As a freelance journalist, I really like to read very informative articles and columns. And to me, journalism is all about getting to the heart of a topic or issue and/or exposing something very important. And when a journalist can get someone to expose something important about themselves or a related organization, that is some piece of good work, in my view.
Erika I. Ritchie put all of this together in an article posted Sunday on the Orange County Register website. Several cities in the California county are banning the sales of puppies in stores. This sort of ban needs to go nationwide. People purchasing puppies and kittens need to be assured that the breeding facilities involved are engaging in humane practices. Way too often, this is not the case when animals are purchased in stores.
Amazingly, the Southern California Veterinary Medical Association has taken a stand AGAINST bans on the sale of puppies in stores. The SCVMA suggests great strides have been made, and current laws are requiring “healthy conditions.” Thankfully, article leads with a story about a sick puppy purchased from a California pet shop. And at least a couple of readers commented under the article about sick puppies purchased at stores.
The reality is far more needs to be done to shut down puppy mills and to improve conditions at far too many mass-breeding facilities in the US.
I feel compelled to put it this bluntly: The leadership of the SCVMA needs to educate itself in the reality of what is happening in puppy mills that supply to pet stores. They need to educate themselves to the practices of quality breeders and compare these practices to those of mass-production breeders where dogs are caged 24/7 or nearly 24/7.
Animals have both physical and emotional needs. The regulations need to catch up the emotional health concerns, along with the physical needs.
Ritchie does a good job of giving both sides a voice in her article. The animal-welfare take is expressed in this sentence: “” Pet stores selling puppies and kittens that harbor birth defects due to bad breeding, behavioral problems due to early life in a cage and diseases from the stress of commercial breeders transporting them throughout the country. “”
And I would add the fact that separating puppies from their moms and siblings too soon is setting them up for behavioral problems. Too often, this means these dogs will die in shelter somewhere.
Ritchie reports Dr. Peter Weinstein and Dr. Peter Vogel of the SCVMA recently wrote letter to the Laguna Beach City Council before its vote on a pet store puppy sales ban. The pair seemed to focus on consumer demand ‘for 8 million puppies and kittens in America each year.’
So that makes it okay to sell through puppy mills? – Really? And this quote is included from the letter: “Consumers do not look to rescue or shelter adoption for puppy and kitten acquisition.”
Informed “consumers” do adopt from rescues and shelters and the numbers are growing. And informed consumers do NOT consider adopting a pet to be an “acquisition.” The statements made by the SCVMA representatives heavily lean to protecting stores and breeders, as opposed to protecting animals.
Veterinary medical associations should not be out to promote or protect businesses. Veterinary medical associations should be focused on protecting the health and welfare of animals. I was VERY pleased with the American Veterinary Medical Association’s recent move to modify its official proclamation to include an affirmation of its support for animal welfare.
The veterinarians on front lines see the problems, face to face. As is the case with this information from the article –
Dr. Michael Ontiveros, who owns Estrella Veterinary Hospital in San Clemente, said he sees a host of problems from pets purchased at the puppy mill furnished stores.
“To me it’s about the pets,” he said. “Why don’t we educate the pet stores about the problem with the puppy mills? They need to make good choices. I don’t like puppy mills. I don’t like what I see coming from there.”
And the vet who treated the case reported in the lead of the article was reportedly saddened by the stand of the SCVMA.
It’s not about what is best for consumers. It should not be about what is best for mass-production breeders. It should be about the welfare of the animals and it should be about compassion.