|"Gill" with two Hovawart puppies|
"Gill" worked in the Hovawart puppy mill back in 2001, long before the recent developments where all dogs ended into such a severe state of neglect and maltreatment. But already in 2001, their life was confined to a cage.
"Gill" was not happy with what she saw on arrival, but decided to make the best of it:
"I was a teenage girl and had to earn money for my college. I didn't knew a lot about puppy farms. At first I was shocked to see 100 dogs that had to live in a stable like horses. Not seeing a blue sky at all. Later, when I noticed the inbreeding that was going on, it became even more frustrating to me. I had to close my eyes for this and do the best I could for the dogs instead. But it was too frustrating, I had to leave."
Already then, conditions for the dogs were poor, to say the least, although they were fed:
"The house looked just as normal house, but it was very messy at the same time, as there was puppies in every possible corner. Of course when people came to take a look for a pup the living room/kitchen was cleaned and coffee was made. But the stables where the dogs were held was made of metal crates with wooden partitions. each box was approx 1.5*2.5 meters. With two dogs in each. They lived on wood shavings, and I had to muck out every morning. The stables were clean at that stage. And the mums with newborn pups (there was about 1 to 2 litters each month) lived in another side of the stable which I hated to clean as there was no air at all. It smelled like hell. "Helle" [note Kenzo: pseudonym for the owner] took care of them mostly herself together with her daughter. Food once a day, muck out, water twice a day. That's all attention the dogs got.""Gill" decides to at least take care of the dogs as good as she could:
"I took some of the dogs for a walk, as they were badly socialized. only sitting in their cages. I went out for walks to the nearest forest. They had a beautiful girl imported from Germany, she was very shy, so I tried to socialize her as much as I could. She was lovely. They all were. They wanted to be loved as every dog does. "Helle" was shocked if I went out with some dogs for a walk of an hour or two. She said they are not used to such long walks."
And there were more signs it was just a business:
"We mostly only went to the clinic to chip, vaccinate and do x-rays for dysplasia. "Helle" didn't want to euthanize unhealthy puppies. One day I asked why she didn't bring one pup from a littler, which had no joints on its front paws. She didn't want me to mention it. But I asked the vet behind her back what I should do. He then called up and euthanized him himself. "Helle" was angry and said it was too expensive. Some puppies were very small and weak with big bellies, they looked like they had rickets. If I asked "Helle" why they look like this and if they will grow healthy, she explained to me that Hovawart have very bad milk to feed puppies and I'm too young to understand. But my parents always had high quality Schnauzers, with a littler every few years, so I know how healthy puppies should look like. As soon as the puppies looked more or less good they were sold."
"Gill" continues about the inbreeding she noticed:
"Only few dogs were imported or bred from other dogs and I remember some dogs were bred from only one generation in between. "Helle"'s daughter told me who is who and also I saw some of the dogs didn't look for me as they would produce good offspring. As a result, a lot of the puppies had abnormalities, such as no joints, very weak, etc."Not only the dogs were taken advantage of:
"When I came some other girls from my country already worked there before me. They were both professional FCI handlers and also came there just for extra money. "Helle" paid less than we should earn. Only 200 dollars a month. I didn't understand why "Helle" was so stressed all the time, we had to hide in the kennel if the police was passing by or the mailman was coming. As I found out later, we were not officially registered workers. But pups were sold for 1000 or more dollars abroad."
Two months later, "Gill" left.