There is a common saying, “Everyone has a price.” Confusion exists as to the origin of this saying, but it is recorded that Sir William Wyndham wrote in 1734, “It is an old maxim that every man has his price,” and the idea is at least as old as Epictetus, a Greek philosopher who lived AD50-135. (If you want to do a little research, the philosophy of this man is quite interesting!) Howard Hughes reportedly said, “Every man has his price, or a guy like me couldn’t exist.”

There is a price with every choice we make, even in the area of animal welfare. As Barbara Spencer points out, “It’s easy to spend thousands of dollars on an animal whom we love and have an attachment to. The question we need to ask ourselves is this: how much of our time and money are we willing to lay out for an animal to whom we have no ties and for whom we feel no personal responsibility? In other words, what is the price tag on compassion?

We agree that mistreatment and neglect of our animal companions is wrong; we claim to empathize with them because we understand our common ability to experience physical and emotional sensations, such as pleasure and pain, joy, fear, and sadness. We abhor puppy mills where animals live in squalid conditions, with dogs spending their entire lives with little or no human contact or medical attention, crammed into dirty cages where they are forced to breed until their bodies can no longer endure. We are disgusted that people “get rid” of their dog when he becomes an inconvenience. We care; we really do, but we have priorities….too many things to do and so little time. Are we paying too high a price in search of material possessions, or power, or prestige?

Epictetus discusses our ‘impulses to act and not to act’, and asserts that our pursuit of one set of objectives rather than others is in our power. It is a matter of choice, and it is in everyone’s power to do something to make a difference in the lives of needy dogs. We cannot save them all, but we can save some, and we can show compassion to all by walking the walk, not talking the talk….it is worth the price of giving up just a little for the dogs who willingly offer unconditional love, faith and trust.

  • Shelters rarely have enough volunteers to help walking, socializing, and providing basic training for shelter dogs. Writers, photographers, and graphic artists can help produce fliers, newsletters, or information packets. Staff members may also appreciate help when dealing with particularly challenging dogs. Call your local shelter to find specific ways you can help, and ask what they have on their “Wish List”….and monetary donations are always needed.
  • Familiarize yourself with local and state ordinances and legislation pertaining to dog welfare. Write a letter, or e-mail local and representatives expressing your views on puppy mills and basic dog welfare legislation.
  • Promote spaying and neutering…we have a crisis overpopulation of unwanted dogs, and this is the only way to lessen this problem. Spay or neuter your own animal, and encourage others by informing them of all the health benefits of this simple procedure.
  • Organize a fund raising event…it can be as simple as a bake sale or car wash, or as involved as a dog festival or black tie event. Have a party to help dogs!
  • Be alert for dogs that are too thin, consistently without food, water or adequate shelter, or appear sick. Call your local animal control office and continue to call authorities until the situation is resolved. Dogs can’t speak; be their voice.
  • Volunteer to foster a dog…Rescues can house only so many, so having foster homes is like having additional space, and a home environment is much less stressful to a dog in transition than a noisy shelter. Providing a calm, caring environment with basic training will increase the dog’s chances of finding a forever home, and remember: ADOPT, DON’T SHOP!.

Anything you do for a needy dog will be appreciated, and the rewards are priceless.