Pets Stores – End of an Era

“A dog is not a thing. A thing is replaceable. A dog is not. A thing is disposable. A dog is not. A thing doesn’t have a heart. A dog’s heart is bigger than any “thing” you can ever own.”
― Elizabeth Parker, Paw Prints in the Sand

Puppy being sold at Pick of the Litter in Strongsville.  He looks to have significant hydrocephalus.

Puppy being sold at Pick of the Litter in Strongsville. He looks to have significant hydrocephalus.

Over the years, quite a few of you have been very vocal in supporting ending puppy mills.  Some of you have even joined me in protesting the two puppy mill brokers at Strongsville Mall, Pick of the Litter and Petland.  We’ve even gone before Strongsville City Council with evidence that Pick of the Litter is indeed a puppy mill broker.  (Council essentially said it was up to the state oversight to handle cases of puppy mills and brokers – convenient).

I realized suddenly that I’ve been going about this wrong:  why would we shut down individual mills, one by one, when we can work towards legislation to stop the sale of dogs and cats altogether.  According to the Humane Society, “300 local governments—cities, towns and counties—of all sizes and demographics across twenty-four states, have enacted such policies at the urging of concerned residents”.  Let’s start our personal crusade with the City of Strongsville.

pick of the litter 1

There are so many pros to this train of thought.

- Without venues to sell their goods (puppy mill brokers like Pick of the Litter and Petland), puppy mill operators will have no incentive to continue breeding;

- The Dept. of Agriculture (under whose jurisdiction places like puppy mills and brokers fall) will no longer have the limp excuse of not acting upon animal rights/abuses cases because of lack of personnel.

- It will break the vicious cycle of unscrupulous breeders and puppy mill operators dumping their “unsaleable merchandise” into local rescues and shelters, taking up space that is desperately needed.

- Owners of pet stores can focus on selling goods and services, and still offer rescue animals for a reasonable adoption fee, rather than strictly the revolving door of profit/supply.

- By decreasing the demand for store-bought puppy mill survivors being sold through brokers, puppy mills become unprofitable, thus destroying those parasites reliant upon puppy mills for their products.

It will be a very long and difficult fight.  I guarantee that people like Tom Collins, who has never had another occupation other than Professional Puppy Mill Broker, will raise holy hell at the thought of losing his pain for profit scheme.  Petland is already very vocal in the states that are looking to pass laws similar to those in California & Maryland, with plenty of lobbying going on behind the scenes.

So what can you do to help?

- Become an amateur journalist.  Begin by stopping by Pick of the Litter on a daily basis and photograph whatever you may find there.  Be polite, be kind, and be decent, but be aware and document.  Send your pics to us kerry.stack@darwindogs.org, where they will be documented for evidence, and publicly posted (anonymously if you wish). We will be setting up an album of offenders on our Darwin Dogs Facebook page as well as on DarwinDogs.org. Use #SickOfTheLitters

- Help start the petition drive.  We will need as many people to obtain signatures for this petition.

- Spread information through our protests.  Stay on the Darwin Dogs Facebook page for info on the next scheduled protests.

- Attend the Strongsville City Council meetings in support of ending pet stores.   Again, check Darwin Dogs Facebook page for council sessions we will be attending. Currently, we will be attending the meeting on July 15 starting at 8:00, Council Chamber, located in the Strongsville Police Station, 18688 Royalton Road

- Contact Strongsville City Council, as well as the Mayor’s office.  Find out why they are allowing pet stores puppy mill brokers in their city:

The City of Strongsville
Attn: City Council
16099 Foltz Parkway
Strongsville, Ohio 44149
440 580 3100
Email(s)
michael.daymut@strongsville.org,ann.roff@strongsville.org,kelly.kosek@strongsville.org,gordon.short@strongsville.org,jim.carbone@strongsville.org,

matt.schonhut@strongsville.org

city@strongsville.org

Contact Southpark Mall, and demand to know why they allow puppy mill brokers and pet stores selling puppy mill dogs to do business within their mall. Let them know publicly, via reviews, that we will not do business at establishments that allow for animal abuse.

Southpark Mall
c/o Starwood Retail Managers
500 SouthPark Center
Strongsville, OH 44136
(440) 238-9199

- Have any legal background?  Contact me directly at kerry.stack@darwindogs.org.  After all, there is so much more to petitions that merely gathering signatures.  We are looking to change city ordinances.  If you can spare one hour or several days, anything will be of assistance.

- Spread awareness.  Most people don’t realize what that puppy store puppy represents, or why the backyard breeders are killing shelter dogs by proxy.  Educate.

We are starting in Strongsville, Ohio, but will be diligent in working in other cities as well.  Let’s finish these parasite puppy mill brokers once and for all.

“But perhaps most important, when you buy a pet-store puppy, you contribute to the demand for puppy-mill-bred puppies, and add to the cycle of misery of mill-owned breeding dogs.”
― Denise Flaim, Rescue Ink: How Ten Guys Saved Countless Dogs and Cats, Twelve Horses, Five Pigs, One Duck,and a Few Turtles

Keep calm and pilot on

Kerry Stack
Darwin Dogs
Dog Training/ Animal Rights Activist in Cleveland Ohio

 

Total Recall

“I’ll be back.”  – Schwarzenegger  

Brittany Graham Photography

Brittany Graham Photography

The other day, a client and I both decided to do some work with our dog-reactive dogs.  We were in the Metroparks walking a lovely path, both our dogs on leashes.  Across the field I suddenly saw a black lab running towards us.  I shouted out to the owner (who was standing idly by with noting less than a bovine look on his face) that our dogs weren’t friendly.  He commenced trying to call his dog back, to no avail.  She charged us (obviously only wanting to play).  She headed straight towards Sparta, who was in no mood for her form of play.

 

Fortunately, I was able to control Sparta, and Pilot  her through her questions. Not how I wanted to start my morning, though.  Eventually I had enough control of the situation that I could Pilot the errant dog enough to pick of their leash, and calmly walk both Sparta and the Lab over to the Lab’s owner.  I brusquely handed him his dog’s leash, stating firmly that that was the part one holds.

As the owner of a dog-reactive dog, I have no patience for for the ill-trained beasts running mindlessly around the Metroparks… and their dogs are not much better.  Ultimately, it’s my responsibility to control my dog.  However, if Sparta is on a leash, walking nicely with me, and we are suddenly charged by a dog, even a friendly dog, who is off-leash…there isn’t much to be done.  I Pilot as best I can in that situation, as described here.  Damage control is more like it.

Now, back to the Lab who charged us.  Her name was Abby.  I know this because her owner was incessantly calling it to no avail.

Obviously there was quite a bit of recall issues going on.  The dog had no idea what the “come” command meant.  Abby knew  that she was the Pilot, not the human, and therefore “come” was merely a suggestion.  Which was promptly ignored. It was pretty much a “Stop or I’ll Say ‘Stop’ Again” situation from the human.

So what should have been done in this situation?  Prep work.  One doesn’t just let a dog off leash without working towards total recall first.  How to do it?

Start in a very boring, low-key situation.  The dog park is not the place to start working on the come command.  Your house works best, beginning with the dog a few feet from you. Squat down, and while patting your hand against your leg the entire time, simply repeat the word “come” over and over, in your normal voice.  Yes, this is a command, but barking “come” at your dog will have the opposite effect desired.  Utilize Touch, Talk, Treat (calm petting, gentle praise and a treat) when your dog arrives to you. The object is to look non-threatening when you call your dog, so save the strong, dominant body language for other uses.

If your dog doesn’t come to you, stop calling them, silently stand up and walk towards them, take them gently by the collar and tug, tug, tug them back to where you had initially called them, repeating the word come, come, come the entire time you are tugging them.  (NOTE:  tugging is essential.  Do not drag your dog.)  Practice over and over, gradually adding distance between you and the dog.

To work on recall outside, start with an enclosed area:  your backyard, if possible.  Repeat the steps above, but remember, we’ve not added more stimuli.  There are birds, squirrels, noises… you may lose your dog’s focus and they may not come at all.  Instead of getting angry, shouting or yelling, instead calmly stalk your dog.  Silently walk directly towards them.  They will dart in another direction.  Simply change your course and continue to stalk them from location to location.  This takes time and patience, but what you are doing is setting up the stage for future confrontations such as these.  Your dog’s question is: Can I ignore your request?  The answer is “no”.  You must follow through with this answer.

Eventually you will be able to catch your dog.  Resist the urge to punish: it is the worst thing you can do at this point.  Simply tug your dog back to where you first called them, and offer Touch Talk Treat.

An easy way to help with this is to attach a long, cotton rope (like a clothesline) to their collar.  Tie a few good sized knots throughout the rope.  Let your dog wander around, dragging the rope with the knots behind them.  When you call them, and they don’t come, you have an easy way to catch them: simply step on the rope (a knot will catch at your foot) and reel them in like a fish, repeating the word “come”.  Touch Talk Treat when they arrive. Once they get good at recall, gradually start cutting the rope into smaller and smaller pieces, until it’s no longer there.  That way your dog will never realize that suddenly they are no longer attached to it.

This is an important command; maybe even a life or death command.  Practice, practice, practice.

I still work on this command with Sparta and Orion.  I will work on it until the day they are no longer mobile.  Both have wonderful recall, but…

I will never let Sparta off leash.  She is a lovely, well-behaved, obedient girl, but she is still a dog; one who has dog reactivity.  She is not a machine.  She was bred to protect (or so she thinks), and protect she does.  She isn’t perfect, and the one time she decides to ignore my command could end with tragedy.  So why do I do all this practice and prep work?  Because I’m not a machine either. I’m not perfect.  I may slip up, drop the leash, or fall down.  She may find a hole in our fence that never existed before.  I work on it because I love her and want her safe.  That’s what it means to be Pilot.

Brittany Graham Photography

Brittany Graham Photography

Keep calm and pilot onKerry Stack
Darwin Dogs
Dog Training in Cleveland, Ohio