I recently wrote a blurb online that I shot across the depths of Facebook in an attempt to inform the masses and thus hopefully put a wrench in the gears of puppy mills. Forgive some of the overly plain speak below…it is written for lowest common denominator of pre-existing dog knowledge and common sense. Thus I also chose to be overly explanatory in favor of leaving nothing to doubt.
HOW TO SPOT A PUPPY MILL OR BACKYARD BREEDER
Here is a fairly comprehensive list of red flags that often pop up with puppy mills and backyard breeders along with the worst-case scenarios and why these red flags should constitute suspicion of unethical breeding and business practices. Any one of these flags alone do not constitute a bad breeder but any one or combination thereof should constitute SUSPICION of the breeder's ultimate intentions (i.e. happy animals and people OR cold hard cash) until they have proven to you that they have good intentions. Exceptions, mistakes, and special circumstances are one thing…but if you see a "breeder" that checks off most of these red flags, take a guess what you're probably looking at especially if they are located in the Midwest (MISSOURI and Kansas in particular). From there it's your conscious decision whether or not to purchase a puppy from that person!
1. Selling of multiple breeds simultaneously.
Most people don't have the time to be responsible, knowledgeable breeders of multiple breeds simultaneously let alone one at a time! Most people who breed multiple breeds rotate what they're breeding so they can devote all their time and expertise to one breed at a time but still enjoy multiple breeds over the years. If someone is selling multiple breeds of puppies, they may be more interested in diversifying their products just like any business tries to offer more than one product so they can attract a variety of customers and their money.
2. Multiple litters available simultaneously of the same breed or multiple breeds.
Think about it: what kind of "operation" would it take to properly take care of multiple pregnant dogs and then their numerous litters of puppies all at once? A "puppy mill" operation?
3. A breeder's website with any of the following features:
a. "Stock" photography (photos take from the internet, i.e. not their own genuine photos).
Could be: The few photos they have you wouldn't want to see.
b. No pictures of the property.
Could be: You don't want to see the conditions their animals live in.
c. No pictures of the people involved in breeding (owners, their children, etc.).
Could be: They don't want you or the authorities to know what they look like after you find out they ripped you off.
d. No pictures of the dad and mom dogs ("sire and dam").
Could be: Mom and dad are maybe not even purebred, probably unhealthy, maybe dead.
e. No health records or mention of health at all for sire and dam.
Could be: They may have never been to the vet ever.
f. No pictures of the puppies with their mom (whelping).
Could be: Puppies may have been taken from their mom prematurely (causing all sorts of potentially life-long behavioral issues).
g. No pictures of the puppies with their litter-mates or any other dogs or people period.
Could be: Living conditions too disgusting to show; socialization may be little more than competing for food.
h. No full address of location listed.
Could be: They are trying to hide all identifying information, hmm…
i. No full name of breeder listed.
Could be: Same as above (fake names may be given).
j. Listings of dogs that look like eBay or another online shopping website (separate ads for each puppy in long lists).
Could be: You shouldn't be looking for the "shopping cart" or "checkout". Buying a puppy is not like buying a pair of shoes.
k. For pictures in the listings, each individual puppy is placed on a blanket next to something cute like a teddy bear.
Could be: This little scene is a ruse meant to disarm your suspicion with cuteness.
l. Puppies do not have sire and dam named even, much less info and pictures of their parents.
Could be: The people who buy these dogs don't care or don't know they should care about a dog's lineage (if only for health reasons).
m. The phone number or other identifying information listed is also listed on other breeders websites without the acknowledgement of the connection and/or on craigslist, newspaper classified ads, puppy selling websites, etc.
Could be: They are the same person(s) running multiple websites and advertisements trying to sell their dogs however they can to whoever they can.
n. AKC registration is "offered" (not the default) for a premium.
Could be: They'll be happy to forge it and charge you an extra $400.
o. Multiple differing birth dates of various puppies
Could be: multiple litters!
p. Offers to ship sight-unseen to anywhere in the country.
Could be: they are Amazon for puppies.
Allow me to demonstrate what a puppy mill operation looks like. Please visit this website:
Looks kinda nice, doesn't it? Nothing immediately jumps out at you and says "bad guy", does it? Not really, unless you know better. But take note of all the red flags I mentioned that this website checks off. The perfect stock photos, all the breeds and puppies available, the puppy listings that look like "online shopping"/eBay. Where's all the info about sires and dams, about the breeder? Photos of the property and living areas? Photos of the breeder and parent dogs? Notice the eBay style puppy listings and business tone to all the details about the puppies. "Shipping available anywhere in the contiguous USA and Canada". [When I was last on that website 2 weeks ago there were 40+ Basenji puppies of all coat colors and with 6 different birth dates across the whole lot fo them…that's at least 6 litters! But now most have been sold to unsuspecting owners]
If all of these red flags aren't enough to make you worry about buying a puppy from this "website", you don't have to dig much further to find out that this "kennel" is actually a puppy mill. Plain as day it is listed as a puppy mill operation by The Humane Society of the United States in their report, "101 Puppy Mills: A Sampling of Problem Puppy Mills in the United States" (Use the "find" feature with CTRL+F or Apple key+F to search for Rock Creek Kennel):
That article also mentions another kennel associated with the operators. Sure enough, the phone number 913-549-7817 from Rock Creek Kennel is also listed for Clover Acres Farm, a kennel posing as an entirely different kennel/business that also just so happens to sell multiple breeds with a website that also hits all the red flags I listed above:
As if that wasn't enough…
FINALLY, some REAL pictures…of one of the owner's past dogs, in poor health of course (including a Basenji with what appears to be mange/demodex):
An rescue/shelter organization's battle against him including evidence that this puppy mill is selling Shiba's to a pet store in California:
News article about the Rock Creek Kennel reputed to be nothing more than 60 puppies living in a garage with the puppy mill operators throwing dead puppies into vegetation bordering their property:
Oh look, this "breeder", "Buzz", at one point had a business (not a non-profit) called "Iowa Basenji Rescue". Sounds nice doesn't?
…except that his entire Basenji breeding business may have been founded off the back of animals that were suppose to be "rescued".
I can tell you one thing for sure: Whether you want a Basenji puppy, a Shiba Inu puppy, a Bull Terrier puppy, a Westie puppy, a Japanese Chin puppy, a Wire Fox Terrier puppy, an Akita puppy, a Pomeranian puppy, or a Chihuahua puppy (all the breeds this ONE breeder offers)...if you call 913-549-7817, you're going to speak with someone who operates a puppy mill.
I'm no expert but all this sounds like normal Basenji behavior especially for an under-exercised, under-stimulated and YOUNG dog as already noted here. This is not to say your dog isn't getting enough exercise to stay physically healthy, but pretty much every dog will be better behaved the more it is getting tuckered out.
I have raised two Basenji puppies recently, now 1 and 2 y/o, and both are still pretty rambunctious (typical young Basenjis) especially in the winter when it is no doubt tough on them and my girlfriend and I to want to get outside. We live in an apartment but the building was once a hotel so we have interior hallways that take us about 10 minutes to walk all three floors. I know we have a peculiar living situation but you might be able to find something similar (just indoor hallways or maybe outdoors under the cover of some structure) Also, just because your dog doesn't want to go outside because of cold or rain or snow doesn't necessarily mean they shouldn't. Your judgment of what they can take is more realistic and optimistic than their own. Boots and jackets can do wonders if the temperatures necessitate it but either way, if it's not uncomfortably cold out just get out there! If I only walked when my Basenjis wanted to in the winter, we'd walk once a day and I'd be cleaning up my floors twice a day!! They are definitely not cold weather dogs but they can hesitate unnecessarily even when it's not cold enough to need boots and sweaters. Just exercise sound judgment: keep an eye on the temperature outside, feel her paws and body on walks, notice if she's shivering or lifting her paws.
Even with more outdoor exercise, more positive and engaging stimulation at home is definitely called for. Everything she's doing now that you don't like is her making up her own fun. As already mentioned, a fun and yummy training session can not only be used to teach desired behaviors but will also tire a dog out. Why doesn't your get social time with other dogs at day care? If it's because of aggression, definitely read up and/or get training to mitigate that. If your dog could socialize with other dogs at day care, she would get tired from running around AND using her brain to socialize (the latter of which is not readily obtained from regular walks). Then you'd be getting your money's worth for the day care and for a happy (tired) dog. If no socialization is just an attribute of the day care itself, consider finding a day care that does include that.
Speaking of socialization, you should try to find a fully-fenced dog park to visit (assuming she doesn't have major aggression issues) to get the same exercise and socialization benefits of day care in a likely larger, more natural space full of sights and smells. As already noted here, any time a dog has to use their brains for more than just walking around, they get tired at least twice as fast. When I take my dogs to the dog park and there's lots of dogs there, of course they run like crazy but they do so much more than that with the other dogs, trying to figure them out, how to get them to chase or get them to run so they can give chase, how to sniff the butt of a Great Dane, what all that hair is for on an English Sheepdog. A properly socialized dog that "explores" and plays with other dogs for an hour will pass out on the couch like you just walked them for 3 hours. If my dogs weren't well socialized and we couldn't go to dog parks at all, we would all be going insane!! And when we go to the dog park and there's not a lot of other dogs there my dogs and I get bummed. Being off-leash is great, but it's the other dogs that make the experience so engaging and thus tiring! I think the only thing that would be more engaging would be hunting with other dogs. Note that part of my dogs socialization was going to dog park from 6 months of age and being very attentive to what they were experiencing…not letting them get run over by bigger dogs, avoiding aggressive dogs, etc., we didn't want to get off on the wrong foot with such a valuable socialization and exercise resource. With that cautious start, now they're some of the most rough and tumble dogs there (in a good way) even though they are usually the smallest playful dogs present and they LOVE strangers...they are overflowing with healthy confidence. [Funny story: I had a guy ask me "those aren't Basenjis are they!?" I said yes. Then he said "that's odd, I thought Basenjis were very aloof, unfriendly, and aggressive with strangers and other dogs". Needless to say my dogs practically licking his face corrected his Basenji misconceptions which probably originated from under/unsocialized Basenjis which unfortunately are fairly common.]
Once your dog is getting worn out every so often, her destructive and aggressive behaviors will likely improve. Revisit all of the training you two have already been through (don't use it, you and her will lose it). Get your family involved. Include training to specifically address the behaviors you don't like and to get her to do things you do like instead. EX: give her substitutes to bad behaviors; try not to put her situations where you know she's likely to do what you don't like. I have yet to meet a dog that preferred biting people for fun over chewing on a fresh bone (which is great mental stimulation, too, like a Rubix cube for dogs). If she likes to bite you in specific situations, try to avoid them or at least don't allow her to get latched on (saying "no" when she's already pulling on your skin is a little late, she's already got what she wants). If "come"/recall isn't working, work on other commands for some time then come back to recall. Definitely get all the books agilebasenji mentioned…anyone who can get a Basenji to do more than 3-4 commands knows what they're talking about and that's no joke!!! It's pretty well known about the breed that when they're young, if they're out of their crate you either have to "puppy-proof" their entire run-free area OR constantly watch them. They are a mischievous, often destructive breed especially as puppies. Practically every one that has raised a Basenji puppy has ended up having to do things that would make other dogs owners cringe thinking about the effort required. I often describe Basenjis as the "anti-Lab". Plan accordingly.
This has been a very interesting thread to read. Praise to Ladybasenji for his dedication and overwhelming love to his new found Basenji even with the challenges.
Everyone has addressed all of Lady's behavioral issues but I saw one larger issue has gone unaddressed. Here's my little bit of advice.
Try to get your girlfriend on board with loving Lady just as much as you do! Don't let her give up on Lady! If she's spending time with Lady in her presence at all, then you all will benefit from her being an equal part of everything! Try to get your girlfriend to understand that not only is Lady a Basenji which is the "anti-Lab" breed (complete opposite of the "normal" dog/Labrador Retriever, German Shepherd, etc., the dogs your girlfriend is use to)…Lady is also a dog that has never had much structure until coming into your home. Any dog would need help in that situation but especially a wild Basenji! Don't put Lady between your girlfriend and you, or your girlfriend between Lady and you. The challenges of training Lady and convincing your girlfriend to love her will strengthen both your relationship with Lady and your girlfriend. And I'm sure seeing the two ladies in your life bond would be very satisfying for you as well!!!
I watched a few videos by vets on YouTube about how to express the glands. I think I'll just let our vets do it every now and then with check ups or we need to go in for it. It's not only not something I really want to do for the mess of it but I just don't trust myself to do it right and as you said Debra it's cheap and hopefully we won't need it done more than once or twice a year if at all. So far we've had our vets do it once for each dogs in our almost 18 months of Basenji parenting…both times because the vet said they probably needed it (the likely cause of the issue and hence vet visit).
What I definitely can do is continue to make sure they eat well/healthy. Like I said before I know the full-sized solid poops are the best for more than one reason! Thankfully we've gotten them both into a routine over the last few months that really has seen them stabilize their bowel movements and help our younger new B pick up potty training real well. We'll just continue down that path.
Thankfully like I mentioned in an earlier post all the "pains in the butt" seem to be occurring less often as they age. The desire for me to post here was to try to narrow down some possible causes.
Thanks for all the input!!!
Yes when our second Basenji started having these issues much more often and seemingly more seriously than our first we took him to the vet and he expressed his anal glands because he thought that was likely the problem. Afterwards Jaco didn't have any of those symptoms for a few days but then they came back just like before. His poops are big, solid, and all around healthy which we know is suppose to help regulate his glands…but maybe we just need to get them expressed often. Thankfully it seems to happening less and less for the both of them thankfully which I should have mentioned from the get go...but it's still concerning that it happens at all before and still now occasionally.
Our first B very occasionally would shriek in pain and bite at her back legs/butt/tail area. This would be exclusively right after napping on the couch and then jumping down. Never when running intensely or jumping around when playing. It seems to have happened less over the last few months, maybe like once every other month…but not often enough for us to worry. She never seems to be in that much pain and it just doesn't happen often and increasingly less so.
But now our second B is having similar issues. Unfortunately it happens more often. Either after napping on the couch and jumping down or when first running after resting like when we first arrive at the dog park. But he shrieks much more loudly than our female ever did and seems to bite at his tail and butt much more frantically. In fact he'll fall over mid-run (from the pain?) and immediately go to the biting.
With the both of them it's only ever one quick shriek and a few moments of biting at the hindquarters. It doesn't seem to bother either of them for more than a few seconds...but what the heck is going on? We've palpitated all over their hindquarters trying to reproduce the pain but they have not responded at all.
Our vet said anal glands were suspect and he expressed them on our second B with the more occurrences of obvious pain. He didn't have any pain like that for a day but then it was back just like before. When he does the shriek and the biting and poops shortly thereafter (probably by coincidence cause sometimes he doesn't) while pooping he tries to look at his butt very intensely. When he drops the poop from his butt he'll turn around wicked fast like "what was happening back here!?" or "that hurt, what the heck!?" Stool is perfectly normal (and checked by vet/tests) and both dogs have clean bill of health from vet.
Any thoughts about this, anyone seen it before? Anal glands, muscle spasms/pain, tail issues (arthritis?)....
My girlfriend and I rescued a 17 week old male brindle puppy given up to Colorado Basenji Rescue by a couple who couldn't handle him. They got him from a puppy mill in Missouri or Kansas. He's joining our 16 month old brindle female who's showing him the ropes…and who's boss. Despite his unfortunate background Jaco is doing great in the right home, a forever home. Juniper and Jaco have become two peas a pod. They're not actually related but don't tell them that.