Friday, March 7, 2014

How Pinterest killed my interest in purebred puppies (and why I'm trying to kill your interest, too)

Sinead the Boston terrier and her toys

Young dogs like Sinead are a lot of fun to watch, especially because they seem to love to pose. At any given moment, she's doing something that makes me want to grab my photo and start snapping. She's just that cute.

I joined Pinterest, in part, because I wanted to look at more cute photos of puppies. I do, of course, use the site for work from time to time, but I also liked the idea of tapping into a cuteness database throughout the day. Unfortunately, I signed up for a few boards that are far from cute, and they've changed the way I think about puppies, and about the whole dog industry in general.

The two boards I signed up for have some cuties. But, they also have a number of photos of dogs who look scared, filthy and unhappy. These dogs have good reason to look so pitiful, as they're living in shelters right now, and they've been placed on so-called "kill lists."

The aim of boards like this is to prompt people to take action right now, so that these dogs can be removed from the shelter and walk away with their lives. As a result, the photos are supposed to be pitiful. When they're sad, you're moved to act.

Photos like this aren't new. In fact, if you ran a search for "scared pit bull in shelter," you'd probably get hundreds of thousands of images that would be so sad that you'd need to spend the rest of the day in bed. But Pinterest somehow makes these photos even harder to bear.

That's because the site puts all of the images from the boards you follow into one great big slog of photography. For me, this means I get photos of pampered pugs and Bostons looking adorable, followed by photo after photo of older, bigger dogs dying in their cages because they don't have loving owners.

Liam the pug looking adorable on his dog bed
Adorable photos like this are often followed by
horrible photos on my Pinterest page.
As I scroll through these lists, I can't help but marvel at how good some dogs have it, and how other dogs might seem to pay the price. And I am always, always, always moved to do something. It breaks my heart that all the dogs that I see in the photos aren't happy. It just doesn't seem right. 

Now, I could simply remove those photos from my feed, and I might just do that. After all, most of the shelters that have dogs in this feed are located hundreds of miles from my house. There's little I can do to help these dogs directly.

But, it has changed the way that I think about purebred dogs, and maybe that's a help.

While I have always been an advocate for dog rescue, I've given my support verbally and monetarily, the dogs I have added to my household came from breeders. I love puppies, and I like the idea of having some control in developing their personalities from the time that they're small. I've never gotten a dog from rescue and added that dog to my household.

That'll change now.

We'll call it Pinterest-based advocacy, and it won me over.

I might not get a large-breed dog , as I don't have the space for a big guy, but I might work with Pacific Pug Rescue or Boston Buddies. I might even troll my local shelter and pick up a little kid from there. But no more breeding programs for me. That's a promise.

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