May 5-11 is the American Humane Association’s Be Kind to Animals Week.
Hopefully, we’re kind to animals every week, but it’s good to have a reminder every now and then, and maybe a reason to go out of your way to do that thing you’ve been putting off. In last year’s post I listed 5 ways to go about this, such as the shelter drive-by (still love this idea! I’m due for another trip!)
But for today’s post, I would like to discuss something that’s been nagging at the back of my brain for a long time. It has to do with some pretty strong divides in the animal community.
On one side, the rescue community.
On the other, the breeder/fancy community.
The blame game can and does get nasty, sometimes. And that breaks my heart.
I’ve seen many posts- some from very well placed people in the dog community- arguing that until all dogs find homes, no dog should be allowed to breed. I disagree. It’s gotten so bad that many people I know are scared to admit on their blogs that they purchased their dog from a respected breeder because they don’t want to have people tell them how they’ve just killed a shelter dog.
I’ve also seen posts from some in the breeder community insinuating that the animal rescue community = animal rights activists who want to eventually eliminate all pet ownership. Ingrid Newkirk does not get to define what animal welfare means. Most animal rescue people I know are a lot like breeders I know- their lives revolve around the animals they love.
Why do we allow ourselves to be defined by the extremes? I think the vast majority of people fall somewhere squarely in the middle of these extremes, with many crossing over; people who have both rescues and purchased purebreds. There are good reasons for both and very different aims.
With rare exceptions, we want the same thing: finding pets a lifelong home with the right family who values them.
It’s unfortunate that the game-changing people doing innovative work in the no-kill movement are so often dismissed as people with their heads in the clouds by those who confuse the animal welfare movement with animal rights.
It’s also unfortunate that the people who work tirelessly to keep their breed healthy, who grill potential owners up one side and down the other to make sure this is the right home, take the blame for all the irresponsible backyard breeders and for-profit puppy mills as the cause of so many ills by those who refuse to differentiate the many ways one might purchase a pet.
We have so much to learn from each other based on our own experiences. Being open minded has put me at a table with AKC leadership at a dog show one day, and sitting with Mike Arms the next learning about the way effective marketing saves lives.
So this is what I ask of you this week, because it really will improve the lives of animals: Be Kind to Animal Lovers, no matter what kind of animal lover they are. I know you will probably never agree on whether someone is a pet parent or a pet owner. I get it. As a vet, I see posts from both groups complaining about how clueless we are. But even if you don’t agree on some things or most things, you may gain a new perspective.
When it comes to making animals’ lives better, we are all in this together.
I’d love for the comment section to be your list of people with a strong voice that you admire. Hopefully I can find some new people to learn from.