Homework always helps to find the perfect fit

By Trisha Gurley

By now, all of your Valentine’s Day candy has been eaten, and the flowers are wilting. In the midst of all those loving gestures, you may have missed out on the sad February many dogs had just to the south of us in Mississippi.

[singlepic id=147 w=320 h=240 mode=web20 float=left]One puppy mill was raided in Holly Springs by police and the ASPCA, seizing over 70 malnourished dogs in deplorable conditions. A large puppy mill in Tunica County burned down, killing and injuring multiple dogs. And most recent was the raid on the criminally overcrowded Clarksville Animal Shelter.

The majority of dog breeds that were seized from these mills, and most any other mills in this country, were popular ones. The American Kennel Club (AKC) listed the top breeds for 2009, in order of popularity, as: Labrador retriever, German shepherd, Yorkshire terrier, golden retriever, beagle, boxer, bulldog, dachshund, poodle, and Shih Tzu. Puppy mill owners are in it for the money, and they know what breeds—or in their eyes, products—sell. It is not uncommon for pet owners to be duped into purchasing a puppy mill pet. Wayne Pacelle, the president of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), says “The HSUS receives complaints every day from consumers who thought they purchased their dog from a reputable source, but, instead, the dog came from a puppy mill.”

I recall an incident where an acquaintance of mine purchased his German shepherd from what he thought was a decent breeder. He loved animals and certainly wouldn’t support a puppy mill. When his dog became suddenly violently ill and died, it was discovered the dog was likely inbred. The “papers” that came with the dog turned out to be falsified. Not only was this person heartbroken that his beloved dog had died; he was furious that he had been lied to about the dog’s background and had inadvertently supported such an evil scheme.

A shelter dog (which is where many puppy mill rescues end up) is the best way to go—bear in mind that the HSUS has found that one in four shelter dogs are purebred. Barring that, if you must have a purebred dog, do your homework. Always visit a breeder’s facility in person. Never ever purchase pets from a pet store or online.

It goes without saying to never purchase dogs that are being sold on the street. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve driven by an intersection where someone is selling puppies, touting they are American Kennel Club (AKC) certified on a handmade sign. Absolutely no reputable breeder is going to sell puppies on the streets! Slapping an AKC label on a sign is meaningless and fools an uninformed buyer. It is, in fact, illegal to sell animals in public areas in Memphis city limits. I myself called the police on a man who was selling so-called AKC golden retriever puppies, and when I checked back an hour later, the man was gone. Do not hesitate to call police and report anyone selling animals on a street corner or parking lot.

Should you have a suspicion or tip about a puppy mill operation, call the HSUS’s new toll-free hotline at 1-877-MILL-TIP.

On a happy note, the First Annual Bark in the Park is happening soon! Come out to the North Parkway Pavilion in Overton Park on Saturday, April 17th from 12–3 pm. The cost is $20 per human, which includes a box lunch and a t-shirt (bring your own drink). There will be vendors, contests, and more. Humans do not need a dog to attend. All proceeds go to raise funds for the Mid-South Greyhound Adoption Option. Check them out at midsouthgreyhound.com.

Does your animal organization have an event coming up? Are there any wants, needs, or messages your organization would like to share in this column? Please email me at trishamailbox@gmail.com.

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