Pack Topic: Puppy Mills and a flip-flopping news story

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An editorial on the Headline News website rightfully compares the American Kennel Club’s list of most popular dog breeds with the breeds typically found in puppy mills.

I do challenge one figure in the piece, where the claim is made that 25 percent of dogs in shelters are purebred. That may be true for actual shelters, but I feel it underestimates the number of purebred dogs looking for homes at any given time. A quick glance at the huge number of purebred rescue groups in the country tells the true tale.

In Virginia, a WTOP report posted Friday concerned a zoning board hearing, where a breeder was requesting approval to operate her kennel.

I wanted to post on this story because of all of the oddities in the text.

An investigator’s report noted some of the dogs at the kennel had scars and some were living in an unheated outbuilding and there was a strong odor of feces and urine. The investigator noted some of the dogs were “underweight, fearful/unsocialized.” But the same investigator is quoted as saying “It is not a cruelty case.” But she then flips the other way by saying “I consider it a puppy mill.”

WHAT? – Where was that going?

And with all of this in place, the article reports the breeder “” insists what she does isn’t a money-making operation, but a kennel dedicated to breeding quality dogs. “” So she doesn’t sell the dogs?

This thing is all over the place. Up is down and east is west. It’s crazy.


I’ve lost a friend and the planet has lost a truely compassionate animal lover

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I stepped away from blogging for a few days, as during that span I attended a memorial service and the then the funeral for Father Al Dash. The retired Catholic priest was 74 years old.

Father Dash conducted a blessing of the animals service every October in my hometown and rescued ex-racing greyhounds. We met him back in 2003 through a fellow animal-welfare advocate, who also rescued greyhounds and also advocated for an end to the cruel industry that is dog racing.

We had also rescued a greyhound named “Dash,” so there was a real connection there with Al. Dash passed away last summer and now Al is no longer with us, after an extended hospitalization. My wife and I really took the news hard.

Father Al Dash and Dash the greyhound

For several years, we met Al Dash for weekend breakfast meals at local eateries. When the weather was cool enough, he always requested that we bring along our Dash. After the meal, he’d give Dash a large dog biscuit. By the time the blessing of the animals serviced rolled around in 2010, our Dash was unable to attend due to his declining health. So Father Al blessed him from the back of our car one morning.

Last fall, Al had to say goodbye to what would be his last two greyhounds – Willow and Captain – who passed away about 10 days apart. They were older dogs and led a great post-racing life with their special guardian.

On both occasions at the local veterinary hospital, my wife and I shared hugs and so many tears with Al. We knew we needed to be there with him. It was such a sad time and the veterinarian and the staff members were all in tears as well.

But now, we take some comfort in knowing that Al Dash has been reunited with loved ones and with our Dash.

Father Al Dash conducting a Blessing of the Animals service in 2007