Think back a couple months to all the sensational coverage Michael Vick got for running a dog fighting business. If you saw any of the pictures or heard any of the witness accounts of the abuse and neglect the animals endured, it was just enough to make your stomach turn. He was sentenced to 23 months in prison.
Skip to this week, when the Michigan’s Department of Agriculture decides quit pet shop inspections. Pet shops, which in the last few years, have been cited for deadly viruses, cramped quarters, water tainted with feces, fire hazards and even a complete absence of heat source. Cited, but not fined, shut down or jailed.
Mind you, these are not backwoods/underground type puppy mills. These are licensed shops in downtown and suburban areas. These are pet shops where the fire department had to step in and shut them down. These are the pet shops exactly like the one where I got my I got my lab, Phoebe, 12 years ago.
Phoebe (that beautiful blond in the picture above) got very sick in the weeks after I bought her and to this day, I haven’t received the AKC papers the store promised they’d drop in the mail for me. The pet store where I got her closed just a few months after I took Phoebe home with me. We wrote the Better Business Bureau and contacted all the right authorities to no avail.
Did I know she was sick? No, but I spent all my money paying vet bills to make her better. Did I think she was AKC certified? Yes. The pet shop lied to me, but it’s a damn good thing they did, otherwise, she’d probably be dead. If I hadn’t spent half of what was then my life savings on her, it’s highly unlikely she would have lived much longer without the proper care.
I’ve since learned my lesson. The dogs we’ve gotten after Phoebe never came from a pet store, they came from breeders we knew, visited and researched. In my immediate family, there are 4 dogs. My personal goal is to only adopt from shelters from now on. DIFF master Clayton Closson loves a good mutt and picked one of his dogs up on the Southfield Freeway.
At this point, I don’t care that Phoebe is not officially a purebred. For the most part, minus her aging body, she’s a pretty healthy, happy dog. What makes my blood boil is that conditions and treatment can get 10 times worse than what I ever saw and the agencies that are formed to fight it are cutting back? People are actually complaining and what happens? No prison time, no shut downs, no fines…slap on the hand and back to business.
The Department of Agriculture has flat out stated it will cease inspections altogether, unless a filed complaint involves abuse or disease outbreak. I’m a typically positive person, but this is the type of thing (easily controllable) that drops the state of Michigan far from excellent, slipping steadily below average and makes the DIFF out of our reach.