Police authorities, the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland and the Animal Welfare Society, seized more than 200 dogs from a dog kennel in Buxton, Maine.”This is the largest seizure ever in Maine,” said Susan Britt, director of operations at the Animal Refuge League in Westbrook.
The owners of the J’aime kennel, John and Heidi Frasca, have been served 14 summonses for having an unlicensed kennel, two summonses for animal cruelty and one for failure to provide necessary medical treatment to animals. They could face more charges after the district attorney’s office reviews the case.
“They are facilities that place the profit over the welfare of the animals,” said Carol Ann MacKinnon with the Animal Welfare Society. “The animals, the puppies that come from these mills often have defects as well as behavior problems.”
About 200 dogs and puppies were tested for giardia, an one-cell parasite that lives in the intestines, and sarcoptic mange, a skin disease. Several animals have tested positive for the diseases and are being treated.
Over the years, police said they responded to complaints about the J’Aime Kennel, but they were turned away by the owners every time they asked to inspect the facility. Last Tuesday, police returned with a search warrant and discovered what they describe as a large-scale puppy mill.
Authorities said a puppy recently sold by the kennel was diagnosed with giardia. Anyone who has purchased an animal from J’aime Kennel within the last couple of months is urged to have it tested for giardia and mange.
J’Aime Kennel is one of the many names by which the Frascas advertised their business on the Internet. The couple sold various breeds including French bulldogs, German shepherds, Brussels Griffons, mini Australian shepherds, American bulldogs and Pugs on seven different websites.
I found one of their websites:
To me, it has all of the tell tale signs of a mill website. Their ‘sires and dams’ section lists first-name only dogs. If a pedigree is mentioned, it’s to boast there are ‘champions in it’ – Champions that are never named, of course, because they’re two generations back. The photos show dogs with grievous breed faults – bad bites, tongues that can’t fit into their mouths, wall eyes. Their health ‘guarantee’ insists you return the dog to them – “J’aime Kennels does not give money refunds…..replacement only…..same breed and sex…..contingent on availability….” – something that I don’t think any caring new owner is ever going to be willing to do. Sticking that line into your contract is a nice way to be able to promise the world, and yet never have to deliver.
All of this makes me unbelievably sad and frustrated. I am old enough, and have owned Frenchies long enough, to remember a time when a single French Bulldog in need of rescue was news, meriting an article in one of the breed magazines. A puppy mill mass rescue was huge news, scrambling people from states away into action, galvanizing the community, shocking all of us with the images we were shown. Now, we have videos from the HSUS showing Frenchies stacked in crates, awaiting sale to the highest bidder at Amish Puppy Mill auctions. We routinely have footage of groups of Frenchies being hauled out of squalid kennels, filth matted, frightened and alone. We see it so often, and hear it so often, that it’s almost stopped being shocking, even if it can never stop being sad.
You can’t turn back time – I know that. You can’t tell all of those ‘new people’ who now suddenly need to own a Frenchie to pick another breed. What you can do, however, is be a breed ambassador every single day.
Talk to people – if they ask about your Frenchie, encourage them to seek out a good, ethical breeder. Suggest your own, if you were happy with them. Attend your local meet up, and help inform prospective owners on how they can find a good breeder.
For those people seeking a puppy, learn to know where to look, what to ask, and when to walk away. If that voice in your head tells you something isn’t right, listen to it. Don’t let greed or impatience push you into making a bad decision. Avoid pet shops, at all costs, and make sure you’re buying direct from a breeder and not a broker. Your Frenchie is a life time investment in friendship and love – do some research, to make sure that not only are you getting a great puppy, but that your puppy’s mother isn’t suffering quietly in some filthy pen, pumping out her tenth litter to feed the market for the newest fad dog breed.
Film clip on puppy mill bust after the cut, and a clip from the HSUS showing Frenchies at an Amish puppy mill auction.