My writer’s block has been getting worse. I know why. It’s because I am hesitant to write the one thing that will set me free. I tend to avoid controversial topics because I like to avoid fights, arguments, even heated discussions. I get overwhelmed by anxiety and very uncomfortable. I don’t like feeling attacked. I tend to take it personally. Head down, mouth shut is how I have always operated.
But I’m old enough now to not really give a rat’s ass if people don’t like what I think and say. And over the years, I’ve learned to express myself better, even under pressure.
Okay, okay. Get to the point, already.
I hear a lot of passionate, well meaning folks telling everyone within earshot that they got their dog from a rescue or shelter and how wonderful the dog is and how no-one should ever feel the need to buy a dog from a pet shop or a breeder because if you get a dog from the shelter you are really saving two dogs, the one you take home, and the one who can have that space in the shelter.
I know people who are like this. They want everyone to get their pets through rescue, and no pet should ever be left intact (with respect to reproductive organs only. Stay away from ears and tails). And by “pets” they mean all dogs, all cats. I just want to be clear on that. And on one other thing. These people are almost always pet owners or want to be pet owners.
I just always want to ask, “and then what? What happens when your fondest dream is realized and there are no more pet animals capable of reproducing. In ten, fifteen years…POOF! No more pets. At. All. None for you, none for your kids, none for their kids.” As unlikely as that is to happen in the immediate future, it is still a possibility.
Did you even realize that was your goal? Did you realize it’s the goal of some who are trying to legislate pet breeding out of existence? Because that is what will happen if they get their way. They lump all dog breeders into the “puppy mill” category to vilify anyone who would force a poor, innocent dog to mate and produce even a single litter of puppies. And they write laws to that effect. They write laws making it illegal in some cities to own a dog that is not surgically sterilized.
If some of the people in those cities dump their animals because they don’t want to comply with the ordinance, how will that “fix” the stray pet situation? If others who can afford to do so move outside the city limits to avoid the ordinance, they will no longer be paying for typical city services, and how will the city pay for enforcement of the ordinance? If some people move to another state, how is that good for the city?
The sad thing is that if all the laws are enacted that these people want, the people with the actual puppy mills will just find better places to hide and carry on. People who don’t care about their dogs certainly aren’t going to care about laws telling them how to behave. Many honest dog fanciers will simply stop breeding their dogs rather than deal with the expense of getting and maintaining a license while always looking over their shoulder for finger-pointers eager to find them guilty of the slightest infraction.
This would be a sad outcome indeed for those of us who have an interest in pure bred, carefully and consciously bred, lovingly and healthily bred dogs. I’m proud to say that my Basenjis were all bred that way, by a breeder interested in the health of the dogs and the improvement of the breed.
If we legislate away our rights to keep non-human animals as pets, there will be people who will find ways to be cruel to animals, or will simply transfer their cruelty to their own family members. There will be other people, like me, whose lives will grow dim from having all the joy and color sucked out of it. No antidepressant drug can compensate for that one creature you can always rely on to be there for you when life seems incomprehensibly bleak.
I’m all for rescue dogs. I’ve had rescued dogs and I’ve had shelter dogs, and I’ve loved them all. But I don’t want anyone telling me I can’t plan to get another Spinone Italiano puppy from a breeder some day.
You can’t legislate away the dark side of human behavior. And I suspect some of the very ones who think laws can do that have a deep, deep well of that very darkness within.