Sending An SOS To The (Dog) World

I love my dog. He’s 101 pounds of slobbery affection, dumber than a sack of hammers, and always so very eager to please.

Chances are that I love your dog too, unless it has Small Dog Syndrome. However, any dog with that kind of behaviour problem didn’t get there on its own, and sad to say it’s down to you, Pack Leader. I’m taking the time and trouble to train my dog to walk nicely, on his own power (not that I would ever consider carrying him around unless I absolutely have to; a plate and 11 pins that hold my right arm together following an accident in 2004 mean that I can’t lift anything heavier than 40 pounds, in both arms); make sure he’s properly socialized, and to obey basic commands. You, Pack Leader, can do the same.

I notice things like this more, of course, now that I have joined The Dog World.

Something else about The Dog World that triggers my annoyance is the concept of the “puppy mill.” My short neck hairs stood straight up over the weekend when DH pointed out an article in the daily newspaper about the kennel in Shawville, Québec, where more than 500 dogs were removed by animal welfare authorities, said to possibly be “the largest of its kind in Canada.”

Registered breeders of purebred dogs, in general, have always struck me as being a special bunch. At the other end of the spectrum are the backyard breeders, the puppy mill owners, like Charlene Labombard, whose family owned and operated the Shawville facility for the past 16 years. By her own admission, she was actively raising no fewer than 30 breeds of dogs. 30 breeds of dogs. I presume that doesn’t include the cross-breeding and other forms of genetic mischance that were more than likely going on. Back in the spring, I was on the verge of rocking back and forth and humming loudly after I learned that Tucker’s sire had “tied” no fewer than three times with Tucker’s sister Daisy during her first heat cycle, leading to a litter of 11 puppies and she just a puppy herself. I’m told the dogs’ owner tried to keep them separated, the teachable moment here being that the standard baby gate is a poor deterrent to an intact adult male dog. The owner took some of the proceeds from the sale of the puppies ($300 x 11 = $3,000 according to the calculator; no vet checks were done, therefore pure profit) and got Daddy Dog neutered. Better late than never, I guess?

But back to Charlene Labombard: her puppy mill provided her with her daily living, supplementing her old age security benefits. The family originally got into dog-breeding following the collapse of the pork market 20 years ago, which in turn forced them to shut down their pig farm. Really? They couldn’t have, say, gone into “cash crops” instead? Corn and soybeans and hay can be quite profitable, as relatives of DH’s were to learn after they got out of dairy farming, having been casualties of the “mad-cow” crisis back in the 1990s; but it takes time and a helluva lot of work. For the Labombard family, easier money was to be made through indiscriminate dog breeding, clearly.

My wish for the dogs that were seized on the weekend is that they get the care and rehabilitation they desperately need, as soon as possible. Why not help this dog-loving blogger sleep better tonight, and visit one of the many sites around O-town that are accepting donations of cash and non-cash items on behalf of the animals. For more information and a list of locations, you can visit The Ottawa Dog Blog.

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