Monday, January 30, 2012

When Emotions Take Over...

Being involved in Animal Welfare takes a huge emotional toll on both the humans as well as the animals that we are working with. We develop hundreds of relationships each year, with each one ending differently. We experience the joy of seeing new kittens adopted into their homes. We cry as our older fosters finally find the perfect family. Our hearts break with a sick or abused dog is brought into our organizations only to lose his/her battle with recovery. 

I knew that taking on the role of designer for Puppy Mill Awareness Day Austin last year would be a huge emotional undertaking. Not only are we putting together a fantastic event to raise awareness about Puppy Mills, but as the designer, I am working with many families that have adopted Puppy Mill and Abuse Survivors. I am taking these stories (You can read them here), and photos to share with the world. I am learning about the horrors of Puppy Mills and looking into my own past experiences rescuing animals from these facilities as well as spending time interviewing others that have been on site when these horrible animal factories are raided. 
Sampson, Puppy Mill Survivor. 
While I might be described as 'extremely emotional' by my friends and family, when it comes to rescue work there is an important line between my emotions and the ability to put those emotions aside and focus on the end result for the animal/animals in need. 

Recently I was approached by a rescue organization (to remain nameless) that needed some additional funds for an animal that they were working to rescue. I am not the type of business owner or Animal Advocate that will just send off a donation to anyone. I do my research. I know where the donations will be going. I understand what the organizations purpose is. I learn about the particular circumstances.

Unfortunately after doing some research on this particular dog, it turned out that the rescue was working with a local breeder that had a 'few puppies that did not get sold and she was going to dump them at the shelter.' (That was a quote from the email with the rescue organization.) The breeder had agreed to sell the puppies to the rescue for a reduced fee (discount puppies!) and the rescue would in turn find them new homes. 

Now, I will say that I think this particular rescue organization does many, many great things. This, however, does not fall into that category of 'great things'. 

I spoke with the organization coordinator, I let her know my feelings on the issue. As always, I approach each situation with as much class as I possibly can. (I have learned from past mistakes that the way in which organizations/individuals are approached makes a huge difference in the intended outcome.) Sadly, the organization considered their options and chose to support this breeder and purchase the puppies from her at the discounted rate.

In situations like this, I think it is so important for rescue organizations to put aside their emotions and think about the long-term solutions. This particular organization spent hundreds of dollars on these 3 puppies. Hundreds! In any rescue organization, hundreds of dollars can make the difference in saving more animals. This rescue organization not only chose to spend the money on purchasing these pups, but they in turn offered financial support to the woman that was breeding these puppies. 

What is she going to do with her money? Do you believe that she is going to spend it getting Veterinary care for her dogs? Absolutely not. She stated herself that she cares so little that she plans to 'dump the remaining pups at the shelter', why would any true rescue organization want to support someone that cares so little about her puppies? The answer to that question is very simple. The rescue organization made a decision based on emotions when they saw these cute little pups. 

Yes, I agree that the puppies are 100x better off in a foster home. I believe that the puppies are 100x more likely to find the perfect home through the rescue organization vs being placed into a kennel at the shelter and hoping for the best. I agree with the logic for these particular 3 puppies. I am happy for them that they will now be given the chance at life with a family that will love them. 

What the rescue did not take into consideration (or worse, they did consider) is that this breeder is going to continue the cycle. She will continue to breed and breed and breed. This rescue did not offer her an outlet to the situation. They did not offer to find a low-cost Spay/Neuter service for her. They did not offer a resolution. They purchased puppies and are now marketing them as 'rescues'.  

I love puppies! I adore their little feet and the way they exhaust themselves until they cannot even stand anymore. I love the way they cuddle when they sleep and how they trip over their clumsy little selves. BUT... When it comes to animal advocacy, it is so important to look to the final result. If we want to end irresponsible breeding, we stop the cycle. We stop supporting the irresponsible breeders. We advocate to our friends and family... their their friends and family and so on and so on to adopt from reputable rescue organizations. We encourage the public to check out their shelters or look for pets on petfinder.com. There are countless ways to end irresponsible breeding.. but purchasing discount puppies is certainly not one of them. 

Stephanie Conrad
The Pet Studio | Owner | Artist
www.petstudioart.com

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