I think it's safe to say that anyone with an ounce of compassion in their heart was angered, saddened, even horrified at the abuse and neglect that the dogs recently rescued from a puppy mill in Langley suffered - all for the sake of money.
My social network pages were inundated with comments about the atrocity as the news was shared worldwide. There is no doubt that animal-loving people are enraged by this news event, as they should be.
But is our emotional outrage enough to put a stop to puppy mills and animal abuse? As a dog-loving community, our numbers are great and we should be able to come together, take action and make changes happen instead of just emoting about the problem. Because complaining and sharing our disgust is getting us nowhere in regards to ending animal abuse.
There are many ways to address this issue and for the next few weeks I will cover them all. But today I am going to address the human component. This is the element that creates the situation that creates the problem; it's the element that drives our emotions and our desires.
Our enraged emotions are looking for justice and for someone to blame. "How can something like this happen?" we ask. Putting our justice system aside for the time being, we can begin finding answers by pointing blame at ourselves. Yep, that's right. If it wasn't for the human ego and the desire for status and recognition, this situation would never have happened. In fact, puppy mills would not exist if the human ego would stop being so fascinated with itself and get over having things that make it feel special and worthy of attention, such as the latest and greatest "designer" dog.
If you haven't become enlightened enough to figure this out yourself yet, the ego will never be able to feel worthy because it has an insatiable need to acquire things outside of the self. A sustained feeling of selfworth comes from within leading to an appreciation for oneself in unselfish, non-self-absorbed and nonself-serving ways.
Filling one's life with the latest designer dog because of its popularity status will never give you a feeling of self-worth. But bringing a dog into your life because you truly love dogs will, because the nurturing, the sacrifices and the desire to share life with a dog comes from a place of love.
True, authentic living is realizing when you are feeding the ego and when you are feeding the soul.
I'll leave those deep comments for you all to ponder further.
You see, puppy mills exist because of demand. All we have to do is stop creating a demand for these designer dogs. If humans didn't want them, no one would be producing them.
Here's the other thing: designer dogs are just mixedbreed dogs. Yep, it's true. Yet somehow these designer mixed-breed dogs are more valuable than regular Joe mixed-breed dogs. And why is that? The human ego, again! Humans have attached both a status and a stigma to mixed-breed dogs. The simple term "mutt" - a word typically used to describe mixed-breed dogs - unfortunately implies low value or second rate. A mixed-breed dog of undetermined lineage is of low value, but a mixed breed dog of somewhat determined lineage is of high value?
This is sheer nonsense. Our ego is so gullible it is shameful!
At local shelters and private rescues the average adoption fee for a dog, most of which are mixed breeds, is approximately $350, give or take $50 here or there. A designer mixed-breed dog starts at $1,000 and goes up from there.
As a community of responsible, educated dog owners and lovers, we have to come together and put a stop to this abuse once and for all. And it can begin with educating ourselves. The only way we can truly end this is by putting an end to our own ignorance.
Next week, I will discuss how to find a reputable breeder of purebred dogs and how to know if you are buying from a puppy mill or backyard breeder.
Joan Klucha has been working with dogs for more than 15 years in obedience, tracking and behavioural rehabilitation. Contact her at email@example.com.