Heidi’s first weeks as a rescue dog were a flurry of discovery once we got her home.
At the top of the list was the trip to the veterinarian and canine ophthalmologist to get the treatment for her dry eye squared away. Fortunately, she’s had sufficient care from her previous home to avoid permanent damage to her corneas.
Then on to the more mundane items – what did she really like to eat? What types of dog bones and dog toys did she favor? Where in the house would she make her dog bed, if not the dog crate we had set up in our bedroom? Could she stay unconfined in the house when we were away? And would she harass the “Queen” – our 15 year old Maine Coon Cat, Trixie, who was not pleased with this turn of events?
Shuffling through Heidi’s records to locate all of her medical history, I noticed a sheet of paper with her “pedigree”. Heidi was a Petland puppy, purchased at a store in Ohio, and so I knew she wouldn’t be AKC registered. Still, I was curious to see her “heritage” and noted a couple of seemingly “champion” Bernese Mountain Dogs, although all of her forbearers had names that seemed Polish or Hungarian. And then I noticed her breeder’s name – and thought I’d google him.
Within moments of that search, my heart was shattered.
The Master of Puppy Mill Horrors
Jeff Fortin is his name. For anyone who follows National Mill Dog Rescue or the Humane Society, this puppy mill breeder in Oberlin, Kansas, is the most hated man in the country by anyone who has loved a dog. The facts speak for themselves:
• Since 2006, Fortin had been cited and fined for numerous “hell hole” health violations at his Beaver Creek, Kansas breeding “facility”
• In December, 2010, the Kansas Animal Health Department was required to euthanize 1,200 dogs at Beaver Creek because of an outbreak of distemper that was spread to Wyoming from the sale of these puppies
• Fortin continued to operate retail pet stores in Colorado, where he was observed euthanizing puppies with inhumane methods. He was forced out of business in Colorado in 2011.
Fortin’s license to breed dogs was revoked – finally. Inconceivably, if he demonstrates that he has cleaned-up his act, he can regain a license in Kansas!
Stunned by what I read, I rechecked Heidi’s birthdate: September 13, 2008!
She was a survivor of this hell hole puppy mill – one of the lucky puppies for sale who managed to avoid disease or death at the hands of this monster. But what about her other siblings? What about her mother – “Wandas Louise” – when she couldn’t bear anymore puppies?
Tears flooded my eyes at the thought….
Can You Spoil A Puppy Mill Puppy?
I don’t think so. When I finished reading, I found Heidi asleep in her favorite dirt hole and I hugged her. Then, I gave her a peanut butter cookie.
And when we are out walking, encircled by the gentle, restorative breezes of Long Island Sound, or deep in the soothing, verdant woods of Connecticut and she’s having a little trouble acclimating herself to the traffic of other happy dogs and dog-parents, I hug her with whole-hearted love and patience – and tell her that I’d walk to Kansas and back to make sure she’s happy and safe.