Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Two Reasons to Lose Sleep Tonight

The New York Times' Jennifer 8. Lee is reporting that a humpback whale is trapped in fishing gear off Sandy Hook, only eight miles outside of New York harbor.  A team from the Provincetown Center for Coast Studies in New England is expected to arrive on Thursday.   The whale, which is about 25 to 30 feet long, is above water and breathing but experts cannot predict if it will survive.   The image of this big, beautiful creature tangled up and waiting for help is heartbreaking.

The other reason I'm bothered is the Obama dog dilemma and today's announcement that the First Family is going to settle on a Portugese Water dog, a breed rarely found in the shelters.  I can't imagine that by now, any of the number of influential animal advocates, such as Wayne Pacelle of the Humane Society of the United States, or Best Friends or the ASPCA haven't gotten the message through to the White House on why the Obama's should adopt, and not buy a dog.  The Obama family following through on it promise to adopt a shelter dog would not only be a great boom for shelter dogs everywhere, but it would set an example that the president will follow through on other promises, as well. 

Every year an estimated 10 million dogs - of every shape, color, size and temperament - land in the U.S. shelters, but only a fraction make it out alive.   There are too many dogs and cats and not enough people to adopt them.  

Chances are, if the Obama's buy a Portugese Water dog it will perpetuate the breeding of yet another "must have" dog.  Everyone will run out to buy one; some new owners will become disillusioned and relinquish it to a shelter.   Meanwhile, puppy mills will see it as a profit center and start churning the breed out in deplorable conditions, then selling them to pet stores, who sell them to the public for $3,000.
While someone may pull through for the First Family and find a Portugese Water dog in the shelter system, right now it seems there are only two available, and they are not puppies.  

Adopting a dog is inexpensive, it's rewarding to save something an animal that may otherwise not have a future, and imagine the great rags to riches story:  "Dog slated for euthanasia sleeping on the White House floor."

More, it's a great community service, which is what president Obama is all about.  He should adopt a mutt, just like him.  

If not, next year there will be plenty of Portugese Water dogs in the shelter system to choose from.

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