Archive for January, 2014

Why do Pets End up Homeless?

January 31, 2014

I shouldn’t have to say this, but the websites that are forums for buying  and selling, and I will particularly single out Craigslist and Kijiji, if not E-Bay & Amazon, rely on the integrity of sellers….as well as buyers.  Adam Smith, the early economist pointed out how important integrity and trust were to capitalism and a working marketplace. Businesses do collapse when  found to be  shoddy and the word gets out.  Unfortunately, with the internet, you can change your name ans start over.

This is why the person selling—- dumping an item (or a live animal), gaming the system—- sold you something that didn’t work.  Whacha gonna do about is, sucka?  Sue them over $200?  Warn others?  No, you bitch to your friends and eat it.  You might complain or leave a bad review on EBay, Etsy, Amazon, or Yelp!   If you has sense, you’d complain to your State’s Attorney’s division of consumer fraud. If you bought a pet, you either take it to a shelter or try to sell it to the next idiot. Not  Healthy?  Not housebroken?   Not Good with kids?  Not your problem—let  the buyer beware, right?  You will pray to Jesus for forgiveness and you can live with yourself.  Be absolved of your sins, Move on to the next one.

Do you  think I am being harsh? The pet industry is saying that if they breed and supply healthier pets, they should be allowed to sell pets. It is up to buyers to be more informed and discerning—not up to sellers to screen and lose a sale.

I come from a different reality.  I believe that when it comes to a live animal, sellers  should  have to act with more integrity.  Since a pet store employee will  be fired for not making a sale to a  financially qualified buyer, pet shops can  not be counted on to act with integrity when it comes to  selling pets.

I’ve written before about  Fred Alderman, the  owner of Dynasty Afghans, who refused to sell dogs to people who would not spend a day grooming with him.  The Portuguese Water Dog Club of America encourages co-ownership by the breeders0 of all pet puppies until they are  titled or neutered.  The culture of integrity varies from breed to breed.  I was only able to purchase my 2nd Saluki because the breeder knew the breeder of the first one I owned.  The breeder of my first Saluki knew me from my participation in field trials.

The backyard breeders (byb) don’t delve too deeply.  They may have  overpaid another BYB and want to make their money back, and now they have pups and didn’t realize how hard they’d be to sell.  You got  money, you responded to the Craigslist post, you seem nice, Sold.  I don’t  want to know that you live in an apartment with a month-to-month lease with your mother who doesn’t want a dog, or that you  are gone from home 12 hours a day and have no idea how you will housebreak the dog.  Not my problem.  Until you the buyer, realize you are in over your head, and  you can’t trick someone else into overpaying.  That’s what animal shelters are for, right?

My tax dollars at work. Don’t shop—adopt. right?

On the one hand, we have  dog pounds. You pays your money and takes your chances.  You get a dog or cat.  No questions asked. No better than a pet store, just cheaper.

At the other  end, we have the breed specific rescues that ask so many questions and have such onerous applications  it’s amazing they are able to place any dogs at all. And, among them, we have the hobby breeders who will buy puppy mill dogs at auction to ‘save’ them, thus  essentially sabotaging their own efforts—because why should anyone pay for  YOUR over  priced  champion bred puppies when the puppy mill saves cost less than half that?    Since we should not buy puppy mill puppies….I am confused…since YOU bought them to ‘save’—are they healthier?  What’s up with that?

Nobody is dealing with the puppy mill or BYB. My own state  department of Ag doesn’t have enough inspectors to get to dairy farms, let alone puppy mills.

I am amazed at the naivete of  the public, and even my friends and relatives.  They really believe that people selling pets are honest for the most part, because they have no indication that they are NOT.  I partly blame veterinarinans, if not pushing spaying & neutering,k are also not  informing  BYB about  the odds of finding good homes or breeding dogs with genetic defects..

There is some statistical evidence that up to 25% of these dogs bred by BYB (who  won’t acknowledge their contributing to the dog surplus) will wind up in shelters, if not abandoned  somewhere.  If the dogs seem cute or endearing enough they will be adopted.  Most dogs  in shelters are too frightened to put on a good personality display, and may now be dangerous or ‘fear biters.’ Unless a no-kill group saves them they WILL BE KILLED.  Do you think that by taking that 1 pup posted on Craigslist, you will be preventing this?  If you pay  more than $25 not only will you not be, you will be encouraging this BYB to breed more.  If the  person posting  is a broker  for the BYB, and he sells  4 dogs at $100 each, he has made money.  Shots—if given at all, cost about $10, and you can buy a packet of the certificates that say they were given—they often come free with the vaccine.  This is pretty good extra income for that guy who works at Walmart for $12 an hour.

It’s a puppy you want,  not an adult do with ‘problems’, right?  You’ll make your own problem dog, right?  I have not bought a puppy in over 30 years. My last 5 dogs came to me as adults from shelters, rescues, or  networking.  Great dogs, all.  To me,the only reason  to take a puppy is that no adult dogs are available,  Think about it. The whole chewing, lunging on the leash not being housebroken.  Is that  so much more fun than an adult dog from a shelter  who appreciates  your attention?

But here’s the deal, really:  if you don’t have time to  work with a dog—training it, bonding with it—at least 1/2 hour a day, starting now, and  you don’t know how much  shots, other veterinary care, and grooming costs, or  who will take care of your dog when you are away, yo are not prepared for a dog right now.  And if you haven’t done research into  the type of dog who will fit into your lifestyle, and talked to owners of those kinds of dogs, you are not ready.  And if you haven’t at least visited an animal shelter before choosing your companion for the next 12 years or so, you are not ready.

Is Social Security a Ponzi Scheme?

January 24, 2014

Well,  I  guess, if you consider the way the system works is that we take resources from  one group of people to  enrich another group of people, it is. Since most employees pay in, and not all who pay in live long enough to collect, it could be.    Should this be an issue?  It’s not like it’s a secret that it works on actuarial tables.

We are an urban society.  People no longer live on farms where they grow their own food, or with extended families.  We age and get to a point where we can not work.  In an ideal world, we would have all learned to budget and save money for a  future when we could not work.    We all would have made enough money  working at jobs top do so. We would not have had more children than we could support. We would have made enough to save for retirement.    We could have relied on our living expenses not rising—especuially land rents. Most of us have  learned that we should have  at least  six months of living expenses saved up  for an emergency.  Currently, many of our federally elected officials, not necessarily numerate themselves, who also get  pensions (  have decided that it is more important to give military foreign aid  to foreign dictators, as well has support a bloated military budget (I do not begrudge soldiers, but  their paraphernalia  and ‘research’), than it is  to fund social security and medicare. Also, while they are complaining about the costs of all this–particularly medicare and medicaid, they do nothing to stop waste and fraud.

When  the Social Security system was initiated during the depression of the 1930’s,  urbanization  had started, and  many old people were losing their farms and  familial support networks.  Most people would NOT  save for retirement if not forced, nor could they make informed investment decisions.  We still are reluctant to even inform ourselves about budgeting, planning, and investing, and more reluctant to delay gratification.  I  continue to be shocked by people under  40 smoking cigarettes, and  people who carry a balance on their credit cards and can’t tell you what they bought.

Now, we hear from the media that the system is unsustainable.   A media controlled by old white men!  The issues are  that our population is not growing—we are not a population pyramid in this country, with many young people.  We are a population column.  At least that’s what they try to have us believe!  It’s too expensive to raise  more than  two kids for most couples.  In fact, most of the urban  world, better educated than  rural people, are choosing to  have smaller families.   The idea that the population is not growing to freed into Social Security is not  the problem, however—just an interesting and  goofy way of framing it.

The problem is that not all wages are subject to Social Security taxes.  The system is  never updated with the cost of living and inflation rxcept for pay-outs.   Were all income taxed, including capital gains, we’d be in fantastic shape.  In fact, if we didn’t allow the politicians to spend out tax dollars on military foreign aid, subsidies to  corporations, including farms, and wars—then claim we have a deficit—we’d be in phenomenal shape.  Also, since we are funding the system with inflated dollars, and salaries are more inflated than they were  when the system started,  were the system equitable,  there would be a huge surplus.  The irony is that the blowhards in Congress—who  do not pay into the system  once they are elected—but  get DEFINED PENSIONS, are telling us what to believe.  Chutzpah!

There is  one more issue: the many  dimwits with no skills, no entrepreneurial mindset, who’ve reached  almost old age, or  have spawned dimwit kids, who go on SSI.  Nobody counted on so many people gaming the system.  The fact of the matter is that if we didn’t pay these people to watch TV, drink,  smoke, and live on junk food, they’d be criminals—robbing us, or we wouldn’t be able to walk dow  a city sidewalk for the beggars.  It’s almost that way in my neighborhood now.    That’s why we have a welfare system–to prevent more of them from being  drains and endangering our lives. Some are good at gaming the system, and get physicians to cooperate. The rest become thugs.

Don’t let them get away with calling Social Security an entitlement.  If Congress can manage to  tax the interest your ‘earnings’ on a  savings account that is now  paying interest of .01%, they can manage to  make all wages/income subject to Social Security.

Joan the Bitch

January 17, 2014
The trim is a 'Town and Country'.  I wanted to do a classic 'Dutch', but the owner was a retired groomer , herself, and this was what she wanted.  Note the balance, that her pants are not 'falling off'.

The trim is a ‘Town and Country’. I wanted to do a classic ‘Dutch’, but the owner was a retired groomer , herself, and this was what she wanted. Note the balance, that her pants are not ‘falling off’.

I left my parents home about a month after I turned 18…& went to live with my boyfriend (later, briefly, my husband) up in Milwaukee, where he was going to school.  I think our rent was $150 a month, & split 5 ways, that meant I didn’t have to earn that much. I found a job at a ‘mom & pop’  grooming shop that really didn’t have that much business. A friend saw an ad in the Milwaukee Sentinel & suggested I call.

The job was way across town, on Appleton Ave. just south of Capitol Dr.  I lived on the east side, near the university.   I had to take 2—sometimes 3 buses to get there—8 miles from where I lived.  The guy who answered the phone  told me just to come in on Tuesday.

The shop was in a modern  stand alone building that looked like it might possibly  have been a house at  one time.  They had a very nice retail area, and  the grooming area was also extremely nice.  It’s something, to this day—forty years later—that I base my  ideas on. They were also hiring another groomer .We both  (Betty, the other hire)  and I sat down at  grooming tables.  Shortly after  9,  a skinny  bottle blond walked in the back door with 2 Boston terriers in her arms.  She seemed friendly enough. She asked us some questions about our experience grooming, and told us she would show us how she wanted us to groom, keep records, and clean up.

Joan  Fredericksen was a very good groomer.  She had  learned, originally, on her Poodle, and since she really wanted to do things right, she joined the Waukesha Kennel Club  and learned from club members how to groom the various breeds.  I learned so much from her. I learned how to really style  the terriers, l how to  budget my time, and how to run a business.

As time went on, the truth came out as to why she had to hire  2 new groomers.  She had been raising Boston Terriers, and they are a difficult breed to  breed.  They  do not breed or whelp themselves, and they come out mismarked (the breed standard is very clear about them having a white blaze  on their faces,  the rest being dark,and the  white socks), and this color thing in addition to  general conformation, and needing C sections.  She was showing dogs  on Saturdays and Sundays and was still not  getting majors ( critical number of points to make a dog a champion), but she would not let her groomers, who were showing Poodles and Miniature Schnauzers, have Saturdays off. They were showing dogs on Sundays only, and their dogs were becoming champions.

There were other issues as well:  groomers having to take turns coming in late on Fridays and working  1 to 9 AND THEN  having to come in before 9 on Saturday morning;  Not getting 50% for the grooms but  40  to 45%.    Having to stay until 5:00 p.m. even if they were finished grooming by 1:00 p.m. and had kids at home.  So, they quit en masse and decided to  just groom in their homes. Joan had a melt down and disappeared. Her husband, Jerry did not  own the shop (he sold typewriters and adding machines—this was 1972), but her income was significant. So, he ran an ad in the paper,and  told me to come in.  Nobody was more surprised than  Jerry was when Joan showed up.

Joan taught us about styling,  scissoring,  managing our time, and keeping records, and marketing.  She was also  a self-proclaimed bitch.  She and the  groomers who quit  had a truce.  They had to. Milwaukee is a very small  place if you are a dog person.  Good thing I was young, however.  I couldn’t do the commute today.  In any case, Betty left, and another girl  joined us, and he  ultimately became an award winning groomer. So did I.

I also learned about a different  ‘culture’.  I came from a Jewish community, and  very few  people with kids got divorced.  I never heard of anyone having an affair.    The Fredericksens were Catholics, and  did everything to needle each other.  Also, we got all the gossip from the kennel club, as Joan’s friends would stop in.  I couldn’t believe my ears!  Joan joked about being Joan the Bitch!  At first, I was horrified.  Yet  she was someone to emulate in her  courage and integrity.  She didn’t care  who knew.  She  just had a traditional way of being a boss that didn’t particularly work for groomers.

Yes, I learned a lot, and  after about a year, Joan  took her kids on a vacation to Arizona and decided she wanted to move out there. She came back to  sell her house and told Jerry to sell the business.  I wanted to buy it, but my father  told me they didn’t have adequate business records for him to lend me money.  I was there 5 days a week. I could see what the business was taking in, and I knew what the bills were.  No matter. It looked like my co-w0rker would buy it, but  some people who showed dogs came in with a better offer, and  they ran the business for a few years.  I have no idea who owns it now, but it is still in business:  Jo-Kor’s Klippette.

As a groomer, I often find business owners  looking for a groomer with ‘no drama’.  I’ve worked in many other places since then. There was no drama at Jo-Kor’s Klippette because Joan ran a good business, was fair (for the most part), and was a groomer herself.I think that’s very important. she would not ask us to do anything she would not do herself.   Very little dematting, rarely did we have a troublesome dog.

I worked at  a place about  20 years ago where  1 of the groomers was very immature. She’d show up late, bring her kids (a grooming shop can be a very dangerous place), and then you’d ask if anyone had to use the tub, as you were about to bathe a dog, she wouldn’t say anything, but would make a dash to the tub. She’d take a cage dryer off  a dog without asking you if you needed it.  I’ve worked at several places where the owner said they were very busy, but  when you came to work, her groomer with seniority had ‘dibs’ on as many dogs as she wanted, and you might get 2 dogs to groom. Not a living wage, yet that other groomer was complaining about how overworked she was &  she needed help. Sure she did—she didn’t want to give up any commissions.

I’ve worked in places where they didn’t brush dogs out thoroughly, or bathed them in cold water, or  just stuck a cage dryer on a dog and ‘forgot ‘ to check it.

I have just left a  business (their main service was  dog daycare and boarding) that  barely had any grooming business when I started.  The groomer had just ‘disappeared’ as  we tend to do, and the owner was frantic.  I came in, and the grooming room was actually a storage area with a 60 watt  bulb.  I told the owner that  she needed more  shadow free lighting.  The owner actually said to me, “Well, this was good enough for Sara!”  I answered, “Sara walked out. I am telling you what I need to do a good job.”

It turned out she had virtually no contact information for any of her ‘grooming clients’, so, I consented to working for her  3 days a week until we rebuilt the business.  I  told her she needed a form for contact information for every grooming client—as she  had for her kennel dogs.  She actually asked me why.  I told her we were going to send out reminders to get people to come in regularly. I also told her we needed another dryer. She didn’t want to spend the money.  She told me to buy a dryer,and, if I stayed with her for  6 months, she’d reimburse me.

She decided to  do Groupons  and Living Social Discounts. Suddenly, I was not getting full commissions…& it went down hill from there.  We were not  totally busy 3 full days a week.  We got a lot of new clients who  didn’t show up, didn’t  stay loyal (they were coming  from miles away for the discount), and she hired a GROOMING MANAGER TO MANAGE ME AND  UPGRADE THE ROOM, send out reminders, and order supplies.  This manager  did not do anything she was paid to do.

I  saw great potential  at this business, but I had to get other work.  I learned a lot from other groomers. Seems my situation was not unique.  More and more businesses were  being owned by non-groomers.  So many would not buy or repair equipment. They wanted  us to use ineffective products, and wouldn’t pay for good stuff.    They  were hiring groomers right out of school and thought that if a dog looked fluffy it was well groomed.

Joan was sort of a mentor to me.  Because of her, I know what all the terriers are supposed to look like, and how to correct faults.  I know how to look at a mixed breed dog now, too, and know that not every dog needs a clipper taken to it.  How do you explain that to  a business owner sho has never groomed, shown, or trained a dog herself?  I have no idea.

Public Policy and Pet Overpopulation.

January 10, 2014
This is a Whippet. Chances are very slim you will find them  in a shelter, but they do get loose.  Most likely, you will either have to be on a waiting list  (WRAP---Whippet Rescue and Placement) or network to find breeders.  Whippet breeders are NOT the cause of pet over population.

This is a Whippet. Chances are very slim you will find them in a shelter, but they do get loose. Most likely, you will either have to be on a waiting list (WRAP—Whippet Rescue and Placement) or network to find breeders. Whippet breeders are NOT the cause of pet over population.

I’ve been getting a lot of responses recently to several blogs;  One  blog on being libeled ( Yelp! and  the damages) that  some unscrupulous people working in the pet industry do, and one on  fake animal rescues.   Seems  people have had very bad dealings with Christine Poyner of Clifton, Illinois, and Wright-Way Rescue in Niles (soon Morton Grove).

When I was a teenager, I briefly worked for Fredric Mark Alderman, who owned Dynasty Afghan Hounds.  He was pretty well known in the  Chicago area, and  even if you didn’t like the dogs he bred, one thing you  knew was that you did NOT get a Dynasty dog until you spent a day grooming with him.  He didn’t  want to hear that you  had no idea what equipment you would need, how long it would take, how often it needed to be done, or what was involved.  If you decided, after spending a day grooming, that you really didn’t want an Afghan Hound,  there were no hard feelings.  He didn’t want his dogs resold  to  low life scum who thought they would make a killing from his bloodlines (as people have from the Gotti & Razor’s Edge Pit Bulls…).  To me, Fred was the epitome of a good hobby breeder.

A lot of business owners have had issues with the social media review websites.  You have to take them with a grain of salt.  I have reviewed businesses on them.  When people are anonymous, they are hiding.  Move on.

We are not all on the same page  about what to do about pet over population, and who is responsible for it.  Not all breeders are the same, and there  seems to be some statistical evidence that  most dogs ending up in shelters  were bred by what we call the ‘backyard breeders’:  people who breed their pets, or allow their pets to breed.  Very few, statistically come from hobby breeders, breeding for the betterment of their breeds, though a fair per centage do seem to come from pet shops.  It depends on the economy of the area the shelter is a catchment for.

Currently, many  involved in profiting off pets in the pet industry are defending the commercial breeders—addressing the issue that the problem is that they are breeding genetically unsound dogs, and that soon their dogs will be more sound than those of the backyard breeders.  That is NOT the issue, however. The issue is that the bad breeders do not screen buyers  to make sure the buyers understand the responsibilities and commitment needed to a pet, or even if the pet is right for them.  if they  did, we wouldn’t see so many young dogs posted on Craigslist for the myriad BS reasons (moving,  kids won’t take care of it, too busy, etc.). They just assume that if you pay for a pet, you will appropriately care for it. This is just not true.  I see it every day that I groom dogs.    In fact, for every  Shiba Inu, jack russell Terrier, and Basenji that is  AKC registered, statistically, about  one of  each of these breeds winds up in rescue. As the Shibas and Basenjis are really not that popular, that means that even the  hobby breeders are not doing such a great job screening.  It’s the ‘culture’ in those breeds.  Don’t get me started on Pit Bulls. Clearly, paying any amount of money for anything does NOT mean you will care for what you paid for.

Many of  the  ‘no-kill’ rescues are just as bad as the pet shops.  They  may screen people, but when it comes to insisting  that the ‘adoptor’  attend obedience classes with the dog, or  learn basic  brushing and buy proper tools, they are no better than the pet shops.

Chicago Animal Care and Control—our city dog pound,  asks to meet everyone in the household,  and usually will not adopt  a pet to people with toddlers.  They also demand to see either proof of home ownership or a signed lease that allows (pets)—& then call the landlord.  This is our city pound.   These are public employees that care!  I’d say they do a pretty good job of screening. So do many of the breed specific rescues.  The only problem with Chicago Animal Care  and Control is  that they allow a ‘transfer team’ to select out the most adoptable dogs and make them only available to other rescues—not to the public.  I don’t understand the logic, unless, statistically, it gives them more of a chance  to find a home in a timely fashion.

That said, we have too many rescues whose volunteers  don’t ask the right questions, don’t say anything about the care or training involved,  and hope for the best.

Two businesses that  people have asked for ‘clarification’ on  are Christine Poyner and Wright-Way rescue.   Christine Poyner runs a livestock breeding business. Whether she is currently breeding or brokering dogs this day is not the issue.  She is licensed by the Illinois Department of Agriculture to do so.  She  calls (or did call) her business Steppingstones for Pets, and told me she gets most of her dogs from local farmers’ wives.  Some of them are puppy mills. All of them are irresponsible breeders.  This is America, and she is in rural America, and in rural America, people generally don’t have pets as  urban Americans  do:   they are not pet parents. They do not  go to veterinarians for shots, don’t worm their animals or  deal with fleas—and the last thing they would spend money on is spaying/neutering. If they have  livestock they breed for food, chances are  they are ‘inspected’ by the Illinois Department of Agriculture, which has only  6 inspectors for the whole state—poorly trained ones at that.  There is no legal way to stop Ms. Poyner, nor the people she gets animals from.

Similarly, the many  nonprofits that ‘rescue’ animals from rural pounds, such as Wright-Way (a pound is not a shelter or a rescue—it is a holding facility to protect the public health from disease vectors) are not solving the  pet over population problem—-particularly if they  don’t follow through on  being sure the  animals they adopt out are not spayed/neutered.  They could ask for a surplus deposit ($300 or so seems  to make an impact on most adoptors to be returned upon proof of spay/neuter)…but  that won’t solve the problem, as many  people who don’t want to  spay/neuter  will not adopt from a shelter.  They will go  to  Craigslist or Kijiji, or even a local flea market, or buy from an ad in the paper or on their veterinarian’s bulletin board.  It is those people who  are about 90% of the problem, and we are not going to  stop them.  The big issue we have with Wright Way is that over  95% of the dogs they offer are puppies, and they do not take dogs back once adopted out.  I have been told if they don’t have the room, that would be the reason…but that is no excuse.  Don’t  take more puppies than you can keep indefinitely.  How is it rescue when you  don’t take back animals YOU  ‘adopted’ out? that’s selling….and even ethical hobby breeders will often  pay to get dogs back rather than them be abandoned at  shelters.  I got a dog this way this year.

I  went to college to find a more sophisticated way to address the issue of irresponsible pet ownership.  I learned that academia is  not the place to look. Two really good books on  getting a message out are Made to Stick, by Chip and Dan Heath, and The Tipping Point, by Malcolm Gladwell (who also wrote the phenomenal essay, Troublemakers, which can  be found online and in his  fantastic book, What the Dog Saw ). The gist is that we need more influential  people who really love pets to be more visible.  We need more veterinarians and  celebrities to talk about all this, not just spay/neuter.  How ironic that the producers of the talk shows pander to their hosts interests rather than real issues.

I volunteer as an advocate for animals in the court system.  Many are  owned by  dog fighters, some by  people charged with other crimes, and many are abused or neglected by psychopaths or hoarders.  One blogger recently  wrote about Pratt puppy mill in Iowa:

For some reason, the USDA inspectors will not bring this case to the regional  federal district attornies to prosecute.  If more of us would put pressure on, we might possibly make a dent, as would people flagging puppy sellers on Craigslist (in  : pet section, events, farm & garden, general for sale, household goods, and pet services).  If you are going to be involved in rescue, please try to make a dent.

When people tell me they want to help animals, but can’t adopt or foster, I know they want to help, and I am dismayed at the number of  nonprofits  that  state on their web sited that they need help with fund raising or  marketing, but do not respond to  inquiries.  So, for those of you who want to  really help… get informed about the issues, and  gain credibility.    Safe Humane Chicago  trains  volunteers to train dogs and work with dogs housed at Chicago animal Care and Control, and many other  shelters  (meaning those that have facilities0 need dog trainers, too.  it’s a good way to gain credibility as a dog trainer.  learn to be a court advocate, and band with others.  Court is usually in the morning.  If you can’t get to court, or  get a shelter or rescue to work with you on this, you might possibly be able to find prosecuting attornies than might help out.  You can post  to attract like minded people on Craigslist.  You can flag people  posting baby animals on Craigslist.  they sell in the pet section, farm & garden, and in general for sale.  sometimes they sell  in the pet services section as well.  You can review your state’s animal welfare laws, and  make sure they are enforced.  it is a violation of CALIFORNIA LAW to sell animals on the internes, but  for some reason, CALIFORNIA is not  enforcing the law and  collecting fines. Why not?

In the  mid 1980’s. I  helped Margaret Asproyerakas, as the time a volunteer for Fund for Animals,  produce a brochure for Armchair Activists (that any group could republish) that  said what you  could do  to help animals.  Some actions included making sure  any place that sold animals (pet shops)  took car of their animals  properly, not buying fur, recycling and composting,  not attending circuses and rodeos that exploited animals,  choosing a vegetarian diet, working to outlaw steel leg-hold traps and sticky  mousetraps, and many other actions.  We were the the forerunner of books like, “50 Things You can do to Save the Earth.”

I used to  go with a friend into pet shops and fur salons, and have a loud conversation  about the pros and cons of buying (whatever) & alternatives.  It works.   As an aside, I am a Jew.  Jews don’t proselytize.  We’re not  out to tell you that what you believe is wrong.  however…what if you don’t have a belief?  What if what you know isn’t true?  These are the people we have to get to.

The Craigslist ‘Rehoming’ Scam

January 4, 2014

I support a small nonprofit that  works to put puppy mills out of business by educating the public about pet shops, and where they get their puppies.  While the pet shops might  claim to buy only from  USDA licensed breeders, or family breeders, the  industry people claim to not understand  that the issue is that ethical hobby breeders who love their dogs do NOT sell to  third parties to resell.  The breeders who loved their dogs want to meet you in person (or have someone they know vouch for your integrity and character), and they  don’t allow third parties to act as middlemen.

More and more, we find that  municipalities are responding to the grassroots efforts of citizens to ban the sales of dogs and cats in pet shops for this reason.  The pet industry, via their lobbying group—Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council—PIJAC—has chosen to ignore this reason & instead respond that they are working with breeders to produce more genetically sound  and healthy puppies—but this begs the issue of  sellers not  screening buyers, refusing to sell to  buyers, and  not suggesting the buyer do further research.

What is coming  to take the place  of  the  retail pet stores  are  backyard breeders:    the owner of  one or two (of six or eight…) fertile bitches, and/or a stud dog, who claims to NOT be  breeders because they  don’t own 20 dogs, or don’t have a separate kennel building, or are not making a living  breeding dogs. They are not  breeding for the betterment of their breed, or to improve their line. They are breeding for fun AND profit.  They aren’t making enough to live on, but that is NOT the issue.  According to  pet registries, department of agriculture  inspectors, and  veterinarians, if you own the mother animal,the dam YOU are the breeder.  There seems to be some statistical evidence (I got this years ago from an American Humane Association report) that  most dogs in shelters do NOT come from hobby breeders breeding for the betterment of their breeds, nor were they coming, until recently, from puppy mills (I have written how some ‘rescues’ get   dogs from pounds in areas where  puppy mills dump unsold puppies).  Most dogs in shelters come from  dogs bought from some  friend, neighbor, or  jerk on the internet selling puppies.  Then the dog becomes inconvenient.  Just because you see them for sale, it does not mean they all get sold.

When the  economy in the USA started  getting bad  around 2004, and  people started losing jobs (ENRON, 9/11, and  housing costs  getting out of control), people started looking for ways to  make extra income.  Raising pets for fun and profit appealed to many.  After all, they don’t have to  directly pay the expense of housing or euthanizing surplus animals.  It’s us do-gooders who pay for that.

In the metro Chicagoland area, although we  have  shelters  and rescues paying lip service to making  Chicago a NO KILL city, we find they are not taking every adoptable (meaning healthy and with good  temperament) dog into their  programs—because  most are Pit Bulls.  What they  are doing is IMPORTING purebred and designer dogs from other states pounds and shelters, because they know there is a market for them  here.  I feel it is  disingenuous and shows a  lack of integrity to  do this—but that’s me.

In any case, these backyard breeders, who might have—in the past—sold via an ad in the paper or to local pet shops.. are now selling on the internet.  Internet sales of pets are illegal.  It is illegal to take a credit card and ship a pet  to  God-knows-where,  sight unseen.  It is a USDA unfunded mandate, and  prohibited by California law, where Craigslist physically resides.

The  people breeding  pets ‘for fun and profit’ (not to improve their bloodlines or for the betterment if their breeds) know this. They know the law is not enforced, and they know how to respond to skeptics who may ask why they are posting puppies for sale, since it is against the law. Many will say they are not breeders. They have this  one pet dog, so the law doesn’t apply to them.  Many will say they have just one puppy, and either found a job, lost a job, have to move, or the child is allergic. When asked why they don’t return the pup to the breeder, they will respond that they breeder will not take the dog back.    Possible….but more likely they don’t even have  the pup, and are partnering with an unethical backyard breeder (or puppy mill) & will get the pup  when you make an appointment to see it. My sister  was recently taken this way, although I begged her to NOT look on Craigslist for a puppy.  Does it have luxated patellas or liver shunt?  Time will tell.

Recently, among the fake rescues, which claim they ‘rescued’ an entire litter of (name your purebred or designer dogs), are the unaffiliated rescuers who network with each other.  Usually one in the  network is a bona fide , state licensed non-profit rescue.  One  ‘rescuer’ got custody of 20  older breeding dogs, mostly Yorkies, Maltese, and the various designer dog crosses, that she let her rescue network know were available for free.  People remembering how Oprah Winfrey was able to put in an order for 2 BROWN COCKER SPANIEL PUPS to a local ‘no-kill’ group (PAWS Chicago),  are gleeful.  What am I missing? The puppy mills these old dogs came from are still in business. They have NOT been shut down.  They didn’t have to pay to euthanize older dogs, or spend time  doing so;  all these old puppy mill breeders WILL need dentistry, and probably treatment for either liver shunt or luxated patellas, possibly heartworm;  the costs will be more than what any of these ‘rescuers’ would have paid for a dog from an ethical hobby breeder—who would NEVER  give even 1 dog to someone else  to ‘place’.  We warn people about puppy mill dogs, and health issues…but it’s ok if you get them for free & are rich enough to deal with their health issues?  And allow the breeders to remain in business?  I don’t think so…but  this is how it is.