Our Pets

'I ask people why they have deer heads on their walls. They always say because it's such a beautiful animal. There you go. I think my mother is attractive, but I have photographs of her' Ellen DeGeneres


This is my girl Rosemary, a Pomeranian, on the day I first set eyes on her at Madam Wong's Animal Rescue Shelter down at Pasir Ris Farmway. I'd never witnessed a dog in such appalling condition and with the saddest eyes you're ever seen. It was a miracle that she was alive. Rosemary had spent the first 10 years of her life in a Singapore Puppy Mill at Pasir Ris Farmway. She would have had hundreds of puppies, kept in a tiny cage that she couldn't even stretch out in and developed disfigured 'cage feet,' she'd never been walked, never seen the sky or sniffed the grass, and never known human kindness.

Having worked at the animal shelter rescuing puppy mill dogs, I know firsthand that many breeding dogs lead the saddest, most awful life. And once they are no longer useful to the Puppy Mill, once their pelvis has broken from giving birth too many times, they are not even given the dignity of a painless quick death – often they are drowned or given rat poison to die in agony. This is all happening in a developed country, a country of more millionaires per square capita than anywhere in the world - Singapore.

Puppy Mill dogs are essentially living in a death camp, a holocaust, where they are abused, malnourished, raped, kept prisoner, murdered… If this was happening to people in Singapore something would be done about it immediately, but because it's dogs they fall under the title of 'commodity' and 'free-trade' – but they are a living breathing creature that feel sadness, pain and fear as much as people do.
When I first saw Rosemary I couldn't stop crying for 20 minutes. I was so sad and disgusted that humans could treat an animal like this. I find it hard to understand why some people have so much love and compassion for our canine friends, and others have no heart, decency or ethics at all. It's beyond me. It is ironic that on one side of the Pasir Ris Farmway fence you can find the most wonderful caring people, the animal shelter volunteers, who work tirelessly and dedicate so much of their time and money to help the animals' plight, and on the other side what can only be described as pure evil. The Puppy Mills must be stopped. People have no idea that the mother of their cute puppy from the pet shop is treated so abhorrently!

Rosemary came home with me. I simply couldn't leave her behind, as I knew she would die, despite being 'full at the inn' myself! Even after several baths she absolutely stunk – it was the smell of rotting corpse, the smell of death. It filled up every room in my apartment, and even my garden. I'll never forget the first morning she woke up after a good night's sleep and she stretched and gave me the most beautiful lopsided toothy smile to behold!
The vet told me to put her down and not waste my money on her, but I felt Rosemary's many health issues were ones that could be managed with a bit of investment in health care and good nutrition, and an abundance of tender loving care. I strongly felt this dog should know some love and joy in life before passing on. Rosemary had only known wretched suffering, torment and sadness, I wanted to do everything I could to pamper her and give her a lovely life.
Rosemary's transformation was miraculous. Within just a few weeks she looked a million times happier and healthier. Her eyes looked alive again, her hair started to grow, she has a new lease of life (next photo)…

Whenever I feel down I take one look at Rosemary and her obvious joie de vive, her amazing enthusiasm for life, her gentle loving soul, all make me feel better. You'd think she'd hate people for what they put her through, but she is the sweetest thing - and truly an inspiration. So many people these days pat Rosemary and comment on what a friendly sweet dog she is, they have no idea that she's been to hell and back. They are ignorant of what goes on behind the scenes at these disgusting Puppy Mills.
Rosemary is 12 now, in the winter of her years, but she acts like a puppy, a youngster a third of her age. It's as though she's been given a second chance at life and is making the most of every second of it.
Rosemary has since had cancer of the paw caused from an infection from the Puppy Mill's squalid dirty conditions, and had to have a few toes removed. Thankfully she rebounded in no time and is the most resilient dog imaginable. Nothing dampens Rosemary's spirit - she wanted to go on her walk the day after the operation when the vet said she wouldn't want to walk for a week or two! The operation was a success and she is now cancer free. Rosemary goes on 3 walks a day, eats the finest food known to dogkind, is preened and pampered, kissed and cuddled, endless tummy tickles – and thoroughly enjoying life. I wish I could help all the abused dogs out there in this way.

Rosemary is beautiful in every way, with a think silky coat, sparkling eyes, and the biggest smile. Sadly, she is one of very few Puppy Mill dogs with a happy ending. Many dogs rescued went on to die – they were just too weak and too sick. The animal rescue volunteers worked tirelessly looking for good homes for the survivors (Singapore has an amazing network of volunteers who receive no credit). I remember families viewing the survivors and turning up their noses, a woman saying to me 'But they're all so ugly' (so were her children! But I refrained from telling her that!). A couple of my friends stepped up and were great. They were committed to saving a life.

Rupert, a puppy Pomeranian from SPCA, recently joined our canine family, and the beautiful thing is that Rosemary has thrown herself into mothering him and adores Rupert. The pair is inseparable. It's a delight to watch, especially knowing that Rosemary has had so many of her children taken away from her. Now she has one to stay…

I hope Rosemary lives a long healthy life to make up for the time she lost in the Puppy Mill. It's high time Puppy Mills are banned here. While there are so many wonderful pets needing homes in the animal rescue shelters, it's nonsensical that Puppy Mills and Pet Shops selling live animals even exist. Singapore is a small, highly efficiently run country – a few changes to current practices would make a huge difference to the lives of animals and volunteers who are trapped in the vicious cycle of constantly re-homing pets, and such changes would be a great example to the rest of the World! Ella Sherman, Managing Director of Animal Merchandise

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