Dog trains man

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

I Worked In A Danish Hovawart Puppy Mill

"Gill" with two Hovawart puppies
Recently I had a talk with "Gill", a summer worker in the dreaded Danish Hovawart puppy mill we all have learned so much about in the past week. And she very much want to share what she experienced on the inside.

"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.


For the latest and how you can help, visit the page Stop Danish Hovawart Puppy Mill.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Hamlet's Cautionary Tale

Today I turn the blog over to Elizabeth, who has a very heart-felt and impressive tale to tell, how she got Hamlet from the Danish puppy mill.

When I adopted my first Hovawart and named him Hamlet, one of my friends wanted to know if I remembered that Hamlet was, in fact, a tragedy. This story is a cautionary tale, but, for us and for our Hovawart, it ends with “happily ever after. “

I have wanted a Hovawart since I spotted the rare breed in a “What’s the Right Breed For You and Your Family?” sort of book back in the late 1990’s. An early irony in this story is that I felt conflicted about paying for a pure bred dog when there are so many in need of homes or that have been victims of puppy mills. However, I loved the description of Hovis as intensely loyal, protective, yet good with the family.

I contacted the closest breeder to me, a gentleman from Canada, and he and his very kind wife allowed my then fiancé and I to visit them and to pick out a blonde male Hovawart puppy. The puppies were too small to leave their mother, so we returned home to wait for them to grow a bit; this was during 2002-2003. Meanwhile, I was traveling to school, taking many classes to complete my degree while teaching full time, and I developed mononucleosis with complications—after much heartache and debate, we decided against collecting the puppy.

The Canadian breeders were especially kind to us in the circumstances. From this experience, I developed the romantic notion that Hovawart owners, like their dogs, were a special breed: kindred spirits, if you will. I am still saddened to think of that lovely blonde puppy and those kind neighbors to the north.

I waited the eight or nine years until my husband and I had purchased a home of our own, near the school where we worked. I saved money, about $1500, and then I tried to contact the gentleman from Canada, but I didn’t hear back. I was never sure if it was because his contact numbers were different, or if my earlier situation had made them feel as though they could not do business with us, but I never heard back from them. It wasn’t easy to save that money; we have four kids, three in college and I am also in college, working on my doctorate in education.

So, I began to search for a different breeder. I saw Hovawarts from Great Britain, and Hovawarts from many other countries. I emailed a couple of the contacts listed on the sites that were in English and did not hear back. I knew that the Canadians had brought Hovawarts from Europe—was it possible that I had been somehow “blacklisted” after my involvement with the Canadian puppy? Then a different site, caught my attention. It was in English, and it invited email or telephone contact. I emailed sometime in the third week of April, and received an immediate response. A litter had been born April 8, just a week or two prior to my inquiry and there was a little black and tan boy available.

"Helle" [note Kenzo: pseudonym], whom I understood to be the owner of the mother of my puppy, but not the breeder, was a very prolific emailer. I sought clarification on Hamlet’s parentage, and I should have realized that something was amiss, for the responses to those inquiries were somewhat vague, but I was so excited to be in contact with another Hovawart owner. We talked on the phone, finally, and she assured me that these were purebred Hovawart puppies. I was foolishly satisfied, for she sent me many emails about the litter and the particulars of the breed. She appeared to be a very responsible owner who cared deeply for these dogs. I do not know now, exactly, what her connection was to what appears to have been a puppy mill. After what had happened with the Canadians, which I disclosed to her, I offered to send her references, but she also seemed ready to trust me. I realize now that I was so worried that I might have been “blacklisted” in what I thought was the small Hovawart community, that I was not as direct as I should have been about Hamlet’s parents and situation. I was just grateful that "Helle" would trust me with a puppy from this lovely breed.

At one point "Helle" sent me a Google Earth link to her home, and what I understood to be Hamlet’s home as well. Imagine how I feel to see the same house, from a slightly different angle, on Leo’s blog, looking rather more decrepit than it did on Google Earth. I ran the cursor on street view past that house many times, imagining myself visiting Hamlet and picturing him curled up on their floor or couch. Little did I know that he was probably living with his siblings and mother in a very different kind of situation.

On the telephone, "Helle" promised that Hamlet’s papers would be with his shot records and the other papers necessary for him to enter the US. On the appointed day, I traveled to Newark, NJ. I was so excited. "Helle" emailed and phoned me, and I emailed and called her each step of the way, from my cell phone.

Hamlet came in a crate that was very large and very well apportioned. Every care had been taken for his comfort, even to the point of sending me a CD with sounds that would be familiar to him and extra food of his exact brand. There were care instructions down to the minutia of the exact times he was being fed, seven thirty am and noon and four pm, and suggestions for healthy snacks. There was a laminated, 8x10 card taped to the crate with a picture of Hamlet that read:
My name is Hamlet, and I am going on my very first trip out of Copenhagen to my final destination Newark/USA. I am traveling with SAS on flight SK909. Please handle me with lots of careness (sic) and please take me out for bathroom when needed. Tell Mister Pilot that he have a very special Hovawart puppy onboard his flight who is loved by many people.

I have this card next to me right now, and I wonder how so much effort could have been put into this one puppy if this, was, as it seems now, somewhat of a hoax and he was just one more puppy from an active puppy mill. Taped to Hamlet’s crate, there was a doggie “passport,” a very official looking booklet with his shot records and worming records, and I did get a laminated book called “Owner’s Certificate and Book of Health.” Beneath it read, “Hovawart Hamlet.” On the back, it read: “ Continental Kennel Club, CKC International Official Seal. “.

I was so enamored of my puppy that I only glanced quickly at the paperwork. When I went to the vet, however, to have Hamlet checked over, he indicated that there wasn’t a lot of information about Hamlet’s genealogy, and that I would need a lot more documentation. He also agreed that Hamlet had some skin issues, but he prescribed a careful diet, special shampoo and fish oil to help him. To this day, that is how we maintain Hamlet’s itching, although he always has some issues with his skin and an extremely sensitive tummy.

What I realize now is that there were no such papers. I called, I emailed, and I felt as though I kind of alienated "Helle" with my persistence regarding the “papers” and Hamlet’s parents. She seemed surprised that I wanted more than the little book and she didn’t seem to understand that I wanted some sort of proof of registration with the Danish “Hovawart people.”

As soon as Hamlet arrived, "Helle" used me as a reference for a caller from South America, either Brazil or Columbia and for someone from Japan, each inquiring about her puppies. However, after I asked again for registration papers, there were no more referrals. I did wonder how there were more puppies already, but I chose not to think about that.

Hamlet is an integral part of our family now. On Facebook, again due to having become friends with "Helle" and then reaching out myself, I realized how many countries have happy Hovawart owners. When I saw Leo’s posts and I realized that we had a part in supporting what appears to be a puppy mill, I was devastated. The skin problem, we dealt with. The concern regarding registration papers, I had decided to put behind me.

My heart breaks, because the "Helle" I know loved Hamlet. She told me she cried when she sent him to me. He did come to me a well-behaved, socialized little fellow. He did immediately seem to understand that he was to love and obey me, and I felt that he had transferred his affections from one lady to another lady who was now his owner. My heart breaks because now I feel as though I might be betraying "Helle", and I am truly saddened by that.

I saw "Helle" in my mind’s eye as an extension of that home that we visited in Canada, so clean, with the responsible owners who shared our excitement for this breed. This, unfortunately, seems not to have been the case with Hamlet, and that’s why I am writing this letter. It’s hard for me to accept that I contributed to the support of a puppy mill. I didn’t do enough “homework,” despite the calls, the emails, the questions and the references. I hope my story helps others to be more careful, and I offer my apologies to the Hovawart community for being careless. I am so sorry for that, and my heart breaks for the dogs who were euthanized and for the dogs who were traumatized—I’m a part of that, like it or not, by virtue of purchasing Hamlet. My husband and I would like to do what we can to make amends; perhaps sharing our story (not as a tragedy, for we love our amazing dog) but as a cautionary tale is a good first step.

Before I finish, however, I want to emphasize that Hamlet is a beautiful, even tempered, well-behaved dog. He is loyal to a fault, protective, absolutely everything that I dreamed a Hovawart would be. He’s definitely my dog and sees me as the top dog in the house, which makes my husband laugh. He’s smart and gets along well with our cat. He isn’t just attached to me, however; he watches our youngest son like a hawk and snuggles at night with whomever will allow him onto their bed. He’s not perfect; he does not always come when he’s called, and he hates busses. When the school bus comes, we must be careful that he is inside or he will stand in its way! He is a character and beloved by our neighbors as well for his beauty and his friendly nature. We are lucky and thankful to have him, and I hope that it makes up a little for the decision we made more blindly than we should have.


I can't thank you enough, Elizabeth and Hamlet, for sharing your cautionary tale. I have nothing to add, other than that you are very much part of the Hovawart family. We are sorry too, we couldn't have helped you earlier. We all rejoice, that Hamlet is loved and cared for, no matter where he comes from.

For the latest and how you can help, visit the page Stop Danish Hovawart Puppy Mill.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Wizard Jan and her Hovawarts, Tussock and River

I am very excited to introduce you to our latest Hovawart Wizard, Jan!

Jan is a repeat offender on the blog, as she wrote Hovawarts On A Raw Diet last week. Today, you can get to know Jan and her Hovawarts a little better.

Thank you for participating in the Hovawart School of Witchcraft & Wizardry!

Hovawart Wizard: My name is Jan and I am the proud guardian of two hovawarts as well as a flat coated retriever. We live on the west coast of Scotland near Oban and I manage a group of holiday cottages on Ardmaddy Estate. I am also a Bowen practitioner. I’m very lucky in that my dogs come to work with me and very rarely are they left at home.

Hovawarts: All my dogs are girls – the eldest is Tussock who is nearly 7, Talulah (the flattie) is four and a half, and River is eighteen months.

My affair with hovawarts began seven years ago – visiting with my husband’s family, we were out walking in the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire. This wonderful looking dog came into view with its people – large, hairy, handsome, friendly, proud. After a conversation which included the immortal words “a hova...what???” we went away intending looking up this breed on the Internet.

I did so that night – and I loved what I learned.  This was my kind of dog.  On returning home, we set about finding a breeder and came across Min Inches in Scone.  Min was the person who imported the first hovies into the country and she still breeds a litter from time to time.  I struck lucky as she had a litter on the way.  We were asked many questions – why we wanted a hovawart, how strict/consistent we would be, what we would be doing with them, if it would be a companion and not just left alone in the yard and how we would socialise them – very important!

We made the grade in terms of our past dog ownership, where we lived, the kind of life we could give a dog (we already had a collie and a Labrador) and, I think, the fact that Larney, the mother-to-be, decided she liked me by curling up on the sofa beside me – something I don’t think she generally did with strangers.

It was a different matter when we picked up Tussock – Larney looked like she might just eat us given the chance such was her protective instinct for her pups.

Tussock is a kind, gentle, caring, sensitive and intelligent dog – she is very tuned in to my moods and hates if I am upset, or angry. Her favourite games involve tennis balls, sticks, a large basket ball that she plays football with and hunting for hidden treasures. She loves to be brushed, to swim, chase rabbits and to eat. Whilst generally friendly with anyone, she is very protective of her own property. With people she knows and loves – well, her greeting is enthusiastic to put it mildly.

River is a different character all together. She was bred by Val and Steve Shone in Surrey. I originally went down there to pick up and bring home an all black puppy. However, River made the decision for me by swallowing one of my earrings! I did get it back a day or so later!

River being loving to Talulah instead of tormenting her
At only eighteen months, she is still very puppy like – and incredibly cheeky! Her favourite activities are running, jumping, swimming and tormenting poor Talulah. Despite my best efforts to cure her of the last one, I am not succeeding! Yet. When we set off on a walk, she is like a champagne cork out of a shaken bottle. She makes Tussock look like a lazy old woman!

Talulah was my husband’s choice of dog, but on our separation she stayed with me – she is very sweet, and long-suffering of the sometimes brutal play that hovies engage in. She’s a kindly soul, and I have to make sure she gets her share of attention.

All my girls are un-neutered. The cost of having them done is rather more than I can afford at the moment, but whilst it is generally well documented what the benefits of neutering are, the drawbacks and contraindications of having them done are not so well known. My decision now is to leave them as they are – there are risks and benefits with every choice in life. Their seasons are easy enough to manage for me in where I live and my lifestyle.

I chose to buy puppies rather than adopt an older dog as I really love having a pup about the place, and it does bring about a fantastic bond. That said, if an older dog needed a home, and I was able to provide a home, then I would certainly consider it – although the girls may have the last say in such matters!

Our daily routine does vary depending on what job I have to do that day. If I am cleaning cottages, the girls can play in the garden. If I am gardening, then they “help”. If it’s paperwork day, they just sprawl around all day. Whatever the day is though, they have a good walk everyday – they can run free, swim, play, chase balls, generally letting off steam and releasing energy. They are generally obedient, but a bit more training wouldn’t go amiss! That is my intention for this year. Tussock loves to work with a clicker, and you can see her brain working.

What I love most about my dogs is their loyalty and their wish to be with me – and that feeling is quite mutual! It doesn’t matter where I go, they want to go too. So, if I have to go upstairs, or to the loo, I am usually accompanied by at least two of them. I also love that they are friendly with people whilst still looking after me. They are great with other dogs, too, although occasionally Tussock has flattened one that has obviously said something rude. She never hurts them, but she can make a lot of noise! I am fairly tuned in to her body language and can judge whether she is likely to have a go. She does NOT like dogs that run around yapping.

Hovies are special dogs. They are intelligent but it is a thinking intelligence. They are obedient, but not push-button. They are tremendous all rounders and continually amaze me in how they learn a new job very quickly. I feel safe with them and trust them. They are my friends and companions and I cannot see a time when I won’t have at least one hovie in the house.


Hovawart Wizards, like Jan, try to provide real life information for Muggles - those not yet touched by the Hovawart's magic - to learn more about Hovawarts in the Hovawart School of Witchcraft & Wizardry. A place where Muggles can read how we play, what kind of training and activities we undertake. What makes Hovawarts special to us, and how they made us into Wizards. The role they came to play in our lives. And the hard times we shared. Helping Muggles to make the best choice possible if a Hovawart could be the Magical Creature for them, or at least what to expect.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Fantastic Four: All Dogs Are Safe

Four Danish celebrities decided enough is enough. They paid a visit to the puppy mill and sat down with the owner's daughter and son-in-law, and convinced them the dogs should leave now. They then called in police and "Dyrenes Beskyttelse", who moved all the dogs over to the shelter in Roskilde, where they were reunited with the dogs already rescued last Tuesday.

What a finale. Heroes came to the rescue. Who are those amazing people? Meet The Fantastic Four: Sanne Salomonsen, Lise Steinhausen, Anne Campbell and Mikael Tzunami. We can't thank you enough for what you did, I am deeply touched by your actions, making such a heroic act to wait not a minute longer, and save the last remaining dogs from that hell on earth.

The news came out on Facebook first, and while I write this, rumors and facts are added to the story. The story doesn't seem - almost 24 hours later - to have hit the press yet. We have to wait for more news on how the health of the dogs is and how they are doing. Apparently it was when The Fantastic Four read the interview from the vet of "Dyrenes Beskyttelse", in which she made a huge shout out, that it is incomprehensible this has been going on in Denmark for 10 years - what triggered them to act.

The puppy mill owner tried earlier on the day to move five dogs to another address, but that was discovered, and The Fantastic Four made sure that those dogs were seized too. Both Anne Campbell on Facebook and Mikael Tzunami on youtube, confirmed that all dogs are rescued, and Mikael explicitly mentions the five. The police must be glad to hear this, because trying to hide the dogs in another properties is, again, a criminal act. The list is getting longer and longer now for the puppy mill owner.

So here the first chapter of this story ends. The dogs are rescued, and also before the feared date of February 1. In just over a week, it touched people like you and me. In Denmark and all over the world. And not just touched, but made us act as well. Yesterday I called it a grassroots movement, growing its own legs and out of control. Today when we finish the first chapter, it is more like a revolution of the people. Where authorities and police didn't act, and (inter)national media was silent, people took over and did what they know was right. With the result that all dogs are safe today.

It is time to celebrate, and I will make a toast for all of you, and to The Fantastic Four. Earlier today I took a walk with Kenzo & Viva - picture on the left. Seeing them romping around fills me with so much more joy and happiness today than usual, knowing all their rescued friends are doing exactly the same today, for the first time in their lives. I am sure you have similar feelings when you look at your own dog today.

When we finished celebrating, we can open the next chapter, to make sure the puppy mill is closed down once and for all, and cannot make a come-back as they did in the past. Or that another one could fill their void. We'll open that next chapter soon, first, let's celebrate.


For the latest and how you can help, visit the page Stop Danish Hovawart Puppy Mill.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Stop The Danish Puppy Farm Facebook Campaign

There is no news of the dogs I could share with you today. Like me I know you are crossing your fingers for news to break that the last dogs are seized before February 1. No news isn't always good news in our case, knowing they will spent another day and night in that hellhole.

Maybe today the papers are not writing, and the TV is not broadcasting, but social media is bobbling with activity. This is the second week, of what is starting to evolve into a grassroots campaign to save the thirty-three dogs left inside the puppy mill and to put the Danish puppy mill out of business once and for all.

With a hat tip to Jan Wolfe and Judith Broug, masterminds behind a social media effort launched today, in an attempt to try and track down who bought a Hovawart or Golden Retriever puppy from the puppy mill since August, 2012. As the puppy mills license was revoked  by that time, any selling of puppies after that date by the puppy mill can be prosecuted under criminal law in Denmark. A great opportunity to shut them done once and for all.

Jan and Judith created this "wanted" poster, which you can "share" on your Facebook wall to get the word out. Please use the "share" option of Facebook, as that will include the accompanying text who to contact as well. Before I could finish writing this, it has already been shared more than 90 times, so it looks very promising.

Another hat tip to bloggers Lana Fortuna and Agnieszka Bieńko, for blogging in Slovenian and Polish respectively, to spread the word about the Danish puppy mill. There is a lot of attention from Polish readers lately, no doubt because you are worried in Poland what happened with Bamira, not knowing if she is safe, or still inside the puppy mill. I am glad Agnieszka Bieńko - and Heban - are bringing you updates in Polish. We all hope and pray with you.

And then there is all of you that are helping in every other way you can. Your engagement in this, what now is turning into a grassroots campaign, is amazing. I am glad to be a part of such a great group of people, that have their heart in the right place, want to make a difference, and would do almost anything to save these dogs.

Join me in a prayer tonight for the dogs.


There is a Stop Danish Hovawart Puppy Mill page you can bookmark. It will have the latest news, how you can help and a chronological order of events, in the hope to make it easier for you to find the information you need, without that you have to sift through the blog pages.

Friday, January 18, 2013

A 1000 Hovawarts

How would you feel if you were a Police Chief of a small, peaceful and quiet town in Denmark, and the eyes of the world are suddenly upon you? When the press is lined up for your next statement? When management complains about all the mails and letters they get? Niels Denny Sørensen, from the local police in Næstved, Denmark, now knows exactly how that feels.

Niels knows every move he makes since the story came out, is under a magnifying glass, and today confirmed that once more. We met with Niels to handover the petition with a 1000 signatures and we talked for an hour in which we tried to voice our/your concerns as best we could. I do believe your voice has been heard, and Niels - the decision maker that can get the dogs out - has became very aware of his responsibility, if he was not already.


The police will not get the dogs out before February 1, despite the pressure. But I am confident the next time the vet says to him the dogs can "survive" until February 1, Niels will ask the question "last time you said that, 6 dogs died". We got promised the 33 dogs that remain in the puppy mill are checked up with more regularly so it will not repeat itself that dogs have to be euthanized when seized on February 1.

Another promise was, that the owner is not allowed to keep the last 10 dogs, when the whole group of the 33 dogs that are still in harms way is not sound and healthy on February 1.

It was one of our major concerns, if the puppy mill owner would still be allowed to have 10 dogs after February 1. That is now of the table. The vet of the animal welfare organization of Dyrenes Beskyttelse will also be part of this evaluation, so it is very unlikely, listening to what she said in the press today, there will be a single dog left in the puppy mill after February 1.


Remarkable was that Niels, very well aware of the attention from a 1000 "Hovawarts", made this request:
"if any one could can come forward that bought a dog from the puppy mill after august 2012, it would close them down once and for all, as their license is revoked and it is punishable by criminal law when they would still be selling.".
Let's shake our Hovie network for this one, it must be possible to find one of the many sells they made after august. It will not only secure all dogs, it will simply close them down forever. Did you buy a puppy at, not knowing all of this? Please contact Niels at or send it to me, if you would like me to mediate.


How are the ones rescued doing? It turned out one of them was expecting. So we can soon add between 6 or 10 to the ones rescued. Those pups will fly out of the adoption door for sure, the first generation of the puppy mill that will get the start in life they truly deserve, has already begun. Change is a fact already. How awesome is that.


The vets of "Dyrenes Beskyttelse" were also in the news today, and made a huge shout out, that it is incomprehensible this has been going on in Denmark for 10 years.

So many people tried to focus the public eye on the puppy mill before. Their blogs were closed, their Facebook pages closed, people where threatened by mail and nasty laywers sewed left and right. The power of money does ugly things. They tried to silence Pia Skovmose, tried to put yours truly's blog out of service. But they cannot escape the top guns and your loud voice. A big leap was made today, as finally an "official" and powerful organization dared to say what many in Denmark have said before but were silenced by the puppy mill.

We chose the right time to stop this puppy mill once and for all. We are a 1000 "Hovawarts", and we are not alone.


For the latest and how you can help, visit the page Stop Danish Hovawart Puppy Mill.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Danish Hovawart Puppy Mill Meltdown: A Future Ahead

Another day, and again progress. As I write this, the counter shows we reached our target of a 1,000 signatures. In just 4 days. How can I possibly even start to thank you for this? I am deeply grateful and in awe over your involvement in this case.

Pia, Merete and me will jump in the car tomorrow and deliver your signatures to the Chief of Police, Niels Danny Sørensen. Niels is the actual nr.1 person in Denmark that can push T.H.E. button for the final 33 dogs to get out now. Will Niels be my next best friend? We'll find out soon.

Thanks to the growing media attention we can show you this video of the first group of dogs - press play above - that were rescued yesterday. And please do press play, there is no scary footage, just dogs that celebrate their first day on the way towards a new future. The clip about the dogs is from about 30 seconds in, and around 2½ minutes long.

The video, shown on the network TV2 Øst, is in Danish. In short, you will hear Rikke Christenen-Lee, the veterinarian of the animal welfare organization "Dyrenes Beskyttelse", say: "Their fur hides a lot, but when you look closer you will first see the bad shape they really are in." Rikke continuous: "This is a very disturbing case of severe neglect, it is incomprehensible the police have not acted in this case and seized the dogs earlier". The dogs were not abused: "We cannot find any evidence somebody actually did try to harm them physically, they are in a bad shape caused by pure neglect".

Police Chief Niels Danny Sørensen was also interviewed, and on the question "Do you think you have responded to this case in good time?" his answer says it all "That's always something you can discuss, but we responded based on those standards we use and the statements of professionals we received." Stop. Did Niels just answered "No"?. It sounded a lot like "No, because our standards were not equipped for this, and our veterinarians were wrong".

Back to the dogs. There were rumors that they also still bred Golden Retrievers - originally they had two kennels, one for Hovawarts and one for Golden Retrievers - and the footage confirms this. There where a couple of Goldens among them, I have no numbers yet. But boy, I couldn't do anything else then smile when I saw this Golden on the right keeping his dog bowl in this mouth with an expression on his face like he landed in heaven.

And they did land in heaven. The staff of "Dyrenes Beskyttelse" are professionals. Vet's, behavioral experts, facilities. They are exactly in the place they need to be right now to have their "mental timeout".

Earlier today i talked with "Dyrenes Beskyttelse" about all of you that mailed me you would like to adopt one of the dogs or volunteer in the shelter.

They were so happy to hear that, especially because you all were experienced Hovawart owners and some of you had a dog with issues from the puppy mill before. It also warmed my heart, when you, some of you heartbroken about the issues you had with your pets from that place, directly opened that same heart once more to adopt, very well knowing what you are possibly getting into.

Dyrenes Beskyttelse asks for your patience:
"It will take time before the dogs are fully recovered. They each will get their own health plan, and have to be re-socialized, before we can go to the next step. Only our professional staff is working with them now. First when they are healthy and can function as family dogs, we will set them up for adoption."
When that goal is reached, and I am sure they will, all dogs will be set up for adoption over here, where you can apply.

For the latest and how you can help, visit the page Stop Danish Hovawart Puppy Mill.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Danish Hovawart Puppy Mill Meltdown: First Dogs Saved

The first dogs are saved. They were handed over by the owner into the care of the animal welfare organization "Dyrenes Beskyttelse". They are as we speak in the shelter of  "Dyrenes Beskyttelse" in Roskilde.

The staff in the shelter are first and foremost giving the dogs a "mental time-out", considering that the dogs have never been outside before and only have seen the inside of a cage their entire life.

They are all in poor shape. They are underweight, have bad teeth and open wounds. Their fur is matted and dirty. But they are safe, rescued from a life of torture and are now making their first steps into a new future. They will be fed, their wounds healed and their fur cleaned. All dogs will go up for adoption, but first when they are ready, received the proper care and are re-socialized. Something we can all rejoice.

Remarkable is that this first group of dogs are given up by the owner of the puppy mill voluntarily. "Dyrens Beskyttelse" is in a continuous dialog with the man, and yesterday he agreed to hand over some of the dogs. When they finally went into the stables to get the dogs, the sight they met was different from what was told by be the police though.

What "Dyrenes Beskyttelse" told me, was:
"we could retrieve 23 dogs in agreement with the owner. After seizing the dogs and moving them to our shelter in Roskilde, 2 unfortunately had to be euthanized immediately, as they were in very bad shape. After their first medical examination of the others, 4 more dogs had to be euthanized. Unfortunately we found 33 more dogs on the property. Vi hope to convince the owner to hand over the remaining dogs as well, so they can receive the necessary care and medical treatment as soon as possible."
The "official" number so far of dogs inside the property has thereby gone up, as there are not 40, but as much as 55 dogs found inside the property. It is not only unfortunate that the number is higher than first was given, it also makes me doubt about how thorough the investigation of the police and their vet's has been, when you miss no less than 15 dogs.

Looking past the numbers, the bigger picture is that "Dyrenes Beskyttelse" is actively coming into the case now and they have established a dialog with the owner. The first dogs are saved. Most of them are still alive and looking at a new future, for others their suffering has at least ended. All in all positive turn of events and hopefully the developments keep going as fast as they have been going the last couple of days. Then we achieve the goal of having the dogs out as soon as possible, instead of February 1, which is still the plan the police would like to follow.

We have to try to get them all out. Keep up the pressure in support of "Dyrenes Beskyttelse". Please keep sharing and signing for the dogs that are left behind. It would be great if Pia and me could handover your 1000 signatures to the Mayor soon. We only need 160 more signatures:

And a final message to all the fellow campaigners that read this. There is more focus on the case now. The Danish Kennel Club reported about it today and "will ensure authorities are aware of the events". Politicians are now starting to answer the mails we send "because they see there is a lot of concern and they have received multiple inquiries about the issue". One journalist, Allan Grassberger of the paper "Dagbladet", is now reporting daily about the puppy mill, and he will include our petition in the next article. Thank you all for your writing efforts, it is a huge job, but it also is bearing fruit.


For the latest and how you can help, visit the page Stop Danish Hovawart Puppy Mill.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Danish Hovawart Puppy Mill Meltdown: Help Is On The Way

Anja's boarding facility (photo from "Hundefristedet")
Wonderful news today. Anja Maindal, owner of a dog holiday boarding facility, offered to house all forty dogs from the puppy mill. Heroes do exist. Or is she a saint? She is probably both.

Anja's dog holiday boarding facility is in the slow part of the season right now, and she has plenty of room to house the dogs so they can be taken care of. Even better, Anja is also an educated behavioral specialist, so she could work with the dogs that have socialization issues. And we can make a best guess, after what these dogs have been through, deprived of human contact and living in cages, they probably will need it.

With good news there always follows some sour too, unfortunately. The police still doesn't act and didn't accept Anja's offer. They send Anja over to the Animal Welfare organization "Dyrenes Beskyttelse" and those two together now have the plan to try to talk sense into the owner and see if they can get the dogs. The police could have ended it today once and for all, and they have the possibility to do so based on Art.21/22 of the Animal Cruelty Act. The next I write is purely guessing, but as animal welfare has such a low priority (read: budget) the police probably doesn't want to pick up the bill, which they should when they seize the dogs and house them.

Let's cross our fingers for Anja, and that the talks with the puppy mill owner have a good outcome.

Other positive news is that the national media starts to show interest for the story, which would give a lot of exposure. Nothing published yet, but they are informing themselves with yours truly. Undoubtedly created by the petition you all signed and shared so vigorously together with those of you that participated in writing personal emails to authorities and the press. In less than two days, you already collected more than 500 signatures. If we can double that in the next two days I am going - together with any of you that want to join - over to the the Mayor of Faxe, and handover the petition. Please drop me a mail or a Facebook message if you would like to join.

We havn't achieved our goal yet, but I really want to thank you all already now for your amazing support and what you are doing for our Hovawarts. Some of you have also invested a lot of your time into this already, just because you thought this was a cause worth fighting for. You are all my heroes. And if you haven't signed yet:


For the latest and how you can help, visit the page Stop Danish Hovawart Puppy Mill.

Danish Hovawart Puppy Mill Meltdown: Police Is Failing

Kenzo is barking his longs out to get his fourty friends removed from the puppy mill in the town of Haslev, Denmark. And yes, this is a shameless plee if you will not bark with us, by signing this petition:

If you have not read sunday's post, the short version of what happened is that a long-time Hovawart puppy mill in Denmark is melting down due to economic and health issues with the owners. Fourty Hovawart dogs inside the puppy mill are caught in the middle. They live in an abandoned property, severly underweight and are being neglected. Police has given the owners until February 1, to bring things in order. The Danish Animal Welfare organization, "Dyrenes Beskyttelse", fears for the dogs survival and is afraid they won't make it that long.

Today we learned that the health and economic conditions of the owners are very severe. The property - with the dogs still in it - is foreclosed, and the new place the owners moved to, soon has to be abandoned as well. It is very likely the owners will not be able to recover their business.

We also learned the police fails in handling the situation. They revoked the puppy mill's license based on the the Danish Regulation For Commercial Breeding. A good step although long overdue. More important, they neglected to address the state of health of the dogs. The dogs are in such a bad shape, that this is not about a breeding license, this is a downright animal cruelty case, and falls under the Animal Protection Act which obliges the police to either seize or euthanize the animals when the owner apparantly is not able to take care of them (Art. 21 and 22).

The police won't move unless asked questions by politicians. Politicians won't move if we don't tell them loud and clear: There is only one priority at this moment. The dogs must get out of there. Now.

The petition targets the local Chief of Police, the Mayor, local Town Hall members, and the Danish Minister of Agriculture and Animal Welfare. If you would like to send them your own letter or e-mail, that would even be better. 

We can give you more information from inside the puppy mill soon, as one of their former employees has come forward with her story.

But first we have to get the dogs out. Please sign and share with your friends. I know you will, you love dogs as much as I do when you read this blog. Thank you.


For the latest and how you can help, visit the page Stop Danish Hovawart Puppy Mill.
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