In a place where people usually dump greasy pizza boxes, smelly trash and broken TVs, someone left an old laundry basket, lined with a tattered fleece blanket. Inside were six little meowing puppies that had been abandoned just hours after birth.
Fortunately, someone discovered the puppies before it was too late. They took the cold, hungry babies to a nearby humane society in Branson, Missouri. Originally thinking they were rescuing kittens, employees began bottle-feeding the babies while asking for help.
It’s hard to tell what breed the puppies are when they’re so young. But they look like Australian Shepherds. And two of the puppies were mostly white, which means they could be double merles.
Merle is the mottled pattern of a dog’s coat. When two dogs carrying the merle gene are mated, their puppies have a one in four chance of being blind and/or deaf and having a predominantly white coat.
The puppies were found in an area known for its many puppy mills. A puppy mill is a dog breeding facility whose main purpose is to make money. To maximize profits, some breeders keep dogs in deplorable conditions.
Rescuers speculate that the puppies may have been discarded because of these double merles or because the breeder didn’t like the parent-dog combination.
Why puppies are thrown away
“It takes a heartless person to dump puppies, especially day-old puppies. Because it happened in an area with a lot of puppy mills, and these operations put profit way before the care for dogs, I think we can pretty much guess where they came from,” John Goodwin, senior campaign manager of the HSUS Stop Puppy Mills campaign, told Treehugger.
“We hear stories of puppies being abandoned by factories for a number of reasons, usually because the puppy is sick and needs veterinary care or because there is a quality that the factory owner thinks will diminish. the value of puppy sales. In one case, a major A puppy broker in that same general area was discovered to have a huge pit full of dead puppies. This broker was buying from factories all over Missouri and supplying pet stores across the country.
In 2021, for the ninth consecutive year, Missouri topped the “Horrible Hundred,” the Humane Society of the United States’ annual report on puppy mills.
There’s a reason Missouri has more puppy mills than any other state.
“After World War II, factory farms began to replace small family farms,” says Goodwin. “Some who no longer found it profitable to raise pigs or chickens decided to start puppy mills. This was especially true in the Midwest where there were a lot of small farms closing down.”
The first thing people can do to end puppy mills is to stop buying puppies from factories, says Goodwin, pointing out that most puppies sold in pet stores, online and at markets chips come from these places.
Caring for Newborn Puppies
Because the puppies may be Australian and there were double merles, the Humane Society contacted Talk Rescue and Sanctuarywho specializes in the care of guard dogs with special needs.
Unfortunately, two of the puppies failed to speak. One died within a day or two and the other was not far behind.
The puppies are now cared for by a foster parent who has years of experience bottle feeding newborn puppies. She gives them warmed formula milk every 2-3 hours and then has to wipe their bottoms to entice them to go to the bathroom. Normally, a mother dog would lick her puppies to encourage them to do so. But without a mom, these puppies are totally dependent on people.
Puppies are kept warm with a heating pad and are weighed often to see if they are doing well. Two struggling puppies were transferred to a veterinarian for 24-hour monitoring and tube feeding. Unfortunately, the smallest did not survive.
The first weeks are the most dangerous for newborns. They may suffer from a condition known as discolored puppy syndrome, where seemingly normal babies gradually stop thriving and die within the first two weeks after birth.
Rescuers hope the puppies nursed their mothers right after they were born. They were very clean, as if their mother had taken care of them. But they didn’t get the important first few days of protein-rich breast milk, known as colostrum. Colostrum helps support their immune system and protects them from disease.
Surviving Puppy Season
Because they were found a few days before the first day of spring, the puppies were given tree and forest themed names. The three girls are Laurel, Lilac and Sylvie, and the only boy was Banyan.
Although she was sad to hear about the abandoned puppies, she certainly wasn’t surprised, says Judy Duhr, director of Speak Rescue and Sanctuary.
“This time of year is what rescuers call puppy season and with most shelters overwhelmed and many in Missouri having to euthanize for space, we fear there will be many more spills than years past,” Duhr told Treehugger. .
“We can only hope that more people will step up to adopt, promote and educate about the importance of neutering and neutering, as well as sharing the many resource options available to help those in need.”
You can follow Mary Jo and her foster puppy adventures on Instagram @brodiebestboy.