I know times are hard and you need money. Breeding a dog is a relatively easy way to make some nice extra change and you probably don't think you're doing much harm. And puppies are just so cute, right?
If you have any compassion in your heart at all for animals, why don't you do a little bit of research on how many dogs are abandoned, brought into shelters or just released into the streets when owners fall on hard times or just don't feel like keeping the pet any more.
There are thousands of dogs in shelters who desperately need homes. More than half of them end up dumped into a bin, dead, because breeders and buyers want a "fresh" puppy that is adorable and that can grow up with their family. The only problem is, especially in today's economy, more and more of these "nice" families are suddenly finding that they can't afford that dog any more, especially if it gets sick or grows old - or grows UP! You'd be shocked at how many people hand dogs to shelters complaining that the dog GOT TOO BIG. It actually had the nerve to GROW, and that was just unacceptable.
So what do they do? Do they turn the earth upside down making sure they find a responsible, loving home for the dog? Do they go to their local shelter and investigate what options they have? A few responsible people do, and even so, an increasing number of dogs are being given to overcrowded shelters with the knowledge that there is a very good chance that dog will never make it out alive. But those are the lucky ones.
Because many, many owners just leave the dog locked in an empty house to starve slowly to death in excruciating pain and fear. Or they dump the dog somewhere to fend for itself, at risk of being hit by a car, captured and tortured by sick opportunists or just eventually dying from being unable to survive on the streets. Every day I see new stories of animal control officers or real estate agents going to an abandoned house and finding a dead or dying dog inside, with evidence like bite marks at doorsills and clawmarks near windows where the dog desperately tried to escape. They are found with bits of carpet or drywall in their mouths because they were so hungry they tried to eat anything they could grab. They suffer from kidney failure and dehydration. One family dropped off a couch at a dump - with their dog tied to it. The dog remained stuck to the couch for several days before compassionate people found and rescued it. In the majority of cases, there is no such rescue.
The truth is, most people are pretty stupid and selfish, which is a dangerous combination for pets. They buy puppies on impulse without calculating the long-term cost and risks associated with committing to that dog as if it (surprise!) were an actual living creature rather than an amusing toy. When the going gets tough, the idiots panic and throw everything overboard. I'm not surprised the people whose homes are being foreclosed are also the ones trapping their pets in locked buildings and committing other acts of animal cruelty without even thinking about it.
So if you are breeding, selling and buying dogs, I hope you wake up and realize that you are a part of a vicious cycle of pet overpopulation and suffering that will never end until YOU get a clue.
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Saturday, June 6, 2009
Monday, June 1, 2009
Friday, May 29, 2009
Sunday, May 24, 2009
I just caught the video of Maxine, that escaped cow from Queens who is now at Farm Sanctuary: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BH_c7JljsaM Seeing her and hearing her story reminded me of how I became a vegetarian.
I used to love steak, bacon, chicken, you name it - I came from a family that loved meat and did not really consider a meal complete without it. Then I got my two dogs and started exploring the state with them. I loved taking my fur-babies to new environments and introducing them to a wide variety of experiences.
One of our discoveries was a small farm run by a University 40 minutes from my home. Visits to the farm quickly became a regular weekend treat for me and my dogs. The natural smell of hay and barn animals went from wrinkling my nose, to being a scent I craved. My dogs and I would walk for hours along the rough dirt roads, passing fenced fields containing goats and cows. The goats always bleated when we approached, gathering at the fence and poking their velvety soft noses out to be patted. Their babies were some of the most adorable, fuzzy little beings I had ever seen.
The cows were shy with me and my Jindo, but they seemed absolutely fascinated by my pit bull, whose black and white markings were remarkably similar to theirs (one of his nicknames was "the little cow"). They would run up to him and lumber along the fence trailing him in a herd. He was initially frightened by their size but as time went by he became comfortable enough to allow them to nuzzle him. I remember how startled he and I both were the first time a cow extended her huge purplish tongue to lick him. Eventually, the cows also lost their fear of me and my Jindo; they would raise their bodies from comfortable sitting positions when we arrived, and greet us with their huge, solid heads. They adored attention and would vie with one another for key positions from which to receive my pats.
The grown pigs were rather indifferent to our visits until I began to feed them handfuls of clover from the fields; then I became their best friend. At first the sows would keep their tiny piglets from approaching me but as they grew to trust us, their babies were allowed to run up for pats and clover too.
The more time I spent with these farm animals, the less I wanted to consume their brethren. Before I had ever seen any footage of factory farms or been introduced to the world of animal welfare, I decided on my own that I was going to stop eating meat. One day at the farm as I patted my cows I announced out loud to them, "I am not going to eat you guys any more!" They looked back at me silently with their soft eyes.
As I entered the world of vegetarian (and now aspiring vegan) awareness, I discovered what happened in those mass slaughterhouses. I watched my first video of piglets being slammed to concrete floors; cows hanging alive by one ankle as their throats were cut; and battered chickens trapped motionless in cages; through my tears of rage I thanked God that I no longer ate meat. I prayed that people would wake up and see what was happening. I started telling my family about the sentience of all animals, and appreciated my farm visits more than ever.
I wish now I had videotaped or at least taken photos of my dogs with the farm animals, but I never imagined I would lose both dogs within two years of one another. I blankly assumed they would live to be 18, dying peacefully in their sleep of old age. When my pit bull died unexpectedly before his eighth birthday, I was unable to return to the farm for many months. It was too painful to visit the scene of so many joyful hours. One day I finally gathered the nerve to make the 40 minute drive.
My Jindo and I stepped out onto the beautiful green fields, and a wave of grief washed over me as my nose caught the familiar scent of hay and barn. We walked to the cows first. I am certain it was my imagination but they seemed to be looking for their tiniest little honorary cow. Through streaming tears I explained to them that their favorite fellow had passed on.
A passerby might have stopped short at the sight of a crying woman holding her Jindo and talking to a herd of cows, but I didn't care. I looked into the eyes of the herd and I felt comfort; I felt some closure. They had known my dog, and my dog had known them. We had shared our lives, and they had changed mine forever.