When misperceptions cost lives

Although reputable breeders screen for preventable diseases inherent in a breed, some ailments cannot be predicted.

I don’t know what possessed me to even read something entitled “Why I’d Never Adopt a Shelter Dog Again,” written by Erin Auerbach, who also wrote a story entitled, “I Hope My Dogs Die Soon,” but call me a glutton for punishment.

I love shelter dogs. I also love purebred dogs (some breeds more than others). I don’t think loving one is mutually exclusive of the other — especially considering the frequency with which you can find purebred dogs in shelters and rescues. However, I know shelter pets need all the help they can get, so seeing someone in a high-profile publication stomp their feet and complain in circles, without taking the chance to educate people, is just plain sad.

What frustrates me most about these articles, is, when it comes to health, there are no guarantees. Not in humans, not in plants, and not in dogs. In an effort to create a healthy litter, a reputable breeder will screen their dogs for health problems that are common and inherited in that breed, before they plan the breeding. A French Bulldog, the type of dog the author chooses in this article, would at the very least, be screened for heart, eye, and knee problems common to the breed. Her first dog lived to be more than 10 years old and eventually succumbed to cancer; her second dog struggled with epilepsy. While I greatly value the importance of preventative screening, neither of these afflictions could have been predicted by a pre-breeding screen. The author herself claims her previous shelter dogs lived “extraordinarily long lives,” so, to me, this whole story seems like an unfounded rant taken out on a population who so desperately need someone to look their way, instead of swearing them off altogether.

Auerbach claims the 2-year-old dog she ultimately purchased was being sold because his color was not suitable for the show ring — even though most breeders state French Bulldogs develop their full adult color by 16 weeks of age. I have no doubt that the author loves her dog, but to suggest that a breeder did not realize the dog’s incorrect color in two years means perhaps, she did not do her research either. In which case, why are we listening to her?

There are no guarantees in life and there are no guarantees as to how any of us will die. I am very sorry Ms. Auerbach has chosen to use her public platform to decry the adoption of homeless pets when, without people fighting in their corner, millions will die each year for no reason other than for lack of a home.

If you are looking to buy a puppy and don’t want to check your shelter or purebred rescue, please consider responsible breeders, but just because saving a life is not what you choose to do, please don’t encourage others to do the same without doing your research. With 5 to 7 million pets entering shelters each year, we are their voices, and often the only ones they have.

Do you have an adopted pet who has changed your life? Let’s share some stories and get the word out there that adoption is an awesome option. Together, we can change misperceptions and save lives.