I feel a little guilty. Not that I did the wrong thing, but that I didn’t do the best thing. I wanted to adopt from a shelter, or from an unplanned private litter. It’s the right thing to do. Instead, I paid full fare for an AKC pure breed, from a professional breeder, who I researched, visited, and verified with both local animal welfare, and national certifying bodies. Basically, I threw money at the problem, and did the equivalent of buying carbon credits rather then skipping my international vacation, or taking a sailboat. I’m not going to dwell on excuses, but to tick off the major reasons- 1) Family allergies 2) Lack of time 3) Overall experience. I’d like to see a better system emerge someday, so I’ve been thinking about what would have changed my mind.
The first solution is the easiest because it is so easily definable, even if the technical solution may not be readily available. We need a reliable, widely trusted, and inexpensive method of classifying allergens and reactions in pets and owners. It has to be something that a pet seller can administer, but with oversight by an entity that a pet buyer can trust. It has to be as easy as asking for a blood type.
The second solution is really hard, and very unlikely, even though it is purely a policy change, and has no technical barriers to overcome. We need to fund free (or better than free via tax and licensing incentives) access to spay and neuter services for every pet. I don’t advocate requiring it, but we should make it as easy, and as commonplace as pet immunizations (which should also be free). This is the best way to turn our pet shelters into real placement centers, rather than triage and pest control.
The third solution is damned near impossible, but I’ll throw it out there anyway. We need to aggressively attack and remedy the fraud culture that has permeated the internet. If you’ve tried to arrange a private sale of virtually anything, not just pets, you know what I’m talking about. For many categories of transactions (especially pets), there are more fraud listings on major services then actual ads. Anonymity isn’t protecting us. Billions have been invested in tracking political speech on the internet, but there is no corresponding push to use that infrastructure to root out the shucksters and frauds. They can safely assume, that no one is willing to make the effort to target them, even as they poison the entire internet for commerce of every sort.
I have no plans to implement any of these things. They are all either ‘out of my expertise’, ‘beyond my financial resources’, or more likely both of these and even more excuses. I like to believe, though, that there’s value though, in naming goals, even if you won’t attain them. Meanwhile, I’ll have to hope I have enough puppy karma from my past to offset taking the easy solution this time. I’m proud of my kids for actively encouraging me to seek ethical alternatives. I love my new puppy. I’ll never stop watching, and helping to build better systems for this, or any other problem.