Friday, March 02, 2007

Gratuitous Puppy Stealing

You probably already know this, but most of what we see on the local evening news isn't really news. The stories about celebrities, or studies that show that "milk can make you lose weight." are heavily influenced by commercial concerns and sensationalism. I usually find no more than one or two actual news items on my local evening news. Sad, but true.

So, last night this story came on the local ABC 7 news that got me so angry I was talking back to the TV. This morning, I saw the same story on Good Morning America so it has now garnered national attention. It was so stupid and just plain infuriating that I have to tell you about it. 'Cause it's my blog and I can do that.

The story was this:

A family in the Koreatown area of Los Angeles put an ad in the paper (I'm not sure which paper) for Yorkshire Terrier puppies. They were asking $2,500 per puppy. (!) They had recently installed a home security system with surveillance cameras. A couple of young men answered the ad and arranged to come to the home and look at the puppies. When they got there, they held up the family at gunpoint and stole the puppies as well as the family pet, a three year old Yorkshire Terrier named Tan-ja. The whole thing was caught on the new security cameras.

You can read the original story at the ABC 7 Los Angeles website.

This makes a fantastic television news story! You've got violence, cute puppies, sad people to interview and a color video of these guys chasing the puppies around the living room. Could a news producer ask for anything more? I think not.

Now, let me just say right here, that nobody deserves to be threatened like this. It's a terrible thing that happened and it's a blessing that nobody was shot or otherwise harmed. It's also pretty disturbing to watch the theives stuff those poor little puppies into the big black trash bag they brought. I sincerely hope those little dogs are OK and are found soon.

What really got my blood boiling is that in every instance I've seen or read about this story, they keep saying that the dogs were valued at $2,500 each. That may be the amount these people were asking for their dogs, but I highly doubt they are really worth so much. Here's why.

No real breeder would ever sell a dog like this. These people are what we call back yard breeders. Any reputable breeder would have had potential homes lined up for their puppies before they ever bred their dog. They would have information on the health of both parents, a fairly long and detailed history of the health of the puppies' ancestors (or "line"). They would never sell their dogs to someone who simply answered an ad in the paper. Reputable breeders usually do home checks on potential owners and reserve the right to refuse sale of the animals if they feel the situation is not acceptable. They also usually agree to take the animal back in a certain period of time if there should be an unforeseen, genetic health problem. Finally, they often insist that the dog be given back to them if at any point in it's life the owner is no longer able to take care of the animal. Reputable breeders don't want to see their animals end up in a shelter or worse.

Back yard breeders are a problem for so many reasons. The most evident and infuriating reason for me is that they are adding to the pet overpopulation problem we have in this country. Thousands of animals are killed in our animal shelters every week. Every time someone buys an animal from some bozo who's trying to make a buck off of their cute family pet, they are condemning another shelter pet to death. Backyard breeders steal homes from dogs in animal shelters. They also tend to disappear when your $2,500 puppy starts to show signs of poor breeding such as chronic seizures, breathing problems and heart conditions. I'm not even going to start in about puppy mills and pet store animals on this post. I just don't have the stomach for it today.

If you're thinking of adding a pet to your life, please always consider your local animal shelter or rescue organizations first. Most animal shelters provide an initial vet check as part of their adoption process. Many rescues do a home visit. If you are really interested in a particular breed, consider adopting from a breed specific rescue. (ie. Greyhound rescue, Dalmation rescue etc.) When I adopted my cat, Nicodemus, from the shelter, I had thirty days to take him for a free vet visit and I did have the option of bringing him back to the shelter should he have had a medical condition that I couldn't handle. The idea of returning him after I fell in love with him at first sight is pretty abhorrent to me, but it's something to consider. And, of course, when you adopt from the shelter or rescue you're saving a life.

If you are dead set on buying a dog, you want to make sure that you are dealing with a reputable breeder with a stable history. The best place to start is with your local breed club. These are people who know a lot about the breed and have dealt with breeders for their show dogs. Dog shows are great places to hang out and chat with owners and possible breeders. Always do your research and make sure the breed is one that you really can live with. You may think Chesapeake Bay Retreivers are gorgeous, but do you have the space, time and energy that the breed requires? These are all things you can find out with a little research and time. A great resource to start with is the American Kennel Club.

I really do hope the Lee family gets their dogs back unharmed. Once they have their puppies safely at home again, I further hope that they get them all vet checked, spayed and neutered...including their "beloved pet", Tan-ja that they seem to be using as a "cash cow".


Melody said...

I agree with you 100%... it really sickens me the way people will breed animals for profit and contribute to the overpopulation. uuuggghh.. I was so angry as well when I saw that.. and it also disturbed me that these people have cameras in their home like that..

KleoPatra said...

So disturbing. I can't even handle this. Thank you for putting this out there... and for sharing your thoughts about this horrible matter in a way that i could get through without crying or throwing up. Very upsetting...

Vicki said...

yes, meesh, as usual you are on center and see right through the media gooble-garp & focus on the bigger issue at hand - the REAL story. profiting at animals expense is a serious problem - & so sad.

runswithdog said...

You hit everything right on the head! Great post with lots of CORRECT information, as usual. Man, this whole 'designer dog' issue can get me upset. If I had a dollar for everytime someone said to me, 'I would love to get a labradoodle (snicker doodle....poodledoodle or whatever mix is the 'new thing') I would be rich. Go to the animal shelter, people!

bazu said...

Oh, you are SO right. Why do people need to buy dogs anyway? And I'm going to go out on a ledge here and say, why do people need to breed dogs anyway? There are so many needy dogs about to be put down. If you really want a certain breed you can find one to adopt on And people selling dogs through ads in the paper is a bad idea anyway- especially if the pets are cheap or "free to a good home"- that can result in people taking them and then turning around and selling them to animal testing labs.

Like you, the whole issue makes my blood boil! And the evening news- don't even get me started on the evening news! One of my friends and I thought it would be so fun to edit together a montage of their sensationalistic bullshit to show when we teach media literacy classes (what you don't know about cell phones... COULD KILL YOU! what you don't know about apples... COULD KILL YOU! what you don't know about pumping gas... COULD KILL YOU!)

Is it any wonder we are the underinformed and overly-neurotic country that we are today?

meesh said...

Wow. Thank you guys for those amazing comments.

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