Sometimes It’s Hard To Make Lemonade

A well-known cliché admonishes us to make lemonade if we are given lemons. In other words, when we are faced with a bad situation, we should work to make it better. Great solution for humans, but for our companion animals, that’s not an option. They have no voice; they have no choice; they are totally dependent on humans, and sadly, many humans value monetary gain more highly than the welfare of man’s best friends.

Iowa still ranks as the second worst state in the entire country for puppy mills, and puppy mills are certainly lemons…actually worse than lemons…as animal welfare groups and non- profit grass roots organizations such as Iowa Voters for Companion Animals, have discovered the last few years. (And if you don’t live in Iowa, a little research will probably reveal the existence of mills in your state).

What an irony it is that in our country where we spend BILLIONS of dollars on pets every year, a nation where more than half of us share our lives with companion animals, that millions of creatures that we claim to love are born and live in misery in shockingly squalid conditions where they are mass produced for profit each year. Some never survive, and the ones who do are usually scarred, emotionally and physically. The females are bred and bred and bred, over and over and over, to produce litter after litter after litter, resulting in hundreds of thousands of puppies churned out every year for sale at pet stores, over the internet, and through newspaper ads. This cruelty will stop only when people stop buying puppy mill puppies, and we pass better legislation to ensure better care. .

If you want a dog in your life, please understand these facts:

  • Reputable breeders care where their puppies go and interview potential adopters. They don’t sell through pet stores, and not through newspaper ads, Craig’s List, or internet sites without meeting and interviewing the prospective family.
  • “Purebred” documents aren’t worth the paper they are written on. Even the American Kennel Association admits that it “cannot guarantee the quality of health of the dogs in its registry.”
  • A “USDA inspected” breeder does not necessarily mean a good breeder. The USDA establishes only minimum standards, and many USDA licensed puppy mills operate under deplorable conditions with known violations of the Animal Welfare Act.
  • Puppy mill puppies often have medical problems, but pet retailers don’t care that poor breeding and lack of socialization may lead to behavior problems throughout the dogs’ lives. They count on the bond between families and their new puppies being so strong that the puppies won’t be returned.
  • Puppy mills will continue to operate until people stop buying puppy mill dogs. The bottom line is money… If the mills don’t make money, they will close…so it is up to you and me!

One way to improve the plight of these dogs is to enact AND ENFORCE standards of care for the animals and standards of practice for their sale. Sometimes it seems that our government believes it is doing enough—it’s up to us—“We the people”—to become involved. Don’t close your eyes, and say, “It’s sad, but what can I do?” Animal welfare and rescue groups are struggling to pass better legislation, but if things are ever to really change for the animals that we claim to love so much, WE must ALL join the cause.

Canine victims suffer deprivation and death in nightmare puppy mills. That’s a fact. If life gives you a lemon, you can make lemonade, that’s a fact…BUT if the lemon is rotten, it’s best to just get rid of it…that’s a fact. Puppy mills are rotten… let’s get rid of them. If you live in Iowa, join Iowa Voters for Companion Animals to keep updated on current animal welfare legislation ( ) If you live elsewhere, find a grass roots animal welfare group that monitors legislation. Keep informed (and educate your friends and neighbors) concerning your legislators’ track records. Let them know your concerns. “WE THE PEOPLE” have the power, but we must use it.


Our Best Friend Deserves More Than Life on a Chain

There are many things that you can do to help make life better for a dog that is tethered in a back yard without much human interaction. The first thing to do is to get acquainted with the dog’s caregivers.

Be sure your approach is positive, so you don’t come off sounding critical. Lecturing them about the evils of leaving their dog outdoors will not solve anything. Explain that you are a dog lover, and would enjoy the chance to play with their dog, or take him for walks a few times a week. Be sure to stress that anything you offer is free…everyone loves free stuff.

If the dog has no adequate shelter, you might offer to bring them a dog house. If you are willing to spend some time with the dog, you will probably form a friendly relationship with the dog’s caregiver, and perhaps rekindle a bond between him and his dog.

There are many success stories from this approach, but even if this doesn’t happen, remember that helping the dog a little is better than doing nothing at all. You may not be able to convince the caregiver to take the animal inside, or even convince him to put up a fence.

If the dog was never really wanted in the first place, perhaps an offer to find him another home will be successful, but even if all you can do is get a decent doghouse, some toys, and regular walks, that is a success because the dog’s life has been improved.

Animal control and human agencies receive regular calls from citizens concerned about animals, but until the public understand the problems, and laws are changed, nothing significant will be accomplished. Documentation shows that chaining dogs is not only inhumane treatment of companion animals, but is also dangerous, because chained dogs often develop behavior problems. They become bored, boredom leads to frustration, and frustration leads of excessive barking and aggression. The number of animal bites and attacks by chained dogs will only continue to grow if we do not educate the community and break the never ending cycle of generations accepting this practice.

Most of our communities do not have any anti-tethering ordinances, and realistically they are not likely to pass them soon, but many communities are considering limited tethering laws. To make a positive impact on your community you must convince people that extended tethering is not acceptable, and although it is difficult to change attitudes, it is possible. To learn how you can more effectively help chained dogs in your neighborhood, go to sites such as , and .

Get involved; it is not impossible to make life better for our dogs, and safer for our community.

God put dogs on earth for a reason, and I’m sure it wasn’t His plan for them to be treated so cruelly, and abused so often by man. Why would someone have a dog only to keep him tied to a tree? And why won’t they listen to reason about how cruel that is—why can’t they see? If people would realize this treatment brings their dog pain, they would surely stop this horrible practice, and take them off of their chain. ~Robyn Kirby

I Bit A Child Today

I spend my life at the end of a chain. You got me as a puppy and I misbehaved, so you tossed me outside with a doghouse and chain. You never taught me how to live in your world; yet you expect me to abide by its rules. I’m a big dog. What breed am I? Doesn’t matter. Wait: I know my breed– Chained Dog. We come in all shapes and sizes, and I’ll tell you one thing: we are not happy dogs.

I am exploding with pent up energy from never getting to run or stretch my legs, and pent up anger from living a solitary life when I’m meant to live as part of your pack. I was domesticated by humans to be a companion, a helper, but you chain me to this dog house and leave me alone. I have no life except to guard my solitary patch of dirt. If you cross into my territory despite my warnings, there is a good chance I will attack you to protect myself and the dirt, the only thing that is mine.

I bit a child today, and now they are taking me away. I am so scared, and I don’t understand what I did wrong, but I will die. Both the child and I have paid the price for your irresponsible behavior.

If you have a dog at the end of a rope, please consider the frustration, loneliness and potentially aggressive behavior that is possible, and make the adjustments necessary to allow him to be part of your family. Report to the authorities if you see a dog at risk, and educate others that dogs are not fit to be tied.