I recently came upon the blog/letter/whatever of Shelter Adoption=Moral Superiority by Danielle Romeo, and although she does make a few good points. I feel the need to respond.
Adopting a dog from a shelter doesn’t make you a crazy, annoying, morally superior human being. Although, I will give you there are quiet a few annoying folks in the mix. However, by choosing to adopt a dog from the shelter you need to have a half wit understanding of what the breed entails, if they know. That is not only the responsibility of the shelter or rescue, but also the individual. Say you enjoy running, I would not suggest a basset hound, as they tend to be pretty lazy, or a boxer or any smashed face dog due to potential breathing problems. If they are not informing you of the dog’s needs; food, behavioral, work ethic, then they need to better pair adopters with dogs, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has a program set up to help adopters meet the perfect dog. Also, be proactive, ask questions. I agree with Romeo, you simply shouldn’t adopt a dog if they are about to be put down. The shelter needs to be proactive in finding foster and rescues for dogs with potential issues. The shelter staff are around these dogs more than anyone else and know and see the signs of a stressed dog that will have issues. Should someone adopt a dog like Muffin, they seriously need to reevaluate if this is the dog for them and decide the best course of action for training. Dogs like Muffin are often returned to shelters because of a lack of knowledge and forethought by shelter, adopters and trainers.
This is also a great reason to adopt a dog that has been through a foster home. And to become a foster parent. Dogs that live in foster homes, instead of the shelter learn behavioral manners, taught by the people and other canines in the home. We fostered a little Bassett mix, for 6 months. She would have died in the shelter if we hadn’t brought her home. She was shy, scared and had just given birth to puppies although none were brought in with her, basically everything that people avoid when they look for a dog at the shelter. It took her 2 months to be be ‘happy’ again. Wagging her tail when we returned and running in the backyard. She also had heart worms, a very severe case. In the end, foster care saved Daisy’s life. Not her adopter. She was a backyard breeder, used to make a few bucks but not given the medical care needed…heartworm prevention.
I also want to point out there are good breeders, like the ones mentioned by Romeo and then there are very very bad breeders. I have no issue with breeders that care for and carefully maintain the health of their dogs, and care for them as family. Only breeding when the need arises and can place all the pups. However, there are a lot of bad breeders. The ones that house their dogs in cages to never touch the ground and are forced to breed over and over to fill a supply, demanded by an uneducated public. Puppies commonly listed on the web, in the newspaper and sold at pet stores like Pet City are a result of this inhumane act, although ‘regulated’ by the department of agriculture this industry is a disgrace to our society known as Puppy Mills. There are also the ‘breeders’ that simple refuse to get their dogs fixed. By not fixing your dogs, for the sake of their ‘manhood’ or otherwise you are very much mistaken. Being neutered does nothing to their ‘manhood’. In fact, it takes the potential health risks away; testicular cancer, ovarian cancer and a number of other problems including heat and running away. Spaying and Neutering also prevent heritable diseases that responsible breeders tend to keep away from re emerging in their stock and the breed overall.
As for shelters and rescues spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to save animals from foreign lands…I have no say on the matter. (as in I have no idea what you are talking about and can’t comment) The rescues, I have worked with have all been dedicated to saving animals locally. Take the Humane Society of Central Texas, a small animal control shelter owned and regulated by McClennan County and allows the Humane Society to adopt, foster and place dogs into rescue. They have neither the time, nor money to even begin to think about rescuing dogs in Greece, or anywhere else. They are focused solely on adopting out, reuniting and saving the lives of dogs, cats and otherwise that come into the tiny local shelter in central Texas. Although still a kill shelter, they are making great strides in getting as many animals out as they can and are helped by the Animal Birth Control Clinic, that supply low cost pay and neuter to prevent unwanted pregnancies and low cost microchipping to help reunite animals with their owners.
In the end, I do agree with this statement by Romeo “All I care about is that you live up to the commitment you’ve made and that you go into the process with eyes wide open”