Trading Up

February 28, 2007

Two young girls said something to me this weekend that left me completely shocked and saddened. It made me realize the uphill battle shelters and animal advocates face.

Sunday at BARC, I brought a Shar Pei mix out of his kennel and into an outdoor run so he could be photographed. While standing there with the dog and another volunteer, two young girls came running up screaming “Brownie, Brownie, look, it’s Brownie!” At first, I was elated–they’d come to reclaim their lost dog. Then, the shock.

I asked the girls if this was their dog. They said yes, but they turned him in to BARC because he was too big. They said they wanted a smaller dog. They pointed down to another run where their parents were visiting with a Chihuahua. I could tell by their tone that they saw nothing wrong with this.

It’s not often I’m left speechless. This was one of those times.

I wanted to scream and yell and stomp around then walk down and slap the girls’ parents. Instead, I just stood there mute; shocked as hell that people–young girls–perceived this behavior as perfectly acceptable.

The fact that Brownie was alive and up for adoption was a miracle. Eighty-some-odd percent of animals coming into BARC never make it out. But by seeing Brownie, those girls’ view of dog recycling was reinforced. Hey, you don’t like your dog, you trade it in, the dog will get another home, you get the smaller dog you want–kind of like trading in a car. I don’t blame the girls. I blame their parents (hence the reference to the slap).

The need for humane education really hit home for me at that moment. It was just a few days before that I’d met with a Friends of BARC volunteer about helping with a poster contest to educate kids during Be Kind to Animals Week. I’m even more all over that now.

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