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Sunday, March 06, 2011

An Interview With A Passionate Dog Activist

Here's the second in a trio of interviews of people who inspire us, and hopefully, will inspire you as well.  If you missed our interview with Meg, the young lady who just turned 12 and has already raised money for the Humane Society, enjoy it here: boccibeefs.blogspot.com/2011/02/young-dog-lover-worth-emulating.html

But as we all know, it's not enough to just be "inspired": you have to take that inspiration to the next level and actually do something! We all lead busy lives, so that's why Parental Unit and I are in favor of taking "baby steps" -  if you're inspired to help with a cause that you believe in,  just do one small thing to benefit that cause. More on that later...

Now, we'd like to introduce you to a woman that Parental Unit met last fall at a "Petapalooza" fundraiser for a local humane society, Mary O'Connor-Shaver. As you'll see, Mary has done a lot more than take baby steps in her work to ban dog auctions and puppy mills in the great state of Ohio. Mary told Parental Unit and me that she's long been involved in dog rescue (see her rescue website here: www.columbustopdogs.com), but it all came together when she was invited by a friend in the dog rescue business to observe her first dog auction in 2006. (As you may know, dog rescue groups often go to dog auctions anonymously to buy the dogs and properly place them in loving homes.)

Here is Mary (on the right) and a friend at last fall's fundraiser.

Mary said that  she was inspired to devote so much of her time to banning dog auctions and puppy mills because of the animal cruelty she witnessed first-hand at the dog auctions, and the corruption and consumer fraud that she learned was rampant in the industry that was fed by those auctions. (More on these issues later).

The primary goal on her agenda these days is to collect enough signatures to bring an initiative before Ohio voters in the fall of 2012, called "The Ohio Dog Auction Act" - that initiative would ban dog auctions and raffles in Ohio. Ohio hosts the only dog auctions east of the Mississippi, where typically, buyers and sellers of dogs from 15 other states participate.

So what's so bad about dog auctions, you say? Dogs are considered property under current law in every state, and we've bought and sold them in one way or another for thousands of years. Well if there's one thing Mary wants my readers to understand is the connection among dog auctions, puppy mills, pet stores, and the soaring overpopulation of abandoned dogs in the U.S., leading directly to the euthanizing of millions of dogs each year in overcrowded shelters across the country.

We'll give you the short version today, but we'll continue this informational series in posts to come: According to Mary, who's armed with extensive research, first hand experience at dog auctions, and years of work with the state legislature, "Auctions are a major distribution channel for puppy mill breeders." That's where these alleged "breeders" dispose of their dogs who are no longer good for breeding, and buy younger dogs to take their place. And most puppy mills, particularly the bigger operations sell directly to pet stores, the biggest of which, in our neck of the woods, is Petland, the largest franchised pet store chain in the Midwest.

No reputable breeder sells their puppies to a pet store: they socialize their pups, test for genetic diseases, and require each new owner to sign a contract agreeing to spay or neuter the puppy, and to return the puppy/dog to the breeder if it doesn't work out for the new owner for whatever reason and for the life of the dog.

Research also shows that those who buy at pet stores are "impulse buyers" who see a cute puppy in the window, especially around the winter holidays, and buy it right on the spot as a gift for a friend or family member. Perhaps a well- intentioned purchase, but if the new puppy just "doesn't work out", off it goes to the shelter, or worse, to the streets. So that's the vicious cycle that Mary and all of her supporters in Ohio and neighboring states are working so hard to break.

Here's Mary again (at left) working to educate.

But let's get back to you, me and Parental Unit. How can we get involved and take those "baby steps" to help, no matter where we live. Here's what a veteran dog activist like Mary says:

1. Visit her organization website and campaign page to learn more about these issues and how to get involved. www.banohiodogauctions.com.  And check out their Facebook page and show your support by becoming a "Fan": www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=55644242409&v=wall;

2. After you educate yourself, talk with as many friends, family, and co-workers about these issues as you can; and

3. Find out what going on in your state and get involved...somehow.

As always, we appreciate your interest and your support, and we'd love to know how you feel about the issues we've raised.


Vicky said...

Very well done piece, especially for those who are not aware of the issues you raised. Thanks for sharing.

Peggy Frezon said...

I am grateful for people like Mary who work so hard on behalf of these dogs. I will continue to help spread the word too, and hope that we can all contribute to making a difference.

Bocci said...

Thanks so much, Vicky. I run into people all of the time who have never even heard of a puppy mill-we're just tying to help educate:-)

And we're grarteful to people like Mary, too Peggy. Every little bit (or baby steps) count!

Rachel Lauren Photography said...

I'm glad you shared this, Bocci!! I'll have to write about this issue in a few days myself. The more people know, the better!

Renee DeMartin said...

Great post about a great human being! It's all about education.

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