Letter to the Editor: The Problem with Breeders

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I just mailed the following letter to the Philadelphia Inquirer as a response to an article titled “Aid pours in for dogs rescued from kennel:”

I’m writing in response to the “Aid pours in for dogs rescued from kennel” article that ran on February 24th, 2006.

It’s touching to see that so much aid and support has poured in for the dogs rescued from an allegedly abusive and neglectful breeder. I’m thankful there are so many people willing to help companion animals in need.

However, I was disheartened to see that the article also featured a list of ways to “Pick a Good Breeder.” Much more appropriate would have been a list of “Reasons to Adopt Rather than Buy from a Breeder,” especially considering the nature of the piece.

Every year, millions of dogs in the United States are killed because there simply aren’t enough people to care for them or enough room in shelters to house them. Often, strays and lost dogs are picked up, kept at a shelter for seven days, and if no one claims them, they are killed to make room for more animals.

Surely, there are good and ethical breeders, but because of the sheer number of surplus dogs that are killed, there is simply no justification for purchasing from a breeder or, even worse, a pet store. If someone is looking to bring a companion animal into their lives, they should adopt from a shelter or rescue organization. Petfinder.com can help in the search for a specific breed, if that’s an important consideration.

Perhaps when the pet population comes under control, buying from breeders will be an ethical choice. But for now, it’s vitally important we save the animals that most need our help.

Ryan MacMichael

Old friends

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Last night Amina and I were out for our evening walk when we bumped into a former shelter-mate of hers, a sweet Golden Retriever named Jasmine. When my wife and I were first looking at dogs, we visited Friends of Homeless Animals in Northern Virginia and walked and played with quite a few of them. Jasmine was the first one that I really felt like we clicked with. But, we held off on adopting her because we weren’t totally sure and we were headed to New York the following week, so we wanted to wait until after that to make a decision. By the time returned from our trip, Jasmine had been adopted. I was a little bummed, but happy for her that she had found a home; it turned out well because that visit was the day we met Amina and there’s no doubt in my mind now that we were meant for each other. The three of us are so similar in some ways, it’s frightening.

But, it was great to see Jasmine again. She was doing really well and was clearly well loved. It was also a little weird — kind of like being with your wife and bumping into your ex-girlfriend; you hope she’s doing well and it’s good to see her, but there’s that weird two-worlds-colliding thing going on. Jasmine sat by me and was loving the head scratching and Amina only got mildly jealous, so it went well.

Something else I realized is that there seems to be an unspoken bond between people who rescue animals. Shortly after we adopted Amina, she and I were walking and a man asked us about her. When I said she was a rescue, he said, “Thank you. Thank you for doing that.” Turns out he lived with a couple of rescued German Shepherds.

Every so often I visit the FOHA site to see how some of the other dogs are doing. At this point, there aren’t too many names left that I recognize from our visit, but there are a few. JoJo, an older female Rottweiler that totally had my heart the first time I saw her, is still there. I doubt she’ll be adopted because of her age and health issues, but she’s being fostered, so at least she has a nice temporary home. Thankfully, every dog or cat that finds their way to FOHA gets the respect they deserve, even if they aren’t adopted right away.

(I realize this post was all over the place, but that’s what happens when I try and write something over the course of eight hours.)

Dog Haters

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Kill Your Dog

A few months back, a guy a few doors down threatened to a kill a man’s dog because he mistook the man for one who doesn’t pick up after his dog. Cops were called, there was a whole thing. Shortly thereafter these signs went up.

Sure enough, just walking by this guy’s house with your dog gets him glaring at you like you’re the one about to squat in his yard and leave it.

I get annoyed when people don’t clean up after their dogs, but it takes a special kind of person to threaten death.

Euthanasia A Strain for Animal Care Workers

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Eric over at An Animal-Friendly Life points to this story in the Washington Post about how having to euthanize so many animals puts an enormous emotional strain on the employees at animal shelters. This just goes to support something I mentioned a while back, that with so many unwanted dogs and cats, there is no reason that anybody should be supporting breeders at this point. Adopting an animal from a shelter is better for the animals and for the people. Kind of similar to how not eating meat is also a humanitarian statement for all of those working in the most deplorable of slaughterhouse positions, huh?

This sentence caught my eye:

… the sweet-as-can-be pit bulls, a breed that Loudoun, like many jurisdictions, forbids shelters from making available for adoption.

Hm… is it only shelters that aren’t allowed to make them available for adoption? The organization we adopted our dog from regularly adopts out pit bulls. In any event, the idea of banning a whole breed from adoption is a bit short-sighted. I’ve met quite a few really sweet pits… there’s no reason they should have been euthanized (and, thankfully, they weren’t).

I really wish the public would become more aware at just how deep the problem is for companion animals and the people that are forced to kill them. I hope articles like this will help spread the word.