Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Open Letter to Breeders and Buyers of Pets

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.

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