Declaration of the rights of dog

Today, Guss, founder of Stop Torture, Abuse & Neglect of Dogs, and PetPAC founder Hemby discuss animal rights. Previously, they debated keeping dogs in urban environments, the proper response to loud and intimidating dogs, pit-bull deprogramming and the stymied "California Healthy Pets Act".

The shelter mutt speaksBy Daniel Guss
Recently, I suffered two very painful injuries. And I worry each day about the dogs I would be helping if only I could move without the sharp pain and dull ache that comes and goes each hour. What causes me harsh, physical pain is trumped by the pain of all of the dogs (and cats and other animals) who I can't reach out to help. On this last day, the magic of anthropomorphism lets a typical shelter dog speak for itself:

Does a dog have rights?

Of course I do.

I have a right not to be kicked, punched, chained, tethered, dragged, deprived, nor tortured, abused or neglected in so many horrendous ways.

I have a right to a home where I will be fed, walked, groomed and cared for for the entire duration of the playful, sleepy, peaceful life that I'm sure you agree I deserve.

I have a right to be loved, cuddled, kissed and have songs sung to me in silly, embarrassing ways.

Shelter animals have the right not to be killed and have it masqueraded as a mercy "euthanasia" in jumbled statistics. You humans really twist the truth.

Breeders' dishonestly call themselves "responsible." It's as big a sham as the tobacco industry's "safe" cigarette. Hey, we're going to die if not adopted. There's an Akita here in L.A.'s Lancaster shelter, #3703258. My God, she's only $37. Her breeder, and Bill, know she's here, but is anyone on the way to save her? No, a rescuer posted her on CraigsList hoping someone else cleans up the tragedy the breeder created.

I am at a loss as to why people buy deliberately bred and cross-bred dogs when millions of shelter animals killed each year in the U.S. are every bit as cute, sweet, big, small, old, young, smart or goofy, healthy and able or sick and injured. It's no better in other countries.

People like Dan, his friends and people he just knows via e-mail love all dogs, including the Borzois that Bill uses to pay the Visa bill. From Abruzzenhunds to Zuchons. That is, from A to Z.

The rescuers dedicate their souls to the ones killed in the shelter, lingering in the shelter, tethered to a guard dog house, misunderstood or kicked out when a child is born, as well as feral colonies (of cats) and animals just thrown in the backyard and ignored for 15 sad years.

For millenniums, we dogs have been your friends and protectors. That love hasn't nearly been reciprocated. We are killed, tortured, neglected and thrown out like trash, just months after being thoughtlessly given to a relative of yours as a "gift" when they didn't want a dog in the first place. Divorce screws us up too.

If you just walked me more, and gave me more of a chance, I'd have "done my thing" out on the grass, instead of indoors. Kicking me afterward just made me more scared and confused. Now I rot, waiting for death on this cold, concrete slab, reeking of fear, loneliness and nothingness. You've got opposable thumbs to open the door; and I've just got paws. But I'm the one who's paying the price. I can't even ask for help, let alone to go outside when I need to. Will someone please take me out of this "shelter" and bring me home?

Why did my owners dump me here, at 10 years of age, and walk out the same day with a puppy younger and cuter than me? Why didn't someone stop that and remind them I'd be killed if left here?

Politicians take photos with me, demand a change, but never make it happen. What will happen to this pup when he's as old as I am? She's not fixed; the paperwork says he's a boy even though she's a girl, and no one bothered to get her microchipped. She's as doomed as I am.

My God, you spent how much at a pet store or breeder? I'd have loved you ..... for free. For just some kibble, water and that pizza crust, I'd have done anything for you. And I still will, if you get to the shelter before end of day when I'm to be killed.

There are people trying desperately to help us. I am happy to be lower on the evolutionary scale than humans. I'm just asking to be loved, and not reproduced, until this killing of millions of animals each year stops. If I'm still alive tomorrow, I'll tell you about the special place reserved in hell for Michael Vick who, I hear, is considering a plea deal. Where's his bravado now?

FYI, if I'm a girl, I'm to be spayed, but neutered if a boy. This is especially true for the pit bulls who are sweeter than you could ever know.

Now that you know what it's called, there's no excuse for an unfixed pet. Don't buy my relatives from clueless breeders and pet stores unable to make an honest living. Shelter animals die when all the good homes are taken. Please come here and save my life. I'll be your best friend forever.

Daniel Guss is a Los Angeles-based writer and MBA who founded Stop Torture Abuse & Neglect of Dogs

Dogs and rightsBy Bill Hemby

[Animal rights activists] ... only see a certain segment of the population (worst cases) and assume they are representative of the entire population -- it's called perceptual distortion, or "cop syndrome." ... Anger is sometimes displaced toward readily available targets rather than toward those who are actually responsible, who may be harder to deal with.
-- Margaret Anne Cleek, Professor of Human Resources Management, CSU Sacramento

I think that pretty much sums you up, Dan.

While your dissertation was honest and heart-wrenching, you are missing the point. Again. Dogs are animals. Legally, they have no rights. We, as their masters, not their guardians, have a legal and moral responsibility to treat them with love, respect and dignity. We have the responsibility to train them as good citizens, and give them a job -- whether it be obedience, agility, confirmation shows, protection, hunting, coursing or just being a couch potato.

There are those in your movement, Dan, who want to give dogs and cats, chickens and geese the same rights as humans. That's what this "guardian" baloney is all about. They would like the courts to entertain lawsuits brought by your people against dog and catowners. What a crock!

Dan, when you espouse that kind of drivel, it makes me compare you with the scarecrow in the "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" who settled for a diploma instead of a brain.

There are many ills in this world of ours, Dan. "Man's inhumanity to man" maybe should include "Man's inhumanity to animals." People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), an avowed animal rights organization, kills more dogs in its one shelter than most others; probably a 90% kill rate. They also advocate killing theAmerican pit bull terrier. The Humane Society of the United States doesn't operate any animal shelters. They receive millions in contributions every year, but little of it goes to saving shelter animals. Two hundred million-plus every year could save a lot of dogs.

Our responsibility is to try to make things better. In the dog world, dog breeders -- not dog retailers -- work to that end. The majority of purebred dog breeders do not breed litters every year; they produce a litter when it's for the betterment of the breed.

Contrary to your one-sided assertions, Dan, breeders do not make a profit from their breeding programs, and they do pay taxes because most of them have day jobs. Every national dog-breed club includes breed rescue. My wife and I have rescued Borzoi and Afghans. It's sometimes difficult to find room in our little trailer in the woods, but we work it out.

Do dogs have rights? In a way, yes! They're the rights that come from the 7 million people in California who own and love them.

Bill Hemby is the chairman and founder of PetPAC, an organization that fights for the rights of pets and their owners, and is also the lobbyist for COPS, the California Organization of Police and Sheriffs.

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