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While Linda Shipman no doubt meant well in trying to educate readers about the "dos and don'ts" of purchasing puppies ("Buying a pure-bred puppy," July 30), her good intentions were completely undermined by the online version of the Juneau Empire. This is because a link to an online puppy clearinghouse appeared on the very same Web page as the article.
Breeders who sell directly to the public are not regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which is responsible for enforcing the federal Animal Welfare Act, and few states regulate these breeders.
Even worse, with the pervasive use of the Internet to sell puppies across state lines and the rise in Internet "brokers" to facilitate sales, there is no way for buyers to know where their dogs came from, or under what conditions they are kept. This becomes more of a concern when animals are being shipped from other countries, as was sometimes the case with breeders advertising on the Web site linked to by the Juneau Empire.
Furthermore, Ms. Shipman failed to mention the approximately two million reasons not to buy puppies from any breeder. That is the estimated number of dogs killed in U.S. shelters annually due to a lack of resources such as space, money, staff, and good adoptive homes. This makes local shelters a much more humane alternative for those seeking canine companionship, including purebreds. A 1998 study of 12 U.S. animal shelters found that 30 percent of surrendered dogs were purebreds. Of course, as Ms. Shipman mentioned (albeit in passing), there are also hundreds of rescue groups across the country devoted to finding homes for specific breeds of dogs, from Chihuahuas to greyhounds.
Of course, mutts can be just as loyal and affectionate as pure breeds, and usually lack many of the heredity ailments of their pedigreed cousins. Likewise, older dogs can offer many advantages over puppies. Usually, they are already house-trained, have already outgrown much of their sometimes overwhelming youthful exuberance, and will already have an established behavioral history, so a new guardian will know exactly what he or she is getting into.
To prevent the suffering of countless dogs at the hands of unscrupulous breeders, readers should contact their state and federal representatives and urge them to pass legislation that regulates breeders who sell directly to the public. Certainly, we can do no less for the animals we claim to be our best friends.
Deputy and Legislative Director
Doris Day Animal League