This good article was pulished in the Pittsburg Post-Gazette
Pet Tales: Shelter dog or purebred puppy? Either can be a responsible choice
Thursday, November 13, 2008
By Linda Wilson Fuoco, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
A puppy is coming to the White House! Official confirmation of this came on election night and during the president-elect's first press conference Friday.
"Sasha and Malia, I love you both so much, and you have earned the new puppy that's coming with us to the White House," president-elect Barack Obama said during his victory speech in Chicago.
Those little girls beamed and smiled as they appeared with their parents on that historic night. I'm guessing that at their age (Malia is 10 and Sasha is 7), the puppy is the best part of the election victory.
Won't it be wonderful to have young children in the White House again? Amy Carter lived part of her childhood there, but we didn't see too much of her.
It's been decades since the Kennedy era brought two young children and a menagerie of pets to the presidential residence, including a pony named Macaroni and a Welsh terrier named Charlie.
Now thousands of individuals and dozens of organizations are weighing in on what kind of canine the Obama family should choose, and where they should obtain the soon-to-be-high-profile puppy.
Animals rights and animal welfare groups are lobbying for adoption from a shelter or a rescue organization that finds new homes for dogs whose owners are unable or unwilling to continue caring for them. Those groups include People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Humane Society of the United States, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Best Friends Animal Society.
Those organizations and animal shelters across the country generally urge people to give a second chance, and a new home, to adult dogs that may otherwise be euthanized.
Puppies are a relatively rare and precious commodity in the shelter and rescue world. There is often a waiting list for puppies, especially purebred puppies. But when your daddy's the president, you can probably move to the top of the adoption list.
The soon-to-be first family has expressed an interest in a purebred pup because one of the girls has allergies. Some breeds, including poodles and some of the terrier breeds, have hair, rather than fur, that is less likely to cause an allergic reaction.
The bottom line is this: The Obama family, like all pet-seeking families, needs to find the pet that will fit their lifestyle, needs and desires. It sounds like they have been doing some research and giving this a lot of thought. When they pick their puppy and bring it into their new home, I hope everyone respects their decision and is happy for Malia and Sasha.
We all have the right to choose the pet we want. And those who have their heart set on a puppy should not be condemned for getting one, even if the puppy comes from a "responsible" breeder.
PETA and other animal rights groups say there is no such thing as a responsible breeder. They say that when someone buys a puppy from a breeder, a shelter dog is euthanized. That's not necessarily true because some people don't want to adopt from a shelter, for whatever reason.
Some animal rights groups and individuals say that all breeding should stop. If they get their way, there would be no more dogs or cats in 15 or 20 years.
What is a responsible dog breeder? Here's my opinion and definition. Their dogs and puppies live in their house, where they are well-socialized and much-loved. Only the best, the brightest and the healthiest dogs are used for breeding. While there's no guarantee that all puppies will live long and healthy lives, many genetic tests can be administered to the adults used for breeding. Dogs that "flunk" should not be bred because they will pass on genetic conditions, including hip and knee problems, to their puppies.
The best breeders don't allow a litter to be conceived until prospective buyers are lined up. Responsible breeders don't make a profit on their puppies because the genetic testing and veterinary care for the breeding dogs and puppies will exceed the price charged for the puppies.
Here's the bottom line: If you take a puppy or dog into your home and care for it until the day it dies, you're part of the solution, not part of the problem.
Linda Wilson Fuoco can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-3064.
First published on November 13, 2008 at 12:00 am
Washington Letters to the Editor
Sunday, November 30, 2008
Lawmaker disagrees with pet columnist
In her Nov. 16 Pet Tales column ("Shelter dog or purebred puppy? Either can be a responsible choice"), Linda Wilson Fuoco missed a great opportunity to reinforce the importance of adopting pets from shelters as opposed to purchasing them from pet stores or breeders. Instead, she used the column to chide those who are encouraging the president-elect's family to adopt their new dog, arguing that either choice is responsible as long as the dog is well cared for. She is wrong.
Ninety-five percent of puppies sold in pet stores come from large-scale breeding operations. These mass breeders produce puppies for profit with little regard for demand, health or any other factor. The notion that ending these mass-breeding operations would lead to the disappearance of dogs and cats within 15 or 20 years is nonsense. The fact is the dog-breeding industry has led to a huge overpopulation of dogs in this country, and many of these dogs eventually end up abused, abandoned or in shelters. People who purchase from pet stores -- even with the best intentions -- support this breeding industry and, therefore, are part of the problem.
Besides saving a dog's life -- nationally, about half the animals in shelters are euthanized because a home cannot be found for them -- adopting a pet from a shelter is the more responsible choice for a number of reasons. Animal shelters evaluate each dog for health, temperament, behavior and other issues and will work with a family to help determine what type, breed and age of dog is right for them. Many shelters also provide adoption counseling and follow-up services, such as training classes and medical assistance. You won't find that at a pet store.
Shelter adoption fees are usually a lot less than the price tag at a pet store, and pets adopted from shelters are much more likely to be vaccinated, de-wormed and spayed or neutered. Finally, plenty of purebred dogs are available for adoption. On average, 25 percent to 35 percent of dogs in shelters are purebreds, so the Obamas and other families should have no problem finding the puppy they desire through adoption.
JAMES E. CASORIO JR.
Editor's note: The writer is a state representative for the 56th District in Westmoreland County and the prime sponsor of House Bill 2525, which placed more stringent regulations on dog kennels and commercial breeders.
Dear James E. Casorio Jr.
Your comments clearly belie your alliance to the very Animal Rights groups which Ms. Fuoco talks about when she stated, “PETA and other animal rights groups say there is no such thing as a responsible breeder.” Further, your use of the traditional sound-bites that these organizations expound also demonstrates that you feel that not everyone should have a choice in where they get the next family pet.
I am sorry sir, but it is you who is missing the point and it is you who is wrong. First of all, Ms. Fuoco never mentioned Pet Stores as a viable place to purchase a pet. She was very clear that if purchasing a pure-bred dog, it should come from a “responsible breeder”. In your published comments, discussion of “mass breeders” and pet stores- changes the point of her article. You have removed the responsible breeder from the equation and instead only discuss Pet Stores as places to purchase purebred dogs. Again, it reinforces Ms. Fuoco’s statement that animal rights members/organizations say there is no such thing as a “responsible” breeder.
Mr. Casorio, please re-read the article Ms. Fuoco wrote, and pay particular attention to what she says about “responsible breeders”. They do exist, and they are not part of the problem. Mr. Casorio, the problem is abandonment, not overpopulation.