I am a die-hard animal lover, long-time vegetarian (for that very reason), and the grieving caregiver to a dog that I raised from a puppy and held in my arms as she was put to sleep recently at twelve years of age. I’m not ashamed to admit that I associate with the “crazy” PETA people, and support the work they do. Mired in grief, I have been combing through a lot of pet sites in an attempt to figure out a way to fill the void left by my missing canine companion, and I have been growing increasingly cynical about humanity and the way most people treat animals.
I have seen ads for people trying to “re-home” senior pets because they don’t have time for them anymore, or they are having a baby, moving, etc., you name it…it’s complete an utter bullshit any way they spin it. People value dogs for their loyalty, and yet don’t seem able to learn any lessons from their dog pertaining to the value of loyalty.
I have seen even more ads for people trying to find new homes for young dogs anywhere from a few months to a few years old because they don’t have time for the animal and feel it is unfair to the dog, or they got the dog and suddenly discovered that their landlord won’t allow it, etc., etc., but it’s really obvious that the “new puppy” cuteness has worn off, or they failed to properly train and/or socialize the dog, so they want to unload a “problem child” on someone else.
I have seen countless ads for litters of puppies, more often than not some type of pit bull mix. I have looked through pictures of adoptable dogs at local shelters and determined that within the next few decades, all dogs (with the exception of pure bred dogs offered by reputable breeders) will have some pit bull in their genes. No other “trend” of dog breed has taken off to such a degree, and these days it’s hard to find an adoptable mutt that I care to own at a shelter because I don’t particularly care for pit bulls or any mixture created by irresponsible pet owners that fail to spay or neuter their pit bull dogs. Before I get blasted by the over-zealous proponents of the pit bull, I’d like to re-emphasize that I am an animal lover who loves all dogs, but just like anyone else, I have my favorites. I love big, fluffy dogs, preferably with pointy ears (think wolf-like features)…the canine soul-mate that I recently lost was a German Shepherd, and that is my breed of choice. I have met wonderful dogs of every breed throughout my life, but I know what qualities I look for in my own companion animals, and I’ve simply noticed that pit bulls are flooding the shelters like mad these days. People really need to stop breeding these dogs because obviously the supply is outweighing the demand.
Another point of contention relating to “unplanned” litters: don’t charge people more for a female puppy than you charge for a male puppy. What is that all about? You’re doing that because someone arbitrarily decided at some point in the past that females have the potential to generate a profit for the new owner when they have been irresponsibly bred and given birth to their own unwanted litter of puppies. The surgery for spaying a female dog is considerably more expensive than the neutering surgery for a male dog, and by charging more for the female puppies in your dog’s unplanned litter, you are perpetuating the cycle of irresponsible pet ownership. The people who just paid you $75 (or whatever amount you deemed was reasonably profitable for the “pimping out” of your canine companion) are going to think twice about going to the further expense of having that puppy spayed. IF and only if you are going to use the revenue from the puppies you’re selling to pay for your own dog’s surgery (to prevent further litters) can the selling of puppies possibly be justified. The best solution for all of the dogs involved is to take the puppies to the shelter so that good homes can be found for them. However, if you want to rectify your past mistakes, price the puppies accordingly. Charge the same rate for females and males. Ask that the new owner(s) sign a simple spay/neuter contract with regard to the puppy they’re adopting, and at least you’ve done your due diligence to prevent another accident, and thereby learned from your mistake.
One common feature of 99% of these re-homing ads posted by “pet owners” is the seemingly obligatory “re-homing fee”. I’ve seen Facebook groups dedicated to pets that actually require a re-homing fee of a certain dollar amount in every post or it will be removed by the admins of the page. This is supposedly to ensure that the pet is placed in a loving home, and it is a ridiculous notion. Just because somebody can afford to pay $50 for your unwanted senior dog, problem-child puppy, or the puppies that your unaltered mutt gave birth to, that doesn’t mean they are a good person. Not by a long shot. This re-homing fee phenomenon gives rise to a whole new way to exploit animals. The concern with giving away animals for free seems to be that they will end up as research subjects, bait for dog fighting rings, or some other nefarious purpose. But what the re-homing fee does is suddenly make an animal that is supposed to be a member of your family a valuable item you can sell. The frightening thing is that people just accept the fees as commonplace now. Oh, that pit bull mix puppy that you paid $50 for 10 months ago isn’t working out, so now he’s worth $100? No, no, and no. Oh, your dog got pregnant because you failed to get her spayed, and now you’re selling her puppies for $50 each, even though you haven’t taken them to a vet? Why? What possibly justifies the fact that you’re making $500 off of your dog’s unfortunate mistake?
I won’t be surprised when people become angry about my observations, but let me put it in perspective for you. In my mind, selling your senior dog is no different from trying to sell your grandmother. I work in a nursing home, so I see how senior members of our human society are treated as cast-offs, and I guess it shouldn’t surprise me that senior dogs aren’t any different. Try for just one moment to imagine how your senior pet is going to feel, however. Selling that pup that you adopted a few months back is no different from trying to sell your toddler child to a perfect stranger, and assuming that the new parents will be great because they were able to pay for him/her. Don’t be surprised when a few months later, you see those people trying to re-home that pup yet again, maybe even at a profit. They will feel fully justified in doing so because they had to pay for the dog’s food and supplies, after all. Emotionally speaking, these dogs are no different from foster children by this time. Emotional wrecks with no sense of stability who, with each subsequent home, are becoming more and more broken. Selling that litter of puppies your dog had is no different from selling your teenaged daughter’s “oops” children. You are profiting from your own irresponsibility as a parent. It’s not your daughter’s fault that she answered nature’s call, and newborn babies are quite valuable.
I do understand that, at times, re-homing pets is a necessary evil. There are circumstances beyond our control that may necessitate finding a new home for your pet. That is why there are animal shelters. Believe it or not, there are non-profit organizations dedicated to the welfare of animals! These groups employ individuals who actually put some honest work into finding a good, appropriate home for unwanted animals. They charge prospective adopters a fee in order to cover the costs associated with the operation of the shelter, including vet care, and they require that the adopters spay or neuter these animals to ensure that the vicious cycle of unwanted litters comes to an end. When you surrender your pet to the care of a shelter, he/she is in good hands. The shelter will likely require you to make a donation (surrender fee) because you are asking them for a favor. The shelter isn’t going to pay you. Therein lies the difference. Responsible pet owners will seek out new pets at animal shelters. If a person who lives in an apartment that doesn’t allow pets tries to adopt from the shelter, they won’t allow it. If you truly care for your animal and want to ensure that it goes to a good home, take it to the shelter. Give them the required donation, because after all, when you brought that animal into your home, you were taking on the financial responsibility for its care, and you should never be able to look at your furry friend during a financial crisis and wonder how much you could sell him/her for.
There will be people who’ll say “I don’t want to take my animal(s) to the shelter because they may end up being euthanized”. This is, sadly, sometimes going to be the case. I’m willing to bet that if your dog could speak, she’d say that she would rather die than be apart from you. That’s the way my dog and I both felt about each other, and ideally that is the way pet caregivers should feel about their animals. Ultimately, my point is this: There are better alternatives than selling your dog to a stranger. There are rescue groups who are willing to list your animal on their site as a courtesy listing, and help you reach the right kind of target audience while you care for your pet at home, and until a potentially responsible adopter can be found. Reach out to friends and family that you know and trust who may be willing to adopt or foster your pet until you are in a better position to resume responsibility for the animal. I just don’t know what goes through peoples’ minds when they post their animals on Craigslist or Facebook and ask for an adoption fee. These are living beings with emotions, not merchandise. Part of me wants to buy up all of these poor, exploited animals, but obviously I can’t. The best thing that I can do is try to make everyone see the detriment here, and inspire others to do whatever they can to change this growing trend.