BARABOO – Within the past week, two Baraboo-area families have awoken to find small crates at the end of their driveways.
Inside, they found purebred dogs that weren’t spayed or neutered, meaning they were perfect for breeding.
The families brought the dogs to the Sauk County Humane Society. The shelter’s staff were not surprised by the deliveries.
The shelter has experienced a large spike in the number of purebred strays collected in the past month.
“It just boggles my mind,” Humane Society Executive Director Dianne Horlamus said. “It’s wonderful, because they’re easy to place. But I’ve been in the shelter business for about 30 years and you rarely see that amount of purebreds coming in.”
The spike in purebred strays may be related to a state law to regulate puppy mills that goes into effect June 1.
About 75 percent of the stray dogs the shelter collected in the past month were purebreds that were not spayed or neutered. Ordinarily, about 1 percent are purebreds.
Breeders dumping dogs
The new state law will require breeders who sell 25 or more dogs a year from more than three litters to apply for a license. State regulators will have authority to inspect any licensed breeders and, if necessary, order them to bring their facilities into compliance with state standards.
Horlamus said she wonders whether area breeders are trying to get rid of animals so they don’t have to comply with the law.
“We’re trying to get the word out that they don’t have to do that,” Horlamus said, adding that anyone can surrender an animal to the shelter free of charge.
Representatives of the American Kennel Club and the Dog Federation of Wisconsin – the two biggest opponents of the state law – could not be reached for comment.
But an Adams-Friendship dog breeder said there’s no doubt kennels around the state are unloading inventory.
“I know there’s been an awful lot of what we call ‘dumping’ going on,” said Jane Jones, owner of Grey Oaks Kennel.
She knows of a handful of breeders who have dumped as much as three-quarters of their dogs, she said. Some have given away dogs for free or at reduced prices. Others, Jones said, have shot the dogs they didn’t want.
Abandoning animals is illegal
If breeders are indeed ditching animals to skirt the new law, they may be violating another one in the process.
A state law says people who abandon animals in Wisconsin can be subject to a $500 fine.
“If (dumping) is happening, it’s unfortunate, because there is a stipulation that gives people a way to sell out their business if they don’t want to deal with the new law,” said Donna Gilson, spokeswoman for the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.
Breeders will not have to get a license from DATCP if they notify the agency of their intention to have a liquidation sale.
Shelters expecting strays
Not every shelter has experienced the same trend as the Sauk County Humane Society.
Dane County Humane Society spokeswoman Gayle Viney said that facility hasn’t noticed any spike in purebred strays. But the staff is prepared for one.
“I definitely think it’s a concern for all of us here in the shelter world that we might be seeing more (stray dogs),” Viney said. “There’s a law in place and it will start to be enforced soon. So it will be interesting to see what happens with people that are inappropriately breeding and what they do.”