If you are a regular reader of ours, you probably already know about our Lab mix Luke’s medial patellar luxation, otherwise known as trick knee, and how we are trying to deal with it. I researched his condition thoroughly and even though treatment options may have varied site to site, one point did not: this condition is almost always genetic and congenital, and dogs with this condition should not be bred.
One morning soon after Luke’s diagnosis I was getting ready for work. Luke was stuck on the stairs with one leg in the air, trying to come up to the bedroom to see me, but at that point still learning how to maneuver on three legs when he had to. I quickly went down the stairs to help him back down, and got him to go lie in his bed in the dining room. The look he gave me was heartbreaking. He didn’t understand what was going on and why he couldn’t just come upstairs to be with me. As I hugged him and consoled him, I felt a flash of anger…..anger that a dog with this condition had been allowed to breed and that now Luke had to deal with it. On top of being slowed down now, he might need expensive surgery in the future. I don’t care about the money, we’ll manage that somehow. But going through surgery and recovery will not be fun for any of us, and it’s always a risk no matter how easy a surgery it might be.
I later knew that I wanted to write about this for Blog the Change. When working out the story line in my head, I realized I wasn’t quite sure who to direct my anger at. Breeders? Any reputable breeder screens for health issues that are common in a breed, and this condition is common in Labrador retrievers and many other breeds that might be in Luke’s DNA.
Back yard breeders? Many of them are also careful in their breeding and screen for health issues. We got our golden retrievers Sheba and Moses from a backyard breeder who is also a friend. They screened for hip and other issues that are common to goldens. They had 3 litters with their dog and were considering one more. When Moses and 2 other dogs from their litters were diagnosed with and then passed on from cancer, they cancelled that last breeding. They weren’t taking any chances with cancer.
The truth here is that Luke didn’t come from a reputable breeder or even a backyard breeder. His pregnant mother was pulled from a high kill shelter down south just before the puppies were born.
It turns out my anger is directed at irresponsible, ignorant and uncaring pet owners. These are the kind of people who don’t believe their pets are family, and whose irresponsibility leads to the pet overpopulation we face today (along with puppy mills). Not only don’t they bother to spay or neuter their pets, they don’t hesitate to dump a pet at a shelter or on the side of the road when the going gets tough, or they just get bored. At the time we picked Luke the rescue had 22 puppies that needed homes from two different mothers!
We choose to spay and neuter our pets at an age that our veterinarian who we trust recommends. I personally don’t have a problem if others choose not to spay/neuter, if it’s for good reason; such as health reasons, or if one is planning to responsibly breed or show their pet; and they don’t let their pet run the neighborhood indiscriminately breeding. My problem is with people who choose not to do it for the wrong reasons; they think it takes a dogs’ manhood away to neuter him (really, does a dog care about that?), they just don’t want to spend the money, or they just simply don’t care.
Now I know who I’m mad at in general. What do I do with that anger? Seriously, do I really think we’re going to get through to these kinds of people…the uncaring people and the greedy puppy mill owners? Maybe I could get on Facebook and leave some angry comments on someone’s wall who is just expressing their own opinion, because it is different than mine. Plenty of people take that route, but I don’t agree with it. Besides, when it comes right down to it, I’m only angry that Luke has a medical condition, and many people deal with that. Could it have been prevented? Well, only by not breeding his parents or others in his line, and then we wouldn’t have him, and I wouldn’t trade having him in our lives for anything in the world.
Therefore I decided I need to turn my anger around and focus on something good, so when The Lucy Pet Foundation recently came to my attention I wanted to share their message and the good they are trying to do to help. They are looking for bloggers to work with, and since that’s what I do…..it seemed right.
The Lucy Pet Foundation was founded by Joey Herrick, former President and co-founder of Natural Balance Pet Foods. He started the foundation with a million dollars of his own money and never plans to draw a salary. The plans for the foundation include educating the American public and families about the importance of spay/neuter, free and low cost mobile spay/neuter clinics, grooming and training of animals in shelters to make them more adoptable, and enacting legislation to benefit pets.
They have been running some contests and have several very unique plans to get their message out there. I invite you to come back tomorrow when I would like to tell you more about it, and let you know of ways you can join in and help spread the word. Or if you don’t want to wait, you can visit their website at lucypetfoundation.org.
I think we need to put aside our anger at and disagreements about the injustices in the animal world (let’s face it, there’s plenty to be angry about) and who we think is responsible, and try to focus more on spreading the word of the good that’s being done to try to help. Maybe there’s something we can do ourselves along the way as well, big or small. I hope you’ll come back tomorrow and read more about ways you can help The Lucy Pet Foundation (they are holding a fun photo contest you might want to enter).