There is a crisis in America. You may not know about it, or you may know and not care. It doesn’t matter. The situation is real, and it is evil. In this country, dogs are put to death on a regular basis for the simple reason that there are just too many of them. According to some sources the numbers may be as high as 8 to 12 MILLION each year. The reality of the situation may be even worse. I’m sure that the problem also exists in other countries – and it certainly exists for cats as well. But for right now I’ll limit myself to discussing dogs in America.
Dogs are breed in three basic situations:
1) Reputable, responsible breeders. These folks work to improve a particular breed of dogs. They are very much aware of genetic disorders, diseases, and all the ins-and-outs of their breed. Before they begin to mate, they have fully subscribed (sold) the litter. And they DEMAND that if anything goes wrong the dog be returned to them. The amount of time and effort that they put into their endeavors virtually insures that they will not make any money. That’s O.K. they aren’t in it for a profit, they actually care about dogs and improving and maintaining a specific breed. They are not the problem.
2) Puppy Mills – also known as Large Scale Commercial Breeders. These people work for only one thing – profit. And that means producing as many puppies as quickly as possible without regard for the health or wellbeing of the dogs. Their evil is too big for me to tackle here. If you want to know more about puppy mills, I would suggest that you start here: http://stoppuppymills.org/ The most important fact about puppy mills is that without any meaningful exception, EVERY puppy sold in a pet store came from a puppy mill. They are a huge part of the problem.
3) Backyard or Hobby Breeders. Sometimes these folks actually mean well. They have a dog that they feel is so wonderful that they must keep a part of it alive, or they want their kids to participate in the wonders of life, or some other well intentioned reason. Sometimes they are just looking to turn a quick profit. You’ll find these pups in the classifieds of your local newspaper, on the “free to a good home” sign tacked up around the neighborhood, or in the parking lot at Wal-Mart. These people are indeed part of the problem, without regard to their intentions, simply by the fact that there are already more dogs than homes for them in America.
Currently, under U.S. law, all of these sources of puppies are legal. Commercial breeders are even loosely regulated under the livestock rules of the USDA. They all have a right to do what they are doing. It may not be right for them to do it, but they have the right to breed away.
They cannot be stopped by rules and regulations. No, in order to stop them there is only one practical tool – education. As long as dog lovers are willing to buy a puppy from a pet store or on-line or from a newspaper ad the problem will exist. As long as people “buy” then dogs in shelters will “die.” It really is that simple.
Again, people cannot be stopped from buying puppies this way. They certainly have a right to do so. Only education can make them want to stop “buying” so that shelter dogs can stop “dieing.”
My point in this blog is not to stop people from doing these things. They have a right to do these things. My point here is simply to point out the consequences of their actions. Because when you “buy” a puppy, a shelter dog will DIE. Period. Amen.
So now, I can get on to the point of my diatribe here. That is “How many dogs did YOU kill today?” Join me now as we play the DEAD DOG GAME!
In my first example, let’s assume that you simply have to have a dog today. And you don’t want to deal with the annoying questions that the shelter asks before they will deign to allow you to adopt. So you march down to the local pet store and plunk your credit card down on the counter and take home that special “doggie in the window.”
BOOM – right there, a shelter dog will die. You could have found the perfect doggie companion with a little effort waiting for you in a shelter. But since you didn’t want to put that effort in, for whatever reason – a shelter dog will die.
But you aren’t done yet. Since the pet store made a successful sale, they will call up their broker and order another cute little puppy to put in the window. So the broker calls the puppy mill and orders some more dogs. And in turn, the puppy mill breeds another litter. For the sake of argument, let’s assume that the average dog litter is five puppies. That’s five more dogs into the pipeline. It doesn’t matter if these dogs get sold in pet stores, destroyed when the puppy mill can’t sell them all, or if they are turned in to a shelter somewhere. It is still five more dogs in the pipeline. And that means that five more shelter dogs will die.
So your conservative score on the cost of buying that pet store puppy is 5 DEAD DOGS. Congratulations, you killed five dogs today. But you are a good person. You saved your precious new friend from that nasty old pet store. So be sure to hold him tight tonight, and tell him that you love him so much that you KILLED 5 OTHER DOGS so that you could bring him home.
Isn’t this a fun game? Let’s try another example.
Your family pet is such a special dog. Your kids love her dearly. You’d like to have another one just like her, and you’d like the kids to learn the facts of life. So you decide to have a litter of puppies. Just one, because after all you are sensible folks. So you find a friend with a willing stud and it’s off to the races you go. And your precious pet produces a fine litter of 5 of the cutest puppies that you could ever imagine. They are just so precious! Now you aren’t bad people, you don’t want to make a profit off of this – you just wanted to teach your kids a lesson about life. So you decide to keep one of the puppies and give the other four away.
BOOM – that’s five more dogs in the pipeline, so five more shelter dogs must die. Quite the lesson for little Johnny and Suzy isn’t it? But wait, your score isn’t complete yet. It is time for the bonus round!
Your sister-in-law took one of those precious pups. And it turned out to be fine pet for their family. Now, two years later, she decides that since having a litter of puppies was such a fine lesson for Johnny and Suzy she would like her kids to have the same lesson. So they breed their family pet, producing another litter of 5 puppies. Wow! Bonus score for you! We’ll add them on to your score, since your sister-in-law didn’t buy a spayed dog from the shelter, we’ll credit you with her litter as well. Final score for you – 10 DEAD DOGS! Now that’s a lesson for Johnny and Suzy.
This game is just so much fun! When it comes time for your next dog you have a choice to make. You could deal with the hassle of rescuing a dog from a shelter, but it is such a hassle (and where do they get off with those ridiculous “adoption fees” anyways – you would be doing them a favor adopting one of those dogs) and they ask so many questions – OR – you can play the DEAD DOG game! You decide. Remember, it is your right to do what you want. You can support a puppy mill or a backyard breeder and KILL DOGS as a bonus. Or you can rescue a deserving dog, give him a loving home, and help stop the wholesale slaughter of 8 to 12 MILLION dogs a year. It is up to you. Which lesson do you want to teach?
Thanks for playing the DEAD DOG game.
If you want help finding a shelter dog, even if you are looking for a purebred puppy, there are many available and I would be glad to help you. There are a lot of resources on-line as well. Start with petfinder.com or e-mail me.