Here are some of your recent comments from my e-mail and snail mail boxes:
"A puppy mill is wrong. The females have to breed all the time. It's wrong, (President) Obama should have made a sizable donation to a shelter rather than have gotten a purebred dog."
-- G.M., Lagrange, ME
S.D.: The president rescued a Portuguese Water Dog from a purebred rescue group, which is good. Of course, puppy mills are reprehensible, and I don't understand how some are allowed to operate when it seems so clear that the U.S. Department of Agriculture could shut them down tomorrow.
Having said that, I have no problem with conscientious breeders. In fact, they're a part of the solution. Responsible breeders have written into their contracts that pets must be spay/neutered, and if for any reason the buyer feels compelled to give up the pet, the animal must be returned to the breeder. Responsible breeders also do what they can to improve their breed's health. Of course, I agree that not all breeders are responsible.
There are now purebred rescue groups for nearly every breed, from the Affenpinscher to the Yorkshire Terrier. They pull purebred dogs (or cats) from shelters. The animals are fostered in homes, rather than waiting for adoption (which may potentially never happen) at a shelter. Also, rescue frees cage space in overcrowded shelters.
"Steve, I have a humane answer to keep ducks from swimming in swimming pools: inflatable rubber snakes."
-- P.P., St. Paul, MN
S.D.: I'll take your word on that.
"I agree with you about BSL (breed-specific legislation). I think it's the owners who should be banned and am fed up with people denouncing my very docile Staffy (American Staffordshire Terrier) who has endless patience because of how he looks!"
-- S.O., Norwich, England
S.D.: There's no scientific documentation to indicate breed-specific bans are needed, or once implemented, do anything to impact dog bite statistics. I do advocate appropriate dangerous dog laws to protect the public from aggressive Akitas, pit bulls, or even poodles. The breed should not be in question, but the temperament of individual dogs. Profiling people based on preconceived notions is frowned upon, even illegal, and the same generalities are no appropriate for judging dogs. Shame on public officials who give up going after irresponsible dog owners, or worse, dogfighters. Instead, they blame dogs.