what if we could change a dog breeder's passion to focus on shelters?
A middle-age man (me) and 3 friends were walking in a West Town neighborhood recently and we came upon a gentleman walking 2 beautiful mutts - squat bulldogs, so cute, friendly, slobbering, male & female, sweethearts. Of course we fawned over them, gushed and cooo’d. The man was nice - late 20s, early 30s - and had a semi-boisterous bent to him, which, while not my style, I can appreciate.
He had such a passion for these pups and started telling us all about them - breed, history, size, temperament, coloring…... Quickly we realized he was into the breeding aspect of dogs and this was a case of promoting “his” amazing achievement. Playing with pups turned into hearing about his breeding website, others in the biz he emulates (including specific dogs of Internet fame), the fact he is going to breed these 2 he was walking, and how to best contact him if we’re interested.
I recoiled. I was angry. I just came from The Anti-Cruelty Society where I volunteer in dog care. ACS is a place full of amazing people and animals - a place where a simple mission of ‘helping animals and educating people” is a foundation for tangible benefit to the community as over *3.3 million dogs enter U.S. animal shelters nationwide every year and over *670,000 dogs are euthanized - a 20% euthanasia rate! (*Source ASPCA). The dogs at ACS (and all shelters to be sure) are sweet & kind; great with people, children & other dogs; love to play and cuddle - they just want to be a dog - to sit on the end of a couch, feel safe, be loved. The argument these mutts (yes, including & especially pitties), are ‘less than’ a breeder pup is completely untrue. [Contact Me and I’d be happy to introduce you personally to the biggest baddest pitties - i.e. total cuddle mushes]
As someone who focuses on dogs, and specifically pit bull breed types (“pit bull” is not a breed” fyi), hearing about a person who is actively breeding dogs (not to mention the extreme health issues these dogs encounter in their life, i.e. breathing issue), while so many dogs are in need of homes across this country (and world), is infuriating to me. Where to start… the overpopulation of dogs (esp pitties), the profiteering on the backs of animals, the contrarian approach vs the immense challenges facing dogs, abuse associated with irresponsible breeders, and the numerous and documented health and behavior issues that are rampant with the ‘industry.’ It all makes it easy to side step productive emotions and go straight for the hate.
We went to lunch, I enjoyed the company of friends, but simply couldn't stop thinking of this 5 minute encounter. I was mad - I imagined what was happening and I reacted with anger & thoughts of demise to whoever does this (and down the rabbit hole of backyard breeders, puppy mills, PetLand & like pet retailers...)
The thing is…. I was being wholly unoriginal with my emotion towards this situation and I caught myself. To be angry and disgusted by what this man is doing is easy, as I would hope all who hear this would be angry - but that does nothing to address the issue (see: almost every political post on Facebook…). There is no actionable outcome from the anger alone - just glossed over self-righteousness until the next situation that will cause me to continue a circle of contempt. This contempt will go a long way to do nothing to change that man’s actions, or anyone else’s, so it’s time to redirect.
What if this man’s passion for dogs were tweaked, just slightly, to the another approach towards the animal rescue & shelter world? We’re not talking about trying to get Darth Vader to defect from the dark side here. The man on the street obviously has the passion, the training, the love of dogs, and I actually felt a sense of true caring in him. I get it - there are so many challenges in this happening and I admit to being extremely naive but being blind to the challenges in doing this will probably serve me well as proselytizing isn’t my strong suit.
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