Archive for May, 2011

The No-Kill groups adopting out dogs……

May 26, 2011

I recently read a statistic that was not particularly shocking to me:  there are 16 dogs looking for homes for every  single person in the USA.

That’s a lot of dogs.  Having worked with dogs since I was a kid, my reality regarding dogs, and how I think about them, is different from how most  non-dog people relate to them.

Still, it is discouraging how many people  go out looking for  a dog, with an idea, a fantasy, in their heads of what that dogs is going to be like: how it is going to behave, what it looks like, how they are going to relate to the dog.

Hey, I’ve been there,  In the late 1960s through the 1970s, everyone wanted an Afghan Hound based on how they  appeared.  The breed was severely over-bred. As a result, lots of people bought them, and then realized they were in over their heads  in terms of grooming or training, or they just did not like the personality of the breed.

Many of these dogs were killed:  died of exposure when they ran off, hit by cars, or euthanized in shelters.  Capitalism took care of the irresponsible breeders. Too bad so many dogs were neglected before they died.

If you had told me 30 years ago that Soft-coated Wheaten Terriers, or Pit Bulls would be come so popular, I would have told you  it would not happen:  people didn’t really want big terriers, coated or not.  & the Wheaten Terrier fad faded, but, due to so many idiots breeding Pits—& I mean  the uneducated ‘working class’, with no knowledge of economics—coupled with the many ‘no-kill’- groups that have sprung up, the Pit is now the most popular breed of dog in America.

I admire the ‘no-kill’ groups for their efforts, but, due to their  either over-zealousness or naivete, they are NOT solving the problem of too many pets being bred. They tend to be very unsophisticated in not only screening prospects and following thorough , they are horribly bad at genuinely affecting public policy.

Most of the rescuers can save 1 or 2 dogs—at most…but if they want to save more—they have to place the ones they have, & that means they either have to trust people who want dogs to be truthful, or  they just assume  that these  adoptors have thought things out (well, even the backyard breeders ASSUME that because  people pay for a puppy, they  will take care of it).

The problem is—because the irresponsible breeders know these do-gooders are out there—they have no incentive to be responsible for the dogs they breed. And—because the do-gooders are so politically unsophisticated, they don’t address law makers about making the bad breeders responsible  for the  pets they commercially produce.

This is not a problem in Europe.  The ‘culture’ is that if you breed dogs, they are your responsibility, and the government makes sure you are.

Our governments are so broke, this will not happen for a long time.

The othe fact that  everyone glosses over is that…you can’t save them all. The ‘no-kill’ groups pick & choose what they save, and  lead everyine to believe they can all be saved.

They don’t have to deal with the unadoptable:  the old, the chronically ill, the dogs that were spoiled or are just untrustworthy.  Often, the do-gooders make excuses for these dogs & lie about them. That just makes people distrust rescues.

In Chicago, there are  2 groups (besides Animal Care  & Control–which is a dog pound, not a  shelter) that are open admissions:  The Animal Welfare League and the Anti-Cruelty Society. They make the tough decisions.  They never turn an animal away. They admit they euthanize.

Look opast the marketing of the ‘no-kill’ groups &  understand & respect that the open admissions shelters  do a wonderful  job. Support them.

First of all, it’s a Business (the pet business…)

May 19, 2011

People often tell me how much they love animals, and how their ideal job would be owning a pet shop.

I just cringe.

“You mean, you want to sell animals?”  I ask.

“Sure!  Why not? Seeing other animal lovers look so happy? What could be better?”

Naturally, these people aren’t thinking about where they are going to get the animals they are selling, or what will happen to the unsold animals….because they have a  television fantasy image of what running a pet store  is like.  They  are in love with the image, not the reality.

So, I ask, “Are you planning on asking the people who come into your pet store how long they have been thinking about  this, and what kind of research they have done on this kind  of pet?  Or are you  not going to ask any questions & just take their money?”

Silence…befuddlement…

Me: “Because, if they’ve done their research, you know to ask what kind of equipment they have, what they need, and  what kind of time they have, and are they sure they can devote X amount of time every day to this pet.  But what if they  have never thought about this seriously?  They just walked in, impulsively,  became attracted to, say, a bird, a snake,  or a puppy. Will you send them away to think about it for 48 hours? Risk losing the sale?  No pet shop does that…and that is where the problems start.”

Never mind that dogs & cats do NOT belong in pet shops unless the owner of the pet shop is the breeder, & will screen people. You have to buy  animals from livestock producers (who don’t care who ends up with their animals) to resell them.  That’s where all the puppies & kittens come from:  irresponsible breeders (unless  they are  being displayed for a shelter or rescue—& it is posted). Never mind that until very recently,  most  large birds were  trapped in the wild, as were herps & tropical fish…with no regard at all to whether  they were thriving.  It’s a business.

The business is legal because it is not illegal.  An interesting factoid:  there is anecdotal evidence that  most of the dogs & cats that end up in shelters neither come from ethical hobby  or commercial breeders—but what we call backyard breeders—people just breeding their pets for fun.  But nobody is keeping any track of the number of birds & herps (snakes, turtles, lizards) that either die in captivity or are released into the the environment & die. We do know that  the state of Florida made owning pythons illegal, since so many buyers who become bored with them & can’t sell them have let them  loose, & they are killing native species. So much for  the idea that people buying animals are animal lovers, or have an ounce of integrity.

For those defending this kind of  business, well, ok. I guess you are a libertarian (small l), & anything goes.  I hear ya.  I have nothing against you buying or selling sex with adults,  dealing or using drugs, or selling guns & ammo. But  the idea that  I have to support shelters & rescues with my tax dollars (or with donations) so dogs don’t run in packs, & feral cats don’t spread parasites & kill birds, and the herps don’t destroy native species…that doesn’t sit so well with me.

But what  makes it even worse for me—you unethical sellers  have a reputation for selling  ‘love’ & thinking you are making people happy.

At some point, like when the economy in the USA gets so horrific that even middle class folks can’t afford a 40 lb sack of dog food, and the animal sellers start losing money, and the word on the street is that  you don’t make money breeding animals….or—here’s a good one—the state departments of agriculture start fining people for breeding without a license (so sorry, ethical hobby breeders, but because you  managed to sell breedable animals to skanks & scumbags, it has come to this), there won’t be so many unwanted pets, and the prices will really go up. But for now, if you are looking for a pet, I’d advise doing a bit more research.  There are clubs for all the breeds and all the species. Some  clubs have more stringent codes of ethics than others.  But, if you start there, and ask questions of the breeders, you might  find a healthy pet to love and cherish. I just know the odds of finding that pet in a pet shop environment are slim to none.

We gave how many billion dollars to Pakistan?

May 12, 2011

This is an open letter to my state senators,  Durkin & Kirk, & my U.S. Congress woman, Jan Schakowsky.

To My  Elected Officials:

I am your constituent, and I vote.  I have to tell you this, because I am not a lobbyist, and it seems, statistically, that they seem to have more influence over  public policy than  we constituents do. However,  those lobbyists still get  one vote a piece.

I keep hearing that that the government is broke…that we are running a deficit.

Seems to me that  before  George  W. Bush took office, Clinton got the balanced budget amendment passed, & Gore cleared up the deficit—so how did we get another deficit?

How did Congress let this slip?  &—if we were running a deficit, how did we scarf up the money—the $150 billion—to bailout AIG insurance, and how worse off would I have been had they not been bailed out?  & what about the  other investment houses?  You allowed them to  call LIABILITIES ‘toxic assets’—confusing even more innumerate people!

Yeah, we’re all glad ‘we’ got bin Ladin. Thrilled.  Thinking we won’t have to take our shoes off at airports anymore.  But in my religion,  we  celebrate a ritual called  Passover—when the Jews were freed from the Egyptians.  When God parted the Red Sea for Moses, the Jew escaped,but the pursuing Egyptians  were killed, God said to them, “How can  you rejoice when my children  are drowning?”  and I am not rejoicing.

I can’t rejoice.  I have a master’s degree. This does not make me smarter than  anyone, but  earning that degree helped me to understand how economics works.  & what is not clear to me—or most Americans is….how we —I mean the U.S. Government—-can have such a frightening deficit, where there is talk of cutting Medicare, Social Security, and the mortgage interest/tax deduction—BUT WE CAN KEEP GIVING FOREIGN AID TO CORRUPT LEADERS ALL OVER THE WORLD.

The cold war is over!   There is no way we (the United States as a country) can keep up with  the Chinese or the Malaysians when it comes to giving foreign aid.  & the really awful thing is…you are cutting off aid for family planing—birth spacing , because you fear that  the  health care providers  may fund abortions.

Women in developing countries don’t want abortions.  The few who do, don’t go to  government funded  clinics, they   get help from local  traditional midwives who know how to induce abortions.

But  that is obfuscating the  issue.  We are still giving  billions in military aid to  governments that we know are corrupt.  Why should  we regular folks have to do without  so you can be friendly with these low life scumbags ripping off their people?

I am a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer.  I witnessed what aid can do—but the only  real impact I saw was person-to-person aid: giving  something directly to someone who needed it.

There are many small person-to-person (or we should say COMMUNITY TO COMNUNITY) groups that make a profound impact on the comunities that partner.

Malawi Children’s Village in Mangochi, Malawi….Zambian Children’s Fund in Lusaka, Zambia,   http://www.Sango.org in Western Kenya…so many  Peace Corps Country of Service Groups, PeaceCare—groups that PROVIDE BOOKS,  build hospitals & clinics, train nurses and community outreach workers…groups that insist that the communities  OWN THEIR PROJECTS.

I am aghast that journalists allow this to go unchecked–& go along with the decision makers & insist we have to cut  so-called entitlements. Hell—we taxpayers paid for those!  Why should I benefit  governments that  exploit, harass, even torture their people—&—now it is proven—harbor terrorists. For all the aid we’ve given to Pakistan (& I dare say Afghanistan)—they haven’t used it to  develop good governance or competence. We can’t make them, either.

Because of this screwball thinking that  military aid buys us friends, people cheat on their taxes and expatriate assets.

Why is this  our policy?

OMG—I can’t believe this is happening

May 5, 2011

I find it grossly confusing that the Republican Party,  always making a huge issue about making government smaller & keeping government out of the lives of people, spend so much time  coming up with ways to make abortion illegal.

They claim it is to save the lives of American babies, but  I don’t think any one of them is the adoptive—or even foster —parent of a handicapped child–or even a healthy one.

I heard on NPR that they want to make it law that you can not deduct the cost of an abortion as  a medical expense (yet, for some reason,  drugs like Viagra are tax deductible).

They seem so concerned about the deficit—a deficit we all know  that occurred after Al Gore worked on the budget (under Clinton) to  clear  up and Bush  just spent & spent—yet will do absolutely nothing  to reign in their spending on war & foreign aid.

We’ve discovered that Pakistan was  allowing bin Ladin safe haven, and  we look like a bunch of double talking idiots by giving the Pakis aid for all sorts of frivolous spending that will never be accounted for, and  journalists are  just not addressing what is really real.

I’ve been reading a book by Robert Reich (from the Clinton administration…remember?)  called  After-shock, about what worked in terms of tax policy in the past, and how even the Clinton administration pandered to the rich, as is still going on.

The gist of his argument is that the rich really don’t participate in trickle down, and it really is very short sighted of them to destroy the middle class. & why does this happen?  Well…the gist of this reason is…Americans are innumerate & politically unsophisticated. We don’t nag out elected officials to act with integrity.  Yet—totally outrageous—many are convinced that we have to cut social  programs like medicare to  keep the government running!  Amazing!!!
We may impeach them, and we may prosecute them—but we never recover anything. I am aghast that in Illinois, we are broke, and our state pension  systems continue allow the very elite to double dip while stating that the lower echelons should expect not all they are entitled too—& the legislators pensions are totally separate.  Isn’t this financial malfeasance? What are we missing here?

I remember learning  about how a great many  ancient civilizations crumbled due to mismanagement of their natural environments…and we are heading in that direction now.   & the extremely wealthy  seem totally ignorant of both this, and the economic system not being able to hold. We’ve reached a tipping point, and I am very fearful for us all…and all those babies that the Republicans save? They will be the new thugs  in our communities, unloved, uncared for, uneducated, and clueless as to why they were born.