How One Impulse Buy at a Pet Store Became a Nightmare

Meet Maggi May

I have a confession to make, and it’s not easy to write about, but here it goes:

One day, on impulse, I bought a puppy from a pet store.

This fateful decision, and the long ordeal that followed, made me realize how we the consumers are the ones who perpetuate the demand for puppy mills. It is we who continue to buy from the pet stores and websites that source these innocent dogs.

I am embarrassed by my “dirty secret,” yet I hope that by sharing my story — actually, Maggi May’s story — we can all learn from it.

Maggi May’s Story

I had planned to meet a friend for lunch one day, and walking by a pet shop I saw the cutest little cairn terrier watching me from the window. I shouldn’t have made eye contact, but I did. I swear that little dog was communicating with me: Take me home, pleeeease!

All through lunch I thought about that sweet little face and those big black eyes. I hadn’t cared for a pet for a very long time, and I was at a particularly vulnerable place in my life. I walked back to the store, just to look at her again. I went inside, and the store clerk thrust all 2 pounds of irresistible dog in my arms, and the puppy snuggled against me and licked my fingers.

Nearly a thousand dollars later, my credit card smoking, I left the store with my new puppy. Of course I had to also buy the crate, bed, bowls, leash, collar, toys, food and a folding fence enclosure!

I named her Maggi May because I bought her on May 12. She was 13 weeks old, blonde, and I was head over heels in love with her. I sent her registration papers off but planned to spay as soon as she was age-appropriate.

A Sign of Trouble

A few days after I brought Maggi home, she developed a cough.

I had an appointment with the veterinarian for the following week, so I made a mental note to have it checked. By Sunday of that week she was barely able to breathe. I rushed her to the emergency clinic, where she was diagnosed with bordetella, a viral infection commonly known as kennel cough.

Maggi was so tiny and so sick. She ended up spending a couple days in the animal hospital on intravenous fluids fighting the virus. She survived, and I was relieved.

I contacted the store, which had a “seven-day return policy” regarding the purchase of live animals. I would not have returned her to the store anyway, but I expected some restitution for selling me an infected dog! But Maggi was alive and she was home, so I abandoned the effort.

The First of Many Surgeries

Several months later, I took Maggi for her spaying. On a previous appointment the veterinarian noticed one of her eyelids was torn, probably from birth and not healing properly — so this time, during the anesthesia, he repaired her eyelid. By now Maggi was 7 months old and weighed about 10 pounds.

Maggi May's story The healing process from the spaying did not go well. It took a long time for the incision to close, and Maggi was left with a hernia at the incision site. Her eye didn’t close properly, either. The vet performed a second surgery to repair the hernia and resuture her eyelid.

Weeks later the incision was still not healing, and the eyelid did not close. I changed vets, and the new provider found that not only did Maggi have issues with the incisions but she had several extra teeth that should be removed. Yet another surgery was performed. This vet used a mesh panel to secure the incision. The hernia was repaired, but the incision took an unusual amount of time to heal.

Maggi’s eye was still torn, and this vet recommended drops daily to prevent infection. The tear in her eyelid could not be repaired. The vet was concerned Maggi may have Cushing’s disease (a condition that compromises the immune system), so a very expensive test was conducted and sent to the University of Georgia (UGA) for evaluation.

Maggi May, a cairn terrier

Napping in the sun

‘Multiple Genetic Deformities’

Maggi didn’t diagnose with Cushing’s, but she was found to have an autoimmune deficiency. She also suffered from “multiple genetic deformities” common in puppy mill dogs. She could no longer have inoculations; nor could she risk exposure to disease at the dog park or doggie day care. I couldn’t even take her to the groomer!

I hired a doggie au pair to come to the house twice a day to walk her around the neighborhood and stay with her when I traveled.

She would often develop cysts between her toes and under her tongue. If left to heal with simple topical ointments, they would break and ooze, making walking or chewing painful. Taking her to the vet required him to sedate Maggi and open and drain the lesion, then suture the incision.

My dog was on a constant regimen of antibiotics and pain, antidiarrheal and antinausea meds. At some point she developed a persistent cough and chronic reverse sneezing. She would wheeze so badly that I was never sure she would breathe again. I would hold her and stroke her face and stomach and cry. It was all I could do.

A Devastating Diagnosis

Puppy mill victim She started having trouble eating, and again I took her for evaluations. I consulted a UGA expert, who diagnosed Maggi as suffering from severe, progressive craniomandibular osteopathy — again a genetic disorder. CMO is a painful condition in which the bones in the head fuse. Eventually Maggi would not be able to eat or drink or even breathe without assistance.

I found a homeopathic animal specialist, who administered a routine of “natural herbal remedies” and craniosacral massage for her. I traveled 120 miles a week to buy fresh, raw food from a recommended source. Maggi would become so constipated she would cry and then collapse when she tried to defecate.

I would go to work in the morning with the realization Maggi may not be alive when I returned home. At night I would cry myself to sleep as I listened to her wheeze, gasp and cough.

Any number of times I resolved to end her suffering. I would make an appointment to euthanize and then she would rally. For days, sometimes weeks, she would be a happy, playful normal dog. Then she would hit the wall and we would begin the cycle again.

Eventually I vowed, “no more surgeries, tests or treatments.” I would keep her comfortable and well cared for, and when the time came so be it.

A Sudden Race for Help

One day in January I came home early from the office. It had started snowing, and I knew traffic would be a beast. The dog walker was away on vacation, and I didn’t want to leave Maggi home too long without checking on her. When I got home she was waiting at the door, happy to see me. Her tail was wagging and she was ready for a walk.

We went around the block and she was actually romping, chasing snowflakes and rolling in the snow. We got back home and I gave her a treat, and she trotted to the window seat. Next, I heard her wrenching and coughing. I found her on the rug by the door. She had collapsed, and white foam was pouring from her mouth and nose. She was gasping for air.

puppy mill nightmare I scooped her into a towel, grabbed my keys and ran to the car. I drove to the closest animal clinic I could find. I ran into the lobby carrying Maggi, still struggling to breathe, a trail of foaming vomit behind us.

The receptionist took one look and asked if we were patients. I explained the situation, and she dashed to the back only to return and tell me the doctors on staff there were not equipped to handle an emergency like this one. I darted back out and headed to the emergency clinic, which was four exits away on the crowded interstate.

I held Maggi on my lap and rubbed her tummy trying to reassure her. She was so scared — I was so scared! Finally, we reached the clinic and I raced inside. This time the receptionist immediately called a tech, and Maggi was taken to an examining room.

By the time I finished the paperwork, the vet had examined her and called me back. Maggi’s airway had closed. The doctor sedated and intubated her. She was not in pain, but she would need a tracheotomy, tests and possible exploratory surgery to determine what had closed her airway.

I explained Maggi’s medical history, and the compassionate veterinarian asked if I was ready to let go. I knew Maggi couldn’t survive another surgery. Holding on, hoping and pleading was my own selfish initiative. I nodded yes. It was time.

We waited until my daughter arrived, and she and I said our goodbyes. We stayed with little Maggi while the vet administered the lethal cocktail that would relieve my precious dog of her life. The entire event took less than two minutes. She was sleeping and appeared to go in peace.

The Real Price of a Puppy Mill Pet

Maggi May was almost 5 years old when she died.

She had endured more than 15 surgeries and dozens of treatments that required sedation. Her medical bills totaled in the thousands. One vet told me that Maggi had lived because of my will and his skill. I do not doubt that.

Let me ask: What is the real price of a puppy mill pet?

The price Maggi paid was a lifetime of pain and suffering. She did not have a fighting chance, given her entry to life. For me it was an economic toll, but more than anything it was years of emotional agony and ultimate, heart-wrenching loss.

The “doggie in the window” tactic worked on me. I got caught up in the cuteness and I was impulsive. It will never, ever happen again, and if Maggi’s life meant anything, it was to provide me with a loud voice of experience:

Do not buy pet store or internet pets from unknown sources!

Adopt from the animal shelter. (And, yes, even shelters have purebred pets.) Breed rescue organizations are also an excellent source. Also, did you know that there are puppy-friendly pet stores? See if there’s one in your area. Finally, if you are determined to buy from a breeder, there are plenty of reputable, dedicated ones. (For more on this, see Puppy Mill Red Flags: Don’t Be an Accidental Supporter.)

Check the QUESTION acronym below and follow it. Make a life for future dogs and their owners much better and brighter!

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  • Michele

    Thank you for your honesty. I won’t even buy pet food in a store that sells puppies or kittens. I only shop at my local Petco and PetSmart because they host adoption days with local shelters. 20% of dogs at shelters are purebreds, and adoption is the only way!

    • David Deleon Baker

      I’ve always been a firm believer in “speaking with your wallet.”

  • Vicci

    Your frankness and honesty is wonderful – let’s hope others learn. It’s time to be kind and forgive yourself now.

  • Kdmason

    All the more reason to know the breeder, history and most importantly have the animal inspected by a vet you know and trust before paying one cent!

  • Dante N. Furnose

     I’ve never purchased a pet from a store and never will.  All of my pets have been rescued from shelters, abusive homes or the street.  I feel for your suffering and loss, don’t let it harden your heart against loving a pet though. 

  • Debtee88

    So very sad. Please do not feel guilty about buying Maggie at a pet store, they are in business mainly because the typical consumer does NOT know the truth.

    You were amazing to have Maggie as long as you did. You did the best you could and I’m sure she had many wonderful times, despite all the surgeries. I’m sorry for you and your daughter and little Maggie. I know how those things haunt us.

  • Gillian

    Sadly, from a veterinary perspective we see this so often.

    Young dogs, usually purchased from a pet shop, more often than not a so called “designer breed” (what a remarkable marketing tool!) prematurely dieing because of some horrible genetic defect they have through no fault of their or their owners but because of some greedy puppy farmer who just does not care about the immediate or long-term effects on their breeding stock or their offspring.

    What saddens me even more, is when the same client that has just lost that cute little “designer dog” (I so hate that term!) rushes right out and gets another one, thus perpetuating the cycle.

  • jj33

    my family adopted a dog (rat terrier) from a family that couldn’t take care of her anymore (she was from a pet store, they said) , and we believe she came from a puppy mill.

    she was my best friend for the amazing 10 years that i had her. but i always knew there something different about her. she had horrible allergy problems with her skin and her feet especially. she became diabetic even though she ate what she was supposed to. she gained weight in the last couple years of her life, she had seizures, and just seemed unhappy at times, even though our other dog’s life was perfect.

    Don’t get me wrong, Puddles was very happy and enjoyed her life as much as she could when she wasn’t feeling sick, she brought so much happiness into my life!

    when she finally passed, it was due to pancreatic failure from the diabetes. we took her in and had her tested multiple times by the vet, and all he said was she’s in perfect health. 3 months before her death, he told us she was fine.

    i will never regret adopting her from that family. she was my best friend. but the problems that poor dog had to deal with, even though we routinely had check-ups and diet food, and vitamins for her, it wasn’t enough due to the fact that she was a puppy mill dog.

    so i choose to adopt from high-kill shelters now or obviously people i know who can no longer accommodate for their animals. and if i can stop anyone from buying from a pet store or website, i will.

    we need to get these puppy mills shut don for good. it’s not fair to the dog or the owner, what they have to go through. i will fight till the last one is shut down! every dog deserves a good, happy, love-filled life!!!

  • Cottontailj

    I am so sorry that you had to go through this terrible ordeal.  Even more sorry for poor little Maggi.  All pets that I have ever owned were either unwanted strays or animal shelter adoptees.  All of my dogs are 100% purebred mutts.  I like it better that way.  I am not against responsible animal breeders but these puppy mills need to stop.  Profiting off of an animals misery is not only criminal but immoral.

  • Mandy

    very very sad story, but lucky she had you as her mum for awhile

  • Belinda

    I am so sorry. Please do not be so hard on yourself. I also made the same mistake in my early 20′s. While beating myself up a friend pointed something out. The puppy I purchased deserved a good life as it was not her fault. Same goes for your Maggie. You gave her a good life. She deserved that. Most would not have given her what you did. Please remember that. She was a lucky girl.

  • Alma Anderson

    My son used to bring his dog, Lucky, a very gentle beagle to be bathed at Petco. Each time, Lucky came home with problems. The third time this happened, Lucky had to be see seen by a vet and given pain medication. His back was very sore and the vet said it was possible that what was done in this ‘bathing’ session, someone was rough with him, hence the pain. Lucky now goes to a new grooming place. Let me state that before Petco and after his going to a new place, never was there a problem with his back……Maybe they better check out the employees……        

  • Gmrice

    I am just sobbing with pain for both you and your precious Maggie May…you were her hero, don’t ever forget that. She got love and care from you that she may not have ever felt had you not bought her. People involved in puppy mills are the worst human beings…God Bless you for your willingness to try all the ways to bring Maggie May the best life can offer…and know that in the end, your love was what she took to the other side…don’t forget to go to the website Rainbow Bridge…it has been such a comfort to me when forced to make that painful decision you had to make. My vet did the same thing yours did….”How is the quality of life holding out?…” and I knew it was time….Such a wonderful thing you did, speaking out, and giving love to a wonderful little doggy with big brown eyes….

    • Pets Adviser

      That is very touching. Thank you!

  • Melissa

    Maybe you were the one who bought her from the pet store because it was always supposed to be you. Maybe that’s why you walked by at the very moment that you did. I can’t imagine her suffering if not for your compassion and love. What greatness of her life was great because of you. She knew some happiness and was able to go peacefully. You should at least feel good that you were able to take something broken and fix it as well as you could. I think you and Maggie May were meant to be together.

    • David Deleon Baker

      That is a beautiful way of putting it, Melissa.

  • Morgan Griffith

    Thank you for telling your story. And thank you for making Maggie May’s life as good as it could be.  

  • Susan

    I’ve always spoken out for adoption and NOT buying from a pet store. I’ve heard other horror stories. My dog was adopted and is a purebred. When I was going through the adoption process, I was astounded at some of the stupid questions and requirements on some applications. And I’ve noticed that some rescues and shelters REQUIRE potential adoptees to get annual vaccines for their dogs- which compromises their health just as much as a puppy mill environment. You REALLY have to be well informed for your dog’s sake! It’s a process- finding the right fit- and some people just don’t have the patience for that so go out and buy from a store

    • Social Mange

       Vaccinations may be required by law in some areas.  In the province of Ontario, Canada, for example, an annual rabies vaccine is required for dogs and cats.  The rescues and shelters may be bound by law.

  • Tanya_rusden

    I also bought a “cute little puppie with BIG huge eyes” from a pet store. At that stage I did not know about Puppy mills and the fact that 94% of stores source their puppies from farmers.  After researching some of his strange behaviours which were a direct result of being stuck in a glass box for weeks on end I went in and endeavoured to find out where he came from, the put store would not and still will not give me ANY information whatsoever which RINGS MASSIVE ALARM BELLS FOR ME.  It was when i decided to continue to research more i discovered Oscars Law.   I now know all about Mills and Farmers and advocate daily to try to educate as many people as possible so people don’t fall into the Puppy in the Window syndrome.  You story is gorgeous and Maggie May was lucky to have you and just as importantly your story is a powerful message.  Thank You

  • Caity

    Thank you for sharing your story.  I’m so sorry for your loss.  We didn’t know any better either when we purchased our first pet, a boxer, from a pet store.  She suffered from a myriad of auto-immune deficiencies.  The first was polysystemic arthritis which ruined one of her knees and required TPLO surgery at just 18 months of age.  We eventually lost her to Evans Syndrome, where the body attacks its own platelets and red blood cells, just two months shy of her 7th birthday.  We spent upwards of $15,000 over her lifetime on medical bills.  Because of her, our family is now heavily involved in boxer rescue, focusing on senior and hospice care.  A lot of people make the pet store mistake.  The truly great ones learn from it and advocate for change.  Thank you! 

  • newmichigananimalrescue

    I also will not buy anything from a pet store that doesn’t support local shelters.  Shelters are so full there is really no good reason to “buy” a dog/cat/kitten/puppy.  Pure breds usually have more health issues than mixed breeds anyway especially if they are raised in a puppy mill or store.

    • Megan Green

      Not true. Mutts are just as likely to have the same health issues their parents did. I agree that mill/store pups are likely to be unhealthy, but people who breed health tested dogs are more likely to produce pups that will not have the health issues that even mutts may. Also, there are plenty of good reasons to purchase a dog. What if you need a dog for a specific purpose, such as herding or search and rescue? Or even therapy or service work? Or maybe you want to get a puppy who’s genetically sound so that you know that you can compete in different dog sports without having to worry about your pup not being able to handle it. Hell, I know for a fact that I’ll have to buy my next dog, since I want to be able to compete in conformation with it, and there’s no way I’ll be able to find a champion in a shelter. Or maybe you just want a puppy who’s guaranteed to be healthy and free of genetic health issues all it’s life. Is there really anything wrong with that? Adoption is wonderful, and for MOST people it’s the perfect way to get their next family member, but there certainly are good reasons for someone to want to buy an animal.

      • sad_puppy

        I know someone who has a Kerri Blue terrier from a breeder. Both parents are hip scored but their dog still has the beginnings of hip dysplasia at only 11 months old. Also, plenty of mutts found in shelters or dumped on the streets are very well suited for herding, search & rescue, and therapy & service work, sometimes more so than pure bred specimens!

  • BoxerBreeder72

    I am a breeder, and I resent when people say that we are the problem with the animal kingdom. I breed Boxers a family busines passed down from my mother in law who did it for 35+ years. Just like so many people blame pitbulls and not the bad owner who abuses them,  breeders get an unfair rap. Yes there are puppymills, funny how in Canada many are associated with the CKC and these are papered animals. The CKC should recognize that the bitch is too young and not allow the puppies to be registered as purebred. To me purebred means not only a pure bloodline but a pure and ethical breeding standard is followed: Females should not be bred before 2 years of age as it is unhealthy, stunts growth of the dog and puppies. A male should not be studded until he is 2 for the same reason. A female should only have 1 litter a year maximum if you breed her this heat she should be left empty for the next true heat (True meaning not the cycle that sometimes occurs immediately after puppies are born). Puppies should not be adopted out until they are at least 8 to 9 weeks old. Puppies should not be stored in a kennel until owners can be found they should be raised and socialized with the breeders family. CKC Doesn’t insure that any of these minimums are met they will paper litter after litter and not check on the mothers well being and that’s why I am proud to say my dogs do not come with papers because anyone can get papers who has a 150 dollars but not just anyone can get one of my dogs, they are a rarity only 1 litter a year for a maximum of 4 litters a bitch (most of the time only 3). You can’t just come and bring me a thousand dollars and walk away with one of my dogs you must come for visits every other day for 2 weeks if you don’t have the time to do that you don’t have time for a puppy. If you have other dogs in your home you have to bring the dog on your visits. IF you are a first time dog owner you need to go to a dog training class nd see what is required to raise a pup. SO please don’t make blanket statements about breeders not all breeders have no standards. NOt all pet stores sell puppy mill puppies. As for adopting from the SPCA I Have a male that I Adopted at 4 he was badly abused by his previous owners and had a lot of bad habits and aggresive habits I had to break before I COuld fully integrate him into my pack. HE bit my husband 4 times and me twice luckily we are experienced and knew how to work with him and didn’t simply dump him back at the pound to be euthanized he is alive and well today and the proud sire of over a dozen puppies who all have been placed in good stable homes. Some of them have even been rehomed to the same owners that had bought my mother in laws pups and have had to put them down because of old age and they just need another boxer in their lives to say we are the problem is unfair many of us work very hard with our puppies. and I realize not everyone goes to these lengths but look for the ones that do. Ask for references. Be resposible when buying pets and don’t expect others to be resposible for you a pet is NOT and impulse buy. it’s is something to be planned and discussed. If you’re on your way to lunch and you buy a puppy because it was cute you’re just as much a part of the problem as the puppy mills that create them. Don’t sit on a soapbox now and preach. You should have researched the breed thought about the costs that could be involved. Don’t blame breeders for irresponsible owners, buyers, or puppy mills it’s not fair.

    • David Deleon Baker

      Thanks for your comment. We appreciate having multiple viewpoints. But… did you read the article?

      You commented: “Please don’t make blanket statements about breeders. Not all breeders have no standards.” Then you go on to add: “To say we are the problem is unfair. Many of us work very hard with our puppies.”

      But C.D. made no such broad statement in her article. Here is what she actually wrote:

      “If you are determined to buy from a breeder, there are plenty of reputable, dedicated ones.”

      And she then provides a link to a previous article (which is also excellent, by the way) that provides lots of tips on determining if your breeder is to be trusted or not.

      As for this comment by you:

      “A pet is NOT an impulse buy. It’s something to be planned and discussed. If you’re on your way to lunch and you buy a puppy because it was cute, you’re just as much a part of the problem as the puppy mills that create them.”

      I say thank you. That pretty much sums up her point EXACTLY. There is no soapbox to be preached from; she wrote this article out of humility and personal experience, and I for one am delighted that she decided to share it with us. It’s our hope that others can learn from her experience, and perhaps even some will be motivated to advocate for change and actively work to improve the lives of all animals, great and small.

    • sad_puppy

      Wow. For a while I was glad to hear from what I thought was a “responsible breeder”. You had me right up until the part where you adopted a dog from the shelter and then BRED WITH HIM. How much of his background did you know?

    • Monika Loreth

      I understand but because most pet stores are bad like that it makes good ones still have whispers. It’s the laws that need to be changed. It will take animal control rescues and a ligit stores working together to stop this type of story from happening. If we were to just close all pet stores well it will make more underground mills of all type of animals and make more horror stories. Like mine I met my boy Maxx from a friend who was fostering for a rescue. After herein his story of horror, he came from a puppy mill was beaten, malnourished, locked in a cage and when animal control stepped in he was so matted and full of his own poop. I sat down beside him took one look into though beautiful golden retriever eyes and fell in love with him. So I adopted him from the rescue and my years of crying heartache and hell began. I brought him home and next day was watching him he was like tripping not walking right when he sat one of his legs looked weird. So I took him to my vet and with just a physical exam so far discovered he was a mess. In the puppy mill someone put him in a cage too small that while he was growing his knees popped out to the side, I could only imagine the pain he was in. I contacted the rescue next day and they said they would get back to me they never did ignored me never returned calls. So I brought him back to my vet for a proper exam x-rays the whole nine yards. And it wasn’t only his knees it was hips illnesses I started to cry because I loved him so much already he was like my child now. I asked the vet why the rescue didn’t see this and he told me if they really did take him to a vet they would have seen this. I also asked if I fixed him if I could give him some kind of life cause he deserves happy and love. they vet agreed and said yes we could help him but we both said if it could too much for him I would let him go. So his journey began he was such a trooper after 12 surgeries lots of nights of tears for me illnesses we tried to give him a life he deserved in this world one of being spoiled loved being treated like family not a thing. I loved my boy so much I couldn’t imagine people hurting animals so I started doing rescue taking in animals to find homes Maxx would help welcome them it was like he knew I now u had a bad life your safe here they will love ya I still have many with me because once I found out some were sick I knew I couldn’t make someone go through what I went through so they stay here however long their life’s may be. Anyways one day Maxx dropped on my birthday four years ago I rushed him to the vet and the doc said there was nothing more he could do its time we let go. I beg him for one last night to spoil him and that all who loved him could see him and say goodbye, we had a pizza party for him let him eat whatever he wanted lots of hugs and love, we all went to bed I stay on couch right beside him guess he found it within himself to leave this world cause he died that night beside me. I was so crushed I still cry even as I write this I’m crying, but because of him I still rescue and save animals in his honor. So again it’s not just pet stores it could be a rescue laws need to be changed for ligits place to work with animal control
      about an hour ago ·

      • Pets Adviser

        Monika, that’s such a heartbreaking story of a puppy mill dog that you rescued and did the best you could for. In our eyes, you’re a hero.

  • jana rade

     What a heartbreaking story! These [puppy mill] people really don’t care what they do, as long as they make their money.

  • Delia Shepherd

    i’m showdog breeder in uk – here our kennel club 
    actively fights puppy mills & hs video on them you view it online on the kennel club website -uk responsible breeders wont sell to pet shops & unsuit
    able buyers & he
    alth check parents for breed specific probs before breeding- & keep the dogs in good conditions often like house pets mine live in house-no ”cages all day” in US the 
    a kc [
    american kennel club website reccommends breeders pup willbe no more expensive but with better guarantees

  • Sherster64

    Maggie’s story was truly an inspiration of a pet owner’s  tribute to her animal.  I give you much credit in everything you had done for your pet.  I will never, ever suggest anyone in buying an animal in a pet store….In my entire life, I have never done so… I truly hope that whoever even considers this an option will give it a second thought.

  • Jene Nelson

    A heartbreaking and yet too common story.  RIP Maggi and God bless you for being her angel!

  • Itsatweetythang2001

    I have to confess something myself. I had a Petland puppy years ago but I was very lucky and got a healthy one. The worst thing she ever had was arthritis, which is common for all anyway. But more recently I went to a breeder and I have a good reason for it. The shelters around here in Kansas are very picky about who they will adopt to. They have rules you know. I live in a trailer and don’t have a nice big fenced yard, so Nebraska and Oklahoma shelters turned me down to adopt. Our local one wouldn’t let me have one because my sister was living with us and couldn’t show proof her dog had his shots, so no dog for me. I don’t think a fenced yard is necessary especially for a chihuahua or when you can go for walks with them, but it’s the rules, you know and we have to follow them. So I went the only place I could find a long haired chihuahua, a local breeder. SHe was five months old and not in good shape when I got her, but I loved her so much and we bonded in the first five minutes. Now she is beautiful and has lovely fur and although she is bossy to the other bigger dog, she is my dog and loves me and I can’t imagine life without her. I feel I saved her, she was skinny and had sores on both ears from being bit by the other dogs and below her mouth on her chin. She had barely any fur even though you could tell she wasn’t a short haired chihuahua. But I saw what she could be with my love and whe she has become.

    • Pets Adviser

      Awww, she is so cute! She sounds lucky to have you as a pet parent. It’s a shame that the rules stipulate that you must have a fenced yard for a chihuahua. Agreed — that rule doesn’t sound fair, especially when we think of how many people here in NYC don’t have fenced yards but still manage to keep their chihuahuas perfectly happy with nice walks outside.

  • reddwhine

    My dog could have been Maggi’s mother. Well, not really because my little girl is a Corgy, but Maggi’s mom probably produced hundreds of puppies like Maggi May in some hell hole of a puppy mill.

    My little Corgi produced litter after litter of puppies for 10 years before she was rescued from a puppy mill. She was found near death, having lived in a Iowa puppy mill in a small dirt enclosure with no shelter but a board, and the hole she was able to dig to keep her out of the heat and rain and wind and snow.

    She was infested with parasites, malnourished having lived on white bread that the breeder dumpster-dived for, and probably hours from death when the angels from the rescue group found her. With the help of her rescuers and some excellent vet care and a fierce will to live, she survived and became my sweet companion about a year ago.

    The thing that gets me about these breeders, besides the fact that they are monsters, is that they don’t give a flip about the breed, just getting as many puppies as they can “manufacture.” If they don’t quite look like Corgis, no matter. My Corgi is a fluffy with a tail. I think she is absolutely beautiful, but there is nothing about her that is up to breed standard — and yet she had litter after litter. It is all for the almighty dollar.

    My little girl turned out to be one of those dogs that live in the moment, and from the second she came to us she was at home and the past was forgotten. That isn’t the case with all mill dogs; some are damaged forever.

    I try to live like her and not dwell on how her life used to be. It just makes me so angry! Someone said that maybe you were meant for her and she for you. I really like that idea. You were her angel, and she gave as much to you. I can’t preach enough about how behind every cute little puppy in a store window or picture on the internet, there is a momma and daddy dog left behind being tortured in a puppy mill.

  • Lorifloodkunz

    Wow, I can’t stop crying for Maggie May. She was lucky to have you but you were even luckier to have her!

  • Roberta

    I am sorry for your loss but, when you made eye contact with Maggi May it was meant to be you where chosen for her, believe me I understand what you went though, my dog AndyNathan was a puppy mill dog purchased at at pet store somewhere in MA and many dollars later, my dog is still alive, but,having problems with his fecies and has a skin is full of sores, no amout of saying we are sorry for your loss will help you, but, I am sorry for your loss…

  • Nikole Fairview

    My goodness this is so horrible. This story is incredibly shocking and horrible. It was heart wrenching. I can feel your love for Maggie May coming through. She was so adorable. My heart cries out for those times that you describe. She’s fine one minute and then you hear those sounds. My goodness, my heart cries out. This is so sad. I’m glad she’s in a better place.

    What a horrible life she had to lead sometimes. At least she was truly loved in your home. Thank you for this article. It is such an eye opener and I hope it gets a lot of attention from the search engines because this is what people need to realize about that business. Though I had some idea that they are bad, I didn’t realize that these animals were prone to so much sickness. I feel like the air has been let out of me when I think about what these sweet, little animals are going through.

  • mcm

    I adopted a fox terrier several years ago from the SPCA that had come from a puppy mill,She was a wonderful dog but came with several genetic health issues.Her bladder was located incorrectly and she would get massive urinary track infections.It cost me several thousands of dollars just to to get a diagnosis.Then she had to have regular urinalysis.Medicine her whole life and special food. She would develop benign tumors that had to be removed.And came to me with a broken tail as a puppy.She evenually died because of a large tumor pressing against her lungs.BUT…she was an incredible dog.When I took her to the vets because the symtoms from the tumor couldnt be controlled any more she would not let me carry her in.She struggled in my arms until I put her down and walked in on her own.She was the best and most amazing personality.Despite her medical issues she was well worth every penny.She had a joy for living everyday.

    • David Deleon Baker

      Hi, what an incredible story. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  • Deborah J Austin

    Very sad story…NEVER, NEVER buy a pet from a store..ADOPT, it’s the ONLY safe way.. :)

    • Megan Green

      What about people who breed their animals responsibly, to better the breeds they love? People who do health checks and can guarantee that the puppies they sell will not have the genetic issues this article mentions? And honestly, the dogs at shelters are just as likely to have all of those health issues, as most of them originally came from backyard breeders and pet stores or mills. I’ve even seen mill people bring their old dogs who can no longer produce pups to shelters. Now, I’m not saying that it’s not a good idea to adopt, I even have a collection of rescued animals at home, but I am questioning why you think it’s the only safe way.

  • Sarah Brewster-Hager

    I have seen animals from Puppy mills that would break your heart as well. I have never owned one but as a former groomer, I have seen many, many poor unfortuneate little ones. I commend you on writing about your experience in hopes that it will deter others. Warning to folks buying “purebred” dogs from Community Classified Sites,,,, Just because a dog is a purebred does not mean it does not have any health risks. Backyard breeders are some of the worst offenders. Their puppies can end up in Puppy Mill stores too.

    • Sarah Brewster-Hager

      BTW I am sorry for your loss. I am sure if you had not”rescued her, her life would have been much more uncomfortable. You did a wonderful job and I know she felt every bit of love that you had for her. I have had two dogs in my life that I have lost. Even though the years pass, I still greive for them at times. Hugs