Dimitra Molossi, co-director of Social Tees Animal Rescue, saw a man walk into her vet’s office holding a tiny Chihuahua puppy. He handed the dog off to the receptionist and left.
“He told her that the dog was defective and he wanted her to be put to sleep,” Molossi said. “The receptionist said he was the owner of a pet store nearby and nobody was buying her. Apparently, he’s dumped animals with them before.”
The receptionist took one look at the puppy and knew there was nothing wrong with her. The puppy had a slightly bent front leg and a little trouble walking, but she was just like any other happy puppy. She didn’t stop wagging her tail at all!
Once the vet checked her ou, Molossi called her rescue partners to arrange a foster home. They named her Clover because it was a stroke of good luck that put her in the right hands.
Clover’s back legs are also slightly bent, due to an untreated bacterial infection and no physical exercise during the early months of her life. Once Clover had X-rays and vaccines, she was taken to her foster home that night with antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medicine.
“She’s not in any pain now and is already starting to walk better,” Molossi said. “She was so smelly — you could tell nobody paid attention to her.”
Now that Clover is safe and happy, it’s a wake-up call for pets in her situation. Her ailments are common for thousands of other puppies for sale in pet stores throughout the country. The majority of these puppies are bred and raised in puppy mills, large-scale breeding operations and have minimal to no veterinary care or contact with humans.
They are shipped to be sold in pet stores, while their mothers remain at puppy mills to continue breeding litter after litter. Then when they are too sick or old to have puppies, they are discarded. A huge number of the puppies are sold sick or injured to unsuspecting buyers at pet stores for upwards of $1,000.
Chihuahuas are particularly common at puppy mills because of their small stature. This enables breeders to house a larger number of dogs in confined cages or pens. They may never see sunlight until they are brought outside to be handed off to their buyer or to have their photo taken for an online advertisement. Their mothers sometimes go their entire lives without ever seeing the sun.
“She is just a baby — so hopefully she will never remember any of that,” Molossi said. “She was just sitting in this box at a pet store and everyone passed her up because of her leg. He was probably trying to sell her for at least $1,500.”
Clover has quickly moved beyond her rough start to life and is now just like any other puppy.
Clover is still working on strengthening her legs, her foster mom continues to give her special massages a few times per day. She will be ready for a forever home within the next few weeks.
“She has no idea that she is any different,” Molossi said. “She runs around and plays all day. Her tail won’t stop wagging.”
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