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Monday, January 18, 2010

The Special One

This week I ran into a website that absolutely disgusted me. . The owner of the site states that he/she wants to buy the stray dog that wandered into your yard, or the unwanted litter of puppies you have, to satisfy the need for medical research animals, to aid in the progression of human medical research. The person makes you feel awful that you would consider bringing an animal to a shelter where they may humanely euthanize an animal, rather than sell it to research to cure childhood cancers.

Quoted from the site:  "Every day, animal shelters wastefully exterminate valuable dogs and cats. Shamefully, the medical need is so great, while the supply of quality test animals are so few. I beg you not to destroy the trial subject who can make the difference between life and death for a real live human being. Animal research has played a vital role in virtually every major medical advance of the last century and now YOU can be a part of that proud tradition and make money at the same time! Rather than uselessly squander those invaluable lives which can make a profound difference in our current lifestyle, call me and let's turn those unwanted beasts into survival opportunities for sick children and dollars in your wallet. By disproving the lethality and/or side effects of chemicals used in modern medicine, these beautiful innocent souls can make the ultimate sacrifice in our and our children's behalf. These former pets are afforded all the respect and compassion as is humanly possible."

TRUTH "Every day, animal shelters wastefully exterminate valuable dogs and cats."  According to the ASPCA, "3 million to 4 million animals are euthanized each year (60 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats entering the shelters).  This is a very sad truth.  So many animals killed and yet breeding in mass numbers continues daily in this country. 

In Iowa alone, there are over 400 USDA licensed commercial breeders (see map of licensed breeders throughout Iowa as above borrowed from ).  Breeders no longer focus on purebred dogs.  The latest trend is selling mixed breed dogs for the same price or more than they charge for the purebreds. There are Goldendoodles, and Labradoodles, Puggles, and Shih-Poos, Teddy Bears, and Lhasa-Poos.  You name it, they make it. 

There are an estimated 23,000 dogs being bred in Iowa's licensed commercial breeding facilities alone!!  Remember that this number does not include backyard breeders, unlicensed breeders, hobby breeders, farm cat breeding as "there would be no cats on my farm if they all got fixed", unintentional breeding of the pet they meant to get fixed last month, the "just one litter so my child learns about birthing" breeding, or (dare I say it) responsible breeding.  Add these into the mix, and the number continues to rise. 

The majority of the dogs in these facilities are females, since one male can impregnate several females.  I am not a math wiz, but if you add 2 to 3 litters a year per female dog in Iowa alone, that number is HUGE!  Now think about the other states.  Iowa ranks 3rd in the having the highest number of licensed commercial breeding facilities, so there are only two more states with numbers higher than these!  We pump out the puppies and euthanize healthy, loving, yet homeless adult dogs and cats.  According to the HSUS, 25% of dogs in shelters are purebreds.  They range in all ages, sizes, and colors.  Yet 3-4 million animals lose the battle of who will find a home when the next family stops in the shelter.  Most don't even make it to the adoption floor due to lack of space and are euthanized before a family even gets a chance to see them.  Once their hold time is up (ranging 3-10 days usually), their life time is up.

Please watch this video I found on YouTube entitled "The Truth About Euthanasia"  .  This will help you understand what it is like to be a shelter employee.  And if you missed Oprah's show on the truth about puppy mills, here is one segment of it regarding the animal shelters and the pet overpopulation problem... .  You can visit youtube and watch the rest of the Oprah show as well.

So, the truth is that the animal shelters are euthanizing mass numbers of animals daily in the United States.  There are No-Kill shelters out there, but the name is misleading.  When a No-Kill shelter is FULL, they say no to other animals who need to come in,  and those animals go to the shelters that will euthanize for space out of absolute necessity. 

TRUTH "Animal research has played a vital role in virtually every major medical advance of the last century" .  But times are changing and while I do believe there is a need for animal research in medicine, a lot of research has sought out alternative means of researching so that animals are not involved.  Some research facilities need consistent genetic lines of animals and breed their own animals and would not be involved with dealing the animals, unless they were able to be sold after the research is done.  I am certain that some animal research done today is quite necessary and performed in as humane a way as possible, but I am just as certain that some animal research done today is unnecessary and inhumane.  If an animal is involved in finding a cure for a childhood cancer, wonderful!  But don't tell me that the makeup I am wearing needed to be tested on monkeys or rabbits.  Just another reason I don't adorn makeup!  Anyway, animal research is just too big of a discussion to go into too deeply for now.  But Class B Dealers would be needed if a research facility had animals that have completed their research but still "usable".  The class B dealer would sell them to another facility and gain the original research facility some money back for their project.  This is how the license is meant to be used.  And unfortunately, it is also intended to purchase animals from overwhelmed shelters.  These animals are going to be euthanized in days if not hours, and they will now go to research facilities instead.  I hope the knowledge they supply is important. 

The Animal Welfare Act defines Class B Animal Dealers as those that can obtain dogs and cats and sell them to researchers. implies that he/she is a class B dealer, and buys animals from you and sells them to research facilities.  This is not legal.  Class B dealers can only obtain animals from licensed shelters or pounds. They cannot accept stolen dogs or cats.  That being said, if someone was willing to steal a dog or cat to make a buck or two, they are not going to admit that the dog was stolen.  (Read this as "Microchip your pet today if it isn't done so already, so it has a permanent identification linked to you!)

However, it would be easy for a person from  to obtain a shelter or pound license which is often free or very inexpensive.  In Iowa, there are so many counties without any source of humane animal control, that this person would be quite busy with intakes of animals in need.  This "pound" then has the ability purchase dogs from any source ie newspapers, craigslist, flyers, or take in animal for free from free to good home ads, take in town strays, and take in owner surrendered animals.  As a shelter, they would be able to sell these animals to the class B dealers, who would then sell to the research facilities.

Now that we see how easy it is to make ibuystrays  a reality, let me tell you what you don't know. is not real.  There is no one at the other end really wanting to buy your dog.  It is a hoax.  It was set up by an animal welfare advocate to educate people about what can happen when the wrong person gets their hands on a class B dealers license and how easy it would be to do.  The person that is at the other end wants you to get riled up about the weak law (The AWA has several weaknesses...just look at the mandatory cage size)  and motivate yourself to step up and try to make a change.

I applaud the way they did it.  It got my attention.  And I have learned alot evaluating the site.  Perhaps you learned some too?

I cannot help but think of my first dog, Immy.  She was a beautiful border collie mix.  I was in veterinary school, and I was at the school late studying for an exam one night.  It was only a few months after losing my dog at home to kidney failure.  As I walked down the hallway that led me to the parking lot, I heard barking coming from a place in the school that usually did not have dogs.  I followed the barks and walked into a room with about 6 or 8 dogs.  In the cages are all purebred cocker spaniels.  (I understand now why there were so many purebred dogs throughout my veterinary school experience...breeder relinquishments.)  Among these cockers was this very thin border collie type dog.  I took her out of the cage into the hall.  I sat on the floor with my back against the wall.  She laid down next to me and rested her chin in my lap and closed her eyes.  That was it.  I was in love. I decided this was worth staying up later for.  I pulled out a book, and read as she cuddled next to me.  Her third eyelids were protruding from her eyes, which now I know means she was dehydrated, but wasn't sure then what it meant. 

I got up super early the next morning.  Checked on the dog to be sure she was still there.  I wrote down the information on her card and headed off the Lab Animal Research to find out if I could have her.  I was so scared they would say no!  When I got there, they said she had been in a junior anesthesia lab earlier in the week, and I could have her but I had to pay them to purchase another dog to take her place in junior surgery.  Junior surgery is where third year veterinary students perform surgeries on dogs and the dogs never wake up.  They are euthanized after the lab while still under anesthesia.  After writing a check for $44, the woman said I could not take the dog until later that day.  I agreed but went straight to her kennel, and took her out.  I brought her to the ophthalmology wing to get those funky eyes checked.  I was a first year student, and really new nothing yet.  I wanted to make sure she didn't have a brain tumor or something!  Because this exam was a freebie, every ophtho student had to look at my new dogs eyes.  Three hours later, the revelation was that she just needed food and water and would be fine!  Immy was about 5 months old then.

That $44 dog was the best friend I have ever had.  There are certain dogs that are just different.  She was one of those.  If you have had one of those, then you know what I mean.  I am unsure in the 12 years that I had her, whether I took care of her, or she took care of me.  When I finally had to put her down due to cancer...much of the guilt I felt and still feel is that I knew for her sake that I had to let her go, but I wonder if she was ready to let go of me.  I miss that dog every day.  Don't get me wrong, I love every dog I have had prior to her and since her.  But she was that special one.  I put Immy down when I was pregnant with my daughter.  I make a quilt for my daughter with animals on it of course.  Under the square with the dog, in the embroidered grass, you can read the name, "Immy".  I rescued her days before her end was to come. 

I wonder how many special ones are being euthanized today in shelters across America.

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ameow2002 said...

You are on a roll now...keep em coming. This was one of the best, i think! You'll have that book in no time.

donna said...

Immy was a very special dog, I remember her very well, she was the type of dog to make a lasting impression....!
I applaud your efforts in animal rescue and spreading the word....keep up the good work....for all the Immy's out there.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for the blog. As a shelter volunteer I can tell you that it can often times be very heart wrenching and sometimes you think you just can't do it another day. But then something good happens and that older black dog that you thought had no chance of ever getting out of the shelter alive is adopted and it gives you the strength to carry on for another day. The shelter where I volunteer works very hard to find homes for the animals that are brought to us and we work with breed specific rescue groups as well as other rescue groups whenever possible. Thanks for all you do.

jl said...

mist excellent post thank you for sending to me as well!!

R.L said...

I have 14 Dogs most all strays I took / rescued off the roads .
I love them all so much and if I could I would still take in more . I live in the middle of no where in Otero County New Mexico so many people dump their pets out here or just let them go astray .
I could not see giving a pet a dog or cat to someone whos going to do research with them how sad to die in pain or live with tubes sticking out of them No way !!! I have lost pets from old age it hurts ..
This web site your talking about is going to cause people to steal pets and so on ..
The shame

Anonymous said...

Dammit - you make me cry every time! :(


James Wu said...

It's a shame to just euthanize all these unwanted pets. Let's torture them first before putting them down.

It's sick, sick, sick.