Sunday, October 26, 2014

Shibaholics

   I follow a group on Facebook called "Shibaholics" run by a woman and her friends who avidly support Shiba rescue, and encourage members to share photos and stories of their pets. Unfortunately, it has been an extremely turbulent weekend in the group, when people who have purchased puppies from pet stores, mills, or home breeders (anything other than a reputable AKC breeder) have been asked not to share their puppies' photos. The intent is to prevent the inevitable "where did you get him/her?" questions, which could cause more people to buy from questionable sources. The intent is good. The response was, in many cases, ugly.
   Best I could tell, some people were outraged because even if they had learned from their mistakes, they were now banished from sharing photos of their babies. I believe they felt as though others were saying their dogs were worthless—inferior to puppies from a proper breeder. I don't think this was the intent, but I could see how it might have been interpreted this way. I see both sides; I desperately wish all commercial breeders were gone; at the same time, individual dogs have souls and hearts and will love just as deeply as any other dog; the dogs coming out of mills are the symptom of a problem, not the problem itself.
   Many people threatened to leave the group, and some took action, which is disappointing, as I've learned so much from reading member comments about various issues. It has been strong proof to me that there are countless ways to approach and solve the same issues, and was widening my bank of pet care knowledge.
   I felt urged to try to correct what I perceive as a widely-held misconception. I genuinely hope it helps smooth the tension. Here is what I posted, along with two photos of my dogs. 
   "Spent the weekend hiking and enjoying the fall leaves with my best buddies, Taylor and Aki. I adopted both from rescue; both originally came from Missouri puppy mills. While I'm sad for their parents who likely have had miserable lives, I'm so happy mine found their way to rescue, and finally to me. I'm thankful for the attempts this group, and all rescues, make to educate people about where their pets come from, so that all animals have a chance to live happier, healthier lives.
   Regardless of their beginning, my Shibas are priceless to me. They've been my faithful companions for countless adventures and there's nothing about them I'd change. I believe this is the spirit in which this group was founded."