Sunday, July 19, 2009

Until There Are None, Adopt One

I have a soft spot when it comes to animals, especially dogs. As I had posted before, I volunteer with American Brittany Rescue, but I'm also with Virginia German Shepherd Rescue as well. I like hearing about the work that ordinary, everyday people do across the country for animals. Bill Smith in Pennsylvania would be one of those people.

"Bill Smith has dedicated his life to fighting "puppy mills," the warehouses where dogs are raised for profit in tiny cages, denied sufficient medical care, and often killed when they get sick or can no longer breed. Smith noticed that many of the farms around his shelter facility, near the heart of puppy-mill country in Lancaster County, Pa., were displaying signs boasting that they were organic dairy operations," Suzanne Smalley reported in Newsweek on July 11, 2009.

It wasn't enough for Mr. Smith that these puppy-millers gave up their puppy "operations." He wanted Whole Foods and other such businesses to know what their suppliers were doing, in conjunction with their milk operations.

If it drives the puppy-millers out of business, then more power to Mr. Smith.

But there are those out there that might argue this is crossing the business line. Is being in both the puppy mill and the organic milk industry a conflict of interest? Probably not, but if those dairy farmers can take good care of their milk cows and produce quality organic milk, then why not show the same level of care for their dogs?

The ASPCA estimates there are at least 10,000 puppy mills in the United States, twice as many as there were in the mid-1990's. The number of puppies they supply to pet stores is staggering.

"Illness, disease, fearful behavior and lack of socialization with humans and other animals are common characteristics of dogs from puppy mills. Because puppy mill operators fail to apply proper husbandry practices that would remove sick dogs from their breeding pools, puppies from puppy mills are prone to congenital and hereditary conditions" the ASPCA reports.

Sickly and crammed into tiny, poor accommodations just doesn't seem right for such a royal species that is totally dependent on their human families.

"In 1997, UCLA biology professor Robert K. Wayne and his colleagues startled the dog world by announcing that their genetic research suggested dogs were first domesticated as early as 100,000 years ago. They also confirmed that dogs are descended only from wolves, not jackals or coyotes as some had surmised," said Working Dog Web.

For their love and loyalty, for keeping us company and protecting us, this is how some people thank their dogs, by buying them from those puppy mills. It doesn't quite seem right, on various levels.

For anyone out there thinking about getting a dog, please stay away from puppy mills and pet stores. Until there are none, adopt one. Somewhere, the greatest dog in the world is waiting for you, either with a rescue (either an all dog breed rescue or a breed specific rescue) or in a shelter. You might even find the greatest dog for sale or for free in an ad from an owner that can't keep it anymore.

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