“Anyone who says money can’t buy happiness has never paid an adoption fee.”
At some point in your life, you have probably walked by a pet store and seen cute little puppies sitting in windows. You may have begged your parents to buy you one, and may have even gotten one. It seems harmless to buy a dog, but what actually goes on behind closed doors is frightening. In late November of 2017, Valiant Animal Rescue and Florence County Environmental Services collaborated on a case concerning a large scale commercial breeder. Over the next few days, they removed over 130 animals and transported them to an undisclosed location.
Valiant Animal Rescue and Relief has been operating in the Lowcountry and across North and South Carolina for over a decade. Lead by executive director and animal cruelty consultant Michelle Reid, Valiant has tackled some of the most urgent and challenging animal crisis situations in the Carolinas. In 2017 alone, Valiant aided over 1,500 animals. I met Michelle on April 18, 2016. Valiant listed a small red dachshund named Rudy on their Facebook account. I fell in love with him and went to meet him and Michelle. I was immediately impressed with Michelle and how she presented herself. She asked all the right questions that someone should to a prospective adopter. I could tell right away how genuinely she cared for animals. After a home visit and some paperwork, Rudy came home. He came from another cruelty case where over 100 animals were living in a backyard. Ever since he came into my life I have followed Valiant’s rescue efforts. Michelle is the helm, the anchor, and the sail of this operation who works countless hours tackling these cases and bringing the abusers to justice.
On December 9th I got a text from Michelle pleading for help related to the Florence cruelty case. With the influx of animals, she needed all the volunteers she could get. I went to
an undisclosed location to help document the conditions and care for the dogs. It was unlike anything I had ever seen. While I am familiar with the work Michelle does, I had never really
seen it up close. There were over 100 dogs- crying, barking, shaking, and terrified. Some were matted so heavily they were unrecognizable. Others were blind and had growths coming off of them.
There were pregnant dogs with their teeth rotting out of their heads. This particular case involved small ‘desirable’ breeds- Dachshunds, Yorkies, Pugs, Boston terriers, Pekingese, Poodles, you name it. When I started helping, Michelle had only lost one dog, which is incredible considering where they came from. I got a small glimpse of the terrible conditions the animals were living in and it was something no animal should ever be subjected to. As of
today, a few more have sadly passed, mostly the newborn puppies, from health complications, but most of the dogs are on the road to recovery with the help of Michelle and her team.
What I found to be most profound from helping with this rescue was the resilience the animals displayed. While many were scared and not very trusting of humans, others were constantly wagging their tails, jumping, and excited any time one of us walked into the room. It is likely they never had positive contact with humans, if any contact at all. They were so grateful to have someone taking care of them and to have a warm place to sleep. There is no telling how many puppies the ‘breeder’ sold out of her backyard operation. It is always important if you are absolutely set on buying a dog to do so from a reputable breeder. You should insist on seeing the conditions they are kept in. A breeder who refuses to give this type of information is most likely not following proper regulations that they should. Backyard breeders don’t care about the shape their animals are in, which is why the puppies they produce often end up sick.
If you want to add an animal to your family, a local rescue is the best option. The animals get fully vetted before going to their homes and a good rescue always makes sure they are placed into good hands. The animals from the Florence case are slowly but surely getting put into loving foster and adoptive homes. If you are interested in fostering or adopting one of these sweet dogs, go to valiantanimalrescue.org and fill out an adoption application. I have a
foster in my home at the moment, and her demeanor from day one to a few weeks later has been night and day. A good home can make all the difference!
Written by Caitlyn MacCracken
Cover Photo by Palmetto Coast Media