This weekend I had the immense pleasure of fostering two eight-week old terrier puppies who were just transferred to Animal House from a southern animal shelter that was over capacity. They arrived at the shelter Thursday afternoon in a van full of other transfer dogs, having endured a six-hour drive that day and an even longer drive the day before. These sweet puppies were lucky to have ended up at such a caring facility where they would finally receive the care and attention they deserve: plenty of good quality food, medicine for the previously untreated worms they inherited from their mother, and unending love from the various volunteer foster parents who are caring for them while they wait to be adopted.
A lot of work and money goes into each rescue dog that a shelter cares for; at Animal House, all of our dogs are treated as beautiful individuals with distinct personalities and specific needs. Dorian and Daisy, for example, needed special food and medication because of the neglect they suffered at the very beginning of their lives, and because of their young age it was necessary to find foster homes to care for these puppies as they need lots of love and attention and shouldn’t be in a shelter environment. In other words, the saving and caring for these two previously unwanted puppies required lots of money, volunteers, staff coordination, and supplies; and to anyone who loves and works with rescue dogs it is undoubtedly worth the work to provide for such precious little lives.
You can imagine my frustration, then, when a person or couple comes into the shelter and, not seeing any available puppies that are the breed or size they want, ask where the nearest pet store is because they know they will be able to find the perfect puppy there. Puppies in mall pet stores are almost always a product of the most horrific breeding conditions you can imagine; the puppy mills that supply these pet stores are generally unsanitary warehouses or industrial garages where female dogs live their lives in tiny cages being over-bred until they are no longer able to produce puppies and are either euthanised or dumped at a local animal shelter. Click here for more information on puppy mills and what you can do to stop them.
Shelters are working tirelessly to counter-act the litters of puppies sold by irresponsible breeders, people who refuse to have their dogs spayed or neutered, and puppy mills that supply pet stores. Most dogs that end up in shelters were once cute puppies that were purchased from a breeder or puppy mill, and after living with their new “owner” for a year or two become troublesome and inconvenient. Shelters like Animal House are designed specifically to reduce the number of dogs that face euthanasia in overcrowded animal control centers and it is heartbreaking to interact with wonderful, homeless dogs like Daisy and Dorian at our shelter every day, knowing that people are continuing to fund these unethical breeding operations.
If you are considering getting a pet, please adopt one from a shelter or rescue. These dogs are just as sweet and their lives are just as valuable as a pure bred puppy from a breeder, they just have a little more life experience. Additionally, please consider providing a temporary home for a shelter dog by fostering them. Typically the rescue you are volunteering for will pay all expenses and provide you with all the supplies you need to foster a dog, including food and toys. Fosters are an extremely important aspect of animal rescue because they provide temporary homes for pets that are too young, too old, or too anxious to be living in a shelter environment and increase the shelter’s ability to care for more animals in need.