It’s been fifteen months since you and I first met. More than likely, you remember very little about me. After all, we met in your world, on your property in fact. Since that day, elements of your world have become a very big part of mine. For that, myself and many like-minded people are very thankful to you.
In February 2007, I received an email – “50 Italian Greyhounds in need” and with that, a phone number. Having had a lifetime affinity for the breed, I called the number to find out what the story was and how I might be able to help. I’m certain you know where this letter is going now.
Yes, February 17, 2007, after 40+ years, your kennel would be going out of business. Time to retire and relax after four decades of mistreating dogs. Five hundred and sixty one dogs would head to the auction blocks that day, 49 were Italian Greyhounds. It was without question that I would help, though I must admit, I had no idea what I would come to learn through the process. Due to transportation issues, I realized that if I were to be of any use to these dogs, I would have to drive out to Lamar myself. So, on the 16th of February, my daughter and I headed to Missouri.
Understand, I’ve been involved in dog rescue essentially my entire life – fostering and placing homeless dogs, caring for sick or injured dogs, assisting overpopulated shelters, etc. I have always known about puppy mills and pet store puppies but have never shared my home with anything other than rescued animals. For the record, I AM NOT AN ANIMAL RIGHTS ACTIVIST. What I am is a person who believes in the right to humane treatment for all living things.
Martha, what I witnessed on your property was far from humane. Hundreds of terrified ailing faces, imprisoned in their wire confines, some staring at me, but most too fearful to look into my eyes, so unsure of how to interpret human contact. That experience has caused me countless sleepless nights and to this very day, the sadness and the fear in their eyes haunts my very being.
I am completely aware that you were operating well within USDA standards – what a despicable thought that is. I am also aware that in your circles, commercial breeding dogs are considered livestock. Dogs are not livestock, Martha. Thousands of years ago, man domesticated dogs to be our protectors, hunters, herders, guardians, but most of all, our companions.
I came home with thirteen of your dogs – nine Italian Greyhounds, two Dachshunds and two Papillons. Not a single dog that I had cared for in over 25 years of rescue work came anywhere close to the physical and emotional damage that your dogs had suffered. As it related to rescuing dogs, the next several months would become the education of a lifetime for me.
The entire purpose of this letter though, is about just one of those dogs, the one who would find her forever home here with my family….. #251 – AKC registered “Reedgate’s Swift Motion”. Oh, the irony of her name – Swift Motion – an Italian Greyhound who was never able to run. Caging her for her entire life stripped her of ever having enough strength in her legs to experience the joy of running. A cruel reality for a breed built to run.
In our home, we cut the chain from her neck, replaced it with a soft collar and named her Lily. At the age of seven years and one month Lily had been set free.
Lily was one of several of your dogs that was missing her lower jaw. I wonder how you might explain why so many of your dogs were suffering from this condition.
I wonder if you were ever concerned about their pain or perhaps about how they were able to eat enough to stay alive. I wonder how many died in your care from the results of this condition.