Skin allergies in dogs
Hi there, I understand that you are  thinking about purchasing a shih tzu or lhasa apso
puppy from a petstore or a breeder.  I’m writing to try to persuade you not to do that
- I'm going to tell you my story.

My name is Cherie.  At least that’s been my name since January 17, 2001.  Before that,
I guess my name was ST31 -  that’s what is tattooed inside my ear, so I guess that’s
sort of a name – ST31.
I used to live in a very classic puppymill.  There were over 150 dogs living in what was called a
“kennel” way out in the country north of Dallas.  The people that owned this “kennel” lived in a little
green house that didn’t have any electricity or running water.  There was trash piled up in huge heaps
in front of and behind the house.  It smelled of rotten garbage.

They had a lot of land out there – over 5 acres – it was way down a dirt road and very secluded.  
Although the property was surrounded by beautiful big trees and should have been an idyllic setting,
there was nothing beautiful about what was happening there.  The area cleared of trees was a muddy,
filthy mess - mud that was a foot deep in places. The acreage was divided up into pens - each about
12' by 12' and surrounded by a chain link fence.  Inside each pen was a little wire cage like a rabbit
hutch – each about 4’ by 4’ square.  The cage stood about four feet off the ground and had a tin roof
and a wire floor.  The big dogs, like labs, german shepherds and chows lived in the big muddy pens.  
The small dogs, like me, lived in the wire cages in “breeding groups” of 2-3 females with a male.  
There was a big aluminum pail with food and another full of water in each cage.  About once a week,
the people came by and filled up the two buckets.  The food was full of mites and dirt, the water was
very slimy and filthy.  In the winter, the water froze and we had to lick the ice - in the summer,
green algae grew in it.  When I say we lived in the cage, I mean just that – we lived in that cage 24
hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year.  We never got out to walk on grass or even the dirt.  
We stood our entire lives on those wire floors.  There wasn’t enough food for all of us and we often
got into fights with each other over the food.  

I did fine for about five years.  The people gave me hormones so that I would come into heat more
often so I had about two or three litters of puppies each year.  Each time the puppies were born, I
got out of the cage for about four weeks.  The people took me away from the other dogs so they
wouldn’t eat the puppies.  When my babies were about four weeks old, they were taken away from me
and shipped off in a huge truck with all the other puppies.  I was very sad when that happened.  At
least for a few weeks, there were three or four little babies that loved me - it was a nice feeling.  
Do you know how it feels to be loved?  And I loved my babies, too.  But, when they left, I was put
back into the cage to start all over again.  Gradually over the years, my body started wearing down
from having so many puppies – the litters got smaller and smaller and the babies were increasingly
more often born dead.  I also contracted a tick disease called ehrlichia that began to deplete my red
blood cells so finally I just stopped coming into heat.  And I started losing weight.  At that point, I
was pretty much worthless to the people so they put me up for sale.  That day was the luckiest of my

I began my life that day - I was rescued by a very nice lady that volunteered for the rescue group.  
She took me and three others from that horrible place.  We rode in the back of her car all the way
to Houston.  It was a long, long drive.  She had to drive with the windows down – she said we all
smelled TERRIBLE.  

When I got to Houston, the director of the rescue took us to the veterinarian.  When he saw us, he
said we were the WORST looking dogs he had ever seen – especially me.  On that day, I weighed 6.6
pounds and was severely anemic.  I was in such bad shape, the vet refused to do any procedures
except the bare minimum.  That was lucky - I soon became so anemic, I almost died – my red blood
cells were so depleted by the tick disease that I had to have an emergency blood transfusion just to
stay alive long enough for the antibiotics to work.  

Slowly, very slowly, I got better.

Today, I’m healthy – I weigh about 11 pounds and my mom keeps my hair long – she says I’m a spoiled,
beautiful, regal princess.  I don’t know about the regal princess stuff, but I do have lots of toys and
plenty of food to eat.

I’m telling all of this because I think it’s important that everyone knows the conditions in which I
was forced to live in just to produce puppies.  We really don’t live a life, we don’t have love or
freedom or even enough food.  We really just exist to have puppy after puppy after puppy.  Like a
little puppy factory.  

Although it would be highly unlikely you’ll ever buy one of my decendents, I can tell you that
99.999% of all puppies sold in pet shops came from places like I did.  They are not nice places and
the people that run them have no humanity or conscience or just common decency in them at all.  They
don’t care that we are sick or in severe pain.  They don't care that our eyes have amonia burns from
the dogs above us showering us with urine each day.  They don't care that we have open, gaping sores,
crawling with maggots, from the places where our matted fur is too close to the skin.  They just care
that someone like you will possibly pay $700 for one of my babies.  

If you buy a puppy from a pet shop or even most breeders, you are rewarding those people for
treating me like that.  You are paying them to continue to keep us all in pain and isolated from love.  
The only reason they breed puppies is for the money - stop them from doing this to the others like
me.  DO NOT give them money.  Look at my face - If you are a true dog lover, you will get past your
desire for a fluffy puppy - the ONLY way to stop the type of physical and emotional abuse they've
inflicted on me and thousands of others is to take a stand and STOP paying them to do it to us

Thank you for reading my story,

If you have any questions about puppy mills or pet shop puppies,
E-mail Cherie here.  

If you think this doesn't apply to you because you aren't buying from a pet shop or a puppy mill, but
rather a private individual who claims to do it for a "hobby" or just to make a few bucks, check out
Ginger's Story first   

And, if you're really convinced that you need a puppy, Ginger and I created a checklist of things to
do or watch for when selecting a GOOD breeder.  Check out our
Good Breeder Checklist.  
There are still other dogs in need.
Check them out!
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The Lone Star Shih Tzu and Lhasa Apso Rescue (LSSTLAR) is an all volunteer organization dedicated to the rescue,
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