Best Friends Bites
From the 12-10-08 L.A. Times: “Pet shop moving out after puppy mill protests,” by Carla Hall, Times staff writer (http://www.latimes.com/ . . . Carla.email@example.com): “For 15 years, Pet Love has been a fixture in the busy Beverly Center mall, its brightly lighted interior showcasing furry puppies for sale behind glass-walled kennels.
“But for the last six months, the sixth-floor pet store has been targeted by the Best Friends Animal Society, a national animal rescue and welfare organization that is waging a campaign to get Los Angeles pet shops to stop selling animals born in what the group calls inhumane puppy mills.”
Alas the story fails to note the critical point in this puppy mill-pet store cycle – the AKC (American Kennel Club) “purebred” “papers” that are put on these dogs that make the buyer think these are indeed “purebred” dogs from reputable breeders and kennels because, after all, the prestigious AKC wouldn’t put “papers” on spavined wrecks bred out of filthy puppy mills in the Midwest, now would they? Ah, yes, indeed they do, and that “paper” acts as the engine that drives the puppy mill trade by putting false value on those mill dogs.
But, the volunteers from Best Friends did manage to inform the puppy buying public at that high-end mall just what it was they were buying. One example given was a Jack Russell terrier puppy on sale for $999.99. That’s another dirty little secret (aided and abetted by that AKC “paper.”) You can get a really healthy, good tempered, well bred dog from a reputable breeder, for about half that price. Or, in this case, pay twice as much for a spavined, genetic wreck that likely isn’t really “purebred,” puppy mills being notoriously sloppy in keeping a male and a bunch of breeding females together into large cages, or lumping litters from different dogs together before trucking the tiny pups out the door, paying no attention to just who mummy and daddy are. This bundling and dumping also makes the AKC “papers” that go with those puppies (those who survive the trip) fraudulent, something the AKC is well aware of but often do nothing about when they investigate and discover the typical puppy-mill mess -- as was noted in a 20/20 and ABC World News Tonight report a few years ago; they do not purge the AKC registry (for which they receive tax exemption) if the number of fraudulent dogs is really large, thereby defeating the whole supposed reason for maintaining that registry. (Still get that nice tax exemption, though. Sweet.)
So, good on Best Friends for their efforts to educate the puppy buying public. And good on Carla Hall for this report. And too bad that the Humane Society of the United States didn’t help the Best Friends campaign. The Director of the HSUS knows well of the AKC “paper” issue, but refuses to even mention the connection – likely for fear offending a powerful, politically well-connected organization that spends a lot of money creating an image that simply can’t stand close scrutiny. Which is a real shame since a national campaign by both Best Friends and HSUS to educate the puppy buying public on that AKC “paper” connection would go a long way to reducing the mill trade. After all, who in their right mind would pay $999.99 for a puppy correctly advertised as “from a Missouri puppy mill, “AKC paper” not verifiable and likely to be fraudulent?” Right.