There are No Bad Dogs, Just Bad Dog Owners

LEAST LIKELY TO BE ADOPTED dog pound portraits by LaNola Stone: The concept was to make “fashionesque images” of the longest in residence at the dog pound near my home (some dogs had been there over six months). I specifically asked for the dogs that were the “least likely to be adopted” and took their portraits to represent them with personality, youth and “edge” in order to aid their adoption. All the dogs pictured here were adopted. For more images and a book of children portraits by LaNola Stone.

By Phil DePaolo

You may be considering a new pet this year, and a pup or a kitten is certainly a wonderful addition to your family, but there are some things to consider before taking the plunge.

Do You Have Time for a Pet?

Many pets—like puppies and kittens—are cute, and it’s hard to resist bringing them home, especially during the holidays. But pet ownership comes with many responsibilities when it comes to proper care. For instance, quality time is important.

The most common domestic pets—dogs and cats—need plenty of social interaction and play time. This is especially true for dogs who become unhappy when left alone for long periods of time. Make sure you can devote enough daily time to your new pet.

Cost of Pet Care

Certain pets, including dogs, cats, and birds, can incur significant health care costs, especially if they get ill or injured. Talk with other pet owners to find out what their average annual veterinary costs are.

You don’t want to be in a position in which you can’t afford the regular and unexpected vet costs for a pet. It is so unfortunate when pet owners have to give up their animals just because they can’t afford the cost of a pet’s medical needs. If these innocent animals cannot get new homes, they are often euthanized as a result.

Appropriate Dwelling for a Pet

Different pets require different suitable dwellings. Although cats can be happy in almost any type of residential or office space, dogs do better in certain environments. Dogs can be quite happy in both houses and highrise buildings as long as there is access to outdoor parks or nearby trails. We are lucky to have dog-runs in McCarren and Cooper parks to help, and they’re also great places to meet other members of the community. It is vital that you give your pet plenty of fresh air and exercise. Of course, not all buildings allow dogs, so make sure you check your building’s rules regarding pets before bringing one home. Also remember, if you rent, you will always have to move where pets are allowed. This can severely limit your options, as many rentals do not allow pets.

Amount of Travel

Another thing to consider is the amount of traveling you do. If you spend half of your time away from home for work, you might want to consider which type of pet is best suited for you, or if you should have one at all. If you have other family members or people like pet sitters who can come and look after your pet while you’re away, it might be okay.

However, if you’ll end up having to board your animal for two weeks each month, maybe you shouldn’t become a pet owner. A few days of boarding here and there are okay, but anything more is not fair to the animal.

Allergies and Children

If you or any of your family members have allergies, certain animals will not be appropriate for your home. Again, do your research to assess the suitability of specific animals and breeds for your family.

Training Required for a Pet

Another area you really have to be honest with yourself about is your own ability and the time required to train a pet. Dogs need a lot of training, and many have been abandoned because of owners who failed to properly train them.

Dog experts claim that there are no bad dogs. Instead, there are bad dog owners who did not provde adequate training. If you are a potential dog owner, make sure you get proper dog training, which means education for both you as well as your dog. Training also includes house training.

Research and Prepare For a Lifelong Commitment

Pet ownership should never be an impulse. It’s not fair to the animals,especially if they end up abandoned and/or abused. Do adequate research on what is required in order to be a successful pet owner, and prepare for a lifelong commitment.

Remember, a pet is for life, not just for the holidays!

The rewards of having a pet are great. But there are great responsibilities as well, and as long as you are realistic about them, the personal growth and happiness you will have with your pet are limitless.

If you have decided you can do this, congratulations! Now let’s talk about where to find your pet.

Shelter killing is the leading cause of death for healthy dogs and cats in the United States.

Today, an animal entering a shelter has only one chance in two of making it out alive, and in some places it is as low as one in ten, with shelters blaming a lack of available homes as the cause of death. And yet, statistics reveal that there are over seven times as many people looking to bring an animal into their home every year as there are animals being killed in shelters. Half of all animals who enter our nation’s shelters go out the back door in body bags instead of out the front door in the loving arms of adopters, despite the fact that there are plenty of homes available. How can shelters reform their practices when they refuse to have standards and benchmarks that would hold them accountable, like the best performing no-kill shelters in the nation? In 2002, Mayor Bloomberg signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Mayor’s Alliance for New York City Animals, mandating that the city would adopt a no-kill shelter system by 2008. The target date was later moved to 2015. The ASPCA stats show 4 million pets are euthanized every year (60 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats).

Meanwhile, many people buy pets from pet stores that procure them from puppy mills, thinking they are getting a healthier or superior pet. This could not be further from the truth.


• 99% of puppies sold in pet stores come from puppy mills.
• Nearly 100% of all puppies in pet stores have parasites when they are purchased.
• 48% of puppies being sold in pet stores were ill or incubating an illness at the time of purchase, according to a recent California study.
• 500,000 puppies are born in puppy mills and sold in pet stores every year in the United States.
• There are 35,000 pet stores in the United States.
• Puppy mills can make more than $300,000 growing puppies every year.
• Puppy mills have been around since the early 1960s.
• Almost every puppy sold in a pet store has a mother who will spend her entire life in a tiny cage, never being petted, never being walked, never being treated like a dog.
• Female dogs are usually bred two times a year. At that rate, they usually burn out by age 5, at which time they are put to death.
• About 1 million breeder dogs are confined in puppy mills throughout the country.
(Chart courtesy of ASPCA)

Some cities are now realizing the horrors of the mills and are taking steps to protect pets and reduce the number of pets being euthanized. Last month, Los Angeles became the largest city to ban the sale of puppy- and kitten-mill pets. The Los Angeles city council passed a law that would require pet stores to sell only rescued animals. The bill was introduced by Los Angeles Council Member Paul Koretz, who was moved to introduce the bill after his pet died due to an illness caused by conditions at the puppy mill that sold him the dog. So I am begging you, please go to a shelter near you and save a death row dog or cat. And let’s all work with our elected officials here to get a law on the books like the one passed in Los Angeles. If they can do it, so can we.

In closing, a thought: “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” —Mahatma Gandhi

Have a joyous holiday, and best wishes for a great 2013.

Still on fire

Local Rescue and Shelters:

Dog Habitat
216 Franklin Street
Brooklyn, NY 11222
Tel: (347) 203-3934
Fax: (718) 228-7275

Empty Cages Collective
302 Bedford Avenue, PMB: 301
Brooklyn, NY 11211
Tel: (800) 880-2684

Barc Shelter
253 Wythe Avenue
(between N. 1st St & Metropolitan Ave)
Brooklyn, NY 11211
Tel: (718) 486-7489

Sugar Mutts Rescue
Tel: (646) 732-3795

Sean Casey Animal Rescue
153 East 3rd Street
Brooklyn, NY 11218
Tel: (718) 436-5163

LIL’ Monsters Animal Rescue
Tel: (646) 837-2059

North Brooklyn Cats, Bushwick Street Cats, and Big City Little Kitty (aka Lisa, Shawn, Eva, Chris, Jeannie, and Stephanie) rescue cats and kittens in New York City.

We take cats and kittens from NYC Animal Care and Control’s euthanasia (“kill”) list and perform Trap-Neuter-Release (TNR) for community cats, taking in friendly cats and kittens along the way. We foster these cats and kittens in our own homes until we find them safe, loving, forever homes. We are not an organization or official group, but a group of friends that work on our own and often together to rescue cats and kittens from needless suffering and death row. Our efforts aim to reduce the suffering of cats and kittens in the city by rescuing those in need, spaying/neutering to help to reduce the number of cats born on the street, and advocating for their rights.

Animal Care & Control of NYC (AC&C)
2336 Linden Boulevard
Brooklyn, NY 11208
Tel: (212) 788-4000