and of course the only comfort a mill dog can ever have the “carpet tiles”
They did this for nearly an hour and my patience was wearing and I was wanting to scream at them to just get on with it and bring these dogs suffering to an end. Very soon when the dogs actually started came the Dachshunds that I had written down in my notes, the bidding began and I finally decided it was time for me to raise my hand and it was on, I was battling with a woman that was sitting with her husband looking like any woman that would live next door to you that was dressed very nicely, I couldn’t help but notice that this small smirk never left her face, she went against me over and over again but I was determined to win and I did # 7 became Miranda, there were only seconds before it started again and I was battling the same woman who obviously was going for the Dachshunds, we went back and forth until she surrendered to me and with a final call # 8 Tyra Banks was mine.
Next up was the Boston Terrier, I purposefully didn’t talk to her because the catalog said that she was bred and I just couldn’t handle that, but she came up on the table and both Jessica and I immediately felt her look over at us and I sunk…..At that moment neither of us cared if she was pregnant or not and we both knew that we had made an error with not stopping to get her, I was contemplating throwing my hand up in a last ditch effort to grab her but it was too late and she was gone….I felt the tears well up in my eyes because I knew that I was supposed to get her in that last moment but I failed her……Jessica felt it too and we both knew that we just had to get a grip on ourselves and move forward….Scar number one in this auction….
All of the Akita’s came up and one by one I knew that rescue was there on their behalf and they were safely secured. The Shih Tzu’s were ushered into the room and there she was again in the first group with her little black doll eyes looking over at us and there was that tail that no matter what happened would continue to wag, they put her up on the table with several others and I knew that they were all supported by rescue and one by one they were all saved, I had made a deal ahead of time with this rescue person that if they secured # 24 that I would pay them for her and she then became Beverly.
There was never any time to take a break and go outside because something that I had chosen was always coming up soon, there were only 2 Peke’s and one of them I had chosen, the breeder was Detweiler and I was going to make sure that this little Peke would find freedom from her plight, there weren’t many takers for them, fortunately and I was able to secure her without much of a battle. # 33 was now Claudia.
The next battle was going to be the Pom’s, there were quite a few around 15 I think, they loaded up 6 of them on the table and my two picks were both in this group, the bidding began and it was much more aggressive than I had hoped, I feared being able to afford them knowing that I had to save a good portion of my money for the Frenchies because they are so expensive to try and get. I looked over and who was my competitor, it was her again the woman with the smirk, she was determined and I had to quickly make decisions, I could see that the Poms that I had chosen were the smallest at 4 pounds and 6 pounds, I quickly decided that I would risk the fact that a breeder would not choose them because their litter sizes would most likely be smaller, the woman with the smirk won the first round, she did not choose my girls, she then won the second round and she did not choose my girls, she then won the third round and did not choose my girls, the fourth round and she did not choose my girls, the fifth time around the only 2 that were left were my girls and I battled once again with the woman with the smirk, we climbed higher than i would have thought but I was determined to be victorious and i was, when they asked which one I wanted I said both of them and it was over # 42 Heidi chicken and # 47 Cheryl Tiegs were out of there.
My hands were shaking and I needed to get out of there for at least a moment, the woman with the smirk looked over at me with her expression that never changed, I couldn’t stop staring at her, I wanted to slap that look off of her face, but instead I just went out to the car. I told Jessica that the little Poodle was coming up and for her to make sure she got her if I didn’t make it back in time. I sat down in the car trying to calm my nerves for 5 minutes or so when Jessica texted me that the Poodle was up, I took a deep breath and went back inside, there were only 3 little girl Poodles and I didn’t think they would be worth much, the bidding began and it was immediately much higher than I could go and I backed off knowing that the girl on the table that was 3 years old would be picked before mine, she was and the bidding began again, the girl I was after was 5 years old so I didn’t think she would go too high but there was the woman with the smirk bidding against me, I wasn’t going to lose and I didn’t. She was secured and the plan was for her to go home with Julie to help her with socializing a previous little mill dog that she purchased that is still struggling to trust humans. Julie has named her Lucy.
There was a small break in time before the spectacle that was about to be with the Golden Retrievers, and they lined the floor with 6 or 7 of the adults and at the same time lined the table with 5 or 6, 11 week old pups. The bidding began and the prices were astronomical, my jaw fell to the floor as the young females that were all bred to Poodles were selling for 4,600 a piece, I was horrified for these dogs, the bidding went on and on with the young pups selling for nearly 2,000 a piece, I couldn’t understand what was happening, the bidding was between 2 different men. The final round brought in the older females that had the girl that Jessica and I had chosen and immediately she was way out of our budget, she just stood there and looked innocently at what was happening and catching our faces as she did so. The gavel came down and they were sold as well for 1,500 each. I have since learned that Golden Retriever Rescue was in fact there, and that’s who was bidding head to head, rescue against mill. The Golden Retriever Rescue was able to secure 11 of these Goldens including the old girl that we had hoped to get.
The King Charles Cavaliers came out and I knew that rescue was there to represent them and I watched the battle take place over and over again with rescue vs. the lady with the smirk on her face, sadly rescue lost over and over again for most of the King Charles, the lady with the smirk was hell bent on getting these dogs and nobody else would.
Here came the English Bulldogs, there were only 2 in the entire auction and one of them was my choice the other one had such severely infected eyes that they were solid green with mucous. As I had predicted there was no interest in either of them and I was able to secure #143 now known as Steak for 150.00 his breeder was Detweiler and I had yet again saved a dog from one of the worst mills in the nation. The Bulldog with the terribly infected eyes was secured by rescue as well.
There was nothing left but the Frenchies and I felt like I was going to throw up with nervousness prior to it beginning, they brought in the first 4, all young females and i knew they would command big bids, I knew that if I secured the winning bid that I would have to take the table because all 4 of these girls were on my pick list and if I didn’t clear the table at my winning bid the auctioneer would offer any of the others to the next highest bidder and then the next highest bidder so I couldn’t take the chance, the bidding began and it seemed like there were 6 or 7 of us in the mix, it was fast and furious and a bit of a blur, I just kept saying to Jessica, do I have it? do I have it? Finally he announced final bid and the gavel came down at 3,000 each and I sucked the air out of the room by saying give me the whole table, they scooped them all off #145, #146, #147, #148 Christie Brinkley, Elle Macpherson, Brooklyn Decker and Gisele. There was no time to celebrate as the next set of girls came in and the price escalated once again but I couldn’t afford to spend it because I knew that I wouldn’t have enough money left and I would have to sacrifice the males and #154 if I did and I just couldn’t do it.
I lost this group and with it I lost #149 the very sweet quiet girl that reminded me of Martha, I tried to not look at her face as they pulled her away but I couldn’t do it, and I felt myself apologizing to her as they took her away…scar number 2 of this auction.
I let this table go over and over again with number #154 on there, I had to risk that they wouldn’t choose her because she was old and I was correct, she was the last one on the table and I began to bid again and even though it took me 600 to secure her I didn’t care, I was hell bent on getting her and nobody was going to get in my way.
They quickly loaded up the table with boys and I knew that I had to hope my strategy with them would work, there was a blue male and a blue pied male on this table and I knew that they would command the highest bidder. The bid opened very high and i just hung back and waited while two other millers battled each other, they as I had presumed chose the blue boy and the bidding began again, this time I was in the thick of it and I won the bid and chose the one eyed boy #156 was Blackbeard and was going home with me. There was now the blue pied on the table and the older boy that I was looking to secure, the bidding didn’t go high enough for anyone to secure the blue pied boy and so the breeder pulled him which only left the older 6 year old cream boy and I secured him for 300.00 # 158 Eggs.
And with that it was over, my entire body was shaking, I was 2,000 in the hole and was scrambling to figure out what to do, Julie had 1,000 in cash on her and she handed that over to me and the rest I had to put on a credit card and pay the additional 5% fee for doing so.
Jessica and I stood next to each other by the bleachers trying to bring the adrenaline level down, it took about 15 minutes to just try and process the whole thing and decide if my decisions were correct, or if I could have done better, this auction was no different than the first, I left with two faces embedded in my memory, the Boston girl and the pied Frenchie that I felt like I had let down because in fact I had.
Add them to my scars from before….
We loaded up the vehicle and as I watched the Dachshunds feel a blanket on their feet in their crate for I’m sure the first time, they rolled and burrowed in it like any Dachshund would if given the opportunity, it made me smile.
We loaded big Steak into his crate and he just rolled over on his side and went to sleep like he knew all of his stress was over. They brought out Beverly and she looked at us again with her doll eyes and wagged her tail and this time I could enjoy it, because I knew that she would never have to suffer again.
One by one we secured them, said our goodbyes to any rescue people we had made contact with and drove away into the stormy tumultuous skies, it seemed like an eternity before we arrived home around 11:00 pm and unloaded all of them out to the freshly laid sod that I had worked so hard on for them 48 hours before, the ground was saturated from rain but it didn’t alter how much these dogs enjoyed being on it, little Tyra the long haired Dachshund just rolled and rolled and rolled, and chicken leapt up and down all over the entire yard with glee.
This was a huge undertaking in a very short period of time, with a very large amount of funds secured by all of you to safely secure the freedom of 16 dogs from this life in the mill, as overwhelming as it all is, I do know, that this is what I am supposed to be doing, and i will continue to do it with the hopes that one day these mills will never exist.