When we brought Annie home I didn’t have any documentation of her birth date. The only document from the original kennel was a rabies certificate from June 2014. I received her immunization records from the vet who took care of her while she was in foster care and that was her entire file. It wasn’t much to go on. I assume some of the other dogs had more paperwork since their ages were known but Annie’s age was estimated to be between 7 and 9 at the time of her rescue. I was very torn about wanting to know more information about her and just wanting to look toward the future without dwelling on the past. There was a video that was created for NCA rescue that told the story of the rescue and the progress of one dog in particular, the last one pulled out that didn’t have a name, didn’t have any records or papers and was in critical condition. The rescue volunteers named her Precious and she has become the face and namesake for this group of dogs.
It took me several weeks to muster the courage to watch the video. It wasn’t as graphic as I feared and the overall message was one of hope and recovery but it left me feeling very conflicted about how much I really wanted to know about Annie. Based on her behavior, it was obvious she suffered from neglect and abuse. She is still fearful around men and is very guarded in new situations. I’ve come to the conclusion that my hope that someone had given her some care and attention in the kennel is just wishful thinking and at best she was neglected and didn’t receive much human interaction at all. That’s a pretty grim outlook, but her guarded behavior and the fact that she gets startled easily is confirmation that she didn’t have many positive experiences with humans during her time there.
Most of the time, I just wanted to focus on her recovery and gaining her trust but I had moments of such rage directed at this breeder that I would find myself staying up late at night doing internet searches. The kennel still had an active website and even though most of the information had been deleted there were still puppy pictures. When I looked at them more closely I noticed that most of the puppies were photographed on straw or a dirt patch with gravel and rocks in the background. He didn’t even try to show them in a comfortable environment! There was a stream of complaints about sick and dying puppies that had been purchased. The kennel owner’s profile was still listed on several puppy websites, which was his primary source for selling puppies. There was an ad for a 19 month old for sale dated after the rescue had already started which led me to believe that someone was still trying to sell as many dogs as possible and was only turning over the senior and sick dogs for rescue. All of this confirmed what I already knew. He was operating a puppy mill and had little regard for his dogs or the breed.
I was actually surprised that Annie got a rabies vaccine. On that certificate her age was listed as 7. The only other information that stood out was that her previous rabies tag was from 2008. Was I to assume that in the 7-8 years that she was on this property she only received 2 rabies shots? And who was this vet that did this, wasn’t there some obligation to report a situation in which the dogs were not receiving appropriate medical care? I did find a notice from 2013 that stated the owner had been sanctioned by the AKC. His privileges were suspended for one year for violating care and conditions standards and he was charged a $1000 fine. How many complaints were logged before that happened? There is just so very little that can be done to prevent this from happening. It obviously didn’t shut him down, the fine was equal to one puppy and then he just kept going, selling puppies online and at pet stores.
The one piece of information that I found that didn’t make me sick to my stomach was a listing of dogs on a Newfoundland database. There were hundreds of dogs listed with this kennel and that’s where I found Annie’s full name with a birth date of 06/07/06. My assumptions were confirmed, if this was my Annie, and it’s possible he had multiple dogs with the same name, she was 9 ½ when we adopted her. This also meant that she had been born there and kept there while being forced to have multiple litters a year for as long as her body could until she was rescued. Many but not all of the dogs in her rescue group were on this list and the dogs whose names I found were all between the ages of 7 and 10. A few of the dogs didn’t survive very long after they were rescued but at least they were able to get into new homes before they died.
I decided to go with this date, it was a pretty close match to the age listed on her rabies certificate and it was the most reasonable estimate I would have. We were going to celebrate her 10th birthday in June! I also decided I would do no more internet sleuthing, Annie was making such good progress and I was trying to get her to only look forward and forget the bad times of her past. We would both be more successful in attaining this goal by putting her past behind us.