The unfortunate addition of two more dog breeds by the American Kennel Club (AKC) is reported as lightly as if it were an announcement for a new car or smartphone. But dogs are not fashionable objects. They are living, sentient beings – and the increased demand for ‘pure breeds’ is having dire consequences for dogs.
PETA field workers routinely encounter dogs — including purebred dogs — that have been obtained without much, if any, thought about the care and commitment they need. Many have been banished to a lonely, miserable existence in a crate, on a chain or in a garden paddock – where they have no choice but to eat, sleep and relieve themselves on the same tiny patch of land , day after day.
When they found Murphy, he barely looked like a dog. Trapped inside a wire cage in a dark hallway, he had been neglected for so long that his 7-pound body was engulfed in 2 pounds of very matted fur covered in trash. Winnie, a 15-pound Lhasa apso, was kept in an outdoor enclosure and, like Murphy, was also covered in tight, sore rugs. PETA managed to get Murphy and Winnie to surrender, be cared for, and adopted into foster homes. But not all dogs are so lucky.
Some 70 million homeless dogs and cats are struggling to survive. They starve on the streets, drink from puddles contaminated with motor oil, get run over by cars, languish with untreated injuries and contagious diseases, and succumb to extreme weather conditions. Others wait in shelters.
There simply aren’t enough responsible homes for all the animals that already exist, but breeders and puppy mills are only too happy to take advantage of the demand for “new” breeds by producing more litters.
It also means that many Thoroughbreds endure a lifetime of debilitating health issues because they were bred to conform to harmful AKC “breed standards.” Newly added breeds are said to be prone to bone fractures, patellar luxation (dislocated kneecaps), hip and elbow dysplasia, epilepsy, and cataracts.
The greedy breeding industry cares no less about the health, welfare or even the lives of dogs. It is up to people who care to refuse to support an industry that treats dogs as objects to be produced, sold and thrown away – by never buying animals from breeders or pet stores. If you are ready to give a dog a lifetime of love and care, please visit your local shelter and adopt a companion that will hold a special place in your heart.
Teresa Chagrin is responsible for animal care and control issues in the Cruelty Investigations Department of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).