On Internet Puppies as Christmas Gifts
In a stunning discovery that will rock the foundation of the animal-exploitation industry, it has been revealed that Internet-Ordered Pups Are Frequently Imported, Diseased (click "Read" to go to the original article). I know, I know, you’re thinking, "How could that be?"
There are over a dozen comments on the ABC News site regarding this article, and here are a couple of concerns I have:
- How can we begin to educate the kind of person who would go onto the Internet to buy a puppy, when within a dozen miles of their house, there’s probably a shelter, and when Petfinder.com is so easy to use? Who are these people? Where are these people? It’s a given that they have Internet access, which means they can be reached via the Internet, but that’s the easy part. Anyone have any ideas? If tens of thousands of puppies are coming into the country in crates, it’s because there’s a demand for them. How can we reach the "consumers" of these animals and get them to think for a moment about what they’re doing? Trying to educate the suppliers, for me, is futile as they exhibit a dearth of conscience and ethics that I cannot even begin to deal with. I’d never try to convince a Greyhound farmer to grow a conscience and get out of the business, but I can easily convince people who go to the track without really thinking about what they’re doing to stop going to the track. Consumers, in my experience and observation, are easily manipulated if they’re not doing something on principle. People who would get a puppy on the Internet are being manipulated by somebody, how do we get them away from those somebodies and press them to think about all of the issues involved in what they think is a quick and cheap decision and transaction? Anyone . . . anyone . . .
- One of the comments on the ABC site, by aprillbonner, was telling:
Rescue places are VERY hard to work with. We tried for about 6 weeks to find an adoptable Dalmatian . . . They would not even consider us if we were out of state, didn’t have an installed fence, wouldn’t agree to being randomly inspected and agreeing to having the dog taken back if they did not like our care! It’s no wonder that people turn to puppy mills. I even talked to some breeders who wanted to insure we would feed the puppies certain food (BARF diet). I completely understand asking for some references, including a vet reference–but the other stuff is out of control! . . . Breeders and Rescue places are pushing people to these puppy mills; it’s a lot easier.
Part of me is enraged that aprillbonner is so upset about all of the requirements. Rescuers know better than anyone the kinds of people who will breed or have pets and what the animals must endure, and they work very hard to make sure they don’t then give their charges to other abusers!
When you adopt a Greyhound, you most–often must do so locally and indeed agree to random checks. And you must have a fenced in area. And they come to your house and interview you and inspect the dog’s potential new home. And ask for a vet reference. And see what you know about dog food and suggest some food. And they can take the dog back if you aren’t treating the dog well, and though that is a bit dicey, it sends a message: Rescuers are serious about finding good homes for the dogs. They’d rather foster more dogs or have more at their kennel and home, where they know they won’t be mistreated, than blithely hand dogs off to people at the asking. I think that’s how it should be. Does the Department of Children and Families give away children or ship them to you over the Internet without lots of questions and bureaucracy? No. And though children and dogs aren’t the same, they’re similar enough in this situation, and those who are caring for them temporarily take finding them homes very seriously.
When I was looking for Violet (whom I found on Petfinder), I originally wanted a "broken leg hound" (there are plenty of them, most people don’t want them, and they will probably need special care). I inquired but was rejected because I’m over 100 miles from where the dogs are and the people who run the place want to make sure they can always check on the dogs. And I think that’s admirable.
The part of me that isn’t enraged by aprillbonner goes back to my first point. She (I’m assuming) is probably right that people go to puppy mills because rescuers (and some breeders, apparently) make things difficult. How do we reach the "dog-consuming public" and help them ponder the many factors and issues that they are making decisions about completely unconciously? It should be difficult to adopt a dog. Would you give your dog to just anyone if you were suddenly thrust into a situation where you could no longer keep her?
I’m one of those people who thinks we should have to have a license to have a child, so all of this is in line with what I have observed: too many people approach (having children and) buying animals as a fun kind of acquisition that they believe should be cute and entertaining and not change one’s life too much or inconvenience anyone. It’s no wonder in a society with so many throw-away children as we have, that we wouldn’t treat our "best friends" any better.
Until we approach the act of caring for someone who might die on their own without us far more seriously than we do now, we will continue to treat dogs like trendy Christmas gifts, to be enjoyed for a few weeks then neglected and/or discarded. I don’t know how to do this, but somehow we’ve got to change our nation’s perception regarding the having of pets. The idea is to give someone a safe, loving home, not to give someone a new toy.