Adopt don’t shop puppy millsI’m writing this for my dog, Tess. Yep, I guess I’ve finally gone off the deep end and lost every last marble. I am frustrated beyond salvation.

The current source of frustration comes from the ongoing battle with pet stores and puppy mills. Tess was a rescue. Anne, a former client of mine, found her in a dumpster as a puppy. My guess is that she was there because she isn’t a “purebred.” She looks like she is made from a few spare dog parts put together in a unique package. We tested her DNA, and she is actually a mastiff/Rottweiler/St. Bernard/boxer mix. I am not kidding. We can prove it. We have the paperwork. After Anne passed, Tess ended up at the Ivins shelter. I rescued her. In reality, she rescued me. Her dad adores her.

Tess slobbers, has giant dog feet, and snarfs the wall. She sleeps on our bed when we aren’t looking and chases the cat. We still love her. She can bark incessantly at nothing and doesn’t like some other dogs. She ignores us when we try to correct her. She has been to training classes and forgot everything she learned for a while, but her memory is coming back, albeit slowly.

Tess thinks she rules the household. Actually, she does. We can’t imagine our lives without her. I don’t know where Tess originated, and I don’t care. I don’t even want to think about what may have happened to her if we hadn’t adopted her. She is a big girl, 85 lbs., and it takes a lot of room and a lot of love to care for her.

Responsible pet parenting takes effort. It may seem easier to purchase that cute puppy from a pet store. The reality is that the puppy probably came from a puppy mill. Reputable breeders do not sell puppies to pet stores because they want to meet their puppy buyers in person. The Humane Society of the United States conducted several hidden-camera investigations that revealed that many of the breeding facilities that supply pet stores are puppy mills.

Puppy mills are not fun places, and many “puppy parents” spend their entire lives in cages in deplorable conditions. Many have health issues caused from inbreeding or living in close proximity to other animals. Some have died from their illnesses. There are pet stores leasing puppies, caveat emptor (buyer beware). People have paid thousands for puppies only to find that they don’t own the dogs. Or, even worse, the dogs die from disease.  Parvovirus is highly contagious and spreads very quickly. It can be fatal in puppies in up to 80 percent of cases. A dog is an investment and a family member. It should be a long-term commitment and should not be “traded in” when it becomes inconvenient. Shelter dogs rock, and their background information is readily available. They have been spayed or neutered, so they don’t contribute to the horrendous pet overpopulation problem.

All of us have made purchases that we regret. I can think of articles of clothing (that did make me look fat), food (what was I thinking?), a hair remover (yeah, right), and even a timeshare that were really bad purchases. However, no one died because I was irresponsible (hopefully). It just made me look foolish. I can live with that.

What I can’t live with is mistreating animals of any kind. That is why a small but mighty group of women decided to protest the grand opening of a new pet store in Washington City. We found out about the store from some very determined California women. They refuse to let blatant animal abuse slide. I think California should be its own country and maybe annex Utah. But until that happens, we should all consider adopting from a local shelter or rescue group. If you still believe that purchasing a pet makes is more appealing, at least find a reputable breeder. If buying online, try petfinder.com or pets911.com. Adopt, don’t shop. Just saying.

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The Independent Southern Utah Adoptable Pets Guide

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