Mary Roberts • December 14, 2010
I am a member of the dog police.
No, I’m not an animal control officer, and I don’t have a trained police dog attentive and alert to my wishes. The only time my dogs jump smartly to attention is when the refrigerator door opens.
In my dog police alias, I spring into action whenever I hear the words “we are thinking of getting a dog.” That’s when I glide uncomfortably close to you and ask, “And from where are you getting this said dog?” (I’m not invited to many parties.)
If you are already gushing about Precious and his adorable antics, I ask, “And from whence did you get this aforementioned canine?”
You assure me that he was adopted from a shelter or that you found him lying helpless in a gutter. Or, unperturbed by my rudeness, you say, “He was so cute, and at $200 off the regular price, we got him from the pet store.”
I glide away, unable to pursue further conversation. Some say I should take that opportunity to educate the person about shelter dogs, puppy mills and doing the right thing.
They already have the dog, and wagging my finger at them for their ignorance is pointless. So I’m wagging my finger at you.
At this time of year, normally thoughtful people decide that a new puppy is the ideal Christmas gift. Trust me … it’s not.
If you must ignore my protestations, here are some facts:
> 3 to 4 million healthy and adoptable dogs are euthanized every year in shelters.
> Most Americans blame the shelter dogs for their circumstances.
> Most Americans are wrong.
This past November, Missouri passed puppy-mill legislation that limited large-scale commercial dog breeding facilities to 50 breeding dogs. It also demands such luxury amenities as yearly vet checks, daily food, clean water, rest periods between breeding cycles and, oh, yes, decent housing.
Most of these puppy-mill dogs are sold at pet stores and on the Internet.
Some pet stores advertise that they do not sell dogs from puppy mills. Ask the owners if they have visited all their providers and assured themselves that the hundreds of dogs in wire cages are just part of one big happy family.
With the passage of the Missouri bill and the crackdown of large-scale facilities in other states, we will see thousands of dogs dumped at auctions and at shelters.
You have a chance to make a difference with these dogs and the thousands of others that are still at shelters and breed rescues.
When you buy from a pet store or off the Internet, you are supporting an industry that treats dogs as a cash crop and not the loyal and beloved companions they have become.
Go to the humane society, Animal House, www.petfinder.com, find a breed rescue. Or find a reputable professional breeder whose bottom line is the health and welfare of the breed and not their profit statements.
Do your homework. We do more research trying to find a dishwasher than we do to find a steady and true friend.
And if you spot me at a party this holiday (a rare occurrence), I would love to see some photos of your new adopted best friend.