The drama began here, at Feministing, when Jessica posted a YouTube video of her new puppy, and she got railed with comments from those who are “pro-rescue.” The debate continues with Jill at Feministe who defends Jessica. There is also an opposition piece by Elaine, who equates dog ownership to slavery. Unless, that is, you adopt from a rescue. Then it’s “guardianship.”

*Ahem*

I commented on Jill’s blog, which kept getting eaten when posting through Mozilla, and finally fixed itself in Internet Explorer, but here’s the gist of what I said:

I would like to point out to all of the shelter-advocates (which I am as well) one of the BIGGEST REASONS people (at least in my local vicinity) choose against adopting from a shelter/rescue:

They are a giant pain in the ass to deal with.

Where I live, most (not all, but a vast majority) of the shelter/rescue groups are what I like to refer to as Stepford Nazis. They have the same reaction to dog ownership as they do to having children: if you don’t have a giant backyard and aren’t home 99 percent of the time, then you’re a completely unsuitable “parent” and we won’t consider adopting to you for five seconds.

In other words, if you work a regular job and live in a nice apartment in the city (in my case, across from a fantastic Frederick Law Olmstead park that is incredibly dog-friendly!), then forget it. You simply aren’t suitable for a dog.

In addition to this, my boyfriend (who, up until recently, was only considering rescues), who while lives in the same building as me but is a college professor, therefore has a more flexible schedule (though he’s still heard the “no backyard” wank), after specifically explaining that while he was not adverse to getting a dog that was not a puppy, he did not, under any circumstances, want a dog older than five years. His reason being that his parents two German Shepherds, which he adored, died within less than a year of one another not two years ago. And, really, it doesn’t matter WHAT his reasoning was – the rescues he was working with simply ignored his request. In the meantime, there were plenty of dogs available that fit his request, none of which the rescuers (for inexplicable reasons) were willing to place with him … meanwhile, six months later, many of these dogs are STILL up for adoption, no doubt having had (rejected) inquiries from people such as my boyfriend, who would also be good dog-parents.

Another friend had the same issues, and ended up getting a shih-tzu puppy from a breeder.

I just want to know how it is these rescue organizations expect people to afford these houses with big backyards, in addition to veterinary bills and kibble, and NOT work full time …

I do, in fact, think it’s a product of location. Urban life is “not suitable” for children, and apparently it is also “not suitable” for dogs. Neither are, apparently, households with working parents. This, however, is a very “Albany” frame of mind. One of my coworkers is pregnant. She and her husband live in Schenectady, and plan on staying in Schenectady and sending their children to Schenectady schools. I am waiting for her to tell me all about the urban lifestyle wank she’s ultimately going to have to deal with. I know, however, that she will respond with the perfect amount of grace, class, and offended tone, as she explains that both she and her husband attended Schenectady schools, and her husband teaches in the school district.

But, regardless of that, I do think Elaine misses the point when she says “shelter dogs are just as good as dogs from breeders.” I agree – in fact, I don’t think anyone disagrees. However, when you have other factors to consider:

1. Stepford Nazi Syndrome, that leaks into rescue organizations, as described above
2. Size of the dog – that is, you need/want a small dog and there are none available at any shelters. Also, when getting a shelter puppy, you have NO IDEA what size it will be. You can guess, but considering the shelter told my mother that her dog would only be 40 lbs (he’s more than twice that size), I don’t put a lot of stock into that.
3. Temperament of the dog – unless you’re getting a shelter puppy, you’re taking a big gamble on this. Do you have kids? Other pets? Will this dog get along with them?

However, she does address this further in thinking that dog ownership, or, rather, guardianship is not a right, or even a privilege, but an obligation that has criteria.

To each her own, I suppose.

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