Anyone who’s been involved in animal rescue for at least five nanoseconds has probably figured out it’s likely easier to make rainbows out of a mud puddle than it is to please every Tom, Dick, and Fanny who’ve got fabulously bad intentions for how they’d like the rescue operation to fit into their agendas. Sometimes Tom, Dick, and Fanny have great ideas that serve the needs of our dogs’ adoptive processes; sometimes, though, Tom, Dick, and Fanny need a reality check. That happened this past week.
It all started when “Betty” (sorry, Betties of the world) wanted our group to send over twenty puppies for a “puppy bowl,” which was to take place in a large arena. Betty’s email rattled on AND ON about her expectations for her client. I mean, we hadn’t ever talked to this woman, and here she was delivering explicit details regarding what was to follow as if she was doing our rescue a huge favor we’d be nuts to refuse. She wanted breed-specific dogs, namely “at least two yellow Lab puppies.” She wanted to give points to dogs for defecating and urinating before spectators to her game. Why? Because that’s just so cute to freak out young dogs, who are already scared and nervous, so strangers can laugh and point fingers — to bet on their fear. Right. Making matters worse, Betty explained that “not all dogs would be adopted.” Well. Thanks for that hot news flash, ladycakes. I’ll cut to the chase: Betty paved a yellow brick road straight to Crazytown in her email, and we weren’t gonna let her take Toto down with her.
A short, yet polite decline was fired off immediately to Betty, but she wasn’t having it. She wanted a referral to another puppy “agency.” Without dragging it out further, it was decided to tell Betty why we wouldn’t help her humiliate our dogs or any other dogs. After thinking about it this week, I’d like to also stick the reply here for all to read because it pertains to everyone who doesn’t understand the line between abuse and otherwise. We are here to rescue animals, not to perpetuate and catapult the sick ideals of man.
No pussyfooting about it:
After considering your request carefully, I feel the need to fully explain why our rescue, as well as any reputable rescue that focuses on addressing animal welfare needs, will not participate.
When we bring dogs into our system, including puppies, it’s for the sole purpose of locating good homes. These animals have been dumped. They’ve been abandoned. They’ve been stuck on city streets without food, water, love, shelter, etc. Humans have not been kind to them, and because of that, these guys have no reason to trust us. Our goal is to treat them with dignity and respect — to give them what they deserve rather than to utilize them as puppets for what sounds an awful lot like a precursor for some sort of bizarre Roman Olympics opening act.
Our volunteers don’t receive compensation for assisting these dogs. They use their own gas, vehicles, homes, time, etc. When someone applies to adopt a dog, we want it to be because s/he loves that creature — not because the individual saw the poor dog scared and confused and “cute” in a gaming arena with 19 other puppies feeling the same way. We will not strain our volunteers’ resources to accommodate requests like yours when we could spend that time finding homes for their fosters at a legitimate adoption event. Read as: That’s a slap in the face to every rescuer who gives more than what can ever be received in return.
You’ve requested for your “client,” gag, to have in attendance a couple of breed-specific dogs. At least “two.” For crying in a bucket, I hope I don’t trip over all the breeders dumping yellow Lab puppies at the pound in my effort to nab the right actors for your production. You want a couple unicorns with that order? How ’bout some fries and a magical talking narwhal, too? The biggest part of what we do as rescue workers is to help the public understand we have a huge crisis that affects us all going on in city shelters. It’s about battling discrimination and irresponsible breeding. It’s about serving the needs of the animals who are left behind by people who want the fluffy lookers, about giving taxpayers a break from footing the bill for that sort of flippancy. All of our puppies are cute, damn it, even the ones that may be ugly ducklings to your “client.” What you’re asking is akin to calling an orphanage and suggesting it rush over twenty orphans for your Hunger Games mockery — a couple with blue eyes, some with golden hair, etc., for the viewing pleasure of someone who’s paying to see it, for someone who stands to make money off of our rescued dogs’ misfortunes. That’s disgusting and slimy, and we want no part of this trivialization.
As for the games themselves, your description involved something “similar” to what Animal Planet does for its puppy bowl. Animal Planet doesn’t throw puppies in the XXXXXXXXXX Ballroom in front of a bunch of strangers attending a XXXXXXXX. And just because AP does something, it doesn’t make it ethical. There’s nothing cute or kind about giving a puppy points for taking a dump in public.
This is not to suggest that our group is a stranger to mankind’s insistence upon demanding dogs and other animals play games for human enjoyment. Not at all.
The images of dogs who’ve been made to fight are the sorts of things one can’t easily forget.
I realize the analogy might run the gamut between comparisons here, but I want you to understand how very seriously we stand against animals being used in any capacity against their wills for gaming purposes of any shape, size, or color. If we were to allow our dogs to participate in ANY end of this spectrum, that would blur the line between what is acceptable and what is abuse. We label abuse as anything degrading to an animal, and your puppy bowl certainly falls into that category, even if only at an entry level.
This email might seem a tad harsh, but I hope you’ll take a minute to truly examine why. There’s a reason we run one of the most successful dog adoption programs in north Texas. We’re fair. We’re honest. We are tough. We get it done. And now I’ve got to get back to the mission.
Thanks, but no thanks.
So there you have it, “Betty.”
And about this Thanksgiving bizwax? Well, I’m super grateful to volunteer for a rescue that isn’t afraid to tell Tom, Dick, and Fanny what time it is.