Thursday, March 5, 2009

450 Puppy mill dogs being put up for adoption

In January, Washington officials confiscated 450 dogs from a puppy mill who were living in unacceptable conditions, stuffed in cages, covered in feces - a horrible existence.

Officials now have the go-ahead to adopt these dogs out. I'm not one to decry adoption of animals, no. These dogs are as deserving of a new, loving home as any dog.

At the same time, I cannot help but think of the 145 dogs and puppies killed in Wilkes County or the hundreds of pit bulls confiscated from fight busts every year who are never given the benefit of the doubt...or, at the very least, a temperament test before they're injected and killed.

While I can appreciate that smaller dogs are more adoptable (and puppy mill dogs all the more so), there is a strange schizophrenic relationship we have with puppy mill dogs and fight bust dogs. Both have suffered at the hands of humans. Puppy mill dogs often come with a lot of baggage that include hefty medical costs and behavioral problems. Fight bust dogs can often be frightened as well, unused to normal interactions with people - excepting physical problems from fighting, they tend not to have large veterinary bills. Both can be socially awkward around other dogs, having had such unnatural interactions (be it in the fight pit or socially isolated in cages). Dogs can be incredibly resilient, though, and we know former fighting pit bulls can be dog social or dog tolerant as much as we know that former puppy mill dogs can be dog intolerant or outwardly dog aggressive.

Yet time and time again, the "costs" of a puppy mill dog are worth it, while the "costs" of saving a temperamentally sound fight pit bull is just, you know, too much. We saw it with the dogs confiscated from Michael Vick's property (Read Why saving the vick dogs was worth it) as well as with the dogs from Wilkes County, where even the law says these dog should be killed, no questions asked, no equitable treatment doled out.

These dogs are victims and many can recover from the injustice inflicted upon them with basic training, socialization and care. Certainly not all can recover and those that cannot should be humanely killed. But the bottom line is that they should all be given that basic chance. Every dog, no matter their background, deserves that. It's hardly asking for the world.

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