Food for Thought:
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The April/May 2004 issue of AARP-The Magazine, included an article entitled "Putting the Fun in Refund".  The author of the article suggested that, rather then getting a "free" puppy at an animal shelter, readers should use their income tax refund to purchase a registered, pedigreed puppy. 

By so doing, they would  know for sure what kind of dog they were getting and they could later breed the  dog for stud fees or sell the puppies for a nice financial reward.

This article stirred up a lot on negative responsives from animal activists such as the following:


"Humans aren't the only species on earth,we just act like it."

One very upset individual composed and distributed a mass e-mail, a portion of which is quoted below:

"Subject: AARP Doesn't Get It!

I thought you might like to send this to your members too.  Maybe if they get a huge nationwide negative response, they might start using their old and worn out brains.  

This is one of the most irresponsible bits of advice I have ever seen.  We don't need more inexperienced backyard breeders filling the community with poor  quality "pure" bred dogs. 

The breeding of quality, single breed dogs should  be left to experienced, knowledgeable people, not to those whose only qualification is that they got an income tax refund.  It is the kind of thinking  expressed in the AARP article that has filled animal shelters across the country and  leads to the euthanasia of millions of animals every year.

Don't let them get away with this kind of ill conceived advice.  Right now, while you are thinking about it, send an email to aarp and let  them know how you feel.  Maybe if enough of us write they will publish a "correction" or at least not write this kind of stuff again.  Thanks.    Bob"

Another letter:

"I no longer use language that accepts the current concept of animals as property, commodities, and/or things. Rather than refer to myself and others as "owners" of animals, I now refer to myself and others as "guardians" of our animal companions and to animals as "he" or "she" rather than "it".  I urge you to do the same.      Patti"

My response to the above people who are incensed with an AARP article suggesting that buying a purebred pet has some advantages, as well as a few comments regarding Patti's comments about changing our language (political correctness) in regards to animals:

I'm probably crazy to say anything critical as I risk a barrage of hate mail, sabotage etc.

I'm certainly sympathic to their activism for better treatment of animals and I certainly promote and encourage people to adopt shelter pets, but to call old people stupid and to condemn the idea that "amateurs shouldn't be allowed to raise puppies for sale?"

Purebreed clubs have long promoted responsible breeding, as well as exceptional attention to caring for your pet etc. 

Personally, I like the idea (and the reality) of people breeding their family pets and offering the pups for sale as opposed to "professional breeders". 

Here's why:  for a person to make enough money from dog breeding to make a living (very difficult, by the way) they have to have LOTS of breeding females. You need about 7-10 females for each $10,000 of yearly gross income...typically not enough to cover expenses. And if someone has lots of dogs, instead of enjoying a "home" environment, the dogs are kept in pens.  Usually a miserable existence. 

Leaving the breeding of purebred pets to "the professionals" is definitely treating animals like a commodity.  When, as a vet, I go to professional breeding places,  it's like going to a pig farm.  Which is kind of sad.

My experience with amateur breeders, on the other hand has been mostly wonderful...they go ga ga over the mom, the pups etc.  Many of them can hardly bear to part with them except to exceptional homes, etc.  

That part of the AARP article that talks about making money through the sale of pups is a little crass, but most hobbies entice converts with the promise of making a little money even though most adults "know" this is just an excuse for doing things that you enjoy so you don't look so foolish to your spouse. (Profound, huh?)

At any rate, in today's highly political world, it seems that everyone is screaming about molehills instead of talking rationally about problems.  The result is that when a real mountain of a problem is in question, the rhetoric sounds the same.  Remember the ancient parable about "crying wolf"?

As far as Patti's call for changing our language, again I am of mixed feelings.  I like the idea of people elevating the status of animals from "property" to beings deserving of respect and care.  I like this a lot.
But is it realistic to give "equal rights to animals"?  To insects?  To vegetables?  The real world...the biological quite vicious. Remember "The Food Chain?" 

Civilized cultures have been working hard for centuries to improve our care of animals (as well as each other) and to minimize cruelty. 

Just 50 years ago, it was uncommon for most Americans to take an injured pet to a vet...that was something that was done by the "rich" and the sentimental.  This is still the situation in most countries of the world.  It's hard to find a small animal veterinarian in Muslim countries, for example: dogs are despised and considered "dirty". 

Back to the topic about politically correct language:

Members of the AARP are old enough to remember when everyone in certain countries were more or less required to call everyone else "comrade".  This was supposed to somehow make everyone equal.  We know how that turned out: "Some people were more equal than others."   Pretending, through language, that animals are equal to humans doesn't make sense to me (because it's untrue) even though I agree with the sentiment of treating animals better.
-- Roger Ross, D.V.M.


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Updated 6/28/11
The picture above is a gas chamber for killing unwanted pets designed to be easily dumped at the land fill once the dogs and cats herded into the box are dead. Doesn't that just chill your heart?

These letters and my response at the bottom of the page discuss the pros and cons of getting a purebred dog instead of a mutt from the shelter.

Please don't forget that by purchasing a purebred dog ... the subject of the letters to your right ... you are choosing to let an unwanted dog have one less chance at a home.  Please consider rescuing a pet from a shelter.
-- Dr. Roger Ross, D.V.M.
Since 6/28/11