Columns: No Margins, No Limits, No Kidding!
SHELTER ADOPTION = MORAL SUPERIORITY
What is this new fadwagon - that all dog breeders are bad? Where was your common sense when you spurned a predictable purebred and chose a shelter mutt?
April 2013 | TheDogPress.com
Dannielle Romeo, Newsdesk Editor
I honestly couldn’t care less that you adopted a dog from a shelter. Your self aggrandizing ego trip is like that Song That Never Ends. On and on and on you go about how you saved a life, you are a hero, you have done something worthwhile in this life.
I’m all for it, don’t get me wrong. It’s the moral superiority attitude that really burns my biscuits. Suddenly, the only socially acceptable way to acquire a family pet is through a shelter or rescue group, and anyone who “breeds or buys while shelter pets die” is scum of the Earth. Seriously, haven’t you accomplished anything in your life you felt good about until you adopted a dog?
In case you’re still with me and not out gathering torches and pitchforks, I’d like to ask you what motivated you to adopt a shelter dog? If your answer is, “I didn’t want to see them die” then I have news for you. You chose poorly. I frequently receive training requests from people who adopted a dog with an unknown breed history or a mix that is ill suited for their family. Mr. and Mrs. Bleedinghart cannot comprehend why dear little Muffin isn’t so overjoyed at being saved that she falls over in gratitude. Instead eats shoes, digs holes under the roses, and snaps at their children.
When you went to the shelter, none of these problems were disclosed. You were however informed that if you didn’t take Muffin home right away, she would be killed that very afternoon. And so papers were signed, money exchanged and Muffin became your responsibility instead of theirs.
Any good breeder could have explained that Muffin’s background of primarily herding breeds would predispose her to think for herself, to assume leadership where none exists, and to keep the sheep (in this case the kids) in line by barking or snapping at their heels. Instead, you were moved to perform a selfless act, potentially at the expense of your family’s safety.
Mr. and Mrs. Bleedinghart called a trainer so Muffin may not become another statistic in shelter recidivism. Yes, many of the dogs in a shelter have been there before. Why? Because no one bothered to address the issues that caused their surrender in the first place and few people are willing to make an effort to do so after the initial act of adoption.
In an effort to make sense of what they are feeling, Mr. and Mrs. fall back on displacement, a position that relieves them of any burden of responsibility and places it solely on the shoulders of shadowy figures known as “Dog Breeders”.
Breeders are only slightly less terrifying than the Boogeyman himself. You were told they are the people that made Muffin the problem dog she is today. The assumption of abuse, over-breeding, inbreeding, breeding for profit and the horrific conditions she must have suffered invariably precede any comment you make on dear muffin’s current activities. Excuses are made, blame is placed, and the dog continues to degrade behaviorally into a creature so unmanageable that return to the shelter becomes the only option left.
No matter how it turns out, “Breeders” become the focus, the people allegedly responsible for bringing Muffin into being for purely selfish purposes. This quickly morphs into the belief that any person who intentionally breeds a litter of pups, no matter how healthy, happy or carefully placed into responsible homes, is The Bad Guy.
Despite all evidence to the contrary - hobby breeders are conscientious folks who conduct all appropriate genetic screenings, who meticulously research lineage to assure the healthiest possible offspring - the brush is dipped in deepest black and splashed across their faces. Never mind that if everyone purchased the right dog from a good breeder instead of demanding moral gratification by rescuing a shelter mutt there wouldn’t be a problem of unwanted pets. No, instead, you, the adoptive owner, are cleverly misled and convinced that anyone who intentionally brings puppies on the planet is an evil greedy exploiting SOB.
Maybe, at some point you actually realize that awful dog breeder is me. Someone you’ve lived next to for years. Someone whose expertise you relied on when a pet was ill or injured or wasn’t behaving up to scratch. I could be the groomer or trainer or the vet you trust. Most are dog breeders.
It is BREEDERS who start rescue groups and who used to donate their time at the shelters. BREEDERS are the ones putting their time, energy, money and effort into insuring their dogs get the most responsible, appropriate homes. Dedicated BREEDERS provide lifetime support- which in turns keeps their dogs from becoming shelter dogs in the first place. BREEDERS are conducting and funding health testing and new methods of research to help eliminate congenital or hereditary defects that help ALL dogs.
Before you get on that soapbox about overpopulation ask yourself why public shelters and private rescue groups spend enormous amounts of money importing hundreds of thousands of dogs a year from foreign countries (* see Shelters Import Mutts below) while taking dogs they deem “less desirable” into a back room to euthanize them? Before you pound your chest about your good deeds, ask yourself if you made the best choice for your family? Are you prepared to make a full commitment to your new pet, no matter where you acquired it?
I don’t care where you got your dog. All I care about is that you live up to the commitment you’ve made and that you go into the process with your eyes wide open. Maybe then we can all still be friends and focus on what really matters- our families. And that will include family members with four feet.