Delving into the world of breeder dog auctions.
For the sixth year in a row, Missouri has the highest number of puppy mills listed in the Humane Society of the United State's annual Horrible Hundred report. The report listed 23 puppy mills in Missouri, followed by Ohio's 13 and nine in Pennsylvania.
~ Jackie Rehwald - Springfield News Leader
Dog breeding in Missouri is out of control. You might find this story more frightening than funny, but while I was scared out of my mind, what I managed to do was priceless. So forget my knickers, which may or may not have been soiled, and enjoy.
I was cruising about doing my job when I saw a flyer on a power pole on the outskirts of town. Since it’s not allowed, I stopped to remove it. It turned out to be one of those auction notices where they sell dogs. Mostly, puppy mills sell animals that have been mistreated and are nearing the end of their usefulness to the breeder. It was to be held in a little town not too far away in just a couple days. They do that to avoid giving authorities time to get up a raid. I figured I might as well go.
I borrowed a big SUV, and left it parked in front of my place the night before the auction date. Since I sleep in the back of the house, I never heard the knucklehead who broke out the passenger window and forced open the glove box. There was nothing to steal, but I’d be paying the damages. So I was annoyed.
I probably brought a bad attitude with me when I pulled off the blacktop into the parking lot. So when I was at the auction, I won bids for all five mastiffs to the tune of around $1200. I had $400 with me, and honestly didn’t have any more in the bank. I couldn’t help it. So I kind of waited around until everyone had paid, but there were still people around, and went to the cashier. Now, I had sworn I wasn’t going to lie, but at times, it’s the lesser of two evils. I gave them my number, they gave me the bill and I told them I only had $400.
“I’m sorry guys, while I was in the barn, someone busted out my window and stole $1000 out of my glove box.”
“Is that right?” I got back from him. “And what are you drivin’?”
“It’s a Chevy Suburban.” I said, trying to put curiosity in my voice. He nodded to someone who left quickly.
“So what do you propose we do?” He looked at me.
“Well, if any of the sellers want to keep their dog, obviously they can.” I said.
“If they can sell it to someone for more than I have, they should.” I also said.
“Clearly.” He replied. “Cal, go get Jim, Alan, and Pete.”
“Yessir.” He hustled off just as the first runner returned. He spoke quietly to who must have been the owner.
“It’ll be just a minute, son.”
We waited, and I was a little bit worried. I knew they would never take the dogs home, and with most of the buyers gone, another sale would be tough, even if they could take my money to make up the difference. The owner of the barn explained the situation in simple terms, and it didn’t go over well.
“I sent Kenny out to check his rig, and the window is broke out and the glove is popped open.”
“That don’t mean a damn thing!” One of the three said angrily.
“True. But no one he asked saw it broken before when he came in, and he was in the barn the whole auction.”
“Still, who knows.” Another one said. “What’s the split on his cash?”
“Eighty a dog. More if someone wants to keep theirs. Or sell it for more in the lot.” He replied.
“Not enough.” One of the sellers said. “And the parkin’ lot is damn near empty!”
“Sorry guys.” I said. “I knew I had it covered when I bid. No idea I’d get ripped off.”
“Why the hell would you leave that money in your rig?” The first one asked.
“I wasn’t going to spend it. I planned to buy one or two. When I saw them, I had to have ‘em.”
They talked among themselves for a few minutes, and it was animated at times. I was a little worried, but more for the dogs than myself. Would I catch a beating? Probably not. I had a reasonable story.
“I’d rather shoot that damn dog than take eighty bucks for it.” The youngest one howled. “The sales price was two twenty-five!”
“Sir.” I said quietly. “It’s my fault. I should have put the cash in my pocket. The dog didn’t do it.”
“Yeah?” He replied angrily. “So what?”
“So give me the dog, take the eighty, and burn it behind the barn. You go home with the same thing.”
“Right.” He snorted. “Take the dog. Doubt he’s going to breed anyhow.”
He ended up talking the other two into giving him a hundred out of what I had, and I loaded the dogs. They just barely fit in the crates I brought, but I managed it. I was the last guy out, and the owner who brokered the deal came out to talk.
“You starting a kennel?”
“Well, not on purpose, but I will for while.”
“What’d ya mean?”
“I need to evaluate them and get them to fosters.”
“Oh man, are you with a rescue?”
“Don’t ever say that at one of these places ever again.” He cautioned. “Those guys would have shot the dogs.”
“Damn. Well, thanks for the tip. Why do they hate rescues?” I asked.
“They call the law and shut them down.”
“Well, I’m not one of them.’ I said, not knowing I would be soon.
“Still, when you come here, be a breeder.”
He turned and walked away. I closed up the vehicle and got behind the wheel. The canines enjoyed the air conditioning as much as I did. They were moved to fosters very quickly, and I didn’t go to any more auctions, but I always smile knowing I brought those half dozen dogs to loving homes.
Even if I had to tell a little lie.