Thursday, May 10, 2012

Best Intentions

If you love dogs and care about their well being and you think you are too happy and really want to feel awful, start looking at advertisements for puppies for sale on the internet. One click on one of these advertisements reduces me to tears. To paraphrase Charles Dickens, Are there not enough pet stores? Are there not enough backyard breeders? I can barely understand someone who is so uninformed or impetuous that they purchase a puppy from a pet store or from an advertisement in the newspaper. But what possesses someone who buys a dog or puppy over the internet? How can they claim to have any knowledge about the dog's origins or care up to the time of purchase? Something clearly should be done to mitigate the suffering of pets marketed in this way. Enter the U.S. Congress. A bill is now working its way through those hallowed halls that would bring internet pet sales under the 1966 Animal Welfare Act. It will pass. Can you imagine any Congressperson, Representative or Senator, D or R who would wish to face a constituent and try to explain voting against such a bill? I pray that it will do no harm. But there are some reasons why I have little hope that it will do much good. Reason 1. Think very hard. Have you ever heard of the Animal Welfare Act of 1966? Reason 2. Do you have any reason to believe that the Animal Welfare Act of 1966 has mitigated the irresponsible breeding and marketing of dogs and the attendant suffering of said animals? Reason 3. What expertise do you think that the United States Department of Agriculture, the agency assigned the enforcement duties of the new law, has in detecting cyber crime? Reason 4. Given current harsh economic realities, how many new Animal and Plant Health Inspectors--the law-enforcement officers of the USDA--do you think can be hired to police the rampant internet marketing of puppies? To make matters worse, everyone who is involved in sponsoring the bill and everyone who votes for it, will believe that they have done all they can to mitigate untold suffering of puppies. But new generations of puppies will continue to suffer as will their poor, hapless parents. This blog was begun because our beautiful Greyhound, Portia, was killed by another dog, because the County of Sna Diego is too large and diverse a jurisdiction to adequately enforce reasonable county leash laws. After studying the problem carefully, I have come to the conclusion that animal welfare laws need to be made and enforced at a more local level. In the meantime, it would be a huge step forward if the laws already on the books would be enforced.

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