For most people concerned about animal welfare, adopting pets from an animal shelter or rescue organization is unquestionably the right thing to do – both for the pets brought into loving homes as well as to create more room and resources for animals left behind. And as we observe “Adopt a Shelter Dog Month” this month, it’s easy to assume the general public understands this imperative.
But when you drive by a family-filled pet store selling dogs as if they were toasters, or learn about horrific puppy mills still profiting from cruelty, you begin to realize the adoption message is still not getting out strongly or widely enough.
Many people who purchase pets may feel a certain breed best fits their family needs, or subscribe to misinformation about shelters and shelter animals. But if these pet lovers were given an opportunity to learn the full range of adoption benefits – including decreasing the homeless animal population, creating more space at shelters and rescue organizations, and reducing demand that supports puppy mills – it might be enough to change their minds, save more lives, and transform their communities and community shelters.
With that in mind, I encourage anyone who’s ever rescued an animal to reach out to a potential pet owner – it could be a neighbor, a colleague, or even a family member – and make the case for adoption. Here are some key points to share.
You’re Saving More Than One Life
Of the approximately 7.6 million companion animals entering animal shelters nationwide every year, approximately 2.7 million are euthanized. Adoption not only moves an animal from vulnerability to safety, but creates space at the shelter, and moves more resources and attention to the remaining animals. Across the country, many shelters are crowded, challenged, and stretched for resources, so every free cage, every available supply, and every extra moment of care makes a difference.
You’ll Make a Match
An animal shelter is invested in the well-being of its animals, and many are committed to creating matches that take animal temperament, home environments, and special needs into account. At a pet store – as with any for-profit business – the prime objective is earning financial profit from the production and sale of their “merchandise,” not serving the best interest of pets, owners, or communities.
You’ll Find a Great Pet
Few people need to be sold on the value of having pets, but harmful myths and misperceptions about shelter pets persist. The truth is this: the only difference between homeless animals and other animals is that the first group doesn’t have homes. No matter where they live, where they come from, or where you find them, every dog – even dogs within a specific breed – are individual animals, with individual personalities and dispositions.
You’re Fighting Puppy Mills
Most pet store puppies come from puppy mills, and everyone should know what happens there. Puppies born in puppy mills are usually removed from their mothers at six weeks of age, denying them critical socialization with their mothers and litter mates. The mothers, meanwhile, have little to no recovery time between bearing litters.
Breeding dogs typically spend their entire lives in tiny, wire-bottom cages barely bigger than the dogs themselves. They often do not receive adequate veterinary care or socialization. When these dogs can no longer produce puppies or when their breed becomes unpopular, they’re often abandoned, shot, or sometimes starved to death.
Because puppy mill operators sometimes fail to remove sick dogs from their breeding pools, puppies from puppy mills can also have congenital and hereditary conditions including epilepsy, heart disease, kidney disease, and musculoskeletal problems like hip dysplasia. Purchasing anything at a pet store that sells animals – even pet supplies – keeps this deplorable industry in business.
You’re Sending a Message
When you proudly tell others you chose to rescue an animal, you’re sending a message that individuals can take effective action to save lives, fight cruelty, and end suffering. The movement starts with one, but can expand to a family, then to a community, then to many communities.
What these communities have in common is a commitment to the idea that animals deserve our love, our homes, and – just as importantly – our protection. Please share that message with potential pet owners you know. They may be just one suggestion away from knowing how vitally important adoption truly is.
If you’re planning to do some fall baking or prepare homemade Halloween treats, read this first: Macadamia nuts are toxic to dogs. Your pup would only need to eat a small amount of food containing these nuts to experience negative results.
Dogs who eat macadamia nuts most commonly experience weakness in the back legs, vomiting and diarrhea. Experts at the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) say that in most cases, these negative effects are mild and can be managed at home with a little guidance from a veterinary professional. But in more serious cases, the side effects can require veterinary care.
If your pet eats macadamia nuts, you should contact your local veterinarian or APCC right away. Your dog will need care at a veterinary hospital if he starts shaking constantly, has a high fever or becomes unable to walk. Because macadamia nuts are a very fatty food, dogs in rare cases may experience an inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis) after eating them. If you see your dog vomiting, experiencing lack of appetite, stomach pain or a decrease in activity level within three days of eating macadamia nuts, you should contact your vet right away.
APCC is your best resource for any animal poison-related emergency—24 hours a day, 365 days a year. If you think that your pet may have ingested a potentially poisonous substance, call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 immediately.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Office of Inspector General just released an interim report of its investigation into the animal abuse detailed in a disturbing, front-page New York Times story about the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center (USMARC), which is run by the USDA. The abuse detailed in the story shocked taxpayers and Congress alike: newborn piglets crushed to death by their mothers; a heifer restrained and mounted by bulls until she died from her injuries; weakened and deformed calves born to cows “retooled” to bear twins and triplets instead of a normal, single birth; and newborn lambs left to freeze and starve to death in fields. All paid for with your tax dollars to boost the agriculture industry’s profits.
Seven months into its investigation, the USDA’s preliminary report is woefully inadequate and typifies the agency’s “business as usual” attitude. The report defends the lamb and piglet deaths identified in the Times article as standard agricultural practices “in line with industry norms.” More troubling, USDA has yet to contact the whistleblower or the author of the New York Times article. Without input from the two central figures responsible for exposing USMARC, the report cannot accurately examine the troubles at the facility. The USDA claims that both individuals will have an opportunity to contribute as the investigation continues, but after so many months it is challenging to take this claim seriously.
Meanwhile, Congress continues to demand more oversight of USMARC. As legislators on Capitol Hill craft a spending package to fund the government next year, the ASPCA is working to ensure that the package will include measures adopted by the House and Senate Appropriations Committees mandating USMARC’s compliance with the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) and implement necessary reporting and inspection requirements. These measures complement the AWARE Act, bipartisan legislation that would close the loophole that exempts research at federal facilities like USMARC from the AWA.
Welcome to The Paw Print! In this recurring feature, we highlight the latest news affecting animals and animal-lovers around the country. Here are some of the top stories right now:
A Side of “Cage-Free” with Your Coffee? Starbucks® announced this week that it will switch to using only eggs laid by cage-free chickens within the next five years. This pledge currently applies to the coffee chain’s North American locations, and it follows similar moves made by McDonald’s® and Burger King® in recent weeks. [NYTimes.com]
Sunny with a Chance of Cuteness: The White House released an emergency preparedness video starring the Obama family dogs, Sunny and Bo. The light-hearted video encourages pet parents to be prepared for a natural disaster and provides tips on how to be ready to care for your pet in the worst of circumstances. [USAToday.com]
Buckle Up, Pup: A recent survey of 1,000 motorists showed that 72 percent take their pets (overwhelmingly dogs) with them in the car. But worryingly, almost the same number, 67 percent, admitted that they don’t practice safety measures by properly restraining their pets. Please remember to protect and secure your animals when travelling! [Forbes.com]
High Tech Pets: A slew of apps and other tech gadgets are now being marketed to our cats and dogs. Several tablet games encourage cats to paw at the screen, while remote-controlled dog toys can help keep Fido occupied. One company claims more than 2.7 million downloads, meaning that this pet-tech trend may be here to stay. [CNN.com]
Attention, fans of fashion and antiques: On Friday, October 16, and Saturday, October 17, a collection of more than 1,000 beaded handbags will be auctioned off to benefit the ASPCA’s life-saving work for animals!
The beautiful bags will be among many vintage couture items at the auction, which will take place in New Hope, Pennsylvania, and online. The ASPCA inherited the handbags from the estate of animal lover and ASPCA supporter Carol Irene Bird, who was a collector of vintage bags. Some of the bags in her collection appear to be more than 100 years old.
Read on for details about the auction:
What: Couture, Vintage Fashion, Textiles & Jewelry Auction hosted by the Charles A. Whitaker Auction Company When: Previews will take place on Thursday, October 15, from noon to 6:00 P.M. and on Friday and Saturday, October 16-17, from 8:00 to 10:00 A.M. The auction will take place on Friday, October 16, and Saturday, October 17, beginning at 10:00 A.M. Where: New Hope Eagle Fire Co. 46 N. Sugan Road New Hope, Pennsylvania 18938 Please note: Friday’s sale will be in-person only. Saturday’s sale will take place in-person and online at whitakerauction.com. More Info: Please visit whitakerauction.com