“Pit Bull.” There is no other breed of dog—or arguably, any other animal at all—whose mere mention can elicit such strong opinions. Try a word-associate game with your friends: Ask them what they think of when you say “Pit Bull.” Chances are that by the numbers, their responses will be more negative than positive. And it’s no wonder: No other type of dog is as widely banned from housing, legislated against, or incorrectly vilified by the media.
How did we get here? Pit Bulls were once widely considered ideal family pets—affectionate, loyal and gentle with children. But in recent years, these dogs have suffered tremendously from a combination of overbreeding, bad publicity and irresponsible owners. In reality, the overwhelming majority of Pits and Pit mixes are sweet goofballs who have gotten a very bad rap.
We’ve all had this conversation. A friend wants to bring home a new pet, and despite your best efforts, she’s set on buying from a pet store. How can you convince to her adopt, not shop? Here are four things we hear a lot, and how you can respond.
If I don’t buy that puppy in the pet store, who will? Pet stores usually sell their puppies quickly, and the store will slash the price on slow sellers until they’re bought. If people stop giving their business to pet stores that sell puppies by not purchasing puppies or anything else from them, ultimately, the puppy mills that they support will shut down from lack of demand. Hurray!
I want a purebred/a puppy, and they don’t end up in shelters. Some people want a Golden Retriever no matter what. Tell your pal that a one-of-a-kind mutt from a shelter is just as healthy and lovable, but that 25% of animals who enter shelters are purebreds, and that most breeds have a breed rescue—a group that re-homes dogs of a specific breed. Oh, and show them some videos of ASPCA puppies.
Shelter pets aren’t likely to be healthy. Explain to your pal the many physical and mental ailments puppy mill dogs—most of those in pet stores—can develop. Remind your pal that any animal can become sick or injured, regardless of where he came from, but that at a shelter you know up front if your new pet has any chronic health issues. Let your friend know that pet store dogs are actually somewhat more likely than shelter dogs to need vet care for an illness.
My friend has a shelter dog, and he’s hyper/destructive/scared/shy. Here’s where those of you with shelter pets can point to them and say, “Uh, what about Mr. Fluffy here? He’s a model dog and he came from a shelter.” Then point out that just like dogs from anywhere else, some shelter dogs have behavior issues to work on. Adopting from a shelter allows you to know exactly what you’re getting and whether you’re prepared to handle any issues that may arise.
Good luck! If you have other suggestions, share ‘em with us. And if you’ve persuaded someone to adopt, not shop, tell us about it.
When the M. Wells Dinette, which recently opened inside MoMA (The Museum of Modern Art) PS1 in Queens, announced plans to add horse meat to its menu, New Yorkers did not take it lying down. In fact, animal lovers all over the nation joined the ASPCA in speaking out against the idea—and we’re thrilled to share the news that the restaurant’s owners have graciously agreed to keep horse meat off the menu…permanently.
“We are thrilled that the outpouring of concern and outrage coupled with startling health concerns about the toxicity of horse meat won the day, and the M. Wells Dinette decided to step away from this idea,” says Nancy Perry, Senior Vice President of ASPCA Government Relations.
A national poll conducted earlier this year showed that 80% of American voters oppose the slaughter of U.S. horses for human consumption—and that sentiment was certainly borne out over the past week in New York City, where the M. Wells story ignited a firestorm of media coverage as well as hundreds of letters and phone calls directly to MoMA’s offices.
The ASPCA urges all Americans to contact their federal legislators in support of the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act, which would prohibit the sale and transport of horses for slaughter in the United States, as well as across the border to Canada and Mexico. Passage of this critical legislation would end the current export and slaughter of approximately 100,000 American horses each year.
Does your local pet store help perpetuate animal cruelty? The sad reality is…many do. You see, most puppies sold in pet store come from puppy mills. So if your pet store has a slew of roly-poly pups for sale, chances are it supports a very cruel industry. To make matters worse, by giving stores that sell puppies your business, you’re actually supporting puppy mills, too!
“Most people just don’t realize that pet store puppies come from puppy mills,” says Cori Menkin, ASPCA Senior Director of our Puppy Mills Campaign, “and that by shopping for pet supplies at stores that sell puppies, you’re actually supporting puppy mills.”
Take Action We’re here to help! Our new interactive map shows pet stores across the country that sell puppies. All you have to do is pledge not to shop at them.
“It’s an easy action that takes a big stand against puppy mills,” explains Menkin. “If a store sells puppies, don't buy anything there—not pet food, kitty litter, squeaky toys—nothing.”
So where can you shop? Not to worry—we have a second map dedicated to highlighting the awesome pet stores that work with local shelters to offer dogs for adoption. Check ‘em out!
Two years ago, Penguin Group USA published The Lost Dogs: Michael Vick’s Dogs and Their Tale of Rescue and Redemption, an in-depth look behind the scenes of the Michael Vick dog-fighting case and “where are they now” account of the dogs rescued from his property. The book was a hit, becoming a New York Times bestseller—and we especially loved it for the way it portrayed Vick’s Pit Bull victims as the sweet, heroic dogs they truly are.
Now, Lost Dogs author Jim Gorant has a new book out: Wallace: The Underdog Who Conquered a Sport, Saved a Marriage, and Championed Pit Bulls—One Flying Disc at a Time. Like its predecessor, this compelling book tackles the pervasive myth that Pits are troubled dogs by telling the rags-to-riches tale of Wallace, a shelter dog on death row who beat the odds to become a champion in the sport of canine disc.
Pick up a copy of Wallace for yourself or the animal lover in your life! (Tip: If you order the book on Amazon.com using this link, the ASPCA will receive a small donation at no extra cost to you!)
To learn more about the book and see videos of high-flying Wallace in action, please visit Jim Gorant’s website, www.wallacethebook.com.