'Pure Bred' a Misnomer for Tennessee Animals
Photo/text By Renee Burrell
A happy ending! Kathy Spinks of St. Petersburg and an employee at Custom Cover in Clearwater arrived at SPCA at 9 a.m. for the 1st round of adoptions. She was one of the lucky ones who ended the day with a new best friend, as seen here posing here for their first pet portrait. "Chocolate", said Spinks "Is really friendly. She licked my face right away."
Tampa Bay Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) had a full house when they began accepting applications Wednesday, July 9, for the adoptions of 30 pedigreed dogs from the 100 they rescued after a much publicized raid on a Lyles, Tennessee puppy mill. Around 100 pet lovers waited for hours for the chance to adopt a pure bred.
Local and national chapters of The Humane Association of the United States rescued 747 animals from Pine Bluff Kennels owned by Patricia Adkisson in late June. About 200 puppies, mature dogs used for breeding, pedigreed cats, horses, burros, miniature horses, chickens, goats, and parrots were saved.
Adkisson ran a veritable assembly line on her 900 plus acre property, putting profit above the health and welfare of the animals. Descriptions of the deplorable conditions are shocking. Authorities said the raid was the largest in Tennessee's history with cost estimates exceeding $100,000.
Adkisson was previously charged ten years ago with 195 counts of animal neglect and cruelty after Tennessee police and animal officials said they found hundreds of malnourished dogs and puppies on her property. Three convictions stemming from the 1998 charges were eventually overturned in 2001 when an appellate court decided police had improperly searched her property, violating her constitutional rights.
Dogs rescued in the current raid on Adkisson's 900 plus acre animal-assembly-line run the gamut from Pomeranians and Chihuahuas to German Shepherds and Great Danes.
Most of the dogs were kept in cramped cages to produce litters for sale to pet stores or sold to individuals over the Internet. Adkisson now faces criminal charges -- one criminal count for each animal. In addition to animal cruelty crimes, she had been selling dogs through the Web site: www. pinebluffpups.com without a license.
Pet industry data shows that about one-third of the nation's 11,000 pet stores continue to sell puppy mill pets, even though the spotlight put on them after raids has increased public awareness. The Humane Society has issued warnings for years against purchasing puppies from pet stores and also through suspicious breeders who may really be 'agents' for the mills, because doing so only perpetuates the cruelty happening in the mills. They estimate that there are 10,000 mills in existence, which together breed a total of about three to four million baby animals per year.
A tell tale sign that an animal is really from a mill occurs if the breeder doesn't allow the pet buyer to see where the litters and mothers are kept.
Marissa Segundo, SPCA Public Relations Manager said," What we saw in Tennessee was a tragedy. These puppy mills thrive on commercial pet sales. If you decide to buy a pet, be sure that the pet is coming from a reputable breeder. As a consumer, and an animal lover, you have the right to know the origin of the puppies."
According to statistics, only 15 percent of pet buyers in the U.S. go to shelters to find a pet. Low numbers even though U.S. animal shelters have publicized the gruesome fact that they euthanize a combined 3 to 4 million cats and dogs, -- the same number, ironically, that the mills are estimated to yield annually.
Shelter animals present a humane alternative for pet seekers. "Adopting is such a great option for people looking to add a four-legged family member. All pets from SPCA are spayed/neutered, vaccinated, receive a microchip for identification, a free 30-day pet health insurance policy, and basic obedience courses to help pet and owner bond," said Segundo.
SPCA can readily accommodate pet seekers who miss out on adopting one of the Tennessee dogs. "SPCA has so many wonderful dogs that just need a second chance. Whether purebred or mixed breed, they are great companions that are medically and behaviorally sound. The majority are owner surrendered, so we know about their past and why they were brought here. While at the SPCA, our volunteers teach basic canine obedience so they can be on their best behavior when a potential adopter scouts them."
SPCA hasn't set a date for the next round of adoptions as of this writing. An announcement will be posted on their web site once one is scheduled.
Numerous requirements must be met before adoptions are approved. They are posted on SPCA's website: http://www.spcatampabay.org/
Also on the website is cautionary advice concerning the animals rescued from Tennessee. "Many of these animals will have on-going emotional and medical problems. You need to be ready to assume the task of dealing with them and able to handle the possible future medical costs of caring for them. You will be asked to sign a medical waiver to the effect that you will be responsible for future veterinary bills. These animals have had a traumatic beginning to their lives."
The SPCA is located at 9099 130th Avenue North in Largo. To donate, log on to their web site or phone (727) 586-3591.
Donations needed besides monetary gifts are: canned Purina, Iams or Science Diet dog food, canned cat food, liquid laundry detergent, hand sanitizer, paper and cloth towels, garbage bags, and disposable gloves.
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