Solving Our Homeless Pet Problem by Loretta Baughan
Glenn Beck, love him or hate him, recently identified a three-pronged tactic some political groups employ to discredit their opponents: Wrong Thinking, Danger and Profit. Of course, his program was exposing this strategy in relation to the White House vs. Fox News situation. But he did make a point that all of us should be able to identify as common ground. Our disagreements shouldn't be about Republicans vs. Democrats or Conservatives vs. Liberals, but rather, simply what's right and what's wrong... what's best for America. I wholeheartedly agree.
The use of Wrong Thinking, Danger and Profit as a basis for changing public perception, thought and opinion is nothing new. It's the same rhetoric that's been used for years against the oil industry, lumbering, mining, to vilify bankers, doctors, insurance companies, gun owners and others. The attack works because it appeals to our emotions, ignoring whatever the facts may be. It is designed to incite people's sense of disgust while cultivating distrust and anger. Once the target has become a villain, the trump card of greed and profit is played, sending people into a frenzy. At this point, they become like a mob of vigilantes eager to take action, demanding their legislators "do something". To some, it seems reasonable and desirable to give up some of their own money or time... or even freedom, if necessary, in order to right the perceived injustice.
It is the same song, different verse, that the animal rights movement has been singing for decades in their effort to realize their goals.
- Wrong Thinking. Animal rights groups have falsely painted dog breeders as to blame for the woes of animal shelters with alarming success. One of their most effective campaigns included the slogan: "When you buy from a breeder, a shelter dog dies."
- Danger. The animal rightists claim that those who breed dogs mistreat them. Whenever a case of neglect or abuse comes to light, groups like the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) uses the unfortunate situation as a lever to amp up public hysteria by falsely claiming the problem is widespread.
- Profit. Breeders are falsely painted as being "puppy mills" that are motivated by greed. A few bad apples may be, but the vast majority are not.
For decades, this has been the game plan. And it's been effective. The animal rights movement has used their demonization of dog breeders as fuel to run their money machine. In the minds of shelter workers, rescue groups, the media, politicians and the general public, "dog breeder" has become a dirty word.
"Contrary to what animal rights groups claim, small breeders are NOT the reason why shelters in some areas of the country are full - especially in the South - or stray dogs and cats are running loose. It is owner irresponsibility."
Most small breeders are involved with dogs because it is their passion. Many are active in dog shows, agility, obedience, tracking, hunt tests, field trials, herding, sledding, hunting or other dog activities. They breed because they care deeply about preserving the genetics for future generations to enjoy. A person who wishes to participate in any of these organized activities will not find a suitable dog at any animal shelter. Dogs and cats that originate from small breeders who breed their animals on a planned basis and for a specialized purpose are usually sold by contract to carefully screened buyers. These contracts often stipulate that should the buyer be unable to keep the pet, the breeder will assist in finding a new home for it - or they will take it back.
Small breeders care deeply about animal welfare and the well-being of all animals. Many are active in their breed rescue groups. Different breeds have different needs. With that understanding, they lend their expertise to the cause. Breeders and many dog clubs also contribute financially. Breed specific rescue groups work diligently to re-home dogs in need, preventing them from ever arriving at an animal shelter - or removing them from shelters, if that's the case.
Contrary to what animal rights groups claim, small breeders are NOT the reason why shelters in some areas of the country are full - especially in the South - or stray dogs and cats are running loose. It is owner irresponsibility.
Nearly all dogs found in shelters are mixed breeds. People who allow their dogs to run loose and breed willy-nilly should not be dumping the puppies on animal shelters. That goes for any pet owner who, for whatever reason, dumps an animal on a shelter instead of taking the responsibility of finding it a new home, themselves. Such people are irresponsible.
No one wants to see animals being neglected. Just as some people may dump unwanted pets in the streets of the cities, they also do it along the side of the road in the country. These cowards convince themselves that someone will find the dog or cat and take care of them. In reality, most of these animals die - or end up in shelters and may be euthanized. Again, we are talking about irresponsible owners.
Others will get a pet, then once their "cuteness" wears off, for lack of training or other reasons, will dump them on animal shelters. These people should not have got the pet in the first place. They tell themselves that the shelter will be able to sell their pet to someone else and make a profit. The truth is that they are contributing to the shelter's burden and they are irresponsible.
Another common example of owner irresponsibility are people who dump their sick pets on shelters because they don't want to pay for needed veterinary treatment or face the prospect of having to deal with putting the dog to sleep, themselves. This unfairly burdens shelters. But what's worse, is to see a struggling shelter allowing emotion to rule the day over common sense by raising hundreds or even thousands of dollars to pay for one dog's surgery, when that money could have helped dozens more animals, instead.
All of these situations are common and a direct result of irresponsible pet owners.
"Why should the HSUS be allowed to exploit local humane societies, sticking taxpayers with the bill, and defraud the public, who gave their money in good faith believing that they were helping these animals?"
What is the answer? A good place to start would be an educational campaign to teach people responsible pet ownership and how to properly train their dog. Most municipalities and counties have dog licensing laws already on the books. An effort on their part to enforce these laws and ticket offenders would help. Another proactive measure is to offer free or reduced cost spay/neuter and vaccination clinics to the public as well as trap-neuter-release programs to address the feral cat problem. Such a program makes so much more sense than rounding up feral cats and placing them in shelters to be sold as pets. In most cases, a feral cat cannot be tamed and made into a suitable pet.
I wonder, how much money does the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) contribute to struggling shelters? After all, they collect most of their donations from good-hearted animal lovers who think they are donating to their local animal shelter to help the animals shown in their advertisements, or at the very least, an umbrella organization that oversees their local shelter and will distribute the funds accordingly. After all, their President, Wayne Pacelle, implied as much in his testimony before the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives:
"The Humane Society of the United States works with local Humane Societies across the country. We don't control every local Humane Society in this nation..."
--Wayne Pacelle, President and CEO The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) testimony at the Methamphetamine Enforcement and Treatment Act of 2007, the Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act of 2007, and the Preventing Harassment Through Outbound Number Enforcement (Phone) Act of 2007 hearing before the subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security; Committee of the Judiciary in the House of Representatives, February 6, 2007, pg 104
So, Mr. Pacelle, exactly how many local humane societies does HSUS actually "control"?
Ask other people what they think HSUS does with their donations, if you have any doubts. My point is that of all the hundreds of millions of dollars sitting in HSUS' fat bank accounts, less than 4% actually is spent "helping animals". Most of their money goes to six-figure salaries, lobbying politicians and for slick advertising campaigns designed to bring in more donations.
Why is it whenever there is an unfortunate case of hoarding or animal neglect or animal abuse or natural disasters affecting pets that captures the media's attention, we see HSUS jetting into town in their thousand-dollar silk suits to hog the spotlight? They immediately set their greasy money machine in motion to solicit and accept donations from the well-meaning, but naive public. Once the media's attention fades, these parasites slip out of town, like a thief in the night, leaving the local animal shelters to deal with the seized animals while they take the donations with them. This happens time and time again. Why should the HSUS be allowed to exploit local humane societies, sticking taxpayers with the bill, and defraud the public who gave their money in good faith believing that they were actually helping these animals?
"Primarily they felt that the organization took on many issues purely for their publicity value, regardless of the facts of the case; subtly misrepresented itself in its fund-raising efforts by leading contributors to believe they were donating to local humane societies for animal rescue, when in fact these groups received no money from HSUS; and frequently sought to gain credit for the work of smaller less funded organizations."
--Dogs Best Friend by Mark Derr (2004), pg 257
If people would stop donating to HSUS, and instead, give to their local shelters or rescue groups, there would be plenty of funds available to truly help homeless animals, provide free spay/neuter clinics, free or reduced cost vaccination clinics, free or low cost obedience classes and an effective public education campaign for responsible pet ownership. THIS is how we solve the problem by addressing it head on.
So why doesn't HSUS do these things? They certainly have the money to make a difference. The answer is simple: Greed and Profit. IF they actually did these things and solved the problem, they would no longer have a reason to exist. Their source of donations would dry up, no more jet-set Hollywood lifestyles, cushy six-figure salaries for their leaders and millions spent lobbying politicians on both sides of the aisle. HSUS would not have reasons to continue to push their anti-pet, anti-pet owner, anti-pet breeder, anti-Constitutional agenda into law. We can't rely on the Humane Society of the United States to ever fix the problem because they have too much wealth, control and power to loose in doing so. Follow the money.
The overwhelming majority of people love and care for their animals responsibly. We, in the United States, spend more on our pets than any other country on the face of the globe. All of us who truly care about animal welfare want to solve the problem. It can be done and without compromising our Constitutional rights and liberty.
The solution begins when we spread the word: "When you donate to HSUS, a shelter dog dies."
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Loretta Baughan is the founder, editor and publisher of Spaniel Journal. She is an award winning professional photographer, webdesigner, owner of
Autumnskye, LLC. Loretta is a member of the Dog Federation of Wisconsin and is active in legislative issues involving animals. She resides in northern Wisconsin, with her husband, Steve, and their three children.