Saturday, July 13, 2013

I'm a Puppy, not a PETA Fan!

You know what bothers me?
When people throw out the bathwater because of the baby.
I know that is the backwards way to say "Throw the baby out with the bath water" but I think it is fitting for what frustrates me.
Let me give you an example.
Recently, San Diego banned pet stores from selling dogs and cats except if they get them from rescues organizations or shelters. This means pet stores can't get their dogs from puppy mills. (Evidently there are only two pet stores in San Diego that will be affected.) I watched the news when the decision was made. Some people cheered the new law.
Yet others were outraged.
"These "radicals" have ruined it for the nice pet store owner who just wants to see pure bread dogs! These PETA freaks love animals more than people!"

I am not a PETA fan. (I am not even sure PETA was involved in this new San Diego law. I could not find their name attached to any of the talks, meetings or city council members.) PETA does take things to an extreme and do some crazy things like throwing fake blood on fur wearers, but I am not going to to throw out the bathwater (the humane treatment of animals) because the big, blubbering baby (PETA) might be in the water. I am going to use a little common sense when thinking about this issue and do a little research on my own. I am going to resist the urge to dump all the water out on the lawn because I don't like who may have stuck their toe in it.
First, I started with common sense.
Nobody, not even those who hate PETA, want puppy mills to exist (except for maybe the puppy mill owners.) So, with that in mind, the big question is: Where do pet stores get their puppies?
They need lots of puppies, and they need to receive them regularly and they need a good variety.  They can't sell only brown female chihuahuas or male Rottweilers. They need puppies in all shapes, breeds, colors, genders and sizes.If the pet store owners say they get them from "reputable breeders" let's run that through the common sense test...
First, truly reputable breeders would not sell their pups to pet stores because they want their dogs to go to a good home.They have spent a lot of money breeding and caring for their pups, so they have a vested interest in them.The pups come from pedigree lines and the breeder's reputation and future business is on the line if they are not healthy, gorgeous dogs.
Secondly, there is the simple economics problem of "supply an demand." Reputable breeders could not create enough puppies to keep one pet store full, let alone all the pet stores full. Plus, reputable breeders usually focus on just one type of dog. You want a greyhound? You find a greyhound breeder. Want a lab? You find a lab breeder.You rarely, if ever, see a breeder who specializes in two different breeds of dogs, let alone the 10-20 different breeds the pet stores need. So if the reputable breeders are not providing dogs to pet stores, that leaves:

  1. Disreputable breeders (puppy mills)
  2. Shelters
  3. Rescue organizations
  4. Backyards

(We can easily rule out the last one as just an example of my unbridled sarcasm.)
We know traditional pet stores are not using shelters or rescue organizations because these places continue to be chock full of pups (young and old) who need homes. Shelters and rescues also share the "supply and demand" problem--unless the pet store wants to sell only four year old male pitbulls and dogs named "Shep-X."
So that leaves puppy mills.
It's a perfect match. Puppy mills are dog factories. They can breed multiple breeds multiple times and turn out a lot of different dogs in a short amount of time to keep up with demand. The incentive for the puppy mill is to make dogs to make money.The incentive for the pet store is to get dogs to make money. Neither is overly concerned about the product which in this case happens to be a living animal. The animal must be alive, relatively healthy and clean, but that can be done with minimal care, a small cage and limited human interaction for the first few months of life. Stick them with a needle full of vaccinations, put them in front of window and slap a $1200 price tag on little AKC Rover and you're done. It might help if you list the "breeders" name on the window to assuage the fear of those who wonder where their new puppy comes from.
"Look honey, these chihuahua puppies came from a breeder, not a puppy mill. It says right here on this sign on the cage. Our new little darling comes from Missouri! I wonder why they couldn't find any chihuahua breeders right here in San Diego? We're like ten feet from Mexico! Oh well. Did you bring the Visa?"

When I heard about San Diego's recent law, I did a little thinking and the above is what I came up with. I did not pull this off of PETA's website or any where else. Common sense tells me that puppy mills/disreputable breeders are the only way to keep pet stores full of puppies.
Then I did some research - Humane Society, and the ASPCA (both less inflammatory than PETA) shared this view. They also provided some insight into what the pet stores do to cover up where their dogs come from: Read Article Here
So all this to say, I'm not a PETA fan either. I think they take things too far, but I can think for myself.  Just because PETA may agree with this particular decision doesn't mean I automatically disagree with it. We are so polarized in this country. We would rather just agree with who we find agreeable rather than think things through. Maybe I got this one wrong, but I arrived at my own decision. I didn't pick sides based on who was in what corner, but maybe it's because when I hear the word "PETA" I think of a delicious Greek sandwich bread.

-Hope A. Horner
Follow on Twitter @HopeNote

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