Friday, August 9, 2013

When Not to Adopt a Shelter Dog

Oh, what ever happened to the days when adopting a shelter pet was a humanitarian act, pure and simple. You were rescuing an animal who’d been rejected by someone else. You were being nice.

Somebody always has to mess up every good thing, and these days, adopting a shelter pet can mean that you’re buying a stolen animal.

A Tennessee family who’ve supported the Cat Sanctuary used to have a cat of their own. The cat disappeared. The humans thought coyotes might have eaten it. A few years later, on the far side of town, the man of the house saw a familiar-looking animal stand up to greet strangers as they returned to their car. The cat, who had always seemed more intelligent than average, clearly seemed to recognize the man and remember the name he’d called it, but after going to its original human the cat then went back to its new family. Where had they got the cat, the man asked. “From the Humane Society!” His pet had been stolen and resold as a stray.

Now consider the case of young Austin Clifford Sword of Hawkins County, Tennessee, written up in the Kingsport Times-News on July 1, 2013:

“Charges were dismissed...against a Hawkins County teen accused of leaving a puppy in a hot vehi­cle, but the family will still be re­quired to pay about $400 to re­trieve the dog...Officer Chris Funk reportedly found a 4-week-old puppy unattended in a pickup...it was 77 degrees outside...Sword, who was located inside...didn’t know the dog was in the truck...a juvenile passenger brought the dog without his knowledge. The puppy, which was de­scribed as a 4-week-old ‘pug’ val­ued at $350, was seized by the Rogersville Police Department and placed in the custody of the Hawkins County Humane Society...The attorney general didn’t feel there would be sufficient evi­dence...of how long the dog was in that car or that the puppy suf­fered any injuries...windows were partially rolled down...Humane Society assistant manager Sandy Behnke said...[t]he Humane Society charges $10 per day for boarding animals, but the puppy also required some medi­cal care...Behnke said there is a waiting list to adopt that puppy if the fam­ily is unable to pay the fee.”

In other words, the animal has some market value and the Humane Society intend to get that amount of money out of it, one way or another.

Note that there’s no evidence that the dog was actually harmed in any way. It may have been less than optimally comfortable but it was not in real danger.

Note, also, that nobody in Hawkins County, Tennessee, is even mentioning the harm done to the puppy by seizing him and locking him in a room full of strange dogs with strange airborne and fleaborne infections, some of which may still prove to have been fatal to a four-week-old animal. If that happened to Chris Funk or Sandy Behnke, I don’t doubt that they would feel more abused than they would feel if they were merely asked to wait in the car for a few minutes, even on a hot day, outside a building they weren’t allowed to enter. In fact, if anyone other than a convicted felon, including an enemy soldier, were treated the way the Humane Society routinely treat animals, an outcry would be heard around the world.

Note, also, how hard everyone’s working to ignore the emotional effect of having his puppy stolen on “juvenile passenger.”

What can we do about this kind of animal cruelty crime? Unfortunately, what will work in the long run will be hard on some individual animals in the short run, but the strategy is so obvious I apologize for spelling it out:

1. In Hawkins County, or wherever else you’ve heard of an animal being stolen outright for resale by Humane Society do-gooders, don’t even consider a shelter pet. And don’t let other people “adopt” a shelter pet, either. Spread the word that shelter animals may have been stolen from good homes.

2. Advocate for compensation when an animal has been, to put it charitably, “mistakenly rescued” from a situation that did not actually put the animal’s life in danger. Shelter policies need to be reset to “If an animal shelter takes a dog or cat away from a home where the animal’s services may be needed, the Humane Society shall be charged a minimum of $100 per day, payable directly to the injured family, plus any court or collection costs.”

3.  Require animal shelters to publish photos and complete explanations of how all shelter animals got into the shelter, regularly, to verify that no stolen animals have been received. Demand proof that an animal was either delivered to the shelter by a former owner, caught in an act more dangerous to the public than merely “roaming at large,” or hospitalized for life-threatening injuries, before you even consider adopting a shelter animal.

(Can’t people who care about animals be proactive about practices that might become dangerous? Yes, but some ethical standards must apply to their proactive efforts. Sharing accurate information about animals’ needs is fine. Going inside a building and asking to have the owner of the vehicle with the dog in it paged, so you can tell him you think the dog may be overheated, is wonderful. Stealing a healthy animal should be severely punished.)

And of course: 4. Make sure this puppy is not sterilized (barring a medical emergency). Friends don’t let friends “adopt” stolen pug dogs...but friends can make it easier for those who want pug dogs to own them. This web site won’t even ask why anybody wants a pug dog when almost any mixed breed looks more attractive. Our purpose here is to force the Humane Society to admit the sordid truth...all that clamor about how “there aren’t enough homes” for kittens and puppies may or may not have been true, but it’s not true in places that have conceded the Humane Society a monopoly on the animal distribution business. There is a waiting list.

Don’t let the Humane Pet Genocide Society succeed in their treacherous goal of making dogs and cats extinct by making it unreasonably difficult to own a pet. If they want to be proactive about something, insist that the Humane Society become proactive about protecting animals and humans from thieves like Fink and Behnke.