If you follow the news, you are sure to find story after story of animal abuse where rescuers arrive a day too late to save the abused animal. So, while there seems to be more unhappy endings than seem fair, every once in a while there is a story in which animals beat the odds because of human intervention and a little luck.
Last month, a Minneapolis woman walked into a post office with a simple request. She had a package that needed to be shipped as quickly as possible. It wasn’t until the package began to move on its own that the postal workers knew something was strange. A postal inspector opened the tightly sealed box and discovered a live puppy with no food or water. If not for the alert postal worker, the four-month-old puppy surely would have perished in transit, as the package was sealed so tightly all the air holes were covered and the package would have been placed in an unpressurized and unheated section of the plane. The Schnauzer-poodle mix, named Guess, was taken by animal control officers and the owner of the dog, Stacey Champion, was charged with animal cruelty. Guess has now been adopted into a new home.
If shipping a live puppy through the mail isn’t bizarre enough, last week a puppy in Oklahoma City literally came back to life. The puppy, now named Wall-E, was euthanized, or so they thought, along with his littermates at Sulphur Animal Shelter in Oklahoma. According to animal control officer Scott Prall, the puppies appeared to be sick and the animal shelter was overcrowded. Prall states that each one was pronounced dead and the dogs were sent to a dumpster. However, the following morning, Prall noticed that one of the puppies was still alive. Wall-E’s miracle story was put up on petfinder.com; and although (as of March 4) he has still not found a home, there are many families who are interested and officials are trying to figure out who will be the best family for this miracle pup.
While these stories have happy endings, they both highlight bigger issues. In the case of Guess, while the general public was up in arms that a puppy was going to be shipped in the mail, they remain oblivious to the fact that the Postal Service ships live animals every day. While cold-blooded animals, chicks, and ducklings may not warm your heart as much as a puppy, these are still living breathing beings that are allowed to be packaged and shipped through the mail. It has always boggled my mind that this practice is legal, but, thankfully, sending mammals through the mail is strictly prohibited.
Though Wall-E will most likely find a loving, permanent home, his experience shines a light on the issue faced by shelters that exist in many counties across the country. While a group in Murray County (where Wall-E and his littermates were euthanized) is trying to raise enough money to build a new county shelter, many other counties face similar situations and have to euthanize healthy animals every day. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), nearly half of the dogs that are sent to shelters are killed because nobody will adopt them. The ASPCA reports that seven out of 10 cats are killed in shelters across the United States. The Humane Society of the United States estimates that close to four million pets are euthanized in shelters every year, simply because of a lack of homes. So while Wall-E’s story has a happy ending, there are millions of cats and dogs and rabbits and guinea pigs and other pets in shelters whose stories will not have a happy ending.
While I’m thankful that Wall-E survived and Guess was discovered before it was too late, I think it’s unfortunate that so many other animals who are not covered in the news get forgotten. While I realize that not everyone can adopt a homeless pet, you can do your part by having your own pet spayed or neutered. Even those litters that “have found homes” take away from animals in shelters that are already in need of a home. And while cold-blooded animals as well as chicks and ducks may not tug at your heart strings, I believe their humane treatment should also be a priority.
The Puppy Uniform Protection and Safety (PUPS) Act, a new bill that is now before the U.S. House of Representatives, was introduced and is being sponsored by Reps. Jim Gerlach, R-Pa., Sam Farr, D-Calif., Lois Capps, D-Calif and Bill Young, R-Fla.
The PUPS Act will close loopholes and bring all commercial breeders under federal oversight and require any breeder who sells, or tries to sell, more than 50 dogs annually to be licensed and inspected. Breeders will also be required to exercise every dog on a daily basis allowing them “to reach a running stride without the use of treadmills or similar devices.” This bill has been introduced before, but has always timed out, according to the ASPCA.
Now there’s an opportunity to pass humane legislation that will protect dogs who are forced to spend their lives in tiny cages and live as breeding machines until they are no longer useful, at which point they are disposed of. Not only do puppy mills cause tremendous suffering for dogs, but many of the puppies that are sold are often sick or suffering from behavioral problems. Unsuspecting consumers who planned to welcome a new member of the family end up footing heavy medical bills or losing them entirely.
Take Action:Send a letter to your representatives asking them to support and cosponsor the PUPS Act.
Adoptable Pet of the Week
Velvet is a talkative little lady who would love to spend her days lounging around your home. She is a 13-year-old female spayed kitty who has beautiful fur. She can be a little shy but thanks to the staff she is really coming out of her shell. Velvet has a loving personality and would like to spend the rest of her days with her new forever friend. She would prefer to live in a quiet household, preferably with no other pets. You won’t regret taking a chance on this special kitty.
For more information, visit Santa Barbara Humane Society, 5399 Overpass Rd. Info: 964-4777; www.sbhumanesociety.org. Hours: Monday – Saturday, 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Lisa Acho Remorenko is executive director of Animal Adoption Solutions, www.animaladoptionsolutions.com.