A compassionate response to the homeless pet population should include educating people about the joy found in writing the last chapter in the life of a senior dog. It should include supporting seniors for seniors programs, getting more communities to offer pet food pantries, and subsidized veterinary care for low income people.
Any of those would be helpful and constructive, real, ways to save dogs lives because you really care about dogs.
Today, under the category "animal lovers" I was surprised to read this: "People who really care about dogs pass by breeders and pet shops and save lives instead by adopting their best friends from animal shelters."
Simplistic, broad statements like this one are the worst, because they are shame-based. Do you really believe anyone who is shamed into an action has a positive experience? And wouldn't you want the act of bringing a pet into your life to be a positive experience so that it happens more than once?
What is the point of shaming someone into adopting a dog, if your goal is to get them to adopt their best friend?
Be a part of the solution. Negative reinforcement doesn't work over the long-term. Ask anyone who has stayed on a diet longer than a couple weeks, or tried to quit smoking. What role did shame play, and how effective was it in changing their behavior?
I don't know the reach of this news outlet, or the person from the Peta Foundation who wrote the letter, but it's time to push back on this type of dog adoption and animal lover rhetoric.
I love dogs, and I would love to see animal shelters as short-term halfway houses for the occasional dog, but telling a person who gets a dog from a breeder or a pet shop that they do not really care about dogs is not helpful. This sweeping statement contributes nothing to saving lives.
People who really care about dogs educate. They offer a compassionate response to the issue at hand. They don't criticize and shame those looking to bring a dog into their life.
- Sharon Castellanos