Friday, May 21, 2010

Incentive for Change

This past week, Animal Planet aired an excellent documentary regarding (once again) the scourge of puppy mills. Specifically, those (puppy mill) puppies sold to and from the large pet chain, "Petland."

I say, "once again" because this is a subject that has been covered many times over the years, including the Oprah Winfrey show.

And yet, for all the focus from major animal organizations to even the most popular talk show host, millions of people still continue to buy animals from pet stores every year despite the indisputable link between puppy mills and pet shops.

One thing for certain:

No matter how cruel and obscene, we will never get rid of puppy mills until the "market for the product" dries up (i.e. people stop buying animals from pet stores and large, retail chains!)

And yet, it seems that bottom line message is not driven home sufficiently, even in the documentaries specifically produced and aired on this subject.

Rather, in the very same week this program aired, broadcast news channels ran another "happy story" in which almost two hundred "rescued puppy mill dogs" were sent to North Shore Animal League and can now look forward to being "adopted to loving homes."

What's wrong with this story, one might ask? (Notwithstanding the obvious good forture for the individual animals saved.)

What is wrong, is that shelters and rescue groups are NOT the solution to the puppy mill scourge!

Millions of puppies are produced every year in puppy mills (and back yard breeders) around the country.

A couple of hundred rescued here and there throughout the year does not even represent the perennial "drop in the bucket."

Moreover, it drives the message that the public does not have to feel any responsibility for creating (through demand) the puppy mill disaster because all the animals get rescued and eventually go to "loving homes." -- That only that were the truth.

Meanwhile, in the same week North Shore Animal League rescued the 200 puppy mill dogs, hundreds of other dogs (and cats) were destroyed in local Animal Control shelters.

We are quickly heading up to the hardest times of the year, (holidays and summer) in terms of animal dumping and high kill stats in shelters, as well as the slowest periods for animal adoptions.

While it may generate very favorable publicity (and donations) to rescue cute, small and appealing puppies from puppy mills or Southern pounds that gas animals, does that not negate somewhat, the animals dying locally in our pounds?

This past week, our small group rescued three new dogs from Animal Control, one of which, Colleen (pictured above) was on the verge of starvation when brought to the pound from a basement in Brooklyn.

Colleen is a 7-year-old, Golden Retriever/Shepherd mix who only weighs 47 Lbs (she should weigh at least 65 lbs for her size.)

She sat at the shelter for a week with no takers.

And yet, this lovely dog has the sweetest, most loving temperament imaginable!

Colleen is totally housebroken, easy to walk, gentle around other dogs and even cats. She totally loves children!

I know these things because Colleen is fortunate to be in one of our foster homes that has both cats and children and even another dog.

The question is, why should wonderful dogs like Colleen die because some shelters or rescues are too busy trying to be the "solution" to puppy mill atrocities or antiquated, cruel shelters in the south that still gas animals? Are animals like Colleen not "sexy" enough?

Shelters and rescue groups can NEVER be the solution to the lack of law or the irresponsible buying habits of the public.

They can only "rescue" a tiny pittance of the animals who are actually abused or die due to industrialized cruelty and consumer demand.

Moreover, the "happy stories" for the few tend to drown out and negate the abuses to the many and in a sense, blunt or even kill the incentive for real and lasting change.

After all, why should we change laws or alter our buying habits if we can show on the evening news, at least a few happy animals "getting rescued and finding loving homes?" -- PCA


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