November 1, 2002

Small Paws attended a commercial kennel auction in Duncan, Oklahoma where 10 Bichons were waiting on the auction block to come on home.

Thanks to your support, we did better than that! We bought two additional Bichons that had been added at the last minute.

Here they are with names from the broadway musical "Oklahoma!"

# 278 Female born 12/09/02 "Laurie"
# 279 Female Born 12/09/02 "Ado Annie"
#280 Female Born 10/21/02 "Beautiful Morning"
#281 Female Born 5/28/00
#282 Female Born 6/6/98 "Gertie"
#283 Female Born 1/7/96 "Aunt Eller"
#284 Female Born 1/17/96 "Kate"
#285 Male Born 4/27/03 "Curley"
#286 Male Born 4/27/03 "Will"
#287 Male Born 12/09/02 "Oklahoma!"
#288 Male Born 3/12/01 "Jud"

This is one of the little females.

This little male is missing one of his ears. It is gone all the way up to his head.:(

This little female may be preggers. She also has an umbilical hernia and a growth on her rib that will need to be removed and biospied.


"Thank you for saving me!"

One of our precious volunteers in Tulsa who went along as a driver on this rescue. It was her first dog auction and she arrived back in Tulsa with tears in her eyes. She was so happy we got all of the Bichons, but she said.."There were hundreds of dogs who didn't make it out...the other breeds...I'll never forget the look in their eyes."

November 1, 2003
Duncan, Oklahoma

First of all, I want to THANK ALL of the SPR family for donating your money, your time (praying), and talents (sewing, fostering, etc.) so the rescue team could attend and bid at this place. Miracles were plentiful during my trip.

Secondly, I want to thank those of you who prayed I would sleep Saturday night. After a hot shower to cleanse myself of the horrible stench, I fell fast asleep without any nightmares. I woke up Sunday around 9:00 a.m. and corresponded with Robin. I was still exhausted, so I took a nap around 12:30. Well, I just woke up (it is 5:26 pm), and this time the memories of what I saw are clearly in my mind.

Those little eyes---I will NEVER FORGET those sad eyes. Thank the Lord that I am able to tell this in a letter, because I know I could not say this stuff out loud in front of you all.

Why did I go? I had to see. I wanted to see with my own eyes what others have said; I wanted to see the truth. Yes, I was warned. Robin tried to prepare me. She was right; there were no words to prepare me. Here is my recollection of my first puppy auction. Please forgive the grammar errors.

I arrived at the auction at 9:00 a.m., one hour before bidding. I didn’t even make it half the distance to where the dogs were located. I had to turn away and go back to my car due to the stench. Robin told me to get Vicks VaporRub or I would not have seen anything! I put Vicks in my nose just so I could stand to be there. Then I headed down to where the crowd was located.

I guess the first thing that stunned me was the other “attendees”. Some were very well dressed while others were dressed casual. People were laughing!!! People were laughing and catching up on the latest news. And some brought their kids and babies- stroller and all! I kid you not! As if this were some sort of family picnic. There was a tent up where people were selling food, candy, and drinks! People were walking around, eating, and site seeing like they were at the state fair! I was also surprised to see an Amish couple. The rescue group told me that a lot of Amish were big into raising and selling puppies.

I first went in to the “barn” where little babies and mothers nursing babies were kept (I did not know what was being kept in there). On the door were signs that said “no cameras or video allowed” and “keep door shut”. I walked in the building and the smell hit me hard. I have never ever smelled anything like it! I had this overwhelming feeling of sadness and horror before I even saw anything.

Once I shut the door and turned around, little puppies were staring at me. I mean I was face to face with these babies! There were two levels of puppies and with me being 5 foot ½ inches short, placed me face to face with the top row. They were so scared, sad. I felt like they saw right through me and knew I was different. It seemed like they were talking to my spirit saying “please, please save me. I’ll be good I promise”.

Most of the babies huddled together in the back of their cages while others just lain there with no expression, just a stare as though they had already given up. I’m talking about 2 ½, 3 month old babies!!!! They had little tear stained faces. Several were already sick—I could see it in their eyes. Other puppies had bad eyes. I think they were blind or had cataracts. I just thought-“oh, Lord, how can these people look at them without a feeling of tremendous guilt, sorrow”.

I was looking at two babies, and a little boy probably around 9 or 10 came up to me and said “Oh, you don’t want that one, it’s the runt—the other is better”. I KID YOU NOT! This little boy, instead of wanting to play with the doggies, was looking at the pups with the thoughts of a good “buy”. I was so shocked, horrified! I didn’t know what to say to him. The only word I could get out was “Oh, okay”.

I wanted to leave, escape, cry! I wanted to scream and yell. I didn’t care what breed they were--I loved and wanted to save them all! Hug them. I was (am) livid!! But some how with the grace of GOD I was able to maintain my composure. I was (AM) so heartbroken. I had to be numb, and thank you God for giving me that!

I then went to the other side of the “barn”, and it was so much worse. This is where the precious, worn out mamas and nursing babies were. I was pretty cold Saturday morning. I saw nursing babies huddled and shaking (I don’t know if this was from the cold or what) with a heat lamp on them—their mama just sitting in the same cage with them, but the mama distanced herself from the babies. Where she was, the babies couldn’t get to her. I promise—I thought one of the mamas was dead. She didn’t move—not even her eyes! These were just the dogs in the barn. I still had to go outside to see the others!! I think there were around 200+ dogs all together! SPR family—all of this is just the viewing! I have a while before I get to the auction.

Our precious, precious bichons were outside as were other breeds. I saw both wire and plastic bottom cages. When I saw the bichons, they were on plastic floors off the ground. Some breeds were on the cold wet ground. I am telling the truth as I saw it so I’m saying good/bad whatever I saw. At the time, our precious bichons were in big wire crates with room to move around, but there was no cover over the cages to protect them from the cold weather. It rained during the auction itself and our babies were next to last to be auctioned. So they were out in the cold and were rained on. They had to stay outside like that ALL DAY—I don’t know how long they were out side before I got there. I got there at 9:00 a.m., and they stayed outside all day long since they were 3rd from the bottom to be auctioned. The sweet bichons were dirty, had tear stained faces. Their tails were between their legs. Some were so scared, others cowered down. Then there were the pups that just sat there looking at me. I went to these babies and looked them straight in their eyes silently telling them this was going to be all over for them soon—we were getting them out of this Hell! We were going to take care of them—I promised them! Then I thought, “What am I going to do if we can’t get them all out?!” I promised them. Thank you all for not making me leave without all of them!

I continued on to see the other breeds. Several were sick, several cried when I walked by. I saw long toe nails, bad eyes, and those that seemed to have lost their little souls. I saw several that I just wanted to take, put in a warm room with me, and allow them to “go on” painlessly with assistance while they were being hugged and cradled.

I walked back up to where the auction was going to start—and realized there was another little building where all the maltese were.

With all the breeds, some were very thin.

Okay, the auction started. This was my very first one, so it took me a while to “get” how their process went. The bad man (auctioneer) began at the top of the list. My heart sank. Our babies were going to be the 3rd breed from the bottom of the list. They were going to have to be outside all day long. And I was thinking the auction would be over with 3:00 or 4:00 p.m. being the latest.

When the bidding began, I could not keep my eyes off the auctioneer. I was trying to see how this man could do this as a “career” and sleep at night. I don’t think our minds will ever be able to understand. His wife and son were right beside him. Seeing them made me want to spit fire! I had so many ugly thoughts run through my mind, but I had to stop. I did become numb. There was no way I could have stayed until the end unless I did. I sat through the whole thing. I wrote down what price each baby sold for. I actually sat there through it all – over 10 hours of it. I think the auction finished around 9:00pm. As I’m writing this, I still can’t believe what I saw. And to think that the rescue team told me that this was a decent auction!!!

Human babies cried. Kids were let loose to run where ever while the auction was going on. Yes, they were there with their family. At one point during the auction, it was announced that some one’s kids were on top of the house!!! The parents need to “put a leash on their kids” was said with others laughing. The children were allowed to play where ever at this place!! My heart sank deeper. If this is how their own kids were raised/treated, what were the puppies and doggies going through!!! Okay, Robin told me there was some kind of disease that dogs had that humans could also catch. (Brucillosis) Most animals with this disease were put “down”. These bidders know about this and still let their kids run around! Well, at that point I thought I’d seen/heard it all!!! I can’t think of a word to begin to explain how I was feeling at that point.

During the auction, sad things were said. One thing that stuck in my head was that the word pregnant was never, never used. Words like bred, heavy bred (meaning the poor baby was pregnant and due any day) were used. Would the word pregnant make them feel a little squeamish? Would it make them realize they were talking about life? I don’t know.

For all the breeds, the following things were said. Yes, I wrote stuff down. The poor dogs were scared to death. They were held in the air for all to see. Puppies were grabbed by one hand and held in the air. It was killing me! The only thought I can come up with right now that would compare to the poor dogs’ facial expressions is try to imagine being naked in front of a bunch of people staring at you and poking you trying to determine whether you were worth anything to them. It was so, so sad. Some of you reading this may think that I sound stupid or that I am exaggerating —but this how I felt during this, and exactly what I saw. Here are some of their sayings while trying to sell the dogs. These comments were repeatedly used for all breeds. .
This one’s (a dog) missing some teeth. (this was almost the norm)
This one has a good belly on her—buy her and you already got income coming in soon.
This one is missing some hair—got into a fight.
This one’s eye is watery and missing some teeth.
This one’s got a loose skin knot. It won’t hurt anything. (I’m thinking “What is that exactly?”.)
This one has a hotspot that’ll heal in no time.
This one’s blind in one eye, but still has a good aim.
This one’s missing some teeth, but he’s a very aggressive breeder and has a good hike.
This one’s got cataract in an eye.
This one’s got a big ol’ belly and she’ll throw you chocolates. She’s due next week. They held her up in the air so all could see her tummy.
This one’s in season, a climber –have to put a lid on her.
This one’s in season. She’s swellen up.
This one’s missing an eye, but gots what’s important.
This one’s got a bubble, cloud in an eye.
This one’s got an open umbilical hernia. (repeated several, several times)

One precious girl had a hurt back. The baby couldn’t even stand up. They held her up saying she just has a weak back! She can still have litters though. Oh my God I thought –surely they wouldn’t breed her again. She sold! I could not believe it! I just still can’t believe the heartless, pure inhumane, and evil (these are my thoughts).

I remember one girl was announced as having a cherry eye. I don’t know what this is. The auctioneer said “it won’t take but a minute to clip it out”. I had to just focus on breathing! Just a minute to clip it out??? Tied was another word used.

Some were said to be like clockwork. Giving litters every 6 months! The auctioneer said that one little female had pups in the car by herself and did just fine. One poor dog was said to “just have a rattle when breathing—just had a cold and some flea damage.

The last quote that sticks in my head regarding a male pup is “this one’s missing a testacle, but proven, and he don’t pass that down”. What the hell? It is a genetic defect—how can they say that these things “don’t pass down to pups”? It was so obvious that all they (people there) cared about was that there wasn’t some thing wrong in a baby’s appearance!! Talk was said about dogs that are good mamas and will take in anything (allow other breed puppies nurse). The listing I had stated things like “in heat, good mother, proven. The auctioneer was just out and out lying!! I do think that some there were really ignorant of the fact of genetics. But the auctioneer knew what he was saying!

When the bichons were up, I was so so nervous, but I knew it all was in God’s hands. Surprisingly, there were only a few people there bidding on them! THANK YOU, OH, THANK YOU GOD! It happened so fast—before I knew it, our fluffs were auctioned off—ALL OF THEM TO US! AND TO ADD TO OUR MIRACLES, WE WERE UNDER BUDGET!!!!!

I sat there through the auction and wrote down the highest bid for each baby. Some were sold for $35. I say this because I want to PLEAD to other rescue groups to save babies at these hell holes. It killed me seeing all those babies knowing that they didn’t escape! I will never forget what I saw, heard, smelled. NEVER! This just made me more determined and dedicated to rescue.
The fluffs and I had a 3 hour drive home. They were very quiet. We thanked the Lord ( me out loud) off and on all the way home.

I finally made it to the vet’s office and met Robin for the first time. She is every bit as loving, sweet, dedicated as portrayed through her words and e-mails. At this point I was totally mentally and emotionally a wreck.

Robin took the babies out and one by one—took their little faces and looked them straight in the eyes and told them that they will never be hurt again, NEVER! Of course, this made me break down. I stayed and watched the doc, Robin, and Dale gingerly put the fluffs in a clean cage. Of course some of the fluffs knew each other. And to my amazement, I KID YOU NOT, their tails began to wag!!!! They knew. They knew they were safe.

At one point Robin saw one of the fluffs in the crate I brought back and said “Is this baby dead?”. I crumbled. No, the baby wasn’t, he/she was just lying down. THANK THE LORD THEY ALL MADE IT BACK.

Guys, we have to work hard. We can’t leave any behind. We will succeed, but we must keep working hard!! I’m not sure what everyone’s vision for SPR is, mine is that we get all these babies out, expose these people, let the truth be known. And, possibly continue and focus on other breeds eventually. With the Lord, nothing is impossible!

Editor's Note: Our volunteer was visibly moved to tears upon her arrival at our vet's office in Tulsa, late Saturday night after the auction. One of the Bichons we bought is missing a whole ear, seemingly missing all the way up to his head. One has a bad eye, which will probably have to be removed.

We told her these weren't the worst we have smelled and I thought she was going to be ill right there on the floor.

I want to thank her for going to this auction, and for coming back to tell all of you what she experienced. I know it will be a memory that will be with her for the rest of her life. Love, Robin

Written by Oscar Hammerstein II
Music by Richard Rodgers

Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweepin' down the plain,
And the wavin' wheat can sure smell sweet
When the wind comes right behind the rain.
Oklahoma, ev'ry night my honey lamb and I
Sit alone and talk and watch a hawk makin' lazy circles in the sky.
We know we belong to the land
And the land we belong to is grand!
And when we say--Yeeow! A-yip-i-o-ee ay!
We're only sayin' You're doin' fine, Oklahoma! Oklahoma--O.K