Monday 25th May: What price life?

There are days when I wonder if there is any point to doing what I do, if there will ever be a time when “breedism” becomes as outdated and unaccepatble as racism.  My own experience, and that of many other mixed breed owners, is that there are as many variations in character and behaviour in so-called purebreeds as there is in the Heinz 57 varieties.  During my time with HKDR I have only had to have three dogs put to sleep for severe behaviour problems;  a cocker spaniel, a very beautiful golden retriever and a mongrel.  Of the three, the golden retriever was the one that caused the most concern as he would attack quite viciously, and even though he was like an angel with me I still had to take him to be destroyed.  He was stunningly handsome and only a year old.

Today at the SPCA there is a young guy with a golden retriever puppy.  I recognize him as he and his wife had been to our kennels to look at dogs, and although they didn’t find one at that time they said they would be back.  Instead they went to a pet shop and bought a puppy, and he is at the vet today asking questions about possible hip problems.  I wish I could tell him that it’s almost certain that the puppy, which looks so cute and lovely now, will end up needing operations to be able to walk. Instead I bite my tongue, but inside I feel both sad and angry. Pups Simon and PiersIn my arms I have two beautiful puppies from AFCD, the ones I had wanted to take out last Thursday.  One is deep chocolate, the other light brown, and both have big, drooping ears and the most soulful eyes imaginable.  They look like Irish setter crosses, but what they are is immaterial.  All I know is that they are both sweet and beautiful, and both would have died if I hadn’t taken them today.  Why is their life less important than any other?

 I have also contacted someone who had enquired about springer spaniels and tell him that there are two 18-month, pedigree springers needing a home.  He replies that they have ordered a puppy from Australia and have already paid a AUD 1,000 deposit.  I tell him I’ll give him the deposit back, as the last thing Hong Kong needs is more dogs.  Mail order shopping for a life?  My heart sinks again.

 A sheltie (Shetland sheepdog) arrived at our kennels over the weekend.  This is a very popular breed at the moment (while schnauzers are definitely “out” judging by the numbers we see abandoned).  The sheltie is in a very poor condition, with a thin and sparse coat.  She is due to have a full set of tests to see why she is in such a state (leaving aside the fact that she has almost certainly been living in a cage her whole life).  Like all breeds, shelties have a long list of common congenital problems caused by generations of inbreeding.

 I look at all the dogs and puppies at our kennels and know that there are many gems amongst them, dogs that not only could match any purebreed for looks and temperament, but would also probably never need a vet visit in their life other than routine checks.  I simply can’t understand why the pet shops still do business when there can’t be many people who don’t know that almost all of the puppies in these places are sick, or that they have come from hideous puppy farms, quite possibly, and even probably, smuggled over the border at far too young and age to be taken from their mothers.  It’s a sick and revolting trade in innocent life, and it continues to grow simply because there are customers who will buy.

Today I take one of the long-term Lamma dogs over to have his leg checked as he has been limping for a while.  This is the first time in about 5 years that Donald has left the island, and he is very scared.  He drools throughout the sampan journey, and tries to hide behind my legs.  He is rigid with fear as the vet tries to manipulate his leg to see what the problem is, and his muscles are so tense it’s really hard to make any real assessment.  At least he flinches when one of his toes is pressed, so I leave with some painkillers to see if rest and pain relief will sort Donald’s problem out.  He may have had a thorn in his pad, or cracked a toe, but at least his leg seems to be OK as far as the vet could tell.

I get home and am greeted enthusiastically by all of the dogs and doglets.  There are too many, and I have a restless night just wondering what will become of them all.

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8 Responses to “Monday 25th May: What price life?”

  1. Ann Bell Says:

    Sally, you are an angel to care for and look after the dogs the way you do. This could be the only time in their lives that they are spoken to in soft and kind tones, the way all animals deserve. My heart aches for their little lives.
    Thank you for caring so much and at least they have a few kind words before they are discarded from this animal cruel world.
    God Bless you, Sally.
    Ann (borwin98)

  2. Foster Says:

    Hi Sally,

    I couldn’t agree more that: 1. breedism may never ends; 2. puppy mills / petstore may never be running out of business as long as there are people like that GR puppy owner and that big time Aussie Springer Spaniels fan

    Changes may be slow, but you’ve been absolutely making a big difference in HK to bring out people’s awareness, not to mention saving thousands of innocent lives during all these years.

    “Ka Yau (keep up the good work in Cantonese)”!

  3. ken Says:

    Sally, life is a journey for all of us as well as for dogs since we all come and go without being able to take anything with us in our lives. However, we could all leave something better behind for others. I am sure that what you do now is to bring love and care to manys and educate many kids learning to love and care for themselves, the dogs and other people. Do not doubt your valuable contribution to man and dogs,okay.

  4. Claire Says:

    People really don’t know that these pet shop dogs are usually sick and bred in horrid puppy farms. I was at a petshop I don’t usually shop at. I try to avoid those that sell pets rather than just food and toys. A western Lady was there looking at a schnauzer puppy who was probably nearing 8 months, he was very quiet. Seeing my schnauzer waiting outside she asked me about them, her two kids already begging her to take it home. She thought it would be a good buy as it was obviously a quiet dog. I pointed out that it was probably quiet because it wasn’t well and told her that schnauzers need a lot of walking, I also asked if she had checked out the quarantine laws of her home country and the cost of taking it home if she left HK. I then suggested she come and see you, telling her about the dogs and puppies and assuring her the HKDR is responsible and will check the health of the animal before homing. I could tell she wasn’t convinced wanting a quiet dog that wasn’t going to be a nuisance. But my suprise was even greater when my boyfriend got cross with me, saying that the puppy deserved a home too and being 8mths it was running out of time. I agree it needed a home, my heart went out to it but if we don’t boycott the shops who provide these puppies there will be no improvement and the demand for farmed puppies that are often sick will contnue. Thanks for your great work Sally.

  5. eu Says:

    Sally, your work is inspirational and meaningful to all dogs. Every single dog you safed throughout the years wouldn’t make it to the nice homes without your help.

    The breed farm business will never go, but it can be slowed down & shrinked. What I always want is tighter control on the farm’s environmental standard and their liscencing. So the horribles ones will fade out or the cost will be too high for new ones to set up (in an ideal situation). I was told by a friend that the pet stores keep pups in tiny cages upstairs of the pet stores before selling. Situation is horrible too. It is another node along the pet-selling chain which the laws need to reach.

    Something should be done, urgently, to slow down the growing speed of pet-selling business.

    • Sally Says:

      Thanks to you and everyone else for your words of enouragement. There are times when it seems hopeless, but I know I can’t stop because of the dogs.

      All of the animal welfare organisations want the same things: controls on pet shops, breeders and importation of puppies. It’s been a long time coming but I believe we will get there eventually.

  6. Cheryl Says:

    Hi Sally, I understand and agree with your anger and sadnes. It is always makes me angry to know that people keep buying from pet shops, even they may know where the puppies & kittens from. It is extremely stupid that even the petshop puppy/kitten sick and die, they go to the same places and buy another one… how come…
    But just don’t be frustrated as more and more education on this issue now and I believe more and more people will change their concept.

  7. Marie Says:

    You and HKDR and everyone there does an amazing job:)
    HKDR is overflowing with gems, and hidden gems. i wish the horrible pet shops and breeding would all stop. HKDR dogs are just beautiful beautiful,a nd the work you do will never cease to amaze me! since i came across HKDR, I have been forever changed and utterly inspired by you! thank you Sally! xx

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