May 15, 2008
Women dish out puppy love
Pair establish organization to care for dogs used for breeding
Bob Ellis/staff photographer
Kim Hubbard of Homer pets Lucille, as Ruby, a 5-month-old cockapoo puppy, rests behind her. Both dogs are refugees from breeding facilities, called “puppy mills.” Hubbard estimates that Lucille, a cocker spaniel, was forced to have 15 to 18 litters of pups in her 9-year-life.
Sitting in her house and surrounded by several dogs, Kim Hubbard of Route 11 in Homer showed off her darling of the moment, a 6-month-old cockapoo (cocker spaniel-poodle mix) named Ruby.
As of this morning, Ruby is recovering at Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine — a heart murmur threatened the dog’s life.
While spending $6,000 in donations and their own money to help a cute little dog might seem outlandish, Kim Hubbard and her sister-in-law Sue Hubbard think that Ruby deserves the chance to live the full life that overbreeding had nearly denied her.
Hubbard’s Hounds was founded in March, and since then Kim and Sue Hubbard have helped about 22 dogs adapt to the world outside mass breeding facilities, called “puppy mills.”
“Puppy mills” are often large operations that breed multiple breeds of dogs in small cages, stacked one upon the other. The mothers are bred time and time again, and receive little to no veterinary care. Inbreeding runs rampant and results in serious congenital defects, in addition to other conditions like cysts between the dogs’ toes and heartworms. Many of the dogs that result are afraid of people and never develop into the companion animals that most pet owners desire.
Kim and Sue Hubbard run Hubbard’s Hounds at their houses and have rehabilitated 75 to 100 dogs since the two women started working with puppy mill dogs last year. They had started out as a satellite of two other rehabilitation organizations in Georgia and Connecticut, but decided their personal philosophies did not match the other organizations.
The dogs are fed and given plenty of attention, which gets them healthy and acclimates them to humans. Some will never be able to fully enter a home, and remain with the Hubbards for the rest of their lives. The others are adopted out.
Many years ago, Kim Hubbard used to breed Saint Bernards, showing them in dog shows.
About a year ago, after she had married her husband, Jason Cabaniss, and the two had moved back to Hubbard’s native Homer from Maryland, Hubbard asked if it would be alright if she took in a couple of dogs as a foster parent.
“It was never just two,” Cabaniss said Wednesday as he and Hubbard stood in their fenced in yard while nearly 10 dogs scampered around them.
Rather than the “hobby breeders” who concentrate on a single breed, as Kim Hubbard used to do with her Saint Bernards, puppy mills often consist of multiple breeds of dogs who live out their lives in unsanitary stacked cages with very little friendly human contact.
Kim Hubbard’s house is now filled with smaller companions — mostly cocker spaniels, with a few dachshunds, as well as a handful of mixed breeds and a very large Great Dane.
Hubbard’s Hounds takes these dogs in from shelters and puppy mill “middle men,” who’ve developed a relationship with the owners of the dog farms and are able to rescue some of the dogs that are either past their breeding prime or have medical problems that prevent them from being profitable.
The Hubbards receive their dogs from a semi-retired middle man from Florida who makes monthly rounds up and down the East Coast, picking up dogs from shelters and puppy mills, depositing them with rehabilitators and foster homes, and then finding permanent homes for the healthy dogs.
Coquette, a chocolate cocker spaniel, stood in the backyard and tried to bark but only managed a raspy, asthma-sounding noise. Kim Hubbard explained that the puppy mill owners, in an effort to prevent against complaints from neighbors, have “de-barked” Coquette — a long metal probe was stuck down her throat, rested against her vocal chords, and then struck with a hammer to sever them and silence the animal.
Coquette has also suffered from a bladder stone the size of a small marble, discovered when the Hubbards took her in to be spayed, as are all of the animals they eventually adopt out.
Probably about 80 percent of those who’ve adopted in the past have sent in donations, and Hubbard’s Hounds received a $1,000 donation Tuesday night from Puppy Mill Rescue in Seneca Falls for Ruby’s surgery. A nonprofit, the fledgling Hubbard’s Hounds also finds temporary foster homes for the animals.
Adoption fees are about $400, and although they do not entirely make up the costs of each animal’s veterinary care, they do ensure that the new owners would be able to take care of the dogs.
The costs that can’t be covered by donations are made up with Sue and Kim’s own funds, which can get pricey when monthly food bills amount to $400 and the cost of just two weeks’ worth of veterinary care amounts to $3,600.
“We have a philosophy that every dog is worth saving, if possible,” Sue Hubbard said shortly before she rushed off one pup for some emergency veterinary care.
To read this article and more, pick up today's Cortland Standard
Click here to subscribe