Puppy Time

(Updated from the February ’20 newsletter. We’re revisiting a story that has even greater meaning today.)

Spring is puppy time. Have you seen the puppies in rescue and ever wondered where they all come from? Puppies come from many places—shelters, owner surrenders and sometimes they even show up as strays! Puppies are being sold at flea markets, born in landfills, wandering unsupervised and being caught in traps or wounded by a goats or livestock they are supposed to guard. They can also “come in” with unspayed females we take into rescue. We have had several females during the past few months who had “surprise” litters resulting in dozens of puppies.

Sometimes puppies come from shelters where people turn entire litters in. Savvy shelters realize that it’s not always the best idea to have pups since they can harbor all kinds of diseases that can be fatal to puppies. Whenever they can, health-conscious shelters avoid having puppies dumped there. Shelter volunteers will give rescue a heads-up when they’ve been alerted to puppies being dropped off, so time at the shelter can be avoided. Shelters are now more crowded and eager to move puppies then ever.

A recent article in Whole Dog Journal (2/7/23) by Nancy Kerns gave the best explanation we’ve heard for the excess of dogs and puppies. “The local shelter (where I volunteer) is so full, they’ve been waiving all adoption fees, trying to get dogs and puppies placed at a faster rate as more keep coming in. The staff is exhausted! They’ve been DROWNING in puppies – most likely because since COVID, many vets have had long waiting times for appointments, and dogs have been getting pregnant before people knew they COULD get pregnant. And we’re several canine generations into that cycle at this point.”

North Carolina puppies before and after rescue.

Many pups end up on Craig’s List or Facebook when backyard breeders have given up hope of selling them. Some Facebook groups, whose theme is Pyrenees-based, specialize in promoting puppies from disreputable breeders. Other pups show up at yard sales along with old furniture and miscellaneous bric-a-brac. We have been getting calls and messages from people”in the neighborhood” trying to tip rescue off with an anonymous phone call to ensure that pups don’t end up in the wrong hands.

Even more challenging situations occur when pups are found under buildings. Nursing moms will hide the pups to try to keep them safe. Volunteers have crawled under trailers and people’s houses and porches to round up entire litters of puppies. We also get many puppy alert messages on Facebook, as well as emails and surrender forms from people who cannot care for unplanned litters they’ve had or found.

Rescue puppies can come from almost anywhere and in the end, where the puppies come from is not as important as where they wind up. NGPR has a page where we list adoptable puppies. We give careful attention to where our puppies go:

  • Sturdy, visible, above-the-ground fencing, four foot minimum, five foot preferred
  • Pets are spayed or neutered, up-to-date on vaccinations with dogs on year-round heartworm preventative. Your veterinary reference should be able to confirm the status of pets in your household
  • You’ve done the research or have the experience to determine that your child or children regularly visiting your household are ready for a large-breed dog who is a guardian by nature. View the informative video about dogs and kids here.
  • Prior dog experience, large dog preferred. Preference will be given to homes where there is an adult dog in the home.

NGPR is need of more puppy fosters. You can read more about it here. Fostering puppies is a highly skilled and specialized job in rescue. It includes caring for puppies day and night, bottle feeding when necessary, nursing them through sickness and enduring chewed-up shoes and the other inconveniences until the day the puppies can be adopted. They grow quickly from little “potatoes” to curious, active explorers of the world around them. We try to keep the litter together with the Mom until they are eight weeks old. As they grow and become more active, we move them into fosters in groups of two or three so they continue to have the companionship of their litter mates and resident adult dogs for socialization. Pups are usually adopted at 12 weeks old. Separation is hard and the Foster Moms are sad to see them go but happy to know another litter has been saved and moved to caring, furever homes. We are ever grateful to the puppy fosters who are among rescue’s most valuable volunteers.