Posts Tagged ‘ASPCA’

What is a Puppy Mill? Is That the Question?

April 21, 2016

In Chicago, and many cities around the country,  pet loving activists are  enacting laws to prevent or stop the pet shop sales of commercially bred—a/k/a puppy mill—bred dogs.

The common thinking, and it is pretty accurate, is that dogs sold in pet shops come from commercial breeders. They are only bred , as livestock, to sell. There is no regard for the health or temperament—or genetic soundness—of the parent dogs.  What happens to dogs not sold? They are  either  returned to use for breeding, euthanized, or dumped in  animal shelters—usually in rural locations.

Bred by backyard breeder. This is a Shih Tzu---Pit Bull cross. Why should the rest of us have to pay to euthanize unwanted dogs?

Bred by backyard breeder. This is a
Shih Tzu—Pit Bull cross. Why should the rest of us have to pay to euthanize unwanted dogs?

I get  all the pet industry publications:  Pet Business, Pet Age, Pet Manufacturing News, and they all are reporting that commercial breeders are on the decline. Some of the reasons are that  that fewer pet shops are  buying their dogs to resell.  Sure, there’s still Petland, Furry Babbies, Happiness is Pets, and others, but, for the most part,  more pet shop owners are seeing the writing on the wall. They  know that  people who come into their pet shops to impulsively buy a dog, haven’t put much thought into it, and the pup will be abused or neglected.  Better to send people looking for puppies and kittens to animal shelters or  hobby breeders…or just allow the shelters to bring in animals and do the screening of adopters themselves (and just make money off the supplies these pet owners will buy).

I support rescue.  I have owned puppies, and have worked for kennels taking care of puppies, and for me, an older dog is best.  My last 5 dogs were  older dogs that the breeders had either  just kept…or taken back when the people they sold the dog to could not keep them.  This is what ethical hobby breeders—who love their dogs, do. They are responsible for their dogs from ‘cradle to grave’.  In fact, some  parent clubs, notably the Portuguese Water Dog Club of America, mandate their club members  do this. This is why you don’t see a lot of ‘rare’ breeds in  shelters—or on Craigslist.  These breeders are not desperate to dump dogs.   They wouldn’t be breeding dogs if they had to offload dogs to iffy homes. &—this is why  hobby breeders are on the decline.  It is  too expensive, and aggravating, to breed good dogs.

This is Venus. Her original owner suffered a medical problem, and she was returned to her breeder...& I got her.

This is Venus. Her original owner suffered a medical problem, and she was returned to her breeder…& I got her.

Oh sure,  what’s considered ethical varies from breed to breed.  Who knew what a Shiba Inu, a Havanese, or a Cane Corso were 20 year ago?  The breeders of those breeds just assumed that the people they sold to were buying pets…or, nobody ever addressed to the hobby breeders what could happen if they sold dog without neutering  or co-ownership contracts.  Now, we see those breeds more often on Craigslist, and don’t get me started about designer mixes.

I am opposed to puppy mills, but it seems that the AKC is working against us.  Why is that? Well, of course, they make money off of registrations, no matter who breeds the dogs….but what is a puppy mill?  There are people with 2 or 3 bitches who breed them to death, and post on Craigslist constantly…but they don’t have kennel buildings, so nobody considers them puppy mills. Yet—-it is exactly those breeders whose dogs end up in shelters and rescues. Why? They don’t ask who  lives in the household and to meet them all, if the buyer owns or rents, if he works all day, what will be his arrangements to housebreak and train a puppy,  if he knows how much annual shots  or frequent grooming costs.  In fact,ironically, it is the African scammers posting Bulldogs, Siberian Huskies, and Yorkies who ask those questions!

Now, on the surface, this breeder looks like a puppy mill :  Go to the website. Joan Huber has  at least 14 stud dogs. So, at a minimum, you know she has to have at least 14  breeding bitches , and I am sure she has more.  Joan Huber is a well known  professional handler. She has been in dogs over 60 years!  There is no indication she is selling  litters for resale, but she would not have to.  She has enough of a market, due to her reputation, to sell all the dogs she breeds.  She  is a member of the American Miniature Schnauzer Club, and I am sure she  adhere to their code of ethics, as I know people who know her.  The problem would be if she sells an unspayed bitch to someone less ethical than she is…& then Blythewood will be behind the names of many puppy mill  dogs.  At one time, seeing this happen, many Min. Schnauzer breeders started doing early (before age of 6 months) spay/neuter.  This can lead to  urinary incontinence.  But what can you do when buyers lie?  I doubt Ms. Huber has a personal relationship with all her dogs, but I also doubt they are living in squalor, as she does receive puppy buyers to her kennel. This is how kennels used to be—as few  people were showing their pet dogs prior to the 1960s.  BLYTHEWOOD IS NOT CONTRIBUTING TO THE PROBLEM!

My point is, the wording has to be  addressed in these laws,and  those promoting  humane care really have to understand if what they are  fighting for will make a difference in how many  pets are raised, and then are abused and/or abandoned.  When the ‘no-kill’ shelters in Illinois  ignore the dogs bred by the many backyard breeders which end up at Chicago Animal Care & Control—because they are mostly pit bulls or pit mixes (and they don’t want only these types of dogs on their websites), and go out of state to get the  dogs the puppies  mills and backyard breeders dump in Kentucky, Iowa, or  wherever….they are not solving the problem, and, in fact, keeping  bad breeders in business.  Yet these  do-gooders have the nerve to tell me that all breeders are bad breeders. The do-gooders are not rescuing pariah dogs—-they are actually solving the bad breeders’ problem of surplus dogs, and  making it difficult for ethical breeders.  I don’t want the hillbillies, meth addicts, and  low life scum deciding what kind of dog I should own—and I feel bad for the dogs thy breed, but this is not solving the problem.

The wording should be that if a pet shop sells any mammal (why would a dog’s life be worth more than a bunny or a guinea pig…or hamster or mouse…) they must either breed them themselves or they must  come from a bona fide shelter or rescue.   The owners and managers will say they did not come from mills or commercial breeders…but families breeding their pets. Uh-huh.    If that were so, they would not sell  them all to resell. Pets are not a 4-H project. & then, if these  do-gooders want to start making a dent….start calling and arranging visits to everyone posting a baby animal on Craigslist.  Make an appointment, and flag the post, and ask these people directly—why  did they breed the litter,  what does the fee include, will they take it back if you can’t keep it? who should be responsible for it if they won’t be….and why are they ignoring Craigslist rules in regard to animal sales?


Bridging the Information Gap to End the Surplus Pet Problem

September 25, 2015
Bred by backyard breeder. This is a Shih Tzu---Pit Bull cross. Why should the rest of us have to pay to euthanize unwanted dogs?

Bred by backyard breeder. This is a
Shih Tzu—Pit Bull cross. Why should the rest of us have to pay to euthanize unwanted dogs?

I would not have learned to groom dogs—and entered the PET INDUSTRY—if I didn’t love dogs.  I  believe the late Andrew Hunte, of Hunte Corp.—the largest puppy mill in the country (although I am sure he never called his business a puppy mill, but a commercial dog breeding kennel), initially felt the same way. He died a few weeks ago, but his state-of-the-art puppy mill is not going to go out of business soon.  I bet a lot of hobby breeders wish they had a facility like Hunte Corp.

Andrew Hunte came from a family that showed dogs.  He showed dogs in his early days.  However, he had a pet shop, and of course, no ethical hobby breeder would sell him puppies to resell.  They all wanted to meet the people who wanted to buy puppies.  So, in order to meet the demand for pups, initially, Hunte turned to substandard breeders—how we envision most puppy mills.  He didn’t like that, as the pups were genetically unsound and unhealthy.  He decided he could do better.  He did.  One of my grooming clients owns a Hunte bred Afghan Hound, which she got from PETLAND when she worked there and they couldn’t manage to sell the pup. Sesame has gorgeous conformation.  I recognized many of the names on her pedigree…so you see, we DO know who wasn’t screening or didn’t care.

Our dirty little secret is that many of the winning breeders of conformation dogs run their own puppy mills.  They breed over 10 litters a year (many breed over 50 liters a year), and do a rudimentary screening of prospective homes, if you call asking for a credit card screening.  Rarely do we see the dogs they’ve sold ending up in shelters or rescue, but the problem remains that dollars matter more than excellent placements.

I am not defending breeding pets as livestock—but these breeders are not the problem.  Ironically, it is the smaller puppy mills, harder to identify, which are usually posting on Craigslist and even E-bay, which are the source of most pets ending up in shelters and rescues.

As a hobbyist/fancier, I see this as several different problems: 1. breeding dogs as a commodity and not as pets; 2.  Not screening for  good homes (buyers who understand what they are getting into); 3. the rescue ‘community ignoring that backyard breeders are BREEDERS and not being made responsible.

Every day, Facebook is full of posts with a photo of a sad dog, and a caption, “Won’t someone save this dog from euthanasia?”  If you notice, most of these dogs are Pit Bulls and Chihuahuas if they are purebred, and  frequently they are Rottweilers and designer dogs. These dogs generally come from backyard breeders, not puppy mills. Certainly, purebreds do end up in shelters:  owners die or have some terrible misfortune, or a dog is stolen or gets loose, but ask any shelter manager what physical types of dogs are coming in, and  they will confirm what I am saying.

So, the fancy writes off the rescue community as PETA members and do-gooders, and the rescue community writes off all breeders as the problem, and we’re not really making much headway in solving the problem of surplus pets and who should be responsible for them.

We know that in many European countries,  getting dogs registered is strictly regulated, and there doesn’t seem to be a surplus pet problem.  Just beyond Europe is Eastern Europe and Russia, now exporting purebreds from their puppy mills because the French bulldog, English Bulldog, Pomeranian, and Boston Terrier breeders in the USA can’t keep up with the demand for PUPPIES OF THESE BREEDS.  Personally, I really am appalled that importing pet dogs for the market, when we euthanize so many, is allowed…but the AKC will register those dogs.

I know I am naive and really want to believe the people who run the AKC really care about the future of purebred dogs, but I had an AKC employee tell me that if the AKC didn’t register these dog, and stopped transferring registration of breeding dogs sold at auction, they’d go to another registry.  My gut reaction was, So What?

Another fact that hobbyists/fanciers don’t care about is that the pet pups they sell often are not registered.  Some think this is a good thing, especially if they know their pups carry genetic defects. Many sell at a lower fee with no papers, so the surplus pets they breed can’t be traced back to them.  Do you hear me, Beagle, Rottweiler, Cane Corso,  and German Shepherd Dog breeders?   I don’t mean to single our your breeds  (or you breeders being iffy on the integrity scale), but the last 2 Whippets I got as pets were returnees to their breeders.  A Saluki I got was being held onto as a young adult until the right home came along.  Also, have you tried to purchase a Portuguese Water Dog? With a very small gene pool, the breeders of those dogs are going to ask a lot of questions and were able to dodge the bullet of having the breed get into the wrong hands when the Obamas got their Portuguese Water Dogs.  They took advantage of the spotlight to explain to the pet seeking public that good breeders are always responsible for the dogs they breed—even the non-show dogs, and take them back.

Ok…back to fixing this. I am out on the street with my Whippets all the time, and  of course,  the question most regular Americans ask is, “Are they rescues?”   This is because they look like Greyhounds, and nobody is breeding pet Greyhounds—they are all retired track dogs. I explain that they are Whippets, not Greyhounds, and that Whippet breeders are generally very responsible, and both mine were returned adult dogs…and you often have to be on a waiting list to get a Whippet puppy.  When I have the time, I also explain that  many of the people who own racing Greyhounds always tried to place dud racers, but most people didn’t want them as pets until the marketing was addressed…and I go on to say that most of the dogs in shelters needing rescue were bred by backyard breeders whom NOBODY  admits are breeders!  And…if I  happen to run into an adamant rescue person who feels no dog should be bred until all the dogs in shelters get homes, I tell them they are not addressing the cause of the problem, and if they alienate ME—a supporter of rescue, they are alienating a large group of people who would help them really get to the heart of the problem.

So, let me remind you-1. Do not shop in any store that sells any pet animals unless that store raises the animals themselves.  Ask the manager. You support cruelty of all sorts when you make excuses that a bird or rat is not worth as much as a dog.  We can’t solve the problem when we make excuses;

2. Do not do business with veterinarians who discount that you are breeding good dogs for the future of good dogs, yet profits from puppy mills and backyard breeders.  This does us no good;

3. Do not donate to humane organizations that are not local to you, and that do not accept that YOU are not the problem.  In fact, ask them what they are doing to address the problem of backyard breeders. If you are in a municipality that mandates that  pet shops only offer rescued pets, ask what they do to ensure integrity—because in the metro Chicago area,  we have Wright-Way, which ‘rescues’ puppies from rural pounds that take surplus puppy mill puppies—and they do NOT include neutering in their fees as mandated by state law!

4. Ask your local animal shelters how they screen for  GOOD homes:  a. Do they ask if the pet seeker owns or rents?  b. If they want a puppy, how will they manage to housebreak it if they are gone all day (the answer is, a dog walker coming in every 3—4 hours)? c.  Do they  know that the dog will either shed or need professional grooming and have they investigated the costs & the frequency recommended?  d.  Have they looked into  who offers dog training classes for basic obedience?  e.What if the pet has behavior issues?  Who  do they refer  puppy adopters to for FREE HELP?  Not every behavior issue is an obedience issue.  f. Also, do they have the adopter sign a statement that they must return the pup to the shelter/rescue if they can’t keep it, and not pawn it off on Craigslist?

Of course, you can’t confuse some people with the facts.   One thing I do is volunteer as a court advocate for animals in the court system.  It is going to remain way too easy to get a  pet and abuse it for some time to come, and the do-gooders are so busy getting all the pets out of shelters so they won’t be killed in the shelters….they are ignoring the fact that deranged people sometimes adopt pets and torture them.

Unifying the Pet Industry: Ed Sayres, CEO of PIJAC has a ‘new’ Marketing idea

June 19, 2015
An example fo a curved slicker brush---generally, the right brush!

An example fo a curved slicker brush—generally, the right brush!

For those who don’t know, PIJAC is the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council—the lobbying group for the  pet industry.  It encompasses commercial breeders, manufacturers, and retail pet shops.  Anyone in the  pet industry can join, if you want to support the status quo. This is what the pet industry doesn’t want you to see:

-if you think this video is overly sensational…do you think this was staged?

And they also deny that this is typical:

PIJAC defends the bad practices of the pet industry. Although they  say they do education, what members pay them to do is lobby legislators on local, state and federal levels to  not allow those of us who object to inhumane treatment of animals to have more influence than the industry does.  They  have lobbied to make it illegal for us to  document on film inhumane treatment of animals.

This is the irony of the pet industry.  The industry sells the concept of love, care, animal husbandry, and compassion. What it does in reality is defend  worst practice and the  bad actors.  I am responding to a recent Op/Ed piece in Pet Business magazine (June 2015).  Something  people need to know  is that  Ed Sayres, the head of PIJAC, was recruited from the ASPCA :    Yes! He was the head of the American Society for The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals,  a humane organization, to head a lobbying group whch, if you come down to it, has opposite intentions of a humane group.

Looks like the board of directors of the ASPCA has some explaining to do on this past hire—and I, again, want to remind people who want to help animals to not fall for marketing flim flam and  keep their donations to local groups that they can actually visit, and ask their boards  what they really do to  care for animals.

In  a recent opinion piece  in Pet Business, Sayres addresses what he—and the industry in general  as the  problem:  animal rights people. Pet Business:

When you  don’t understand who the enemy is—the opposition, as how YOU see them, and not as how they are, you are fighting an entity that does not exist.  You can’t solve the problem.  I’ve said this to animal rights activists as well.

What’s the issue? Well, the  animal rights/welfare people paint all  pet breeders with the same broad brush, and claim that because hobby breeders are selling puppies, animals in shelters are not finding homes.  This is laughable. Why? The people looking for a purebred puppy are looking for a specific type of dog of a specific age. In fact, very few  purposely bred pups from either hobby breeders or  puppy mills actually end up in shelters (the purebreds  don’t end up in shelters until they are mature, and only in  certain parts of the country do those  unsold mill bred pups wind up in shelters—I’ve written about how Wright-Way in Morton Grove, Illinois,  gets their puppies, for example.  I am sure other ‘rescues’ follow the same business model).  If you want those people  who  are searching for  a specific  puppy to consider the shelter adult dog, you had better market that shelter adult dog better.  However,  if your goal is a fantasy, you are not helping those adult shelter dogs find homes.  Also, to tell me that I could not really care about dogs as long as I support planned breeding, you clearly don’t understand the problem, and have alienated me as a supporter and donor!

What I would always do is ask people searching for a puppy:  why not consider an adult dog?  Particularly if they work outside the home over  six hours a day, they will never get the dog housebroken.  As to cats, there is no guarantee that a kitten will mature to be an engaged adult cat—especially if it is alone most of the day.  If the dog seeker is not addressing  coat care and  training,  they should be discouraged from choosing any pet.  Unloved/unwanted pets are dying, and it is not the fault of the pet seeker, but those many backyard breeders who are NOT being held accountable by anybody!

On the other side of the spectrum,  Mr. Sayres is also painting anyone opposed to the sale of live animals in pet stores as animal rights activists—and liars.  He didn’t call us do-gooders, vegans, or naive…but we are all  under the same umbrella. It’s as as though we should see  animal rights activists as all dues payers to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals who are upholding their agenda. This is also laughable.  Can you not care about animals and not be discounted?

I see my self as a steward  for my pets.  Most people who seek a pet know they are responsible for  its care.  Most  don’t know how to find a healthy pet. It’s a fact  that many animals destined to be sold as pets die of stress and inhumane handling.  Morbidity is   a fact in the pet industry.  Animals get stressed by temperature, lack of food and water in transport, injury.  They are not humanely euthanized upon arrival, but trashed—and Sayres knows this and  PIJAC never addresses this.  Another dirty secret they (pet industry managers) never address is what happens to animal that don’t get sold. Are they sent back to the breeders?  Dumped at shelters? Killed?  I guess it depends on the individual pet store.  Because  these are issues, and because retail managers know their client base, many now don’t sell dogs or cats…but do sell  ‘lesser’ animals (rabbits, ferrets, guinea pigs, chinchilla…mice & rats…then herps, birds, fish).  Do these animals deserve less consideration?  Is their pain any less when they are injured or stressed in shipment, then not humanely euthanized?

In his essay in Pet Business:, Sayres  speaks about  how poorly the American Public regards the industry.  He claims the industry  is not ‘getting the story out’ on how competent and caring  the industry is, and that a  new partnership with the PET LEADERSHIP COUNCIL will change all that.

Competency?  I think not.  This is my experience  virtually every day, as a dog groomer:  New client comes in with a small dog wearing a harness attached to a ‘Flexi’ leash.  Because a harness is designed so a dog can lead an owner without feeling physical restraint, this is exactly what the dog is doing….but doesn’t know where to go, so he is dragging the owner  all over.  The owner can’t control the dog.  Even going through an obedience training class run by a pet store (that has sold the owner the harness and Flexi), the owner has failed to get control of the dog.  While it is true that neither the collar nor the leash  trains the dog, having a proper fitting collar and a 6 foot leash make it much easier for the owner to get the dog’s attention.  However, because of the dynamics of the harness, the Flexi, poor mentoring of the  owner as amateur trainer, as well as  the  genetic temperament of most small dogs, the owner has failed to be able to communicate with the dog. The owner is disappointed, and while they  most likely will not dump the dog in a shelter (unless they move,  ‘have a lifestyle change’, get too busy. or …), they will NOT get another dog because owning one is too expensive, too much work,  not enjoyable…and the kids are gone.

The wrong brush for most dogs is the top selling  brush style in America---thanks to the idiots who  manage pet shops!

The wrong brush for most dogs is the top selling brush style in America—thanks to the idiots who manage pet shops!

For over a decade I have been asking  why pet shops don’t sell martingale collars instead of prong collars or harnesses, why they  don’t sell standard leashes rather than promote Flexis, why they  don’t  teach their managers and employees how to use grooming equipment and sell proper slicker brushes rather than  the double sided pin/bristle brushes,  & we can ask why  they don’t SCREEN prospective pet owners  about what their  lifestyles are like and what their expectations for a pet are.

The reason  they don’t do it  RIGHT is because they are retail managers selling products, not animal lovers, and not thinking long term.

There is another way.  Retail managers can  partner with dog clubs as they are starting to do with  animal rescues, and invite the clubs in to  talk about their breeds, and  the club members can advise retail managers about the equipment  to sell that would do the most good. And…they can stop selling pets as livestock.

Unfortunately, the plan is now to sell their competency, or rather, rebrand  their lack of competency, and to continue blaming animal rights activists for the decline of the image of the industry.

So, I have to remind PIJAC ans Ed Sayres of this.  I AM ALSO THE PET INDUSTRY, and it is embarrassing to have to tell  people that they trusted the wrong people: you.



Stuff I Tell my Pet Owning Clients

January 23, 2015


An eexample fo a curved slicker brush---generally, the right brush!

An eexample fo a curved slicker brush—generally, the right brush!

The wrong brush for most dogs is the top selling  brush style in America---thanks to the idiots who  manage pet shops!

The wrong brush for most dogs is the top selling brush style in America—thanks to the idiots who manage pet shops!

How do you  get new grooming clients?  Most of mine have  either come from seeing a dog I groomed, and talking with the owner, or often something I’ve said to a dog owner who repeated it to another dog owner.  For example,  as I get to know my clients, I always ask how the dog is at home, and, in so many words, if the owner is happy with the dog’s behavior.  The short conversation—about if the dog has a cat friend, or us a devil or angel,  gives me an idea of  whether the owner will keep the dog. It also  gives me a chance to address  other issues.  One big issue is the dog pulling on the leash.  Unfortunately, most of my clients have  frequented pet stores  staffed by retailers who know NOTHING about the products they sell, and whether the products are dangerous or appropriate. As a result,  almost all the small dogs I’ve been grooming went from wearing collars to harnesses in a matter of several years.  Trending…please….

Anybody who knows me, knows I hate them. Only Guide Dogs and sled dogs  should be wearing harnesses.  You can’t control a dog that wears a harness. Yes, I understand that many people don’t want to control their dog, an I understand the VETERINARIAN  told them  to get a harness (collapsed tracheas—of course) rather than reshape the dog’s behavior.  Paired with a Flexi, you’ve lost  all control. Dangerous not just on icy walks, but if you encounter  someone who  has their pooch similarly decked out—and they (the  walker) are on a cell phone or otherwise not paying attention to the end of the leash—dangerous.

As I don’t sell any products. I remind  my clients I  don’t benefit economically, I am telling them what is real. Well,  sort of a miracle has occured.  Am I really that persuasive?  Just about every dog owner I’ve talked to went out and bought  a martingale for their dog—and a  six foot leash!  & they tell me their dogs have stopped pulling! Can you imagine?

Why would I care?  I care because I love dogs. When pet owners are not happy with their dogs, they don’t bond with their dogs. They might find homes for their dogs, and I’ve lost a client.  This is why YOU should also care. Nobody leaves a dog groomer just because she charges too much:  they leave because they  don’t feel they are getting service. The big box stores will be able to under cut you on everything.  You have to keep seeking knowledge about dogs and expressing an interest in your clients’ dogs.

What else do I tell my clients?

1.  Let me show you  how to brush this dog with a slicker brush…and you are going to need a comb.  I  often get clients because the last groomer  shaved the dog.  Sometimes,you have to shave the dog.  I ask if the client bathed this dog without brushing it, and I ask them to show me their brush.  90% of the time it is one of those horrible  pins on 1 side, bristles on the other—-worthless.  Lots of people don’t know  that matting is caused by static electricity.  I use The Stuff or Ice on Ice in the shop, but  you can now get smoothing products at a lot of drugstores—and it doesn’t take much Dimethicone  to  get the tangles out.  I explain why having the dog up off the floor is important, and why  it might be a 2 person job—but once a week, 5 minutes is all it usually will take…and I remind them if they have to wash their hands after brushing the dog, the dog needs a bath….and I brush they shampoo through the coat.  Who is going to do  this?  The pet owner who doesn’t want his dog shaved.  More important, the pet owner knows I showed him what to do, and he didn’t do it, and I am trying my best.

2.  Get a doubled edged thinning shears! How often do I get a dog in who needed a haircut  3 weeks ago? So the owner cut the hair around the eyes.  Sometimes I can fix this…but not always. Since they are  going to cut anyways, I advise them to get a double edge thinning shears. They are less likely top make a big booboo.  They always laugh.  I like the Oster & Master Equipment  (PetEdge) curved grooming rakes, too, especially for  Goldens & collie types.

3.  Get the dog used to being handled. So many of my clients are mature adults with no kids. The dog is just there, or  sitting on Mom’s lap.  When I get them on the table, they become passive resisters.  You know the type—they won’t stand up, and they pull back.  It used to be  that obedience classes taught the basic ‘stand for examination’, but those kinds of classes are harder to find.  If you can find conformation classes, they are much more informal,but the dog will get used to walking on a leash and being handled. This really helps with shy dogs.

4.  Please don’t put  a sweater on the dog—get a decent dog coat . Sweaters are a joke.   If it is really that cold, the dog needs a coat.   And  why  shave a dog to put a coat on it?  Another question…is the dog cold?  I have 2 Whippets: 1 dog who shivers looking out the window.  The other goes out in all sorts of weather & never seems to get cold.  A swearer is a fashion statement—and when you pull it off a non-shed dog, hello static—and matting.  What’s the point?

5.  Enroll your oldest kid  (& the dog) in an obedience class…and get one of the great books on dog training.  I have seen kids as young as 4 do amazing things with dogs. How can that be?  They don’t carry a lot of baggage about how to communicate with the dog.  They speak directly to the dog, and they expect results. They just need mentoring.  Dog training classes are an excellent family experience.  Plus, there are so many really good books out there.  I always recommend “How to be Yor dog’s Best Friend,” by the Monks of New Skete;  Good Owners, Great Dogs, by Kilcommons and Wilson; Dog Training for Dummies…and there are now many good YouTube Videos.  Training a dog gives a child experience in exercising patience and leadership.

6. You don’t want that smell from the shampoo to last more than a day.  I love the scent of the Pina Colada.  I Love the Nature’s Specialties LavaDerm,  and I really loved the Bark 2 Basics Almond.   Unfortunately,  1 of the dogs I used the Almond on…her owner was allergic to almonds and she almost went into allergic shock.  I am not making this up. Phthalates….have been linked to carcinogens.  If it last more than a day, it might have bonded to your dog’s coat and skin.  Better to use   a spray cologne which is much lighter and will evaporate.

7.  Let me know if you need training or grooming help…& if you know of people who can’t have pets but want to help them.  I am involved in  many animal welfare  groups, which always need volunteers. Safe Humane Chicago always needs  people who can go to court as advocates for animals in the court system.  In less than 10 years, they’ve made a huge difference in how animal crimes are prosecuted, and the judges welcome us.  Many groups need help with marketing or fund raising. some of the shelters need dog walkers and socializers.  If we can’t spread this information around, who can?

8. Put some emergency  plan for your pet somewhere most people can find it (the refrigerator door?).  I have a client who is an old lady with no living relatives.  And it happened.  One day, another neighbor  knocked on my door and asked me if I could take Punkin.  If I hadn’t, Chicago Animal Care & Control would have gotten her. Certainly, a ‘no-kill’ group would have snatched her up immediately…but this would not be so true for most dogs owned by older folks.  They would  be euthanized within days.  I  am working on getting an ordinance passed in my state to  direct landlords who rent to people with no ‘next-of-kin’ or emergency contacts to ask how they want their  pets dealt with.  If you want to be that person,  go for it.

9.  You vote with your pocketbook. Please don’t  financially support  businesses or nonprofits that work against your best interests.  When you  buy anything at a pet shop that sells animals, you support  breeding and selling pets as livestock.  Is that what you really want to do?  Do you want  to  trust a veterinarian  who doesn’t respect your pet?  Are you aware that the Humane Society of the United States is an advocacy group, and  doesn’t run any animal shelters?  Do you know that  few ‘No-Kill’ shelters  take owner surrendered pets, and often go out of your area to ‘rescue’ dogs bred by puppy mills because they are more easily placed?  Lots of dog lovers don’t know this.

As a person who loves animals, you have an opportunity to offer more service than any retail pet or chain store.  Sometimes, it’s a bow or a scarf.  More often, it’s that you had a conversation with the pet owner, and they know you care.

What the Ban on pet shop Sales of pets means for pet lovers & consumers

April 4, 2014
Purebred Bedlington. another breed with such a small gene pool, with  genetic health issues, that the puppy mills have generally ignored.

Purebred Bedlington. another breed with such a small gene pool, with genetic health issues, that the puppy mills have generally ignored.

In Chicago, we (  in this case,meaning 49 of 50 aldermen— unheard of cooperation NOT led by a mayor) recently voted to ban the sales of dogs, cats, and rabbits that do not come from bona fide shelters and rescues, in pet shops. That means  pet shop sales of commercially bred animals–-pets bred as livestock—  will no longer be legal. ( See: ).

Will this make a difference in the number of  pets that wind up abandoned in shelters, or abused? Probably not, As  Kathy Mordini pointed out in  one of her Raining Cats & Dogs/Chicago Now blog… you even have to look at shelters & rescues with some skepticism.    We have several in the Chicagoland area adopting out unhealthy  pets & feigning ignorance.  As I’ve said many times, good intentions are not enough.

What we do know is that it starts the discussion on why it is unethical to raise pets as livestock, for profit, when so many are abandoned.  However—is a problem being solved?

Because I have worked in the pet industry (as a dog groomer) for over 40 years, I have a lot of experience in what goes on.  People  who own or manage pet shops are retailers first and foremost. Pet lovers?  maybe—maybe not.  You have to wonder  how people who love pets can ship  baby animals, which are under so much stress, knowing that  a certain per centage will die of the stress, to sell to impulse buyers who either have not thought out what  taking care of a live animal means, or who probably have  WRONG CARE INFORMATION.

The wrong brush for most dogs is the top selling  brush style in America---thanks to the idiots who  manage pet shops!

The wrong brush for most dogs is the top selling brush style in America—thanks to the idiots who manage pet shops!

This is the right brush for most pet dogs—the ‘universal’ style curved slicker, with bent wire ‘pins’.

An eexample fo a curved slicker brush---generally, the right brush!

An example fo a curved slicker brush—generally, the right brush!

For over 50 years. pet shops have been selling the wrong brush.  I have posted  a photo —again—showing pins on 1 side, bristles on the other.  The right brush is a  slicker brush—particularly a  curved slicker—like the red one–( the Miller Forge offered by   is the best, I feel, for most  dogs whose coats are over 1 inch long or are double coated or non-shed. They don’t even know it, and don’t care. Why don’t groomers tell them?  I have worked for some of these managers—who have told me to shut up and just do my job (See:  I got fired for wearing a scarf That’s why. Well, now with the  Affordable Care Act, I bet  a lot of groomers will tell these  horrible bosses to take this job and shove it… but it won’t help any of these  bad pet shop  owners or managers gain any integrity.  Possibly—just possibly—their desperation to make up the lost profits might cause them to get information  on  how to find hobby breeders & refer  buyers to them for a commission  pets, but  it’s going to be tough. Why?

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.

     The bottom line is that people who breed pets for the betterment of their breed or to improve their line want to meet the buyers. They do not sell to third parties & trust that they will do a good job of screening—making sure you know what is involved in taking care of the dog or cat you want.  I’ve mentioned in previous posts how Fred Alderman of Dynasty Afghan Hounds had people wanting Afghan Hounds come out to the kennel and spend a day grooming…to make sure they  understood what was involved and wouldn’t make excuses.  As it is, the Portuguese Water Dog Club of America (and I am sure many other breed clubs) have like minded  breeders who  really ask you and your household a lot of questions.  You never see Briards or Scottish Deerhounds in pet shops—and they only end up in  shelters when they are lost or an owner dies.

This is the right brush for most pet dogs---the 'universal' style curved slicker, with  bent wire  'pins'.

This is the right brush for most pet dogs—the ‘universal’ style curved slicker, with bent wire ‘pins’.

So…when (in Illinois) shelter fees include shots and NEUTERING, how are the pet shops going to justify charging the same amount as a shelter when  all shots and neutering are NOT INCLUDED IN THE SALES PRICE?  How?   By counting on buyers  coming in for ‘a puppy’  not being too particular,  knowing they haven’t done any research.  When Dad (or a brother or  cousin) comes home with a dog for the kids that Mom doesn’t want…that’s the pup that will end up in a shelter along with all the Pit Bull pups that morons bred that  dishonest buyers who  tried to sneak past a landlord and the breeder won’t take back.  That’s how it is.

I attended a meet-up event for pet owners recently and we were talking about no-kill shelters—and the  pet owners had no idea that  the No-Kill shelters were not OPEN ACCESS-–meaning they did NOT take owner surrenders.

So, I think this starts the discussion.  When people looking for a dog of a particular breed, and in Chicago, the pet shop can no longer sell them unless they came from a shelter (keep in mind that the puppy mills have set up ‘shelters’ for their unsold pups—& I bet a lot of pet shops will learn who they are—soon!)…will the  retailers have done any research and referred  puppy seekers to dog clubs?  Or will they refer them to  retailers in the next town over and gain a commission?

Many of the breeders who sold to pet shops still sell on Craigslist. The city—and the state—could have  designated funding to  hire people to  pay a visit to all these  unethical breeders—& fine them.   This would pay for itself in a year! Really—-as so many people who post on Craigslist  are just in it for the money & barely making anything.  They  either don’t understand or don’t care  that  over half the dogs they breed will end up  dumped.  THAT would solve the surplus dog problem in less than a year…but that is not what they did.  It’s as though our elected officials  don’t know the internet exists —it’s a mystery—when it comes  to law enforcement of commerce.

I am including this link because this happened to a dog—bought as a puppy (who knows from where…enough blame to go around) that probably  was so cute as to not look like a real dog—needing grooming and training:

So,  if the problem is  breeders breeding  pets as livestock not having outlets for the animals they breed (as more and more municipalities  outlaw sales of  commercially bred pets in pet shops), will  we have solved this problem?  No, and neither will we solve the problem of pets being  abused, neglected, or dumped.  This just starts the discussion, and it is an important discussion.

Do you want to end this horror?  Call or email your  elected officials.   Send them a link to  a post for puppies posted on Craigslist—and ask why they don’t  designate funds in the  state budget  for inspectors  to call  posters, pay them a visit, and fine them for  breeding  animals they don’t have deposits for.  Word will spread.   That’s the only way.


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.

Puppy Mill Bred Dogs versus Shelter/Rescue Dogs, and the Marketing Battle.

August 30, 2013

puli side (Small)

The dog in the photo is not a puppy mill dog, He is a Puli (Hungarian Sheepdog) in full corded coat.  One of the breeds you will NOT find in a puppy mill, or a shelter.  People just don’t know what they are.  Since there is no demand for them, the commercial & backyard breeders haven’t exploited them, The newest exploit is the Cane Corso…a large, Mastiff type, used as a guard dog just for their size. They tend to be very shy, but look impressive—so every  failed backyard Pit Bull breeder is now trying his hand at them—soon to be in a pet shop near you….and then every animal shelter.  All it took was  one  hobby CC breeder to let out a bitch with registration  papers (OR MAYBE NO PAPERS, & THEY GET  CONTINENTAL KENNEL CLUB or APRI—not real registries), thinking getting the numbers up was a good idea.

Having worked with many types of dogs, I  know what I want  for a pet.  Not having the  expendable income to show a dog, a ‘rescue'(the jargon used for  discarded dogs that need homes) dog  of the breeds I am interested is fine with me.  However, the breeds I am interested are  ‘closely held’ by their breeders & fanciers. The  last Whippet I  got via breed rescue,his owner had died, and someone in the family knew of rescue, and that was how he was placed.  I had learned, via a chance meeting, that the breeder would have gladly taken him back, but , she had not been in touch with the buyer, & the family did not know how to contact the breeder.  The most recent ‘acquisition’ came from his breeder. There were no  Whippets in rescue in the Midwest at the time, and the breeder had bought  Dash back because the owner she had sold him to no longer wanted him:  he chased the cat.  Big shock, eh?  He came housebroken and obedience trained, and is avid for squirrels s and mice.

This is what  good breeders  who live the dogs they breed, do: they buy back the dogs they sell. They may use their breed rescues for ‘private placement’, but they don’t want the dogs they sell discarded and languishing in animal shelters.  This is why  you don’t see many ‘rare’ breeds in shelters.  In fact,  ‘due to the economy’.   fewer ethical hobby breeders are breeding litters unless they have a waiting list of people wanting puppies.   The  irony is, the AKC, realizing this, and —though they are a  non-profit— still having to keep their income up—–has been bending over backwards to help the commercial puppy mills, helping them screen for hereditary defects, and promoting AKC registration.

People, for some reason, think  that registration–particularly AKC registration, but any registration, means quality and integrity, It does not. More, they want dogs that will stay a certain size and not shed, or act cute, and their friends and pet store employees have more influence in  how they get a dog than veterinarians, groomers, or dog trainers.

A survey by the Best Friends Animal Society (, cited in the Chicago Tribune August 18, 2013 by William Hageman, has found  that, among the 18 to 34 age demographic, “…the pro shelter/adoption message is being lost…”  The article goes on to  mention that this demographic is going to ‘breeders’, but it doesn’t say if they are backyard breeders, commercial breeders, or ethical hobby breeders— ad we know they are going to mostly  backyard breeders and  commercial breeders. It’s a fact.

Why?  Well, first of all, bad breeders are EASY TO FIND.  You can violate the Craigslist posting rules and be very visible, and look like you have integrity  and are raising  dogs because you love  dogs…when you do NOT.  Also, pet shops look like nice, fun places, where shelters look  institutional—like kennels.  But more:  people want puppies. they want the fantasy of a puppy, and the pet store won’t be asking a bunch of questions, like…if you are gone  over 8 hours a day at a stretch, how will you get this puppy housebroken?  when will you have time to obedience train  the puppy?  Do you own your own home, or rent?  If you rent, what if you have to move?  This non shed dog MUST BE BRUSHED, and you will have to pay for professional grooming every  six to eight weeks. Can you afford this?  Who else do you live with?  What about other pets?  Why do you want this type of dog? Those are the kinds of questions the shelters, rescues, and hobby breeders ask—but the pet shops do NOT.

Working at an animal hospital, every day I see  puppies that come from  puppy mill outlets. In my area, it’s Petland and Happiness Is Pets.  Nobody asked the buyers for anything but a credit card. Since these are established businesses, the buyers trusted the sellers to steer them right. They all bought a ton of stuff with their puppies, including the wrong brush—but no matter—the pet shop  people didn’t show the buyers how to brush the dogs.  They didn’t know how!

When I was a teenager, I worked briefly for Fred Alderman of Dynasty Afghan Hounds.  You did not get a dog from Fred until you had spent a day grooming with him.
This was pretty well known.  He didn’t want to hear any excuses that you had no idea how much work was involved.   He also  co-owned the dogs he sold until you proved you were trustworthy. Many breeders are like Fred.

So here we have it:  the backyard breeders , also not asking questions that might sabotage a sale, selling  puppies (particularly Pit bulls, but Chihuahuas,  designer  dogs, Puggles, Boxers),  whatever.  And  everyone knows that if you can’t  find a home for the pup you got without thinking, the animal shelters will keep them forever, so you don’t even have to think you are party to a murder.

You also have the very visible  NO KILL shelters, that pick & choose  who they save from the HIGH KILL (that’s what THEY  call them—what they are is OPEN ADMISSIONS) SHELTERS, claiming there is no need to euthanize dogs, even  if there is a surplus, or they are temperamentally unsound, trying to make ME feel guilty for not taking any random dog.  I’ve said it before and I will say it again:  i don’t want the  low life backyard breeders choosing the dog I should have.  As long as they believe that SOMEONE will save the dogs they breed, why should they stop when they can make money?

The message we really need to get out is that people who  own the mommy dogs are the breeders, and if they don’t want  to meet you, they really don’t care what happens to the dogs they breed as long as they make money.   Also, if they don’t tell you right off they want you  to sign a contract that yu will return the  pup to them if you can’t keep it, they are breeding for cash—not because they love dogs.  That cute, fluffy  puppy may end up costing  a lot if it had genetic defects. Also, people selling puppies that don’t ask to meet everyone in your household, ask why you are choosing this type of dogs,  how you will manage to  housebreak and train the dog if you work a regular  8 hour a day job, or if you own or rent, are rip-off artists and not dog lovers.  It is legal for them to do this, but they are not animal lovers, and  you need to know this. They are business people  who want to make money, and are do better than pimps or dope dealers, and that’s a fact.

Boarding your dog: How to Find a Good Kennel

April 4, 2013

“Spring Break’ , “Summer Vacation”  Memorial Day Weekend”.  Yes. the wealthy among us  travel whenever they get  3 or more days off from work.  Many of them own dogs.  Since they learned the hard way that they had to plan ahead for the very best  place for their pets, many of them booked boarding over 6 months ago.  No joke. Call the kennels you Google in your town.  Contact the top 5 that come in  on your search (usually, this means the kennel owners paid for some sort of  search engine optimization,   not that they are necessarily ‘the best’).  Call and ask  how far ahead you should book for the  3 day weekends, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, etc.  They may tell you they are already booked—and you can be on a waiting list with a deposit.

Must be something about them, right?  Now—now!!! Ask about taking a tour of their kennel—not  necessarily  the busy weekend (some will allow it, some will be too busy to take you around).  Bring your dog, so you can get an idea about how they run.  Do you have to bring your own food?  Is someone there 24 hours?  What is  the  hour interval between last evening potty outing and the morning outing?  How many people do they have on staff per shift?   What is the ratio  of kennel staff to dogs?  What animal hospital do they have on call for emergencies?

There are other questions you should ask….and look around you. Do they have individual indoor/outdoor kennel runs for the dogs (& how large are they?  Will your dog  be stepping in his own mess if the run is too small?)  or, are they ‘open concept’, where all the dog run together?
What kind of training  in animal behavior  does their staff have?   Is the owner/manager involved in any humane organization, or involved in dog performance events?  The reason you want to know this about the people caring for your pet is simple, but extremely important:  there are now more kennels owned by both corporate entities, and people who just want to say they own a dog business, than people who actually  love hands on working with dogs and caring about  how they feel.  We learn about dogs not by just reading, not because someone told us something  is true…but because we spend time with  with other dogs lovers who love dogs enough to want to communicate with them, bond with them, and alleviate their stress in stressful circumstances.

This is NOT to say that the ‘open concept’ kennel is necessarily bad, or unsafe…but there is a reason the tradition  boarding kennels kept dogs separated. Really.  You  don’t want your dog to be endangered in a dog fight.  When people giving negative ratings to those kennels—AFTER CHOOSING AN OPEN CONCEPT ENVIRONMENT FOR  THEIR DOG OVER A TRADITIONAL KENNEL—is  naive .  Just because a business is legal, it doesn’t make it safe.

The ‘open concept’ kennel—where dogs are run in packs…works for many dogs.  However,  not all dogs are Labs , Beagles, and Golden Retrievers.  My issue with these kennels is that the owners and managers either don’t know enough about the dog breeds to acknowledge this—or they deny that the Boxer, French Bulldogs, Bostons, and often individuals of other breeds—are going to cause problems with otherwise  easy going dogs. They also take dogs that should never be with other dogs because they are greedy  (and don’t have the  INTEGRITY)to say, “this kennel is not for your dog”—until after a problem has occurred.

Is the kennel noisy?  With a lot of barking? A barking dog is a stressed dog.  I worked in 1 kennel that was set up in such a way that while dogs were in their suites, they never saw another dog, and got a lot of rest, but I have worked in kennels where dogs faced each other, through barriers, and there are always a few ‘fence fighters’ and this stresses everyone. However, the owners of the kennels do not care, and can’t be profitable any other way but to have  the  suites face each other &  because  they don’t want the kennel to appear as a kennel, and  don’t block sight lines.  Looks good, but stressful for a lot of dogs.

Do they hose down the  potty/play areas?Is there a pool?  This won’t matter if your dog is short haired, but if you have a Cocker Spaniel, an Afghan Hound—any  long aired dog, your dog WILL  matt, and never be totally dry while staying in this place.  that may lead to a skin infection.  The kennel staff does what they are told to do. They do not care if your dog gets matted or becomes soaked. And—that  pool is a great idea for  many dogs. Lots of dogs love playing in water.  Just don’t expect the groomers, at the end of your dog’s stay, to dematt your  Soft-coated
Wheaten Terrier.

When you go to tour the kennel, you want to leave your dog in a typical kennel space while you tour. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT!!!  Why?  so your dog get the experienced of being dropped off and picked up.  That’s all your dog will remember: being put someplace, and then being taken back by you. This will alleviate a lot of stress for your dog. it will take you  five to ten minutes to tour the kennel, and that brief amount of time lets your dog know he was not abandoned.  Think of this from your dog’s point of view:  The people he loves leave him in a strange place .  What did I do?  I become depressed and sick.  If I am in bad health, I may die of the stress!

I did  a Google search of  the question, “How to choose a dog boarding kennel’ and while the information all  he postings gave was good, the writers had obviously either never worked in a kennel, or  had never  really taken  animal behavior into consideration—or the economics of running a kennel.  One thing they mention  to ask is—does your state mandate inspections?  Funny (not) thing is, my state—Illinois—is broke. Inspections are mandated by law, but not done.  In fact, our kennel laws are so poorly written that the few inspectors that might come out every 2 or 3 years are party hacks who have no idea what they are inspecting for. As long as they do not see  electrical wires in water on the floor—the kennel passes.  You have to  have sense and be an advocate for your dog.

Staffing is a huge problem with many kennels–especially the open concept ones that run daycare.  Some kennels actually offer their employees health insurance—so they do have a more stable work force—many of those laborers are going to veterinary school or getting advanced degrees in biology.  Most,  however,  just hire people who say they love dogs and show up.  The employees then find out this is physical labor, and can be  smelly work, and  this is the nature of the industry.   I  suggest asking how many people work a shift—or are  employed for  X number of dogs.  ideal is 1  kennel person for every 15 dogs, but most   only add staff after  30 dogs. This means your dog  will have to wait  to go out, and staff may be too busy to supervise loose dogs, or note digestive issues.  This is legal—it doesn’t make it right.  the kennel business is about profit, not about being humane or safe, in most cases.

Will you want your dog to have a bath after his stay?  Decide ahead of time,.  The kennel owner is  not a groomer.  She doesn’t care if the groomer is overwhelmed.  Front desk staff may forget to ask when you check in.

What about NOT A KENNEL , but in home boarding.  You really have to be skeptical and be an advocate for your dog.  I have several friends who do this. They are dog trainers. Some are professionals, some are hobbyists. Their  yards are secure, they ask a lot of questions, they tell you what they can offer you, ask you what  discipline methods they can use, and demand a lot of  integrity on your part.  Others, well….now it seems, there are  companies that  seem to think any idiot can  take care of a strange dog, multiple dogs, and everyone makes money.  I have 1 friend whose dog got loose (kids let the dog out, gate wasn’t secured) &  he was called by the police that his dog would be euthanized in  5 days. The people taking care of the dog didn’t have the integrity to call him on his trip and tell him his dog got out.   I have a client with a Bearded Collie…the dog came back with fleas.  Client with a Pug mix—caregiver was walking another dog, left the pug lose with a German Shepherd.  Pug barked at sleeping Shepherd & got his eye bit out.. Careless, preventable, but these care givers are not real dog lovers. Were they, they would have bought crates, insisted on having  boarders on a flea preventative, and would have been prepared for every contingency.

Boarding at the veterinarian?  I worked for 1. he seemed to think it was ok for  the night interval to be over 12 hours & staff would clean up.  Is that really what you want?

Don’t fall for the marketing.  If you really care about your pet, look for a safe environment. Don’t fall for pretty.  Of course, there should be no odor, but  you want a quiet kennel with  plenty of personnel who  ask YOU a lot of questions.

Regarding fake pet rescues: so how many dogs have YOU rescued?

November 29, 2012

I am updating this blog, as well as the original.   Wright Way now also has adulot dogs on their web-site—but continues to feature puppies in their ads, and dioes not take local owner surrenders.

I got a lot of flack for suggesting that Wright -Way rescue, in Niles, Illinois, was just this side of ethical. Seems many of their supporters do not believe  that  they’ve turned away dogs they’ve adopted out that are no longer wanted.  The sad fact is,  there is no way you can save every dog bred…and  when you deny there is a problem, and  believe that  NO-KILL—or, rather, actually PICKING  CHOOSING WHO YOU SAVE FOR  ANOTHER DAY is the way to go, you are denying what the problem is:  that too many irresponsible, unethical  BREEDERS, no matter what they call themselves when they own the ‘mommy’ dogs—are deciding to allow YOU to  decide who lives.

The livestock this is what irresponsible breeders are…whether they  own a pet  or 50 breeding dogs don’t,  really care about the dogs they don’t sell. It’s a crop. As long as we, as a society, don’t address this fundamental issue, all the No Kill pet rescues will continue to pat themselves on the back & not really make a dent.

Am I hard hearted?  I see dogs every day that owners don’t take care of. It’s not quite so bad now as fewer  people can afford to own a non-shed type of dog, but I’ve seen dogs with maggots, fish hooks imbedded in their skin,  rubber  bands & collars imbedded in their skin , gangrene, horribly infected, painful ears, and heard every excuse for this neglect.  These dogs should have never been born…but it’s a free country, and  totally legal  to breed pets as livestock & not be responsible for them.

Now—how many have I RESCUED?  Well, when I was rescue coordinator for the Afghan Hound Club of Greater Chicago, I think, out of over 50 dogs offered, we ‘save’ 4 , but only  2 found permanent homes.  I took a 15 -year-old Poodle that the owner didn’t know whether to have groomed or put to sleep (her words)–he lived 3 more years.  There was then about a 12 year lull.  I returned from Peace Corps service, and  got back my 13-year-old whippet, who had been purchased as a pup. When he died, I  bought (well, he was just $200, and the owners would have kept him, but  they knew me) my champion Saluki.  He died of cancer 4 years later, and by then, there  were enough rescues you could find on the internet, that via rescue (as there were none in rescue), I was put in touch with  a hobby breeder who had a young adult male she felt was not show quality.  Turned out, he was.  He was not an obedience, field, or agility dog, but  he lived to be 15 years old.  Meanwhile, I had been on the Whippet  rescue list for 4 years, and  they finally called me  and told me they had  a young male.  His owner had died.  He is still with me.

In that time, the economy squeezed me. Having never carried any debt except for my house, I  knew I would probably never again be able to afford to  show or compete with a dog, nor could I house more than 2, but I could support the  rescues.  I do this  by screening prospects,  publicizing dogs in rescue, grooming, and offering other support services.  I do what I can.  I don’t want to keep a pack of dogs, I can not give individual attention to more dogs.

Why purebreds?  I have written about  this before,  I don’t like surprises.  I knew the possible temperament  issues with the breeds I chose.  I got what I expected.    You don’t have to let irresponsible backyard breeders choose the dog you get. You can choose  what you want. You just have to be patient.

That said—I have never seen a Scottish Deerhound  go into  ‘rescue’, and the Portuguese Water Dog Club of America does a very good job making sure none of them can be snatched up by  someone who thinks they are going to make a fortune breeding them.  I keep looking for an Ibizen, but   have never seen one in rescue.  The fact of the matter is—in some breeds, THE CULTURE IS that you have to be responsible for the dogs you breed, and protect the breed.  Look at what breeds you see on Craigslist;  Pit bulls, Cane Corso, American Bulldogs, Chihuahuas. The breeders of  these breeds really don’t give a shit about protecting the breed.  They cheapen it, & don’t care if there really is a market for those dogs—but many of the no-kill groups avoid those breeds, instead, going for the ‘cute’ ones.  If they were taking  proportionally  the types of dogs that get dumped, over 3/4 of the dogs in no-kill  rescues would be Pit bulls. That is not the case.

If all the do gooders would spend as much time harassing their elected officials to  make the  state departments of agriculture  do a better job of inspecting—and fining or taxing pet breeders (with the help of humane activists answering the ads & sending the inspectors out) we could solve the problem of surplus pets in less than 3 years.  Think about it.

Dumping of Senior Dogs

August 16, 2012

I try to help out the organizations that  help animals in shelters. In Chicago, one great organization is the Trio Animal Foundation. They pay the medical bills of dogs  dumped in open admissions shelters.

What is an open admission shelter?  They take any  pet that the owners surrender or is brought in as a stray—& that is the difference between the no-kill (such as PAWS Chicago) &  a real animal shelter. They do not pick & choose, They take all comers. That doesn’t mean they can all be saved, but it is supposed to mean a humane, painless death if they can not be saved or there is no home.

In 1987, a few weeks after I  euthanized  a 14-year-old Afghan Hound, who had become blind, deaf, and incontinent in a matter of weeks(thus I knew her quality of life was  very bad) ,  I was working at a grooming shop when a customer brought in a toy Poodle, and actually said to us, “I don’t know whether to have him groomed or put him to sleep.”  There was nothing wrong with the dog except for his teeth.  I just blurted out, “I’ll take him.”  Chuck was 15 years old. He lived to be almost 18.  His last few months he was crabby, but after I had most of his teeth pulled, he livened up and was a real character.  You wonder why nobody in the family (4 grown kids) wanted the dog.  They were finished playing with him, grown up, and never bonded. Sick?  Yes, and  these are our neighbors, or friends, your fellow church members. Thinking of a live animal as a toy to be discarded.

Happens all the time. I was working at a kennel, where  we got a memo from a manager at another kennel. They had a 12 year old Labrador Retriever that the owners had abandoned. The owners actually told the kennel manager that they  no longer wanted the dog because she wasn’t playful, and they were going to get a puppy.  So matter-of-fact.

You have to wonder how people can not be embarrassed.  This all came back to me, because  one of the  leaders or Trio posted on their Facebook page that  she was at one of the shelters they work with & a couple brought in an old Poodle they no longer wanted. Said nothing about not being able to afford veterinary care or grooming.  Just dumping a now inconvenient dog.  The dog had abcessed teeth, which caused other health issues.  His veterinary care would cost  over a thousand dollars, & the person who posted  wondered how  we could afford to care for so many old dogs, and who would foster them or adopt them.  The answer is:

We can’t.  For every dog we try to save that will possibly live a few more weeks in stress & discomfort, we can’t  do the teeth  on a younger dog, or treat mange, or eyelid entropy. or—name it.  We have a larger problem here that these do-gooders don’t want to address:  as Malcolm Gladwell addressed in his book, we have not reached The Tipping Point.

That is the point where the conventional wisdom—-what everyone believes—is that  you really have to put some thought  into owning a pet, and not impulsively get a puppy as a plaything.  Due to the economy, due to the libertarians who think fracking for fuel at the expense of  our drinking water—- is the way to go, due to the people who think sending people to die in Afghanistan is a cost effective way to protect our freedom,  we are of the national mindset that the humane thing to do with an unwanted pet is to  dump it at an animal shelter (as the alternative is, of course, just abandoning it in a dumpster or park—so they are at least giving the pet & someone else the choice!) and no more thought need be given.

What kind of thinking do we need changed? We need to  get the word out that there IS a pet surplus, that shopping at pet shops that buy from  commercial livestock breeders  & sell pets is wrong, that people really have to think more carefully about why they want a pet. We have to get more people who care about this to demand that not so many  livestock pet breeders be licensed, and that the laws inspecting them be tightened up, and more fines be  enacted & collected to support shelters  and humane education.

I notice  on Craigslist that many people looking for a pet (the site is not a pet wanted site…shows you that peoples’  reading comprehension is atrocious) want cheap pets, and we have to  get the word out that if you want a cheap pet, you can’t afford a pet, and don’t really understand the responsibilities of pet ownership.

It’s shocking and demoralizing to me the  many people who think they are getting Lassie, or Eddie from Frazier, or Beethoven, or a cartoon dog, and even with the internet, can’t find books on dog training,  or on how to find a dog and not get ripped off.

It is even sadder that we euthanize so many dogs that could be wonderful pets because so many idiots keep bad breeders —& that’s mostly the ‘backyard breeders’—- in business.

The ironic  thing that  people don’t understand is—just because you see something for sale, it doesn’t mean it gets sold.  All those people who bred their Pit Bulls for fun & profit, & has so much fun with those puppies—it’s them. They should be made responsible for those dogs.

I point out to people that you rarely, if ever, see Scottish Deerhounds, Gordon Setters,  Salukis , Portuguese Water Dogs, or English Toy Spaniels in rescue. The breeders keep close tabs on who buys their pups, and make it very clear that they want those dogs back if the buyers  change their minds—no matter how old the dog is.

Yes, of course, they do euthanize dogs.  But  they don’t leave the decisions to others. They take responsibility. What a concept.