Bailing Out Benji
I did something that I have been trying to mentally prepare myself for since I started Bailing Out Benji. A small group of friends and I drove almost two hours to attend a puppy mill auction in Vail, Iowa. Thankfully, K-D Kennels owned by Dean and Karen Grell is officially OUT OF BUSINESS. After years of bad USDA reports, they are leaving the business. Sadly for all of their 240 dogs (and a few puppies), they were being auctioned off like property instead of going to rescues. Please read my story, share it, and reach out if you have any questions!
I was horrified at the place. It was like hell on earth. There were several buildings that were not much more than sheds with runs on the sides of them. Most of her “kennels” were in semi trailers that had been turned into a giant dog house with out-door access. By that, I mean that there are wire cages that are lifted off of the ground. The poor dogs stand on bare, wire bottom flooring. The auctioneer, Bob Hughes from South West Auction Service, even commented on the grounds. His phrasing was, “Folks, this kennel here is average. I am not gonna say its great. On a scale of one to ten, it is a five. But you won’t find a lick of dirt or a smell. And you aren’t buying the kennel, you are buying the dog. And these dogs are a ten.” As you read on, you will find that these dogs that are a “ten” have many external issues (not to mention the internal ones). As I walked passed all of the helpless dogs and into the big steel barn, I saw many people who I recognized by name and face. We had Mr. Bob Hughes, the auctioneer who claims to auction off 22,000 dogs per year, Mr. Rob Hurd who is a past president of the Iowa Pet Breeders Association and he also works with the America’s Pet Registry (which is notoriously used by backyard breeders and puppy mill owners), Larry Albrecht from Cold Water Kennels, Shirley Hershey from TLC Kennels in Pennsylvania, a representative from MWI Veterinary Supply, a person from America’s Premier Pets in Missouri, and many Amish families including the Yoders and the Yamisons. There were around 700 people in attendance
Once the dogs were thrown on that auction table, we knew that the stakes were pretty high. First the Shih-tzus were up and they were going for upwards of $1000. Quicker than anything, we were going through these dogs. The auctioneer decided to do more of a “Dutch” style auction, where there were five of one type and the highest bidder can take his pick, take a few, or take the lot. Then the second highest bidder was offered a chance, after that the bidding would start all over again. I think this was done to try to deter the rescues from being able to get even a handful of animals. While the bidding was going on, I did notice four guys in the back of the room who were all dressed pretty similarly. They were bidding on dogs, but never took a dog home. I feel like they were there to drive the prices up, if they noticed rescue “type” people bidding. Sadly, the game was on and we were the underdogs.
As the poor animals came and went, you could see the terror on their faces. They were visibly shaken and terrified. At one point in time, Bob Hughes stopped the auction to show the volunteers how to properly show these dogs. This involved grabbing them by the base of the tail and yanking them upward, while holding their chin up. This was a very uncomfortable experience for the dogs. At one point in time, I had to leave the room because there was an Italian Greyhound screaming at the top of its lungs. I had never heard a dog make those sounds before. It took everything I had to stop myself from running up to that table and grabbing that dog.
We saw dogs with missing teeth or NO teeth (this is applicable to most of the dogs), broken jaws, soft jaws, three legs, many dogs were missing toes (one only had a single toe on each back foot), a Shiba had a badly broken back leg that hadn’t been fixed (so it was curled up and deformed under its body), many of the males had onnly a single single testicle, and there were a dozen or so dogs that had open umbilical hernias on their stomachs (that were the size of a pen hole). Other dogs had closed hernias, a few dogs had “tick sized” knots on their backs (according to the auctioneer), missing eyes, spots on their eyes, cloudy eyes, under bites, and over bites. Word to the wise: if the dogs have this many problems on the outside, they are a mess on the inside. None of this matters in the world of puppy mills, however. These were all products… property to be used, abused, and profited from. When referring to the age of the dogs, Bob and Christine would refer to them as an ” ’08 model” , as if he or she was a car. I distinctly remember them auctioning off a Bichon saying, “She may be an ’03 model, but she’s got plenty of litters left in her”.
In the end, we were able to save a handful of lives, and I saw a few other rescues walking out with precious souls as well. This article isn’t dedicated to those that we saved; it is dedicated to those poor dogs that are being recycled into a worse life. I had to watch the Amish load their vehicles and it was sickening. Three to four dogs thrown into a travel cage- no food, no water, no blanket. I wondered how long their journey would be and what they would face at their destination. I believe most of us have now heard about Amish puppy mills, they are the worst. The dogs often live in completely darkness and are badly abused.
Puppy mills are legal. Dogs auctions are legal. We need to educate or friends, family, and coworkers, as well as elect officials into office that will help us stop these atrocities.
Please, SHARE THIS ARTICLE, spread the word and help us educate as many people as we can reach!
Remember to always adopt, instead of shop for your next pet.
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