I have a rescue dog, Bentley, who was originally purchased by someone else from a pet store in Orange County in 2011. The owners, who never had a dog before, ended up wanting to euthanize him. For those of you who do not know Bentley Shaw, he has his own Instagram Bentley77_. He is a purebred labradoodle, and the group I adopted him from, IDOGRESCUE.com, specializes in Doodles and Goldens. Every day I see beautiful dogs of every age, size, and color available for adoption. Yet most of the Doodle owners I meet know nothing of breed-specific rescue groups.

My life, my work, and my travels bring me into contact with many people and a lot of dogs. I’m amazed that in 2020, more people are not aware of the damage they are contributing to by purchasing dogs and cats. When encountering a dog and owner combo at the dog park, in the street, or even in the elevator in my building, I’m tempted to, and often do, ask with one word “Rescue?” On the phone or at a meeting with someone who tells me about their dog, I always ask, “Rescue?”  I cannot even count the number of times someone will say, “No, but I support rescue.“ I’m not a rude or violent person by nature, but I will admit to some dark thoughts when I hear this. Saying you support rescue but purchase a dog makes as much sense as supporting gun control but shooting people. Because in essence, purchasing dogs is like committing murder. It all boils down to supply and demand. We have more of a supply of domestic animals than the demand for them; yet people still purchase from puppy mills, breeders, and pet stores. In contrast, companion animals languish in shelters waiting to be euthanized. For every animal that’s purchased, another one dies. That’s reality and an unarguable fact.

The belief that freedom of choice should apply to all things is as American as apple pie. The more choices we have, the more freedom we have to choose our unique individual lifestyle. Unfortunately, the endless quest for infinite choices has, in part, led to a proliferation of expensive designer breeds of animals. Costly, sometimes with severe health issues from the rigorous breeding efforts to provide more extreme expressions of their species ever, it ignores the millions of animals that don’t come with pedigrees and high price tags. In 2018 California became the first state to pass legislation prohibiting pet stores from selling any dogs, cats, or rabbits not obtained from animal shelters or rescue organizations (January 2, 2019, nytimes.com). I worked for years on legislation in California to favor mandatory spay and neuter laws and abolish pet stores that sell puppies. We managed to get mandatory spay and neuter for Los Angeles, and the shuttering of pet stores selling dogs. This all points to significant steps for a country that perceives any limitations to our right to choose from a myriad of options as an infringement upon our liberties. With nearly 70 million stray and homeless dogs and cats in the U.S. that don’t make it into shelters (according to broadwaybarks.com), and approximately 1.5 million shelter animals (670,000 dogs and 860,000 cats ASPCA.org ) euthanized annually, why not choose one of them?

If you cannot adopt a pet for whatever reason at this time, there are lots of ways to do your part. Walk dogs at a shelter, donate food and towels to rescue organizations, take part in fundraisers for a local humane society. Most importantly, be an advocate for the compassionate and sensible treatment of animals. You can make a difference. If you are a yogi, humanitarian, or simply conscious person – PLEASE ADOPT and DON’T Shop. Spread the word.

The animals and I thank you.

Namaste.