Tuesday, April 07, 2009

California. OrangeBone. Shelter Animals in Stores. Last Chance for Animals.

I am surprised that my postman has not complained about the amount of mail coming to my address, usually newsletters, magazines, and promotional items from animal welfare organizations I have joined or donated to. His bag must be considerably heavier because of me. To be frank, I don’t have the time to read all the material and I cannot always give when asked for donations. I’d quickly run out of time and money, and then end up unable to give anyway. I hope that there is a cyclical phenomenon in giving, that other animal lovers take up the slack when some are unable to give or support.

There was one piece of mail that pricked my interest more than the others. It was from the people at Last Chance for Animals ( Los Angeles ), touting their success at convincing a local animal store to turn away from puppy mills and instead showcase animals from local shelters. The store is OrangeBone on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles. Of course, the idea is worth a try but some questions linger. Anything to undercut the business of the puppy millers is good news. If it catches fire, this new idea could help thousands of shelter animals and nothing more exemplifies working the problem at both ends than a store that showcases shelter animals while animal welfare orgs raid the mills themselves.

At this point, I am under the impression that the store deals with puppies only. But if the idea is to help shelter animals, stores who will adopt this idea will have to deal with older and often larger dogs, or cats, as well. If this breakthrough idea works, then all shelter animals need to be helped.

At first, I thought, what? They’d be selling shelter animals! Well, come to think of it, shelters require some payment too. We charge $130 per adoption at the shelter, and that’s much lower than the $600-$800 range at the pet store. Is that considered a donation or a sales price, and do we really need to be technical about these matters? In order for a business to switch from an outlet for puppy millers to saviours of the homeless animals, there’s got to be something in it for them. A business is a business after all, and it is impractical to expect them to operate on compassion alone. Both store and shelter have bills to pay. So, receiving money does not necessarily constitute a betrayal of our mission to help homeless animals.

The logistics of this arrangement were not discussed, only that it was the culmination of a long effort on the part of LCA. I imagine the store would cycle the dogs and cats between shelter and store to provide maximum chances at adoption. If this proposal was put on the table at one of our staff meetings, I would ask who would be handling our dogs at the store. Sorry, but I do make a distinction between shelter workers and hired help at a pet store. I was trained by a trainer to handle our dogs. Our dog population is usually one third pitbull, and many pitbulls are not dogs that store employees may want to handle. And if we are going to make distinctions as to who goes to the store and who stays at the shelter, that division could seriously harm the adoption of those who remain at the shelter. A “ shelter dog “ might even acquire a new connotation. If after many years, people will be saying “ Well, the nicer shelter dogs are at the store while the tougher dogs are at the shelter, “ then I would be totally against that. Given that we shouldn't close our minds to new ideas, there are underlying concerns at the shelter end of this idea. I wish it success, nevertheless, and whatever kinks there are could be straightened out by good judgment.


Talk To The Help Blog said...

We face many challenges at Orangebone and the Pets Delight pet shops in Pasedena, Covina and Monrovia. Currently we have saved forty older dogs that have been placed in loving homes. We have rescued and vetted almost two hundred puppies. One hundred and fifty of those puppies have been adopted.
Most of the customers do come in to see the puppies.
Last Chance for Animals encourages anyone looking for a pet to please visit the shelter first.
If you can not handle the shelter environment then visit us at one of the pet shops that are rescuing dogs and cats.
Thank you, Kim sill
Last Chance for Animals

Chessbuff said...

Thank you, Kim, for your comment. I neglected to add a link to your org's anti-puppy mill campaign from where people can send in their support/donation, and so here it: http://www.banpuppymills.com/

Vegan Good Life said...

A very thought-provoking story. It's a mixed bag, I guess. This store definitely caters to the 'dog as an accessory' crowd. Their web site says "you can rest assured your pet will be wearing the latest in chic, hip and fun apparel." Makes me glad I don't live in LA.