Adorable Golden Retrievers, naughty local breeds, playful Labradors, fluffy Yorkies, and majestic Huskies – to get such lovely companions would be everyone’s dream when they decide to become a dog owner. Over the years, such exotic pedigree breeds have been the hype all over India including Kerala and owning a pet has crossed the minds of several individuals during the lockdown. But, have we really thought about pet adoption?
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Now don’t get me wrong, owning a pet is the best thing ever! The problem is where most people choose to go for their pets – pet stores, breeders, and online shopping. People seem to have an aversion towards adopting pets especially dogs, because of all the misconceptions about shelter animals. They are thought to be aggressive, less loving, and that their owners had left them because they weren’t good pets. On the contrary, these pets are as friendly and lovable as any other, and they were probably left by their owners because of problems like them having to move to a different city or the dog being too old. Furthermore, these dogs are even easier to get along with as they had already been accustomed to living in houses.
When you keep seeking breeders, shops, and online services for buying dogs, what you do is indirectly supporting terrible practices like puppy mills. A puppy mill is a dog-breeding facility that breeds puppies for sale, mostly through brutal forced breeding in poor conditions. The mothers, kept in shoddy environments, are separated from their puppies at a very early stage and they are immediately made to breed again.
The puppies born in puppy mills are also kept in unhealthy environments, with little to no care, and immediately shipped to the respective places. The breeders prefer quantity over quality, profit over ethics, and these poor animals suffer for it. The mothers, once they can no longer breed, are killed, abandoned, or left at shelters.
When dogs got turned into commercial commodities, so did the values associated with them. Over the years, with the emergence of kennel clubs and dog shows, dogs started to be seen less like companions and more like eye candies and status symbols. Dogs that were praised for their loyalty, hunting skills, and guarding skills, soon started being judged on their mere physical appearances. This then led to a series of inhumane experiments and practices on these dogs to shape them according to the respective beauty standards.
The fluffy Poodles and Golden Retrievers with their playful nature were actually fierce hunting dogs. The German Shepherd with its stooping hips that we see today had been genetically modified to look that way. But it resulted in a shorter life span for the breed as the shape of their hips couldn’t support their internal organs anymore. We all love the Bulldog for its adorable skin folds and baby-like face. These dogs were formerly larger, with normal-sized heads and longer snouts but then got modified to look the way they do today. The puppies with their large heads can’t even pass the birth canal and are taken out through C-section. The Bulldogs also face trouble breathing as their muzzles are squished and their body is not big enough for their internal organs. Again, for aesthetic purposes, many dog breeds are made to go through surgical practices like tail docking (surgically removing the tail) including Corgis, Dobermanns, Rottweilers, and Yorkies. The worst part is that it is done when they are puppies and most of the time without administering anaesthesia.
These are just some of the examples of what dogs face because of the increasing pet business. There are several puppy mills in Kerala, some of them illegal, and puppies are still sold with amputated tails or ears. Even worse, many of these dogs are then left at shelters, and the cycle continues.
There is still good news; the solution is just a google search away and pet adoption. As a person, if you choose pet adoption instead of buying one from a shop, then that’s one life saved. You save a life, get a loving companion, moreover, set an example for others to follow. There are several animal shelters in Kerala, with sweet puppies and dogs waiting for their forever homes. Adopting also clears up shelter space so that new animals can be accommodated as well. Pet adoption is a kind gesture, and the perfect solution to make the world a better place.
Most importantly, what’s better than the love of a sweet furry friend along with the peace and satisfaction of having been a good person?