Lucy is not a sob story. At three years old she has been removed from a bad situation with the promise that she will live out the rest of her long life with plenty of food, love, treats, cuddles and soft cushions. Lucy will never be forced to carry another litter of puppies, destined to be sent out into the world to the highest bidder with little thought as to their ultimate fate. Best Friends made that promise to Lucy when they transported her to a shelter in Chicago, One Tail at a Time made that promise to Lucy when they pulled her into their program, as her foster home I made that promise to Lucy and very soon the perfect adoptive home will come along and make that promise to Lucy. Lucy has a team on her side.
But Lucy is still just one dog among thousands. As she trotted along at my side this evening - almost perfectly leash trained in just a week - a man walked up behind us. He paused as he passed.
"She have babies?"
I could have cried. I could have hit him. I spluttered and stammered and called out no, you shouldn't breed, you should adopt, she's escaped a puppy mill and will never have babies again. Ultimately, the only thing he wanted to hear was whether or not he could get a puppy from her. After the negative he just shrugged his shoulders and walked away. I wish there was a way in that 5 second conversation to share everything I've seen in shelters, everything I've read and learned and heard. I wish I spoke good enough Spanish to have reached out in his own language and explained at least a small part of what I know.
Next week I'll add a bi-lingual pamphlet to my walking supplies and I'll hand it out to every kid who asks me if Billy is a girl just because they can't see any testicles, to every lady who pulls up in her car to ask if I know anyone who wants to buy a pitbull puppy, to every family with a pregnant chihuahua running round the front yard.
For the sake of every Lucy out there I will have an answer to the question, "Why not?"
- Because every hour in the US, more that 2,000 dogs and 3,500 cats are born compared to 415 humans.
- Because more than 20% of the dogs in shelters are purebred.
- Because only one in every 10 puppies finds a permanent home.
- Because in 6 years one female dog and her offspring can be the source of 67,000 puppies.
- Because 11,000 animals die in American shelters EVERY DAY.
- Because ultimately, the only result of indiscriminately breeding dogs in backyards or commercial mills is this