Will a Westie get along with my other dog?

Westies are big dogs in small packages, and they not prone to back away from a fight merely because another dog is bigger. And, because of their self-confidence, Westies are known to instigate territorial squabbles. When we put a Westie in a new home, we encourage people to keep the dogs completely separate for several days. Its been our experience that dogs will tend to work out the pecking order merely from smell -- but it takes several days to a week for this to occur. And, this is absolutely crucial when bringing same gender dogs together. Many times it's easier to introduce a female into a home with males than a male into a home with males. Inter-gender squabbling is rare. It is also easier to introduce a puppy into a home than an adult dog. And, even after the initial adjustment period, there might still be a little bit of squabbling, but it usually won't result in any damage to the dogs.

We have had good luck with introducing dogs into families who already have a dog. It is possible to successfully integrate dogs into your home. But, you have to give a lot of thought to managing the introduction and give a great deal of thought to your dogs' personalities. Dogs with strong alpha tendencies will immediately assert themselves if given that opportunity. However, most dogs aren't so aggressive as to want to fight to the death, or even inflict serious harm and they will naturally work out these differences if given time. Separation is the key to a successful introduction.


Will my rescue Westie get along with my cat?

We can make no promises about how well a Westie will tolerate a cat. After an introductory period, most Westies will tolerate cats. However, some Westies will always view cats as "prey". We do not "cat-test" Westies. We have too many dogs coming in and it would not be fair to a cat to put it through that type of stress. Adopting families should take precautions to insure their cat's safety during the introductory period.






Will my rescue Westie get along with my children?

Most Westies like children. However, they are not inclined to automatically see children as higher in the pecking order, and we strongly encourage adult supervision until the Westie understands that children cannot be treated as inferior pack members. We do not recommend Westies for homes with children under eight years old.





Will my rescue Westie be housebroken?

Probably not. Breeder dogs are never housebroken and may owner release dogs are released because the owner has not had the time to devote to housebreaking.



Can my rescue Westie be housebroken?

Yes. Westies are very smart and are quick to learn. The best way to housebreak a Westie is to use a tethering method or crating. A dedicated owner can have a Westie housebroken in a matter of weeks.






I work. How long can I crate my rescue Westie during the day?

Housebroken Westies should not be crated. Westies who are not housebroken, should not be crated during the day for more than 3 or 4 hours.






How much exercise will my rescue Westie need?

Westies are rated as "high energy" dogs. They are bred to be hunting dogs and can be quite active - when they are not being couch potatoes. Westies need daily exercise. Although long walks can satisfy this exercise need, we recommend that adopting families have fenced yards.
Westies still maintain their desire to hunt and are capable of covering 20 miles in a day, if allowed to roam free. And, since most Westies would rather hunt than heed their master's call, a containment plan is required to insure that your Westie isn't lost. Very few Westies are trustworthy when they are off-leash.




What kind of obedience training is appropriate for my Westie?

Because of their independent nature, most Westies do not excel in obedience training. However, we recommend that all Westies have at least initial obedience training. Obedience training is an excellent way to bond with your Westie and it also helps to remind the Westie that you are in charge.




What should I feed my rescue Westie?

Good nutrition is essential to maintain your Westie's immune system and to prolong its life expectancy. Unfortunately, many commercially prepared dog foods are not as healthy as they are advertised to be. Do not assume that because the dog food is more costly or is sold by a veterinary clinic, that it will be an acceptable food for your dog.
We prefer that you feed your dog human quality food. You can prepare it yourself, or your can purchase it in a freeze dried state from "Steve's" or "Best in Show".

If you must feed a commercially prepared kibble, please feed a kibble that is prepared with human grade meats, minimal preservatives, additives, or colorings, and which does not contain "by-products". Flint River Ranch, California Natural, Solid Gold, Innova, Nature's Recipe, VIP and PHD are good choices.
To learn more about the role of good nutrition and your dog's health, please read "Natural Nutrition for Dogs and Cats, The Ultimate Diet", by Kymythy R. Schultze.



What can I expect from my new Westie?

You can expect a great deal of love and affection! But, you can also expect that there will be a transition period. Moving to a new home requires an adjustment from everyone. Some Westies will be timid and reserved when they move into another home. Other Westies will immediately start testing boundaries. But, whatever their response to the stress of a move, they will usually settle into their "normal" behavior within two to three weeks. A rare few Westies may take up to six months to settle into a home. However, we can usually spot these dogs and will be able to give you some idea of how we think the dog will behave.



How should I treat my Westie during the adjustment period?

You should give your new Westie lots of love. But, you should also give him/her lots of guidance. Shy dogs become more secure when they sense a lot of guidance from their new owners; and more outgoing dogs need guidance from their new owners so that they don't feel like they have to discover boundaries for themselves. Be firm. Be consistent. Be loving.



What are heartworms and how are they treated?

Heartworms are just what they sound like. They are worms that invade the heart muscle. They are transmitted by mosquitos. Untreated heartworms will eventually kill a dog because they completely fill up the heart and the heart is no longer able to pump blood. But, if successfully treated, the dog has a very good prognosis and there is little risk of long term damage.

The life cycle of a heartworm is quite long. It takes a long time for the worms to fully develop. And, because the heartworm test is actually a test for a certain substance that a mature heartworm puts off, dogs cannot even be diagnosed for heartworm until they are over a year old.

This condition has only been recognized for about 15 years. At first, the only treatment was arsenic and the treatment was almost as deadly as the disease itself. Now, they have refined the treatment and so successful recovery is achieved in most dogs.

Today, the biggest danger to a dog is that they will develop a clot of dead worms that will cause a heart attack or a stroke. Because of this, the dog has to remain very still for four to six weeks, until the worms have all dissolved. Keeping the dog very still reduces the chances that a clot of worms will break loose. Some dogs, who aren't prone to be active, don't even have to be crated during this period of time. But, with Westies, we keep them crated and just let them out for short strolls and potty breaks. It is a difficult time for them and they need lots of TLC and new toys about everyday to keep them amused while they are confined.

Dogs who have been treated for heartworms should be retested in six months. And, all dogs ~ even those on heartworm preventative, should be tested every two years to insure that they are heartworm free.

To maintain a dog's protection, it should receive monthly heartworm medicine.



What other parasites can dogs get and what is the proper treatment?

Hook and tapeworms have about a three week life cycle. Any type of wormer is only geared to catch a certain point in the life cycle. So, a single dose of wormer is NOT going to get all the worms. We start out with a three day Panacor treatment; then an Interceptor treatment a week after that and another Interceptor treatment in two weeks. Whip worms have a three month life cycle and need continued treatment. We do not recommend that you worm dogs more frequently than once a week, because it is too hard on the dogs and because it probably wouldn't be at the right point in the life cycle of the worms. 90% of all puppies have worms and it is also very common for worms to be dormant in adult dogs.

Even though we treat aggressively for worms, adopting homes can expect to have worms for a period of time. Most dogs are exposed to worms and dogs with weakened immune systems are most likely to be susceptible. The most that we, or any other shelter, can accomplish is to get the worm treatment started.

Coccidia is a parasite that lives in a dog's gut. Most dogs have coccidia but, if they are healthy, they can usually ward off any adverse side effects. Puppies and sick dogs are the most likely to have flare ups of coccidia because of poorly developed or weakened immune systems. Treatment involves 14 days of Albon. Like worms, the best that we can do with coccidia is to try and get the treatment started. Even if we run through a full 14 days of Albon, we can't guarantee that the coccidia won't flare up if the immune system hasn't improved or if the dog becomes stressed. Just the act of moving a dog to a different place is enough to cause a flare up of coccidia.

Demodex is a form of mange that is caused by mites that live in hair folicles. Most dogs (and most humans) have demodex mites living in their hair folicles. Demodex is not highly contagious and is normally not a problem unless a dog has a weakened immune system or has been subjected to a lot of stress. This is considered a genetic problem because it is frequently linked to an inadequate immune system -- which can be a genetic trait.
Demodex will flare up and cause pustules on the dog. These pustules will then break. Demodex is not particularly itchy and doesn't cause a dog a lot of discomfort, but it will cause hair loss. Localized demodex can be treated well with medicated shampoo. A dog should be shampooed every other day until most of the problem has cleared up. Then the dog should be bathed about every four or five days in the medicated shampoo. Adding an antibiodic can make sure that the skin doesn't become infected. A Mitaban dip is recomended for generalized demodex.
Most dogs that are prone to Demodex flare-ups will outgrow it by the time they reach their second birthday.

Sarcoptic mange is also a mite, but is much more contagious. It's difficult to find the mites, even with skin scrapings. Other conditions such as poor nutrition and allergies can cause a poor coat and will look a lot like sarcoptic mange. Sarcoptic mange will usually show up first on the tips of the ears, the elbows and the abdomen. If sarcoptic mange is suspected, treatment should begin immediately to rule it out. The recommended treatment for sarcoptic mange is ivomec one time a week for four weeks. Dips are also very successful. A lyme dip is the most successful but it is smelly and can discolor coats. Paramile is successful for treating sarcoptic mange but it is harsh and may make a dog sick. Revolution is also successful for treating mange but there is antidotal evidence that Revolution may cause massive hemmoraging in dogs with comprised immune systems.

Fleas and ticks. We use Frontline. A dog up to 20 pounds would get .67 milliliters. A puppy would get about .3 milliliters. Flea and tick control is important to your dog's health. However, Frontline, and all other pesticides, are absorbed through the dog's skin and any overuse of pesticides is unhealthy for your dog.



Help! My dog has a big sore spot in between his toes.

We see interdigital cysts between the toes on the top side of the foot all the time in our little puppy mill dogs. These cysts are fairly common. They seem to almost cripple a dog while they are in the infected state, but they clear up pretty quickly when treated.

There are things like lymph nodes in between the toes. These will, from time to time, become infected. Interdigital cysts can be caused by foreign bodies stuck between the toes, but they can also be a way for dogs to let poison out of their systems. We see them in puppy mill dogs all the time because they have nourishment/immune system problems. But we also see them from time to time in otherwise healthy dogs. If we are talking about the same thing (and I don't know without looking) it's not a serious health problem and it may never reoccur, but it is quite painful for the pup while it's infected.



Blastomycosist is a Fatal Fungus?

In the September 2003 issue of Dog Fancy I ran across an article, on page 22 under the Checkup Section - Fatal Fungus that is somewhat unnerving. I would advise anyone living in the following regions to go and get them a copy of this magazine and READ IT - here is my synopsis of this article.

Regions affected: A fairly well-defined zone in the Upper Midwest, MidAtlantic, and Southeastern States, as well as the Ohio and Mississippi River basins. The fungus occurs more frequently around wetlands and waterways.

The article features a young Westie who arrives at the vet's office coughing and running a fever. Upon microscopic examination of material swabbed from the dog's tonsils revealed - blastomycosis - a potentially fatal infection affecting multiple vital organs. At body temperature, the spores morph into yeasts and infect the lungs. Via the bloodstream, blasto spreads to the skin, bones, joints, lymph nodes, kidneys eyes, or brain. People can get this too. Major risks factors are living near water and digging. Dogs that dig may be at increased risk.

85% of dogs contract pneumonia. Dogs suffer skin symptoms or eye symptoms in 40% of the cases. Following are symptoms of affected dog: Loss of appetite, weight loss, fever above 103 degrees, cough, shortness of breath, open sores or lumps on the skin that drain blood or pus, pain in a limb or joint (limping) cloudy, bulging or red, painful eyes and seizures or other signs of brain infection.

Treatment can be very expensive - but the alternative is to put the dog down... if left untreated the dog dies.
85% of dogs treated survive.
Soil testing isn't reliable, its best if you avoid known affected areas and prevent your dog from digging.
The spores are carried in the wind at least a half mile.
Click here to read about Casey, who was diagnosed with blastomycosis.



My puppy looks bowlegged in front. Is that normal?

Yes. Bowed out legs are the breed standard. They
assist in the 'digging' these dogs were bred to do! The more
bowed out, the further away the dirt is flung from the body, thus the faster
the dog can dig.







My Westie has a spot on her tail - is this normal?

Yes! Many Westies have a spot about the size of a quarter in the middle of their tail and no one really knows why. Its been debated that its due to hormones, or a tell-tail sign of skin allergies, but know one really knows why some Westies have it and some don't. While it may 'detract' from your Westie's overall white appearance, the general public won't notice and it can usually be hidden when your groomer trims your Westie's tail in the infamous 'carrot' shape. If it really bothers you, speak to your groomer about chalking powder to brighten up that tail.






My Westie has a beige streak down her back. Is this normal?

For the most part, yes. Some Westies have it, while others do not. Again, no one knows for sure 'why' it appears but many feel it has to do with hormones. It usually is more apparant if your Westie's coat is cut close, so you will need to experiment with it. You can also use grooming chalk to brighten the area, but use it sparingly and be careful not to let your Westie inhale the talc. With time it sometimes fades.






What is Cushing's Disease?

Cushing's Disease (Hyperadrenocorticism) is caused by deleterious effects of high circulating cortisol concentrations on multiple organ systems.
Spontaneous hyperadrenocorticism is caused by excessive production of cortisol by the adrenal cortex of the adrenal gland. It is caused either by:
1. Pituitary gland adenoma (tumor) or hyperplasia
2. Adrenal gland tumor
3. The administration of too much glucocorticoids (steroids) at too high a dose.

The key to understanding the treatment is understanding the cause. Several new screening tests are now available. There is also a new drug ( L-deprenyl) available to treat Cushings - but its long term use and safety is not recorded. The drug of choice is mitotane.

Depending on the cause and problem, clinical signs should resolve within several days to months. Untreated the disease is generally progressive with a poor prognosis. With treatment especially for Pituitary dependent hyperadrenocorticism (PDH) the disease has a good prognosis. The average survival time is 2 years with 10% living longer than 4 years. Dogs living > 6 years then to die of causes unrelated to Cushings. Patients with neurologic signs have a poor to grave prognosis. ([This information was given to us by a vet. Cushings is an extremely serious disease and needs medical management.)



My Westie's skin is pink. Is that normal?

Westies come in varying degrees of skin color. The color naturally ranges from a tannish-pink to almost black. And the color isn't usually consistent. There may be areas of darker or lighter skin, and that isn't a problem.

There is a misconception that lighter skinned dogs are more prone to allergies, but that isn't true.
However, allergies will frequently manifest themselves through the skin and when this happens, the skin will turn bright pink (as opposed to a tannish-pink) and we have found that once we get the allergy problems under control, we may actually end up a dark skinned dog.

So, the answer to your question about pink skin is that tannish-pink skin is normal; inflamed bright pink skin is not normal.



How can I keep my Westie clean?

As for bathing your little one. We bath ours once a month or less.Once they are dry, brush them. They come out white! You can also MIST their coats with
water and carefully powder their coat with cornstarch. Rub gently in and pat off what dampness there is. Brush in the direction of their hair growth and against the hair growth. This really helps to keep your Westie clean and white, removing any oils and dirt that may cling on its coat. JUST BE
CAREFUL AROUND ITS FACE. You DON'T want your Westie inhaling a bunch of
this powder substance. A good hint is to mist your hands and then sprinkle the
powder on yourhands and give them a good rub down. Of course, you can also purchase some nice scented sprays for dogs and give your Westie a nice spray once you've finished.



What is an "alpha" dog?

All dogs are pack animals. In the wild, the pack members consist of other dogs. With domesticated dogs, the pack consists of humans and the other pets in the family. When a rescue dog is with us, he is in one pack. When he comes into your home, he is coming into a new pack.
In all packs, there is a hierarchy. Some members lead and some members follow. The leaders of the pack are called “alphas”. In packs consisting solely of dogs, there will be an alpha female and an alpha male. Of these two dogs, the alpha female is usually the final authority. After the alphas, the other various members of the pack will work out their own place within the pack.
The alpha members are responsible for taking care of the other family members. The alphas make all the decisions for the pack and they are responsible for the safety of the pack. There are a few exceptions, but for the most part, dogs do not want to be alphas. They would prefer that someone else was taking the responsibility for running the pack.
However, even though most dogs don’t want to be alphas, they understand that all packs must have an alpha. Dogs cannot understand a pack without an alpha. If they don’t see an alpha, they will attempt to rise to the challenge, in spite of what they may really want to do.
Some breeds of dogs will automatically assume that humans are alphas. Unfortunately, Westies and other terriers don’t automatically make this assumption.



How can I keep my puppy from snatching treats from my hand?
Does he do this because he is a shelter dog?

As you know, Westies are really pushy, headstrong little dogs. And, puppies are the worst! But, grabbing food isn't necessarily a shelter dog trait. It's just a pushy dog trait. And, puppies are always pushing the limit to see how much they can get away with. Puppies also know that they are the lowest on the food chain -- literally -- so they will try to get their share before the other dogs. It's a natural behavior, but something that more alpha dogs would normally correct in the wild. Since we don't let our pets do a lot of alpha behavior your other dogs can't correct your puppy's behavior, like they would really like to. So, it's up to you to teach Chance that this behavior isn't acceptable.

There are a couple of ways that you can handle this.

Positive reinforcement:
You can make him sit before he gets a treat. He will still try to grab the treat out of your hand, but have the treat securely in your fist and don't give it to him until he has calmed down. (hard crunchy type treats work better for this than soft treats) You may get gnawed on a bit with this, but be strong! If he is completely out of control, turn your back on him and walk away, taking the biscuit with you.

Whatever you do, don't give him any reward when he grabs at things. That just reinforces in his mind that he can grab and get cookies.

Negative reinforcement:
When he grabs at your hand, you can grab his lower jaw with one hand while putting your thumb underneath his tongue and the rest of your hand underneath his jaw - shake his little head gently while pinching down between your thumb and fingers - and say "No". This also works for rough biting. This doesn't hurt him, but it is uncomfortable and makes him think twice about getting "THE HAND" mad at him. He can't continue biting while you have his lower jaw immobilized and he will try to back away, but don't let go of him until you are satisfied that he understands that "THE HAND" is in control. You do this a few times and he will be kissing your hand for a treat, rather than biting it.

Really alpha dogs can do well with negative reinforcement, because it addresses the root problem -- alpha tendencies. However, they can also react more aggressively to negative reinforcement. And, really passive or submissive dogs can be devastated by negative reinforcement and it can throw them into significant problems - such as submissive urination. However, it sounds like your puppy is neither alpha nor submissive - but is just trying to be assertive. So, you need to remind him that bad manners will not be rewarded.


Let's talk about biting dogs . . . .

Every year we are called upon to try and rehabilitate Westies who are biting their owners. Through this experience, and suffering a number of bites ourselves, we have discovered that:

1. There are very few Westies that are truly "unpredictable". We have found no more than a handful of Westies that we believed were wired wrong. These dogs generally cannot be rehabbed.  

2. Most Westies that bite are fear biters. A fear biter can absolutely hurt you as bad as an dominate biter, but because of their resilient nature, Westies are generally willing to try and overcome their fears and can put their biting tendencies in the past. With a little TLC these dogs make great pets.

3. Dominant biters are the most problematic and we humans generally create them ourselves. True Westie lovers will tell you that it is hard not to treat a Westie like a child. They have such fabulous little independent personalities, they become little people in their own right. However, underneath that little fur kid lurks a dog that reacts like a dog, not like a kid.

So, if you give a dog the high ground (your bed) without teaching him that he has to obey your rules while he is on your bed, you shouldn't be surprised if he reacts like a dog and protests by biting you when you try to get him off the bed. If your don't socialize your Westie well to strangers, don't be surprised if your Westie bites a stranger. And, if you don't teach your Westie to respect your human children, don't be surprised if he bites them when he gets annoyed.

Most of the biting dogs we see are dogs who have been taught that biting is an effective means of getting their way or of repelling attacks. In short, we humans help create biting dogs. On the other hand, most dogs -- of all breeds -- don't have an inclination to bite humans. It is when we ask dogs to be and act like humans that we begin to see problems.

For many dogs, biting can be a death sentence. So, love your dog. Pamper your dog. Be kind to your dog. But, teach your dog to respect humans and remember that in the dog world there must be a benevolent pack leader. You will be happier and your dog will be happier if you are that leader instead of him.



My Westie tries to attack the vaccum cleaner. How can I make him stop?

The best thing to do is get him used to it. Ignoring him for the most part will help, but if you assure him its not a closet monster - he'll soon come to 'respect' its precense. Its just he's trying to protect you.

When you first notice this behavior, be sure to turn off the vaccum and then then slip a leash on your pooch. Holding it firmly, turn the vaccum cleaner on, reach down and pet your Westie (if its safe at this point) and tell him thank you. Then step forward toward the vaccum, the entire time assuring him what a good boy he is. If he begins to bark, start the process over. It may be easier if you have another person helping you through this. The more he is exposed the better it will get. If it doesn't try spritzing him with a water bottle after you've thanked him and asked him to hush. When he doesn't hush - give him a refreshing spritz and a firm - NO Bark!

There are several things you can do to help your Westie overcome his hatred of the Closet Monster, but time and patience will be your best bet.


Where do pet store puppies come from?

Smaller dogs in a puppymill are kept in cages that are stacked on top of each other with floors of wire so that the urine and droppings of the dogs can go through to the ground. This means that the animals in the lower cages end up covered in feces and urine for most of their life - many leading to burns and infections - eventually a septic death. If they live out their life covered in urine and feces, their feet suffer by splaying out due to a lifetime of walking across wire. This is painful and irreversable.

IF they are fortunate enough to have feet wide enough NOT to slip through the wire cages, they won't suffer such injuries as this poor pooch did when its paw slipped through the wire and became tangeled. This dog was left to suffer in this condition for over a week. Its leg was also broken. By the time rescuers freed this animal, gangrene had set in and the leg had to be amputated. What did the miller say when questioned about the condition of this little one?? She simply shrugged and asked, "Think I should give it some antibotics?" This appalling abuse is only the tip of the iceberg. No charges were pressed because the authorities felt there 'wasn't enough evidence'. What do you think?



So, the next time you look at a puppy in a pet shop, picture the above, because this is where that puppy comes from. This is where his parents REMAIN. The larger breed dogs are there too.

As long as people continue to buy those cute little puppies and kittens in petstores, places and incidents like this will continue to exist. Walk away! Go to your humane shelter. Contact a rescue group! Remember - if a petstore doesn't sell their stock of puppies and kittens - they will STOP buying them from puppymills. Supply and demand speaks volumnes! WALK AWAY! If puppymills can't sell puppies - they go out of business.

If you can not do anything more in helping this cause, your walking away and OUT of that petstore, proves to us that you have indeed done done something!! You took the first step in stopping the madness. Spread the word!
We applaude you and thank you for your help!



What is a puppy mill?

There is not an exact definition of what constitutes a puppy mill. But, in our opinion, a puppy mill is a breeder who indiscriminately breeds dogs to produce the maximum number of puppies (profit) for the least expense and without significant regard for the preservation or improvement of the breed traits, the health of the adult dogs, or the future well being of the puppies. A puppy mill is like any other mill. It churns out a commodity.
Because of the USDA's inability to inspect all licensed breeders, a breeder may be "licensed" with the USDA and still operate a puppy mill. Do not be fooled by pet stores which claim their puppies come from "reputable breeders", "USDA breeders", or local breeders. None of these statements guarantees that a pet store puppy has not come from a puppy mill.
A puppy mill may have hundreds of adult dogs, or it may have only a handful. Of course, the greater the number of adult dogs that a mill has, the greater the likelihood that they are not getting adequate care and socialization. However, we have seen small breeders who operate just as poorly as large breeders.




What is wrong with a puppy mill?

We have over 1,000 licensed "commercial breeders" in Missouri. Our best guess would be that the vast majority of those are what we would categorize as puppy mills, i.e., people who are indiscriminately breeding a large number and variety of dogs for sale in pet stores. A normal size mill will have 200 to 300 adult dogs. Every weekend in the spring and fall, two auction houses sell 500 to 1,000 dogs. And, of course, we export 12,000 puppies a month.

Although there are some mills that will handle larger dogs, for the most part the mills all raise small dogs. The dogs are seldom kept in grass or gravel runs - that takes up way too much space and is too time consuming to clean. The smallest dogs are kept in rabbit hutches. Larger dogs may be kept in "kennel barns" . Kennel barns are small sheds that have two rows of cages with a center aisle. The cages have openings to outside elevated wire runs. The wire runs have to have large enough holes so that feces can fall through. Unfortunately, for small dogs, this creates an incredible strain on their feet and causes their toes to splay to the point where they are actually walking on the areas in between their pads. We have had Westies through here who could barely walk because of foot problems. The space allocated to each dog is about the size of a medium sized vari-kennel. Under USDA standards, all the room a dog needs is enough to stand up, turn around, and lay back down.

Puppies tend to do fairly well, because a puppy doesn't start socializing with humans until its about eight weeks old and, by then, it has already left the mill for the pet store. The adults in the mills do not fare nearly as well. They get virtually no medical treatment and many may never see a vet at all. The millers give their own shots and use ivomex to treat for worms and other pests. Because the dogs don't actually see vets, many medical problems such as ear mites, yeast infections, dog bites, tumors, hernias, and dental problems are never treated.

We have seen dogs under two years old who have had ruptured ear drums from untreated yeast infections. And, we routinely see dogs with horrible teeth - because the millers use drip water bottles instead of water bowls for the dogs. We also see an awful lot of undersized dogs. Its not uncommon for us to get adult females that weigh under 10 pounds. And, we almost uniformly get dogs that eat feces. The euphanism for this in the mill world is "they keep a clean pen" and it is something that is to be desired in a mill dog. I've actually witnessed dogs in mills who will pick up their poop and put it in their food dishes.

Females dogs are bred at least once a year and sometimes twice a year, as soon as they are old enough to breed. And, a breeding female is worth a ton of money - regardless of her confirmation. In fact, at most dog auctions, long haired dogs such as Scots or Westies come in fully matted and you can't handle the dogs before the auction. So, there is no way to feel them to ascertain confirmation. But, it makes absolutely no difference because the dog will sell if it is capable of producing. I've seen Westies who were positively tan who have sold for as much or more than white Westies. I've seen Westies and Scotties who's ears are horizontal. They sell for as much as any of the others. And, I've seen dogs who didn't even look like whatever breed they were supposed to be, that sold for an outrageous amount. I've seen dogs sell for as high as $8,000. And, I saw an 8 year old Cavalier King Charles female sell for $1,800 last spring - and by all accounts you would think that she was past breeding age. But, the saddest thing that I ever saw sell was a young Boston Terrier bitch who couldn't stand up because of hip displaysia (the auctioneers had to hold her up). . . .and someone bought her for a breeding dog. I don't remember exactly what she sold for, but it was over $400. I've seen really bad tempered dogs sell. You name it and if it can produce a pup, it is going to sell.

You mentioned that pups coming from these mills sell for about what a good breeder could get for a dog. And, that's true -- at the pet store level. But, you have to remember that the breeders aren't getting that kind of money for a dog. For instance, a broker will pay up to $120 for a Westie puppy (Scottie puppies are cheaper). All of the mark-up on these dogs happens between the broker, pet store, and purchaser. Any reputable breeder will tell you that they lose money on their puppies. It is just impossible to raise a healthy puppy and sell it for $400 or $500 and make any money. So, you can imagine the kinds of corners that the millers have to cut in order to make a profit --- and they are making a huge profit.

Its all perfectly legal and its virtually unregulated. Missouri has budgeted for exactly 2.5 inspectors and those inspectors are also required to inspect the 1,000 or so shelters and rescue groups.



Isn't there a law in Missouri against puppy mills?

Not really. There is no limit on the number of puppies a mill can produce, as long as it meets minimum USDA standards. And, with a lack of funding for inspectors, most mills got virtually unregulated and even USDA standards are not strictly enforced.



What are the laws about animal abuse in Missouri?

The law provides two routes for handling animal abuse ~

(1) Under the criminal code - Chapter 578 RSMo.
Animal "neglect" is a class c misdemeanor. Its punishable by a $500 fine, but the judge can waive the fine. Animal "abuse" is a class a misdemeanor but you have to prove that the person intentionally, willfully, knowingly or purposefully caused injury or suffering. Misdemeanors are part of the criminal code and you have to find a law enforcement officer, prosecutor, and judge who (1) isn't related to the miller and (2) who is willing to spend the time to actually do something.

(2) Under the Animal Care Facilities Act - Chapter 273 RSMo.
A complaint can be made about a facility and the state veterinarian can decide if he will or will not investigate. (After the auditor's complaint last year, there was a rumor that the state vet was going to investigate every complaint. But, the law and Code don't require it and we've changed state vets since then.) If he does decide to investigate and he does find a violation, he can order the facility owner to appear at an administrative hearing and can enter "remedial orders". The "remedial orders" have to be enforced through the circuit courts. Fines of up to $1,000 can be assessed but when determining the amount of the fine the director considers the damage to third parties and the state (not the damage to the dogs). All fines go into the general revenue fund of the state (in other words, MoDA can't keep the money to use for more inspections, so MoDA has no big incentive to go this route). If the mill poses a "substantial ongoing risk to the health and welfare of animals" the director can ask the court to issue an injunction. But, the miller has to be given notice that the director is going to request and injunction and only when the miller refuses to act, can the director go ahead and get the injunction. Also, rather than going the injunction route, the state vet can just issue a violation and, if the miller fails two consecutive reinspections for the original violation, he can then be charged $100. Subsequent or intervening violations start the process all over again. Eventually, the state vet can refuse to issue license.

Under the code of state regulations which has been enacted to enforce ACFA ~
~inspections occur during normal business hours at mutually agreeable times (i.e., the millers know that the inspectors are coming).
~first violations get a written warning
~if the millers fail two (2) subsequent consecutive reinspections for the original violation they are charged $100
~even if folks eventually lose their license or are denied a license, they can reapply after six months following the date of the last failed inspection ~ they can also request an administrative hearing

The Code of State Regulations does not define animal abuse or neglect. It's primary purpose is to set out maintenance of facilities; sanitation and control of contagious diseases.



I bought a puppy from a pet store. He was very ill. The pet store offered to refund my money, but I don't want this happening to someone else. What can I do?

Insist on seeing a copy of the vet records on your puppy. Notice the name of the veterinarians that have certified that the puppy is healthy. (Puppies must have a health certificate before they can be transported across state lines and sold.) Contact the "State Veterinarian" from the state where your puppy originated, explain the problem, and ask for an investigation into treating veterinarian's practices. Also, feel free to contact the State Veterinarian from the state where the puppy was brokered, and also from the state where the pet store was located.

Although we believe that most veterinarians are honorable men and women, we do not hold that same level of esteem for veterinarians who make their living by working with puppy mills.



I bought my puppy from a pet store. The pet store operator said that my puppy was "registered". But, when I got his papers, they were not from the AKC. What is that about?

Many of Missouri's "commercial breeders" have taken the position that they will no longer work with the AKC because the AKC has issued a new regulation concerning DNA testing. To circumvent the AKC requirements and still offer dogs as "registered", they have turned to other registry services. Some of these registry services have probably been set up just for the purpose of avoiding AKC regulations.

In 2001, "commercial breeders" in Missouri starting holding their own "dog shows" so they could create "champions" for these other registry services.

The following letter is from the president of the MPBA (Missouri Pet Breeders Association) written in early 2000:

"The ninth Annual Seminar and meeting is now past. There were approximately 300 present for the annual meeting on Saturday, February 26th. Many of these were present due to the recent DNA information issued by AKC. Breeders are up in arms over this, and, after a very lengthy discussion, attempts at various motions, and then more discussion, the members passed the following NON-BINDING RESOLUTION: That members stop registering with AKC as of March 1, 2000, and stop furnishing AKC papers as of March 15, 2000. This resolution carried overwhelmingly.

PLEASE UNDERSTAND: this IS NOT a part of MPBA By-laws, and MPBA is not a governing body with the power to enforce any such action. This could be looked upon as a resolution and will be complied with by the members at their discretion only. There obviously will be no compliance requirements by the MPBA to see whether you comply or do not.

It is my personal belief that if everyone stands together and does this, it will make a huge impact. However, better planning is needed before it can be done. Several other state organizations have contacted me stating that more time than the motion allowed was needed. This could affect the reputation of the entire pet industry. On Sunday, February 27th I had, as did many other board members, multiple phone calls. Many of the calls were from very angry members who could not believe that MPBA could condone such activity. Some want to pull their memberships. Others were applauding that some action was finally taken. Still others were very confused over what to do. (Reminds of us UFO days, no? Or are you too young for that?)

The only way to change what is happening in our industry is for everyone to stand together. AKC has made it very clear that they do not want our business. There were some very disparaging remarks made at the Westminster Show concerning our industry for the second year in a row. The expense associated with their recent DNA mandates will bring many dollars into their coffers; taking them from us. They give us no choice as to where to get the DNA testing done, and if you don't comply, they can pull your privileges. If they pull your papers, dogs you sold before will then be unregistered, and you may be expected to refund the purchase price, and maybe more. All papers that you have from AKC will no longer be valid if you lose privileges. They don't belong to you, they belong to AKC.

Remember, if and when you do go to an alternate registry, and there are several that can get papers to you in a hurry, be sure to keep all records as though you were still registering with AKC, because they can still come back on you for several years and cancel papers on dogs you have sold, making you liable for them. Any credible registry must have accurate records kept to assure the public that the puppies are actually purebred puppies.

Another thing that needs clarification: MPBA is not going to act like AKC. This is YOUR industry. As said before, approximately 300 were at the Saturday meeting, and I think the rest must have called me and other officers Sunday and Sunday night. I wish everyone could have been at the meeting. I'm sorry that some who were there and called Sunday in opposition to the measure didn't feel they could speak up against it at the meeting. And when you do have an issue with something that is done, feel free to write or call to express your thoughts. Not everyone will be happy with everything we do. We can only try to do the best we know how to further the welfare of the Missouri Pet industry. We still feel this is our primary goal, as stated in MPBA's purpose for being.

Sincerely, (signed)

Brenda Kemp "


How can Missouri lawmakers allow puppy mills to continue?

Missouri is principally an agricultural state. Agricultural interests - even those unrelated to puppy mills - have a strong voice in the legislature and oppose measures that tend to further regulate agricultural pursuits.

For instance, in 2001, a bill was proposed that would tax "commercial breeders" $1 per puppy sold. The money would be earmarked to additional inspectors. Because of the lobbying efforts of the Missouri Pet Breeders Association, and others, the bill never made it out of committee.

Missouri leads the nation in "commercial breeding" facilities and these facilities contribute significant wealth to the state.


What are YOU doing to stop puppy mills?

There is very little that we can do to stop puppy mills. Under IRS guidelines, tax-exempt organizations are not allowed to lobby.


What can I do to stop puppy mills?

First and foremost, never buy a puppy from a pet store. Puppy mills can only exist as long as people continue to purchase pet store puppies. Boycott pet stores that sell puppies.

Second, boycott Missouri (and any other puppy mill state).
Write to the Governor:
Matt Blunt
Governor's Office
216 State Capitol
P.O. Box 720
Jefferson City, Missouri 65102

and tell him that you will not be vacationing in Missouri, or purchasing any goods manufactured in Missouri, until he takes action to stop the exportation of puppies.

Third, tell your U.S. Senator and Representative that you want better enforcement of USDA regulations of "commercial breeders".

Fourth, help us educate people about puppy mills and pet store puppies. Tell your friends. Tell your children. Tell pet store owners. Tell everyone you can think
of . . .and keep talking until someone listens to you.


If puppy mills are so bad, why are you taking dogs from "commercial breeders"?

We take dogs from commercial breeders for the sake of the dogs. And, as in anything else, the caliber of commercial breeders varies.

Some breeders will never give us dogs, because we refuse to pay for them. These breeders would prefer to run their dogs through dog auctions for any amount of money that they can receive.

However, for other breeders, we provide a way for them dispose of their unwanted dogs. Some of these breeders want their breeding dogs to go into families. Others simply don't want the expense of providing medical care for a dog and/or euthanizing a dog or the hassle of taking it to the auction.



Do puppy mill dogs make good pets?

We are happy to report that puppy mill dogs make excellent pets! They know that they have been given a chance for a real life and they cherish the humans that adopt them. In many ways, puppy mill dogs make more loyal and loving pets than dogs that do not come from puppy mills.






Gender Issues in Multi-Dog Homes

Feisty Females

If you are fortunate enough to have a sweet Westie girl and you are looking to add another to your household, please read on.

Females often rise to the Alpha position because of their mothering instinct. When a new litter is born, the mother dog teaches the pups appropriate pack behavior by using Alpha dog tactics. She keeps them in line by staring, shaking, or head butting as necessary. And her “keep ‘em in line” attitude may last long after the whelping is over. While neutering can often curb aggressive tendencies in males, spaying seldom has this effect on domineering females. Troubles may arise as one female challenges another’s right to rule the roost. As the owner, you must clearly take this role for yourself in order to keep the peace!



Managing your Males

In households with multiple males, the chief issue the owners will have to face is the necessity of neutering the dogs. In cases where male dogs are neutered early, many of the problems in a multi-male pack can be avoided. Not only does neutering reduce the dog’s aggressive tendencies, but it may well prolong his lifespan by cutting down his risk of getting prostate cancer. It also helps curtail his desire to roam in search of females in season.

Male dogs in general tend to be more territorial than females and fights ensue when their space is threatened. They can, however, with attention and training, learn to live amicably with one another. Marking is one sign of territorial behavior that makes adult non-neutered males less than desirable as pets. This habit can be avoided entirely if the dog is neutered early, around 6 months of age.

With patience and care, however, the responsible dog owner can indeed learn to manage with multiple males.


Specific Pointers for Multi-Dog Households

1. Take care that you notice each dog’s favorite “napping” spot. Don’t let the other dogs challenge a resting pet, no matter what its status in the pack.

2. For safety as well as comfort of each pet, feed each dog in its own space, whether it be a closed crate or a separate pen or even a separate room. Fights over food are easily preventable in this manner.

3. Become the “Alpha” yourself. If you as the owner prove yourself to be in charge, the dogs will show you respect when you give commands. Many a confrontation may be avoided by simply refusing to let any of your dogs become “Alpha”.

4. When preparing to leave the house for a walk, make sure the dogs sit and stay until you go out first. Do not allow any skirmishes over who gets to go first. You Do!

5. Make use of absences -- while one dog is at the groomer, give attention to the other. This special opportunity allows the “Omega” dog to get some much needed personal time without any reprisals from the ‘top dog’.

6. Never let the “Alpha” take toys or treats away from the other dogs. If he does, reserve your own right as “Alpha owner” to take them away from him and give back only the treat or toy that he is supposed to have. The ‘top dog’ does not know how to share and you will not be able to teach him this virtue.



Multi-Dog Homes

Will a Westie get along with my other dog?

Westies are big dogs in small packages, and they not prone to back away from a fight merely because another dog is bigger. And, because of their self-confidence, Westies are known to instigate territorial squabbles.

When we put a Westie in a new home, we encourage people to keep the dogs completely separate for several days. Its been our experience that dogs will tend to work out the pecking order merely from smell -- but it takes several days to a week for this to occur. And, this is absolutely crucial when bringing same gender dogs together. Many times it's easier to introduce a female into a home with males than a male into a home with males. Inter-gender squabbling is rare. It is also easier to introduce a puppy into a home than an adult dog. And, even after the initial adjustment period, there might still be a little bit of squabbling, but it usually won't result in any damage to the dogs.

We have had good luck with introducing dogs into families who already have a dog. It is possible to successfully integrate dogs into your home. But, you have to give a lot of thought to managing the introduction and give a great deal of thought to your dogs' personalities. Dogs with strong alpha tendencies will immediately assert themselves if given that opportunity. However, most dogs aren't so aggressive as to want to fight to the death, or even inflict serious harm and they will naturally work out these differences if given time. Separation is the key to a successful introduction.


White Shaker Dog Syndrome

White Shaker Dog Syndrome is characterized by generalized tremor occurring in young, predominantly small dogs. Because this syndrome was initially seen in larger numbers of dogs with white coats, the name White Shaker Dog Syndrome has also been used to describe it. Maltese and West Highland White Terriers are commonly affected.      

The association between the disease and dogs with white coats has been curious. Some have suggested that because melanin, a skin and hair pigment, and some are formed in the body from the same product (tyrosine), these dogs maybe predisposed to the tremors due to an abnormality in tyrosine metabolism. It is important to realize, however, that breeds of other colors may also have a similar problem, including Yorkshire Terriers, Australian Silky Terriers and Miniature Pinschers. So much for the melanin theory.

Dogs with this disease have a fine tremor of the entire body. Young dogs (9 months to 3 years old) of either sex are most frequently affected. The tremor is usually persistent throughout the day and will worsen with handling and excitement. The magnitude of the tremor may increase or remain persistent without therapy. Other clinical signs associated with a neurological system abnormality, such as head tilts, limb weakness and seizures, and are occasionally seen.

This disease is most often associated with a mild central nervous system inflammation This inflammation commonly affects the cerebellum, and dysfunction of this part of the brain may be one of the initiators of the tremor. Brain inflammation is determined diagnostically by looking at a sample of cerebrospinal fluid under the microscope. In an affected dog, this fluid contains increased numbers of, white blood cells with normal to mildly elevated protein concentrations.

White Shaker Dog Syndrome is usually treated effectively with corticosteroids. The corticosteroids are given in relatively high dosages initially, and then the dose is decreased as the clinical signs improve. It is important to not decrease the corticosteroid dose too quickly, or clinical signs may return.

Many dogs, after being treated for three to six months with corticosteroids, may be normal and may not require additional treatment. Some dogs may require low doses of corticosteroids every other day to keep clinical signs under control. Overall, the disease is rarely fatal.

Please if you believe your dog has a problem, seek the advice of your vet