I was in town and while there stopped into the local PetsMart to pickup dog food. My crew of 6 eats only Hill’s Science Diet, going through one 38 lb bag every week and a half or so, making the dog food budget one of the more significant in our house. I won’t pay $120 for cable TV but I’ll keep my pups in Science Diet at $175 a month. I have my priorities.
While standing in line to check out I made faces and played with the young Siberian Husky in front of me. She was a gorgeous dog, a little skittish but didn’t hold back licking my hand, allowing me to pet her neck while I looked into those deep blue eyes. I struck up a conversation with her owner, a woman a few years older than my son who grew up in the area near where I live in the country but now lives in a condo in the city. I mentioned that I didn’t see Huskys out my way, and she said she got her from a breeder about an hour outside of Asheville.
I don’t say anything. It wasn’t my place to lecture this young girl and make her feel bad. And the dog was beautiful.
But here’s the deal: I have never bought a dog from a breeder. Nor will I ever no matter how much I might fall in love with the animal.
When the kill shelters in my area have kill rates of 95% I believe it is morally wrong to breed dogs and cats and if you don’t breed them, purchase them from breeders.
When all the kill shelters are shut down and all the animal rescues turning away volunteers because there’s is nothing to do, then the time might come when it’s okay to breed a dog or cat for cash. But I doubt I will live to see that day.
Just a week ago I had to find a home for one of my rescues, a Pit Bull/Boxer mix who is a very special girl. I had found her in April 2015, her breasts heavy with milk walking lost on my drive. No collar or microchip of course, and although I searched, no puppies. This is Appalachia and dog fighting is still consider a sport in the same way that f***ing your cousin is I suppose, and I have a pretty good idea where those puppies went.
Anyway I took her in, got her cleaned up, shots, and spayed which is what I do for all my animals. All receive vet treatment and all get quality dry food. I tried to find her a home twice, but both flaked out on me. By that time it was Summer, and I was already missing her, so I happily took her back, naming her “G” and giving her the collar which to me symbolized my commitment to her. In September the Kid found a puppy wondering beneath the cars at the local WalMart, and the girl pretty much raised him. The two were inseparable and the puppy loved his “Crazy Aunt G”.
“G” was smart, and when I started training the puppy “G” picked up on the lesson faster than the puppy. Because I spent so much time with her she in effect became my dog, and as I trained her and worked with her I began to unlearn all the prejudices I had against her breed. She loved fetch and waterplay. She and the puppy loved leaping into the upper pond or wading into one of the creeks and settling down onto her haunches leaving her neck and head above the water, playing “U-Boat Commander” as a I called it. At night she’d be under my legs on my couch, and during the day she’d be outside to “greet” anyone who ignored the “No Trespassing Signs”. Her look and her bark turned around many pickups, cars and motorcycles.
But the problem with having a pack of dogs is that fights inevitably break out. They are rare, but when they happen they are explosive and usually expensive. All my fights have been between girls, and “G” being the newbie, was in her share of scraps. She eventually made her way up the hierarchy without much fuss, and things were quiet in the house until last month.
On the evening of July 4th the alpha female, a 12 1/2 year old Lab mix, attacked “G” at the food bowl. “G” , instead of submitting to the female, decided to challenge her and the kibble went flying. Eventually the Wife and I got the two apart but the damage was done and it was clear who the winner was: “G”.
The old alpha disappeared in the woods for two days and when she returned she was injured and terrified. I took her to the vet, and they recommended that it wasn’t safe for the old alpha to be around “G” anymore. I then made arrangements to find “G” yet another forever home. “G” was adoptable, the old alpha was not. It took me a month but I found her a place at a no-kill shelter who promised to contact me if they had trouble finding her a good home.
Let me make this clear: I don’t live with this many animals because I like being covered in hair and stepping in pee in the middle of the night. I do it because if I don’t no one else would. All of my Crew would be destroyed.
I have 3 black cats. Can you provide a decent home for one or two of them? Didn’t think so.
I have a young blind dog. Are you willing to take care of her and give her kisses when she jumps up blindly to lick you? Didn’t think so.
I have a little dog who has the energy of a hyperactive meth head on a double-shot espresso. Will you calm him down when he starts barking crazily in the middle of the night when it’s too dangerous for him to go outside? Ditto.
All these animals were dumped on me. I have more stories but you get the point.
It wasn’t my place to educate this young girl with her lovely little purebred Siberian Husky in PetsMart that she likely could have found a Siberian Husky from a shelter. That the dog she was buying toys for in front of me was alive at the expense of the dog she could have adopted in its place, likely euthanized months ago in one of the area kill shelters. Or that had she adopted a rescue dog that she would have saved not only the life of her pet but the life of another dog who would take its place in the rescue system. I simply petted the shy Siberian Husky and kept the thoughts to myself.
For Heaven’s sake and the sake of the millions of dogs and cats in shelters throughout our country, if you are looking for a pet, get one from the shelter. Animals are not iPhones and definitely are not fashion accessories. If you want a specific breed, find its rescue equivalent. The chihuahua on my lap would agree though that your best option is the shelter.
Shelter animals make the best friends.