Mary Scheffke of Frenchie Por Vous has written up an overview of their experiences bringing home French Bulldogs from the Missourri auction.
Mary and her team approached the (often touchy) issue of purchasing dogs from a puppy mill auction with pragmatism. They knew they wouldn’t be doing the mill dogs any favors if they ran up the prices, and they knew they couldn’t rescue all of them, but they still managed to make a difference in the life of the dogs they did bring home.
Don’t forget, you can make a donation to the ongoing care of the Missouri Fourteen through the Frenchie Por Vous website, and if you’re in the Illinois area, consider giving one of these little angels a new, secure, forever home.
It all started when I was told about the bi annual specialty sale for bulldogs only down in Missouri that was coming up the first weekend of December. As a small local frenchie rescue group that only started up less than a year ago- we were not sure what we should do – we do not believe in such auctions nor in supporting them in anyway with rescue money but felt we could not sit and do nothing either. We got all 3 directors together and talked about the pros and cons of us going down there and if we did, what was the right way to do it – if there is such a thing!? We all 3 agreed we had to try and do something and also agreed that we would not spend more than $300 on any one dog at the auction. We spoke to another frenchie rescue who went down to an auction with funds raised separately and bought frenchies at that auction- we knew we did not want to spend the kind of money they did because we did not have those kinds of funds nor did we want to support the sellers in a way to give them money to buy more dogs to their “stock”. We also spoke to another frenchie organization who had all their foster homes full at that time and they had a seller who was willing to give up 6 of their dogs to rescue instead of the auction and asked us if we had the foster homes for doing that and agreed we would take those dogs in and get them after the auction was over. We raised as much as we could- knowing we would need money for spay/neuters for those 6 at least and any other we may have gotten at the auction plus any medical attention any would need. We rallied with our local meetup group for frenchie pet owners for donations. I loaded up the car with crates, food, water, bowls, pee pads, towels, blankets, collars, dog coats and whatever else I could think of that we had. Drove 5 ½ hours to meet another volunteer on my way down and reload everything into her minivan. Then we drove another 5 1.2 hours down to the auction. I left Chicago at 8:30 pm and we arrived ¼ of a mile from the auction at 9 AM Saturday morning. We stopped at a small local café to get some breakfast and felt like we were from Mars- everyone was looking at us like we had 3 heads attached to us and they were not shy about staring at us- I felt like Dorothy in the wizard of Oz and we knew we were not in Kansas anymore! So- after getting some nice warm food into our stomachs- we pulled into the packed auction house in time to walk through and see all of the dogs- 94 frenchies total for sale on the block that day –ranging from 2 ½ months old up to 6 years old –stacked up in the back room 3 high in these large rabbit like cages with no water or food. You could smell the dogs the minute you walked into the auction building-even though they were behind this large metal sliding door. I knew that before I got there- I had to check my emotions aside and be logical- we were there to save what we could without putting a lot of money into the sellers’ hands and that we could not save all of them. They sold a lot of stuff before the auctioning of the frenchies started – we all sat on the metal bleachers waiting as they sold some cracked ceramic feeding/water bowls – these large plastic boxes that were maybe an inch deep that they called whelping boxes but looked more like something you would slide under a crate to catch droppings, some dog statues and dog Christmas ornaments, some bulldog doors and I don’t know what else really- we were anxiously awaiting for the real auction that we came there for to start and had very little sleep from driving all night. We were told that at this particular auction- it was highly unlikely that we would get any frenchies for $300 or less and that we were wasting our time going- as this was the BIG bulldog auction that everyone was waiting for this breed and big money would be paid. You get a program and it tells you the name of the dog- (if it has one-some did not) , microchip number for the dog, breed (there would be some German shepherds and cane corsos and English bulldogs sold later that same say) and sex, color, DOB, Sire, Dam, comments-( these would range from AKC, APRI, ACA, good mother- will nurse other dogs puppies, produces large litters, LLW with a date, coming into season, colors they throw and so on) breeders name and sellers name. . So- they start with the females first- youngest to the oldest, they bring out 5 dogs at a time- i.e. #1 -2-3-4-5 and put them on a long card table and start the auction – they start high right off- trying to get $1500 for each one and off it went. If you were the highest bidder- you got choice off the table- you could take one of the 5 up there at that time or all 5 for your top bid- such as if the winning bid was $1000- you could take all 5 for $5000.
At times it was like you were in church and being preached to- they started before the auction telling everyone how French Bulldogs and English Bulldogs were the # 1 and #2 selling dogs in America right now and that these dogs were money making machines at their disposal. What they said about the puppies for sale were they had their whole lives ahead of them to make money money money for them –so get their wallets out and let the bidding begin. We knew we would not be able to get any of the puppies and they would go for the most – so we sat on our hands and watched as they were sold one by one. % curious little puppies up there and then the shouting of the auctioneers began- when one of the people would scream and YEP! for a bid taken in the audience- their big bat ears would flatten to their little round heads and they would start to shake terribly – they had no idea what was to become of them and the kinds of lives there were about to start on. This was the hard part for us to watch and know! The crèmes and fawns were ALWAYS the first to sell each time the auction would start and they went fast one after the other. The brindles sold for the least as did any males with big heads or females who missed a heat or if they had to have c- sections or if in the notes- they had small litters. Dogs that wet nursed any puppies went for a lot as well.
The highest a frenchie sold at this particular auction was for $1250 and the least one sold for was $60. There were 2 buyers that bought almost every crème and fawn being sold that day. Most of the sellers were there and you could go up to the table and exam the dogs’ closer and ask any questions about the dogs if their seller was there to answer. They would say how a dog was in heat and ready to make you money, they would say that and push for the bids to go up. They told us that the dogs had their whole lives ahead of them to make you money –even if they were 4 or 5 years old. We were told that if the bitch you bought had one puppy- she was paid for right there and the rest was all profit for you. We were told that if they whelped naturally or had c-sections, when they were due into heat or if they were pregnant already- (only 2 were pregnant currently and they went for the most money). We were told about one person at the auction and how he started in bulldogs and now makes over $100, 000 a year easily with his internet selling business of puppies. We were told to not worry about bidding too high- they would stop us if they thought the bids went too high- because at one past auction- a frenchie went for $15000 and they stopped the bidding there and let the buyer have the dog for that price. We were told if they were AKC’d registered or if they were UKC, APRI or USDA – each one of these initials would reflect on the bid for each one if they had such registration and there were reps from all of these present at the auction to help with any of these registries if there were any questions about them. Many had foreign registries but the AKC rep there towards the end of the auction told all of us if there was AKC lines in the grandparents or parents- they would help them get AKC registry for the ones with foreign registry. At the beginning of the auction- AKC said they had to have 3 or 4 generations of AKC to get it changed. AKC by a name meant more money would be bid for those dogs. Here is what was stated about a 3 month old cream girl – “ AKC- her mom is cream and sire is a red fawn and she is out of a litter of 7 –her mom weighed 23 pounds at whelping.”
If in the program- it was stated that there were many championships in so many generation pedigree- the dog would go for more- even if the dogs was NOT registered AKC or there was no proof of this. Many were stated to have lots of champions in a 6 or 7 generation pedigree and yet none of them were AKC registered not UKC. It took about 3 hours for them to auction off all the French bulldogs from the youngest female to the oldest female than the same process for the males. Some were pulled from the initial program but many were added to the program the day of the auction as well.
Many times the seller were asked questions about c-sections, stitches still in, implants, artificial insemination, skin conditions, ear infections and so on- I personally, never felt any of these were answered completely or honestly. We personally were happy to see that the auctioneers were not happy with the low prices that the dogs went for at this auction, there were times that no one would bid on a dog and we would shoot out- $50 –that is how we actually got 3 boys for $60 each- we took all 3 on the table for that price. We honestly never thought we would leave there with more than a dog or two and the prices would be too high for us, as not to put money back into the sellers’ pockets. We were very surprised to see that we got 8 dogs at the actual auction plus 6 more from a seller who sold the dogs to us instead of the auction. In total= we went home with 14 frenchies-9 females out of the breeding circuit and 5 males. When we went to cash out- we were asked straight out if we were a rescue and we came clean and said yes. We were told how sad it was that we would be retiring these dogs by spaying and neutering them. We knew we were taking money away from them in the sense that these dogs would never have offspring to be sold at another auction for them to make money off of. The word was spread quickly through the auction house to others of who we were. We paid and got what records they gave us, we had one girl who needed rabies shot and the retired vet at the auction came out to give her that on the spot. We then had to get the vet to give us health certificates on all the dogs we bought there. They brought all the dogs we bought out to our van to load them up and the USDA rep there gave us a hard time! Everyone else just threw their purchased dogs into whatever kind of unsecured crate but we took our time to secure each and every crate and to make sure each dog was comfortable and next to dog that did not stress them out in any way. Each dog had either a soft towel or blanket on the bottom of their crate along with a pee pad under that. We loaded them up with as much love as we could with nothing more than the chain or string around their necks with their sad little auction number on them. We knew that these dogs were nothing more than that to them- a number. We made sure we learned each and every one of their names in the first hour of our drive home. 15 hours later, after several stops for potty breaks and checking on the dogs and freezing weather and changing cars, walking the dogs and driving with very little sleep- we got all the dogs home safe for the night and settled in to meet their new foster parents and get baths, collars, id tags, love, toys and everything else they had been missing out in their lives till then.
If it was not for all of our great volunteers and meetup members- we would have never been able to make this happen for these wonderful dogs that have come into our lives with such open hearts!
Here is our MO 14:
#15 – Maggie- she did not know her name and is now called Daisy and being adopted by her 2 loving foster moms. When she was auctioned- she as a puppy- she is only 1 years old. She had just had a litter before the auction and her pups were pulled to be nursed by a poodle so she could be at the auction and sold. She had her c-section stitches removed that am before the auction but still had stitches in her vulva- we are not sure if they tried to get this poor little young girl to free whelp and cut her vulva opened to do so or if she had a prolapsed vulva- but our vets are taking really good care of her and see is getting the love she so deserves- she was scared stiff less on the auction block but now she is loving all the attention and kindness she is receiving her in life!
#47 – Lena who also did not know her name is now known as Ruby. She came from an Amish breeder and has c-section scars all over her belly like someone just butchered her after each litter! Her last litter was on 9/4/08 by a c-section. She is so afraid to have her belly touched but is now learning that when that happens – it is only for loving, nothing more! She is going yo hrt new forever home now and is quite the kisser- she is very thankful for this new life ahead of her and is 4 years old. She will have a big brother frenchie as well as a lab brother who went for a 2 mile walk with her the other day and LOVED it! She is going to spend Christmas with her new family up in the 2nd home in MI!
#49 – Heidi- who is know known as Fiona. A pied girl that was so afraid of everything- she had her last litter on 3/3/08 – 7 puppies and usually had at least 5 pups per litter and was AKC registered. She is now being adopted by her foster mom whose’ sister is a vet and is getting lots of personal attention and gets to even go to work with her new mom and is starting to come out of her shell and enjoy the love she is getting and starting to learn that people can be trusted again. She came to us with a UTI and some skin issues as well.
#51 – Mojo- Mojo was one of the few dogs who actually knew her name., she was being sold as a good mother who would produce nice litters, throw reds and fawns and nurse any dog’s puppies. Mojo is something else- she was the most excited about exploring everything and anything her new life ahead of her- she loves everyone and everything and can’t get enough of all these wonderful new things that have come into her life! I have never seen a more thankful and fun dog as Mojo- she is being fostered with me and we are looking for a new forever home for this big mama- she is 6 years old and was the oldest female sold that day and the last girl sold- she weighs 26.8 lbs and has the broadest shoulders you have ever seen! She was sold as a wet nurse and has been very busy here cleaning all her new fleece toys that she thinks are her babies and tucking them in and then showing to me and then starting the whole process over again all day long!
#64 – Leon – he was the first boy we bought at the auction- very scared about his surroundings but he is coming around and loving his new forever home that also fostered him as well- he is a little pixie who has jumped into the hearts of his foster homes and swallowed them whole and loving life now! He is a 1 ½ year old boy. He came to us with a respitory infection that is being treated and watched carefully!
# 65 –Leroy- poor little Leroy- only 1 year old with an hematoma on his ear that looked like someone inflated it to its max with air!! He has seen a vet and had his ear drained and on meds now- we are watching to see if he will have to have surgery on it still though. He is one cute pixie and is coming around slowly- his foster mom will have a hard time giving him up but we are doing our interviews with his possible forever home now.
#66 – Flapper Jack- silly name for a silly boy who is now called- Hugo! He too is only 1 year old. Sweet as can be and he is taking full advantage of the love his foster parents are giving him-he is being adopted by them and I am not sure who is more happy- the new foster parents or Hugo. He is VERY handsome too!
#67 – Bisquick who is now known as Luke- he too is 1 ½ years old and is a little love sponge – he is getting lots of attention by his foster parents and has a tiny little frenchie girl in his foster home who rules the roost- including him!! I think he likes being told by this little girl what to do! He is really sweet and is slowly coming around to learning about all the love humans have to offer him now.
Our 6 from the breeder instead of the auction:
Echo- she is the tiniest one we brought home- at 6 years old, she weighs in at 15 lbs. She is quite the BITCH around other dogs and does not want any dogs near her – I think she has had enough of this breeding life! She is being adopted and fostered by one of our directors’ mom and is being quite spoiled. Sadly- she tested heartworm positive and is being treated for this- keep her in your prayers!!!
Bunny- 6 years old and so scared of her own shadow! She is in heat right now and may have pyo- she is at the vets’ office and being attended to by them- say a pray for this little girl too! She loves her frenchie sister at her foster home and is being taught ropes to potty training and such and is slowly coming around to trusting people again. She will probably be spayed ASAP!
Classy – 5 years old and really scared as well- she came to us with a UTI as well and is starting to go into heat. She is slowly coming out her shell and starting to love all the attention she is getting- her spay is scheduled for the beginning of Jan. She is one laid back girl who is taking this new life in slowly.
Danny girl – she is 4 years old and the sweetest little thing- she LOVES small spaces to watch everything from and is really really laid back. She is so gentle and sweet and will make someone a great frenchie who will love the attention they have to offer her- she is beyond cute!!!! She is being adopted by her foster moms’ parents- now everyone in their family will own a frenchie!!!
Mary – she is 5 too and very scared but loves the new attention she is getting. She shares her foster home with 3 pugs, a Chihuahua and a foster male frenchie. She is quite the mother and toy hoarder and everyone lets her have any toy she wants! Oh- and she also shares her foster home with 2 dog savvy cats that she could really care a less about! She loves men and does ok with children and she thinks Petsmarts are GREAT!! She is possibly being adopted as we screen her potential forever home applicants.
Clancy – He is the stud man and loves sharing his foster home with Mary. He won’t lie on his own bed and insists being near her and she is now allowing that. He is being adopted by his foster family and is quite the character and makes everyone laugh daily there at his antics!
I still find myself crying thinking about the ones we left behind and knowing what kind of lives they have ahead for them and knowing that they too may one day see the auction table again. I know there were some that were sold with medical conditions that will never be looked at, who will have c-section scars all over their bellies if we ever saw them again. I know those puppies will be having a whole life ahead of them being breed back to back heats- as we heard all about that at the auction. There was one little girl who they seller would have them c-sectioned and at the same time have they would get their c-section stitches out he would have them surgically implanted with semen- she never was implanted and her c-section scars were imbedded in her poor stomach still! It was an eye opening educational process to say the least for me to see these dogs treated as only a money producing product and nothing more. We were told about how to sell them to a broker who in turned sold them to puppy stores or how to sell them directly on the internet and disguise ourselves as a warm house and a breeder of ONLY French bulldogs and so on.
I am thankful that we got 9 females out to this breeding cycle of pumping out litters without concern of their own health or the puppies and 5 males that will no longer only be handled to collect semen or mate and ignored the rest of their lives.
We are in desperate need of donations to get these 14 dogs spayed/neutered, medical attention for infections and such, heartworm tested, shots up to date, fecals and on and on the list goes! To donate any amount that will be used 100% for these dogs- please, go to:
http://www.frenchieporvous.org/donate.html and go to our available page to see photos of our 14 from MO.
Our main goal with there 14 is to get them healthy, spayed and neutered and into loving forever homes and then to use their stories to educate the public about where the dogs they get from pet stores and the internet REALLY come from! These 14 dogs have a story to tell and want the world to know where they came from so other frenchies do not have to live the lives they have
Mary Scheffke, Frenchie Por Vous, Chicago, Illinois