Tiny Paws Big Hearts Rescue seeks fosters, forever homes for rescue dogs
Kosztowniak rescues small breed dogs, which primarily come from puppy mills in Ohio. A puppy mill is a large scale commercial dog breeding operation where profit is given priority over the well being of the dogs. These dogs are typically sold to pet shops and are marketed as young as four weeks of age.
On occasion, she will get owners who turn over their dog to her, she was involved in a hoarder situation, but the majority of dogs come from rescue postings or connections that she has gained throughout the years.
There are also times Kosztowniak will attend what is called “kennel close outs,” which really means puppy mill dog auctions.
“The miller brings all his dogs and they literally put them on the auction block and you have a card and bid,” said Kosztowniak. “The dogs have numbers, no names, and chains around their neck. It is very emotional.”
The last dog auction Kosztowniak went to she was able to save a mommy, Yorkshire and her four puppies. There were 470 dogs being put up for auction and while Kosztowniak and other rescue groups are there to purchase the dogs and save them, they are actually bidding against puppy millers.
“[The Yorkshire] will be eight years old in October, which means they breed until she was seven years old and that’s just bad breeding,” she said. “Luckily her four puppies are absolutely gorgeous and three have been adopted. The mommy is an absolute sweetheart and she will be put up for adoption soon too.”
At this particular auction, Kosztowniak said the prices were very high, which was usual. She actually got into a bidding war with a teenage Amish boy who out bid her for a Bichon and her four puppies.
As a small operation, Kosztowniak said she just couldn’t afford to get them and it broke her heart to see him get them so she approached him after the auction offering to pay even more money, but he raised his price even higher.
“So, I had to walk away,” Kosztowniak remarked. “It really threw rescues because we only got about maybe 20 percent of dogs and the rest go back to the puppy mills. So, when you think about those 470 dogs it is really upsetting.”
The auctions are not illegal, but because of bad press, Kosztowniak said they have cut down on holding them and while certain states have better regulations on puppy mills than others, puppy mills continue to breed.
Ohio State laws are still pretty loose, said Kosztowniak. The state of Pennsylvania did make some improvements by reducing the number of breeding dogs per kennel, but the problem with any law they have for puppy mills is they don’t have the man power to inspect and control the situations.
“That is the biggest downfall the way I see it,” remarked Kosztowniak. “The USDA might inspect once a year. They will tell the miller to cleanup, he cleans up his act, and then he is good for another 11 months.”
Illness, disease, fearful behavior and lack of socialization with humans and other animals are common characteristics of dogs from puppy mills. The typical adult dog is usually around five years of age, bad teeth are a common problem, skin issues, and GI Issues. Some have congenital hip deformations and eye deformities.
“Eye deformities are common in over breed situations,” said Kosztowniak. “They will have one good functioning eye and then the other eye is smaller and non-functional.”
And even though these dogs suffer from a deformity, they do quite well in new homes.
“The adult dogs are harder to adopt out because they take longer to rehab, but are the greatest success,” remarked Kosztowniak. “My greatest reward is adopting out an adult female dog and people telling me they love the dog and it’s the best dog they ever had.”
Those interested in adoption can use Petfinder.com to search for the rescue’s adoptable dogs or email Kosztowniak at email@example.com for other available dogs. The adoption fee covers veterinary costs, including spaying/neutering and all vaccinations. Adoptees will be asked to fill out an application.
The dog is fully vetted unless they’re too young to be spayed or neutered and then they adopted with a spay/neutered contract, which involves a deposit that is refunded upon spaying and neutering, said Kosztowniak.
“How they respond to a question in the application really determines 90 percent [if they will,” explained Kosztowniak. “If they say they work all day and the dog is going to be alone for 10 hours they are not going to get one of my dogs. These dogs need a lot of rehab and they need a lot of one of one.”
People can also foster for the rescue, but it is important to Kosztowniak that fosters have some experience with rescue dogs and have the ability to work from home.
“The dogs, although they have been through so much, in most cases can forgive humans and what they have been put through,” remarked Kosztowniak. “They forgive and learn to love and trust again and that’s just priceless. Humans couldn’t do that. If you were locked in a cage and mistreated, you would probably not forget at all. These dogs come around and become the best companion animal you could ever ask for.”
Tiny Paws Big Hearts Rescue will be holding a fund-raiser beginning at 9 a.m. Friday, Oct. 12, at the Appletree Business Park, 2875 Union Road, in Cheektowaga. Visitors can participate in the basket raffle, Chinese auction, and are encouraged to make a donation for a good cause.