1. This is the saddest thing you’ve ever written, Cara. <3

    There are people in this remote and impoverished part of Colorado who do the same. Because of the growing activism on behalf of dogs down here, they can't do it easily, they can't get a breeder's license easily.

    There are licensed breeders (backyard breeders) of golden retrievers, Mini-Aussies (Teddy), pits, cattle dogs and border collies. Some breeders here are responsible responding to a need for working dogs here. People who buy those puppies get a good dog and the chance to see the parent dogs at work. Maybe that's OK. Even though I'm fundamentally opposed to breeding dogs, I understand a rancher seeking out a working dog with predictable genetics. Still, it bothers me. I have two purebred dogs right here in my living room that I got at a shelter.

    Last year an Amish family sought a license to breed dogs — Aussies. There was (thank goodness) a large hue and cry, but they did get the license. They also found out that most of their neighbors don't like it and their breeding facility is inspected often. Out in the "off grid" places in the valley, though, where the well-armed anarchists live, this happens especially breeders of pit bulls. Human poverty is a huge factor here and I wish I had a magic wand. I'd put a secure income in their pockets, and provide homes for all their dogs. <3

    I am so grateful for your courage. I couldn't have born what you've just seen and written about.

    1. Thank you, Martha. It was incredibly sad. I don’t know why we went to see it, probably because I couldn’t believe it was really happening. So heartbreaking on many levels, but what continues to haunt me is that SO many people know about this market and no one does anything about it.

      Poverty is a big piece of the problem. Pretty much everywhere I’ve gone where dogs suffer there is poverty too and the worse the poverty, the worse it is for the dogs. We probably can’t ever fix our dog problems until we fix our people problems. But the dogs can’t speak for themselves, so I feel compelled to continue to share the situation in the hopes that those who care will try to bridge the gaps and help these animals, at the very least move them to better places.

      1. I live in Mississippi and all decent animal owners are ashamed of what happens in Ripley. We have tried in vain to get the laws changed. We are as heartsick over it as anyone who loves and cares for the animals the good Lord has entrusted us with. Most of my friends rescue or foster animals and/or spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on their own pets each year, ensuring they are healthy and have the best quality of life possible throughout their lives. Puppy mills and Ripley are not acceptable by anyone I know, and I am sad to read them described as part of our culture.

        1. you are not alone – we met so many amazing individuals stepping up for animals in MS. hopefully as more and more people find out about what goes on at Ripley not just in MS, but everywhere, pressure will build to put an end to it. Keep speaking up. I believe MS will change, right now it’s too slow for my (and I’m sure yours) heart. so we will keep talking, posting, reporting, sharing. Change will come. #togetherwerescue

    2. Sadly, this isn’t the only market. Since visiting and writing about it, I’ve been told about dozens of others. What is hardest for me to believe is that communities stand for it. If there weren’t plenty of people shopping these markets for puppise and dogs, the ‘breeders’ and dealers would find something else to sell. I also learned that sometimes there are medical schools who are there buying animals for teaching and testing. The sadness of this situation takes my breath away.

  2. Here in South Carolina, seeing dogs for sale at flea markets or “jockey lots” is a common sight. In fact, that’s where I got my first dog, when my husband and I were first married and knew nothing about what was going on. I still have that puppy – he is sleeping at my feet as I type. He will be 13 years old this year. That particular flea market had a row of stalls known as “puppy row.” You could buy cocker spaniels, Yorkies, bulldogs, German Shepherds, dachshunds – just about any breed, at well below what you would pay from a reputable breeder. It’s a thriving business.

    We found our puppy in a stall in another part of the flea market – a pom-a-pug-a-poo, so we were told. The seller told us she didn’t like to sell in puppy row because of all the diseases, and that our puppy was raised in the house with the family. She gave us papers and everything. We thought we were making a better choice. We thought we were buying from a “real” breeder. Was it true? I have no idea. But I know that’s a decision I would never make again.

    The point is, I think you are right that so much of this is fed by ignorance on the part of the buyer. That was the case for us. We figured these were families breeding a few litters in the backyard and selling them the best way they knew how. We were so naive.

    When you know better, you do better. What you’re doing to spread awareness is so very important, especially here in the south where dogs are basically commodities. Thanks for making a difference

    1. Once I found a six year old Siberian husky on Craigslist. I arranged to see her. When I arrived at her “home” I saw she was a breeding bitch for a backyard breeder. Well, I thought, “OK, she needs a home and I’m an experienced husky owner.” I planned to have her spayed within the next couple of day. She had NEVER spent a night in a house. Within a few minutes, she tried to kill one of my dogs. I tried crating her and she broke out of an extremely secure crate. We made it through the night by me leashing her to the post of my bed. In that VERY short period of time she had (wild thing that she was) bonded to me like super glue and had decided that all other dogs must die. Very strange for a husky, but given her life story, I wasn’t surprised. I had to take her back to those miserable people. I know the people were afraid I’d call the cops on them. I wish I had.

  3. Cara, this is so troubling to read, but I’m sad to say that none of it shocked me. I live in a rural county in Florida, north of Tampa, and what you described is pretty much the mindset around here. There are those of us here who are outsiders who are different, but the majority of the natives think of dogs, horses, pigs, chickens and the like as animals. Period. They are worth something to sell or eat, and apparently they are worth something to collect, judging by the tied-up dogs and ribby horses that you see in front of nearly every ramshackle mobile home in the county. They may have tarps on their leaky roofs because they have no money for repairs, but they have horses, chickens and a couple of hunting dogs. Our local shelter is small, smelly, noisy and overloaded with dogs and cats. I’m not judging these folks; they are caught in a vicious circle of ignorance and poverty. They don’t seem to want anything different as they think there is absolutely nothing wrong with the way things are. Unless it’s REALLY awful – dying animals in hoarding situations – nothing much is done by officials, who are overwhelmed or simply look the other way because of a very extensive good old boy network. We have a chronic offender in the neighborhood who has had animals removed from his property. Inevitably he gets more. Currently he has a dog tied to a tree, and an elderly, lonely mare living in the garbage in his front yard. I do what I can by donating food and supplies to the shelter, or giving that good mare alfalfa cubes on my morning walks. When our old lab passes we will adopt someone’s unwanted dog. For now it seems like it will be us and them until there is real social change in this country. Thank God for those who care as much as you do, and for putting a spotlight on these ugly truths.

    1. I’m so glad that people like you are out there – setting an example for your neighbors and trying to help the animals you can. As more and more people become come to see animals differently because of personal experience, education or example, things will change. But you’re right – until the economic issues are resolved it is hard for many people to view companion animals as more than property or livestock– something they can discard or neglect or try to make a buck selling. Thank you for giving your neighbor’s mare the alfalfa cube –I like that visual, you helping to make her day a little easier, just like when we hand treats and toys to the dogs we visit in these difficult situations.

  4. Hello Thanks for the info on these beautiful puppies!
    It’s been very hard finding an affordable puppies in this Coronavirus era. My Baby pass away last October. I was planning to get another Family member in April 2020. But It’s been very difficult find one. Keep Safe in keep me posted!
    Desire ‘ Hayes

  5. Cara, I have visited this market just recently, as I live in Saltillo – a small town just north of Tupelo. I have seen first hand the tragedy these babies are living in. One in particular sticks out in my mind. He/She was a very small beagle mix. Chained with a heavy chain in the hot sun, water filled with dog food and flies, and so emaciated. I was heartbroken, but you could tell this pup was on it’s last breath. It didn’t move other than the shallow breaths it took while we tried to decide if it was alive or not. I hope and pray that the owner of this market finally gets what’s coming to him. He’s been denying any wrong-doing at all for years, and even went so far as to tell the local news (WTVA) that the photos they posted on their channel weren’t even from his market.

    1. It is, by far, one of the saddest places I have been. It’s so hard to believe it’s gone on so long. All we can do is keep telling people and posting videos. It astounds me that the local government or the National Humane Society MS rep have not stepped in to stop it. We will keep talking about it. I’m working on a podcast about our visit that I hope to finish soon. Keep telling people, keep speaking up. That’s the only way change will happen!

  6. Thank you for writing about this. I grew up being taken to this god forsaken place. It is hell for animals. I now run my own rescue in West TN called Funny Farm Rescue Ranch and we adopt mostly to the northeast where they dont have the massive overpopulation problem we do. And they dont seem the have the same stereotypical attitudes about pets like so many southerners. They actually treat their pets like family members. I’m so thankful for what I call our northern angels. Ive been doing this 14 years now and it just doesn’t seem to be getting any better. Its terribly sad that we are in the 21st century and still treat animals so poorly.

    1. Thank you for what you are doing in an area that desperately needs TN angels. It is well past time that we fix this situation. I am determined to shine a light on the dogs (and people who care for them) who are suffering in too many parts of the south (and elsewhere, but mostly the south). It is crazy that this dog-loving country would allow it to go one and I am certain that if they know about it, they will help. The next time we are down in TN, I’d love to visit and share your story. #togetherWeRescue

      1. Rescues and shelters in east central Mississippi work with the College of Veterinary medicine at Mississippi State University to send animals north in a program called Homeward Bound. There are shelters rhroughout our state that are operayed and supported by intelligent, compassionate staff, volunteers, donors and fosters.

        1. That is so refreshing to hear! We only made a few stops in MS. Next time we are down that way, we will look up Homeward Bound and be sure to shine a light on the work they are doing. Thanks for letting us know!

  7. I was completely out of my mind when I heard from a rescue group in. An Amish family had lots of crates with moms and babies in them. When the mon was too old, they would shoot her and get another mom. These crates were tiny. They couldn’t stand up in them, the moms. I mean, they just laid their babies were born and no longer useful. This rescue convinced the father to leave them by the road they would rescue them. It was a very long Tim’s before they could even stand up. Thanks for listening.. sherry

    1. It is so incredibly heartbreaking when dogs and puppies are viewed as a commodity or a way to make money instead of as a living being with a heart and soul. We have to put an end to this – we as a compassionate society should not stand for it.

  8. Our bulldog of 12 years recently died from cancer. She was a part of our family., that we miss very much. We are at a point seeking another dog/family member and are reaching out to adopt . Please respond if you have a network to these beautiful dogs. Sdwhitt@hotmail.com Thank you.

    1. Dean – you can often find bulldogs and bulldog mixes at shelters and rescues. In fact, bull dogs are too often destroyed in shelters and dog pounds for want of an adopter. I hope you will choose to rescue. If you need help finding a shelter or rescue, please reach out to us at whowillletthedogsout@gmail.com and we will see if we can find one in your area.