February 5, 2021

A Pandemic of Impatience

I’ve been writing a lot lately about people acquiring pets during the pandemic. While I am still not terribly concerned about some aspects of this phenomenon, I’m increasingly alarmed about the soaring demand for pets and the effects of this demand.

I wrote several weeks ago about the thousands of puppies imported from puppy mills abroad. Last week, I wrote about backyard breeders feeding the demand locally at the expense of the health and welfare of the pets, and the long-term costs of buying a pet from a sub-standard breeder.

The point was underscored last week when a puppy mill was discovered in Saint-Christophe-d’Arthabaska, a small town between Montreal and Québec City, with dozens of dead puppies and animals living in dreadful conditions. In total, 230 dogs and 70 cats were seized by local authorities. Online comments about the story included reports of serious health conditions in the pets purchased, including virus-related blindness and severe gastroenteritis that required a week-long hospitalization.

For months, the Ottawa Humane Society has been urging people to ask the right questions before buying a pet, for the sake of the welfare of animals and for the buyer’s own protection, but the message isn’t sinking in.

Recently, right here at the OHS, a colleague carefully walked her relative through the questions that he should ask before buying a puppy advertised online, explaining the important reason for each question and the answer that he should expect from a reputable breeder. The result? The relative bought the puppy. He agreed to take it at seven weeks — a full week short of the earliest that puppy should have been weaned. What questions did he ask? Only one: do you still have a puppy available?

His impatience trumped the health of the puppy, the welfare of the puppy’s mother and siblings, and all the other dogs possibly bred and housed in deplorable conditions, possibly flown in an unheated cargo hold from Asia lying beside a dead sibling. His desire to buy a puppy immediately trumped even the prospect of his own heartache and the possibility of huge medical bills down the road.

Impatience leads good, rational people into making harmful, irrational decisions. Protect animals, protect yourself — be patient and diligent when looking for a new pet. Don’t allow yourself to be complicit in the abuse and exploitation of animals.

Bruce Roney
President & CEO

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