Friday, April 4, 2008

Today's Oprah Show

I was going to let it go without mentioning it here but I have to say something about Oprah doing a show on puppy mills today.

For years, people have been contacting Oprah the dog lover and asking her to do a story on puppy mills, so itt's terrific that she is finally doing it. But -- and there is always a but -- the first thing I read about this show was that Lisa Ling had some undercover footage of a puppy mill, and that if you couldn't watch the episode, you should tape it because you HAD to see it.

Personally, I would be just fine without ever seeing another video of a puppy mill. But I know that some people don't know what a puppy mill is and watching the Oprah show will make them aware of their existence.

From the ASPCA's web site:

For one, that cute little puppy [at the pet store] most likely came from a large-scale, substandard commercial breeding operation, commonly known as a puppy mill. Puppy mills usually house dogs in overcrowded and often unsanitary conditions, without adequate veterinary care, food, water and socialization. The breeding stocks at puppy mills (possibly your new puppy’s mom and dad) are bred as often as possible in order to increase profits. Unlike your lucky puppy, the mom and dad will probably never make it out of the mill.

I don't doubt this show will do some good. It may make someone think twice about getting a puppy from a pet shop. It might also inspire some people to adopt from their local shelter or rescue group instead of going to the pet store. (And, just for the record, purchasing puppies through classified ads, over the internet, or from some guy at the swap meet are not good ideas. Let's hope Lisa and Oprah touch on all of that as well.)

The second thing I read about the show was an article which contained this quote from Oprah: "I would never, ever adopt another pet now without going to a shelter to do it. I am a changed woman after seeing this show."

There might be more to what she said than that but she makes it sound like going to a shelter is the ONLY way to get a dog. Perhaps Lisa didn't fill Oprah in on what makes a responsible breeder. Puppy millers are not responsible breeders. The guy at the swap meet selling puppies is not responsible breeder. Your Uncle Phil who bred Fido and Fluffy because they are just so dang cute is not a responsible breeder. But there is such a thing as a good breeder and it's perfectly fine to seek them out and purchase one of their puppies or other dogs.

Also from the ASPCA (because they say it so much better than me):
If you’re looking to make a puppy part of your family, check your local shelters first. There are so many amazing dogs who need homes. If your heart is set on a specific breed, keep in mind that one in four shelter dogs is a purebred. Additionally, you can do an Internet search for breed-specific rescue organizations. If those attempts still don’t give you the purebred puppy you’re looking for, you’ll need to learn how to choose a responsible breeder.

Once upon a time, I volunteered for a dog rescue. After the whole thing with Ellen and that dog she adopted and then gave to her hairdresser -- what was his name? Sparky? Skippy? Buehller? -- I read a lot of comments on websites about rescue organizations and many of them were incorrect. I wouldn't want Oprah saying the only way she'll get another dog is to adopt one from a shelter and influence a bunch of her viewers to write off all breeders. Yes, go to an animal shelter, by all means, but don't forget there are responsible breeders out there too.

Ok, I'm jumping off my soap box now.


myboringblog said...

I forgot to watch yesterday, but meant to. Sometimes Oprah speaks without thinking about what she's actually saying. And too many people listen with thinking for themselves. Maybe at least people will go to shelters instead of the pet store now. And hopefully they'll also notice rescues. I'm glad I used a poodle rescue! :-)

Niki said...

I felt the same way as you do now. I have bred my Sasha (pekingese) female only once so far. It was the best experience for me and the whole family. She had 5 puppies and went to all responsible folks. They were so happy to get a purbred puppy from me. I would not have changed a thing. Yes, I guess you could call me a responsible 'breeder' now that I let her have a litter. Pretty sure we'll let her have one or two more. Then she's prob'ly done. Anywho, I enjoyed your view on this post. Makes so much sense. They always air the extremes on shows like Oprah. It's like, 'what about the other side, or opinion'. ya know? lol. off MY soap box.

Linda said...

Thank you for bringing this issue to light. I go to the pet shop to buy bird food and always check up on the puppies there. I often ask questions about where they came from and nobody will answer. I ask about why one dog is so jumpy or the other seems so tired. No answers directly, but they do attempt to deflect from the fact. I was going to write to you to ask what I should do actually. Now, after reading this, I see the puppies are most likely from dog mills (which I didn't know about). I missed the show, but appreciate your information more than you will know.