In November, President-elect Obama promised caring Americans that he would adopt a needy dog from a shelter or a rescue group. Vice President-elect Joe Biden evidently had no intention of following his lead; Biden just purchased a German shepherd puppy from a Pennsylvania breeder.
By doing so, he has essentially sentenced a homeless dog to death. Nearly 8 million animals—both mixed breeds and purebreds—enter U.S. shelters every year. Between 3 and 4 million of them must be euthanized simply because there aren’t enough homes—or even cages—for them all. Every time someone purchases an animal from a breeder or a pet store, animals waiting in shelters or roaming the streets lose a chance at a home.
Animals like Muffin, the treasured terrier mix my family adopted from a Baltimore pound; Jake, my sweet Brittany spaniel who was found wandering the streets of New Jersey—with a BB lodged in his leg—and put up for adoption by a breed rescue group; and Carly, my darling little diva, who was saved from a laboratory by a kind-hearted soul. These dogs didn’t come with “papers”; they came with unconditional love, loyalty and a genuine zest for life. With so many friendly, lovable dogs in shelters, on the streets, and in abusive situations, it’s hard to comprehend why some people still buy animals from pet stores or breeders.
To remind residents of Biden’s home state that buying from a breeder kills a homeless dog’s chance of being adopted, PETA is airing a “Buy One, Get One Killed” ad on TV stations in the Wilmington, Pa., area.
Anyone who has the time, space, money, and patience it takes to care for an animal should go to a shelter, visit Adopt-a-Pet.com and Petfinder.com, or contact a reputable breed rescue group. As Oprah Winfrey, who did an exposé on puppy mills in April, said, “You can find any kind of dog you want, any age you want, at a shelter or rescue.”
Animals should always be spayed or neutered to combat overpopulation and certain health and behavioral problems. Spaying one female dog can prevent 67,000 births in six years, and spaying one female cat can prevent 420,000 births in seven years. Spaying reduces the discomfort females feel during heat periods, eliminates the risk of uterine cancer, and reduces the chance of mammary cancer. Neutering makes males much less likely to roam or fight, and helps prevent prostate and testicular cancer.
Please don’t let Biden’s bad decision dash your hopes for a more humane administration. Just by promising to adopt a dog, Obama has attracted nationwide attention to the plight of homeless animals. We must keep that momentum rolling and continue to spread the word about animal overpopulation. It will take a lot of work, but we can do it. Yes we can.