Sunday, January 26, 2014

Something That Pisses Me Off ...

... enough so that I feel the need to rant just a little about it:

We've been thinking about getting a dog for about a year now, since shortly after we arrived in Florida. But we haven't got one yet.

I don't think we're particularly picky, but we do have certain standards, along the lines of:

  • We have a strong, but not completely unbreakable, preference for "adopting a rescued dog" or "accepting a puppy that otherwise might end up as a stray" rather than "buying a dog." First because we know there are plenty of dogs out there who need a good home, secondly because we don't care about AKC papers and stuff (we're looking for a family companion, not a show animal), thirdly because in theory it's much cheaper.
  • I have a strong preference for Shih Tzus, because the BEST DOG EVAH in my life was Beauregard, a Shih Tzu puppy my brother brought home when I was 10 or 11 (he was in the Marine Corps at the time -- he couldn't resist the puppy, but neither could he keep it in barracks). I think they're just the greatest dogs around. I don't have to have a Shih Tzu, and if I have a Shih Tzu it doesn't have to be registered/purebred, etc., and I'll look at any dog, but Shih Tzus are what I look for first.
So anyway, two events last week brought these two preferences into stark relief against some practices I don't like much.

Early in the week, Tamara spotted an ad on Craigslist for three half Shih Tzu, half Chihuahua puppies, just about to reach eight weeks of age and be ready to go to new homes. As is the practice, a "small re-homing fee" was mentioned in the ad (Craigslist forbids the selling of pets, but allows "small re-homing fees" to be charged, on the assumption that people who want to vivisect dogs, etc. won't pay for them).

I called the number on the ad, because that sounded right up my alley (one of the reasons we want a Shih Tzu, above and beyond me loving them, is that they are small, so this would fit that bill even more). The "small re-homing fee" was ... drum roll, please ... TWO HUNDRED DOLLARS PER PUPPY.

Then this weekend, we stopped by our local PetSmart, where a local group called Phoenix Animal Rescue was having an "adoption event." This event got right into my wheelhouse, because they had a bunch of female Shih Tzus who had been rescued from a puppy mill operation. These were older dogs, in bad shape, malnourished (at least two of them had lost their lower jaws, presumably after all their teeth fell out and their gums got infected) ... just a completely tragic situation. While that's not exactly what we were looking for when we walked in, we would have gladly taken any one of these poor sweet things home and given her a comfortable, loving rest-of-life situation with lots of lap time, walks when she was up to them, never a shortage of food, etc. We would have even paid a little money for the privilege.

"Adoption fee?" TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY DOLLARS for each of these poor, thin, sickly, obviously previously abuse/neglected little ladies.

Matter of fact, all of their dogs sported "adoption fees" of $150 to $250, and according to PAR's web site, that's a discount off a standard fee of $300.

Let me make this as simple and impossible to misunderstand as I can:

If you are charging $200 "re-homing fees" for puppies and $150 to $300 "adoption fees" for adult rescued dogs, you are not doing "re-homing" or "adoption." You are just SELLING DOGS. That's what you're doing. That's all you're doing, no matter how much you dress it up as an allegedly charitable activity for dogs in need or as concern that puppies not end up on dissection tables in labs.

Now, I don't have anything in particular against selling dogs. Hey, markets work. Markets put people together with what they want, and that's a good thing. In particular, if I wanted an AKC-registered, purebred Shih Tzu, particularly one from the same bloodline as Beauregard of my youth, markets are what would put me together with that.

But I don't like having smoke blown up my ass.

If you're trying to sell me a dog, just say you're trying to sell me a dog. Don't give me those ... well, those puppy-dog eyes ... about "rescuing" and "adoption" and "re-homing."

It's insulting.

It pisses me off.

And now I've got that off my chest.

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