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Start With Education

 


“Do you want a Golden Retriever puppy?  My friend wants to give his away”

“Why?”

“Because the puppy is too active and naughty.  Keeps chewing their shoes.”

Sound familiar?  I am not a rescuer but I hear such instances regularly; the above being the latest one.  I am sure rescuers hear of these daily.  When I enquired further about why the said person got a puppy in the first place and then now want to give it away, I was told that he didn’t realize puppies would be so active, as he is a first time dog owner.

I’m sorry.  I didn’t realize all puppies came toilet-trained, able to understand all commands, sit quietly, only move and play when instructed, and know how to entertain themselves by dreaming the day away.  Just as I’m sure all parents expect their newborn babies to pee and poo only when on a potty, sleep through the night from Day 1, amuse themselves the whole day so that parents can do their chores/work, and feed themselves when they can move their limbs at will.  And when newborn babies don’t do that, do parents decide to just give them away too?  Because ‘Oh, I didn’t realize I had to do all these things, as I’m a first time parent.”

Having said all these, perhaps people do need to be more educated.  This is my lame effort of trying to empathize with people’s lack of common sense when it comes to such matters.  Anyway, as I was saying….more education.  I visited a pet ‘exhibition’ in KL for the first time earlier this year.  I was quite shocked and rather upset to see animals being sold there.  I met some visitors who had come by the exhibition, remarking over the cute purebred dog I was holding (belonging to a friend).  I explained that this wasn’t my dog and my dog was a rescue mongrel who was at home.  I tried to sell the idea of at least exploring the option of getting a dog from the shelter, and directed them towards the section of the hall where there were booths by the shelters and independent rescuers.  I say ‘tried’ because it fell on deaf ears – the parents looked a bit surprised at such an idea and the daughter walked away reiterating to the father she wanted a dog just like the one I was holding.

Whilst I was in UK, I visited Crufts, the largest annual dog show, several times.  I was pleasantly surprised by the Discover Dogs section, more because it was a great opportunity for me to chat to the owners/breeders and get their personal stories of the dogs and also to play with the dogs.  On hindsight now, I realize what a great education concept this was!  The section was based on educating visitors who may be looking at getting a dog – firstly, what to look out for if they wanted to get a dog.  By this, it wasn’t just the color of the dog.  It was also the to-be-owner/family’s energy level, babies in the family, etc.  Those who are thinking of getting a dog are asked if THEY are ready for a dog, instead of how much are they willing to spend for a dog/size of dog/color of dog.  Secondly, what breed to get which would be suitable for the temperament of the family and environment that the dog will be in.  The owners/breeders there were so personal and caring about their dogs.  There would be a shift system for the dogs, so that they do not get overly tired or too excited.  Owners keep careful watch on their dogs and are quick to let visitors know if their dogs were soon going to be cranky, needed the toilet, a nap or maybe, just some quiet time on their own! This section is run by the Kennel Club and they do have them at other exhibitions or as a standalone.   There were no dogs for sale there – not that I could see anyways.

The point I’m trying to make?  I strongly believe the pet ‘exhibitions’ here should not allow pets to be sold.  Instead, more emphasis on educating the visitors on the responsibility that comes with owning a pet and encouragement towards adopting from shelters.  The organizers should know the opportunities they have to reach such a wide audience and utilize it to make a stand on genuine care for the animals, rather than profits for humans.  With this, I would hope that instances of surprise over a puppy’s energy level or how a Husky can grow to such a size would be minimized.  One can only hope.



 

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Jessica Ng

Grew up wanting dogs, thanks to the four-legged friends and heroes depicted in story books. Our first family dog was welcomed into our home when I was 13, and aside from the time spent in UK studying and working, I've always had dog(s) around since. Through them, I've learnt so much and am still learning about life and ironically, humanity.

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