You’d like to think that most Americans know a little something about puppy mills by now. Maybe not everybody, but those of us who have dogs, at least. Especially those of us who are contemplating getting a dog.
After all, there’s so much information about the horrors of large-volume commercial dog breeding circulating in the public sphere these days (Google the phrase “puppy mill” and 1.89 million results pop up). Like smoking cigarettes or contemplating breast implants, people still buy puppies at pet stores, but they would have to pull their heads out of the sand to do so. They’re almost willfully choosing to be ignorant about the risks. Are they really too dumb to do a little checking out first?
Apparently so. I read with astonishment the opening paragraphs of Adam Gopnik’s essay in the Aug. 8 issue of The New Yorker, where he admits outright that he and his wife purchased a new dog for their 10-year-old daughter from a pet store. Their daughter, who lobbied for a pet, knew about puppy mills. Gopnik writes: “Shrewd enough to know that she would never get us out of the city to an approved breeder, she quietly decided that she could live with a Manhattan pet-store ‘puppy mill’ dog if she could check its eyes for signs of illness and its temperament for symptoms of sweetness.”
Let’s get this straight: Gopnik’s 10-year-old daughter did her homework, but Mom and Dad couldn’t be bothered. They’d rather shell out hundreds of dollars for a product of substandard breeding than track down a reputable breeder or, even better, choose a dog from the local shelter. In so doing, they’ve helped perpetuate the awful cycle that will doom that puppy’s mother to life in a cage, churning out litter after litter for profit’s sake.
I’m shocked and appalled. If a writer of Gopnik’s stature can be fooled, we have lots more work to do.