Monday, April 7, 2008

101 Rescues

Uggh. Oprah. Gack. But I’m a blogger, and the one thing a blogger can’t do is boycott a hot topic. So, like it or not, I have to blog about Oprah Winfrey.

At least the Oprah hot topic is animals! That’s good. But specifically it’s puppymills. That’s bad.

So, like any good blogger, I’ve been taking the pulse of the populace reacting to the Oprah puppymill show. It sure got people worked up.

In fact, many people are saying they want to go right out and adopt a rescue dog!

Now maybe it’s the ginko biloba talking, but that sounds familiar. Where have I heard that before? Ah, I’m seeing spots. SPOTS! That’s it!

101 Dalmations. Snow Dogs. Men in Black. Cujo. Turner and Hooch. Lassie. Oprah’s 101 Rescues.

Now I remember. A movie comes out, a dog is featured. Everyone wants to run right out and buy one JUST like it. And there is a great moaning and wailing and gnashing of teeth about how the breed will be ruined, the cute puppy stage will wear off and the shelters will fill up. People who shouldn’t own dogs will buy these popular ones from unscrupulous breeders and (horrors) breed them.

Well, you heard it here. Ms. X says Oprah’s 101 Rescues will have the same result.

Everybody and their brother suddenly wants a rescue dog. Where there is demand, there will be supply. New rescue groups will crop up over night, and every dog they can get their hands on will suddenly become “puppymill rescues”. They’ll charge exhorbant rates (have to rehabilitate the puppymill rescues you know) and those with power will step up raids on breeders on the vaguest of trumped up charges. While the raids and confiscations increase, follow-through prosecutions will drop. “Rescuers” just want the dogs, they won’t want to cut into their, um, donations, with the cost of prosecutions. Live to raid another day.

And that’s just the beginning. Eventually the stateside rescue groups will run out of small cute, furry dogs, and they will do more “rescues” overseas. This will of course result in an increase in the number foreign puppymills, all too happy to churn out their own indigenous street dogs to satisfy the American Rescue market. These foreign imports bring disease and a host of problems.

Rescue dogs may not suffer from cute puppy-ness that wears off (well, neither did Cujo), but that won’t stop the returns. Already, a large number of dogs in shelters are in for their second (or more) tour of duty. [The reason of course is bad owners, who don’t learn how to train or solve behavior problems]. These numbers will only go up.

So many dogs will be pushed into the shelter/ rescue system because of this, that in a few short years, the then remaining rescues (the startups will fold as quickly as they came) will be bursting at the seams as demand dries and the returns start showing up.

So yeah, thanks Oprah. Thanks for shoving yet another breed of dog – the Rescue – into the face of consuming crazed public, desperate for another emotional feel-good fix.


  1. Having a Y chromosome, being young, and not voting socialist, I'm a rarity in the dog blog world. It seems that most of the blogs I read have an Obamameter on them. Gag.

    It also seems that you're one of the only people who hasn't just swooned over Oprah. Plenty of bloggers got all hot and heavy (hot flashes, for sure) over the upcoming Oprah show, but few of them followed up in any way.

    Hrm? Did the prophetess not deliver?

    The rescue as fad and rescue as moral, even the only moral, has become part of political correctness. Even in the dog sport world, several email lists have rules that promote every new shelter mutt that comes along, and it's at least on a day, but breeders can't even mention they have a litter.

    In banning any talk of breeders or anyone who got their dog from a breeder (that's right you can't talk about where your dog comes from if it wasn't a shelter/rescue), one group leader said, "It's not an anti-breeder policy, it's just a very pro shelter policy."

    Mmm, yes, talk about moral relativism.

    Remember folks, the shelter system only kills 5% even in their horribly ineffective state. That percent is probably much less for dogs given that it's the "dog and cat" number and the culture of getting cats is nothing like the culture of getting dogs.

    If we are to believe Nathan Winograd, and I do, the shelter system didn't need more advertising by Oprah, it needs more criticism.

  2. I know what you mean -- I tried to bring up the whole No-Kill Shelter proposition, I got accused of 'not really caring about animal welfare' because I refused to lump all breeders as 'no better than puppy mills'. They just couldn't get past that to even consider all the other arguments involved. PETA and HSUS's propaganda are insidious in the culture. And the Kill Shelters can keep on acting all morally superior while they slaughter animals that didn't ever need to die in the first place.

    Its so frustrating!

  3. Rescue has unfortunately set it's sights on breeders, and not owners. It's the wrong place to cut out the middle man, and yet pet owner education (the middle man between the breeder and the rescue) or the lack thereof is the fundamental problem.

    When a rescue group/show breeder (often the same thing) tells a pet owner the problem with their (perfectly normal sounding) dog is that it was bred by a "backyard breeder" and they will happily take it off their hands and oh by the way I hope this won't discourage you from owning our wonderful breed; there's a serious problem.