My hometown is known worldwide for flash and style. When filling out forms that require my zip code - 90210 - inevitably, I get comments. People are quick to judge me as rich and influential. Compared to 99.9% of the world, I probably am.
So why can't I get more traction on the animal rescue front? When a fellow 90210-er is dog shopping, they are doing literally that - shopping! Their inspiration? Movies like Marley and Me or Beverly Hills Chihuahua. They are looking for a specific breed and paying breeders thousands for it.
I paid a small donation to the local animal shelter for one dog, and a slightly bigger donation to Ace of Hearts for my other dogs; my mixed breed Corgi-Australian Cattle Dog, Shane, and my American Bulldog, Molly, are rescues. When I try to explain to would-be dog owners that my dogs are tops and didn't come from pet shops or breeders they nod their heads, “That's so admirable of you.”
Shane and Molly – the wonderful rescues
Admiration is not what I'm looking for. What I want is to change their minds about how they find their next four legged. Why do they label me a Good Samaritan and assume by adopting that I'm making a sacrifice? My dogs are good with people, loving and goofy. Molly is gorgeous. Shane aint winning any beauty contests, but he's a neat dog. If rescues have baggage from their past lives, consider the breeder's dogs who may carry baggage from the genetic pool. In other words, a purebred lab may suffer hip dysplasia and a rescue may be skittish around new people. Owners learn to work with it.
Some would-be owners think they need a breeder to identify a “good dog.” They can ask a friend instead. Someone on petpav.com, perhaps? Or they can hire a trainer to help them. Breeders are in business to sell dogs for financial gain. Ditto for pet shops and puppy mills that keep their dogs in crates, delivering litter after litter. When money is the deciding factor, animals come second or third…or much worse.
Clearly insecurity is only one reason people seek breeders. Status is another. Just like your handbag or your car, our society places a lot of weight on branding. When my neighbor boasted about her new Labradoodle puppy, she felt pride. A well-known political figure in town posts daily photos of her new pup, which came from a breeder. Just imagine if she'd talked about the rescue process instead of the breeder.
Don't get me wrong, if your dog boosts your status and makes you feel good I don't have a problem with that. The Russian Czars had their Standard Poodles. Cowboys have their Heelers. Fashionistas have their Chihuahuas. By all means, stand taller, walk prouder with your four-legged by your side. Owning a dog is a powerful experience.
That's why I'm going to keep growling until more people go the rescue route.
See more interesting and informative articles by Cynthia Baseman on her blog: www.BHMom.com
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