Sometimes it is about the dogs

Published 12:33 pm Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Virginians love their pets, most consider them part of the family. Sadly, bad things do occasionally happen, however, there are crimes currently on the books with which people can be charged. Most every session there are bills that deal with dogs or cats. Usually, much of this legislation is meddling. Such legislation is proposed that would require pet owners to do something differently than they currently do, based on their narrow point of view. They see all dogs alike, while you and I know there is a drastic difference between a teacup size dog and those as large as wolves. A bill this year would have required a dog to be brought into shelter at set temperatures. My dog loves cool weather and snow, yours may hate those temperatures. I believe you and I are smart enough to care for our pets.

Often such bills are introduced at the request of Virginia branches of national organizations. Such organizations believe they are the source of all knowledge. They mean well but some have twisted their focus far from their original mission.

ADOPTING PETS This was an early focus of many of these groups. They were concerned that the advent of dogs at chain pet shops has led to the creation of what are often called “puppy mills.” Places that breed many dogs for the sole purpose of producing many puppies with little or no concern of the health and welfare of any one single dog. Often, there are many breeds of dogs at these locations and, therefore, to avoid mixed litters they are kept most of their lives in cages of limited size.

As the national groups have pressured pet stores to not buy puppies from such places, they found they needed to raise money to advertise their message to pet stores and the public alike. Such organizations quickly learned they could raise considerable financial support by showing pictures of sick, malnutritioned or simply cold dogs. However, some of these organizations that were started for a noble purpose are now the largest financial supporters of the “puppy mill” industry.

According to an April 12 Washington Post story by Kim Kavin “Dog Rescuers Flush with Donations” buy animals from breeders they scorn. Rescue organizations are paying as much as $5,000 for a single dog that they will offer as a “rescue” dog to avoid allowing a litter of her puppies to be sent to a pet shop. This is truly a perversion of their advertised intent. Instead of spending money rescuing dogs in unhealthy situations, they are buying healthy dogs. Often in turn selling some puppies as dogs that had been rescued. In the process they have been making the operators of “puppy mills” much more profitable.

The Washington Post story was well done. While some justified their actions as noble, many others hid their actions by using straw buyers to avoid the public from knowing what they are actually doing. The end result is that they have created an apparent shortage of many popular breeds of dogs. This has driven prices up, encouraging more individuals to enter the business that they had hoped to eliminate.

The conclusion of all this is what is referred to as an unintended consequence. An attempt to stamp out puppy mills has morphed into being the strongest financial reason puppy mills continue to operate and expand. Additionally, this policy has driven up costs to families like yours.

Frank Ruff represents Lunenburg in the state Senate. His email address is Sen.