The Lewis & Clark Humane Society has a warning for people buying animals from questionable establishments: do your homework.
In a post to the Humane Society’s Facebook page on Wednesday, Kelsee Dalton warned against “backyard breeders” and puppy mills.
Dalton is the Development Director at the Humane Society, and she told the story of seven-month-old Charlie, a King Charles Cavalier dog.
"When Charlie first came in [to the shelter] they had just bathed him because he was soaked in urine and they brought him over here to dry him off. They were like 'do you want to hold him?' Next thing you know I'm like 'I'll probably foster him,’” Dalton told MTN News.
Weighing in at just around seven pounds, Charlie was brought to the Humane Society practically hairless with ear mites and a malformed front leg.
"Just from conception he was dealt a really hard card and I think it's wearing on a lot of the staff to watch his slow progress and just feel devastated for his lot in life,” Holly Wiest, volunteer coordinator at the Humane Society, said.
Charlie is doing better now. He had surgery to correct his foot and more than doubled his weight.
The staff remains frustrated because Charlie’s condition may have been preventable.
Dalton says Charlie's issues likely stem from improper breeding done my unethical breeders.
"They're breeding two dogs that formerly had problems with these joint issues. If you're actually doing breeding to better the breed, you're working really, really hard to make sure you're producing the best puppies based on genetics, health and temperament. In this case, it seems like they're just breeding to make some quick money," Dalton said.
According to Wiest, it also can put a strain on dog rescuers.
"Shelters and rescue organizations are kind of left to pick up the pieces and clean up the mess of these pet stores or irresponsible breeding programs,” Wiest said.
While poor breeding practices are not illegal in Montana, the Humane Society has a message for those only interested in money.
"Breeders that are out there that aren't doing it the right way: I think you really just need to see this through and see the consequence of your actions. I don't think any person would look at [Charlie] and see him in a kennel crying because he can't play with the other dogs and think that was a wise move."
The Humane Society says there are good breeders out there, but buyers must beware.
Most respectable breeders will already have a home for a dog before it is born and they won't be secretive about the animals’ origins.
The Humane Society says to avoid classified ads or people selling animals from the back of a van.
If you’re looking for a reputable breeder, you can check in with the Humane Society first by clicking here.