Humane Treatment of Animals in Dayton the Area
By Kevin Kryston
Pets can do a lot of things. They can fetch the paper, cheer us up on a bad day, do tricks, run, and jump for days on end and even provide a homey feel to an ordinary office. But they can’t do everything. They need somebody to look after them and provide them with the care they need to live fulfilling lives. Many animals are able to get this treatment from owners, but with huge amounts of strays and animals in shelters, additional care is needed to ensure the ethical and humane treatment of animals.
This is where organizations such as “No Pet Store Puppies” and “Advocates 4 Animals” come into play. These two initiatives have helped in ensuring that pets around the Miami Valley get the humane treatment they need, even when they don’t have owners.
“No Pet Store Puppies” was launched in Columbus in 2011 by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, better known as the ASPCA. With this campaign, the ASPCA is primarily attempting to lower the productivity and operation of puppy mills, which mass produce dogs for sale at pet stores, in favor of adoption at pet stores across the country. In addition to the fact that the sale of puppies from puppy mills does nothing to decrease the massive number of homeless dogs across the country, puppy mills also are known to have horrendous conditions for its animals, with many puppies locked in the same cage until they are sold. Aside from nasty conditions, this makes the animals much more likely to catch and carry disease.
The campaign has been outrageously successful nationwide. National chains such as Petsmart and Superpetz! have already switched from selling animals to offering adoption through their store locations, and many local pet stores, such as Jack’s Pets, which has 27 locations throughout Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana, have made the switch as well. Puppy mill productivity has also met a steep decline since 2011, and anti-puppy mill legislation in Illinois has even been passed because of lawsuits against the mills.
But puppies, cute as they are, are not the only animals facing adversity. While shelters aim to provide care for the many strays they take in, as well as find loving homes for the animals, there has been a call in recent years for shelter reform. At least 60 percent of all cats and dogs are euthanized in shelters nationwide, and the “No Kill” movement is looking to lower this number by changing conventional animal shelters into “No Kill Shelters.”
Locally, the spearhead of the “No Kill Movement” is Advocates 4 Animals, a Xenia-based operation which offers adoption and pushes for shelter reform. Started in 2003 by Amy Beatty and Stacey Ritz, this non-profit organization has found homes for many animals that would have been euthanized in a conventional shelter, and have worked with local shelters to lower the amount of euthanization in the area, which is traditionally considered a “high kill” region.
While there have been countless challenges in trying to provide a “No Kill” environment for local animals, including the complete lack of true “No Kill” shelters in Ohio, reluctance on the part of local shelters to change their euthanization policies in the area, and much more, through hard work and aggressive networking, co-founder Stacey Ritz believes Advocates 4 Animals is on its way to enacting change in the community.
“Like any revolutionary change, times will get tough, but if we take convenience killing off the table as an option of population control, shelter directors and communities will come up with alternate solutions,” Ritz said. “In reality [with changes], any community in the area can become No Kill today.”
Ritz admits there are many roadblocks between the true humane treatment of animals both regionally and nationwide, but through individual efforts and organizations and initiatives such as A4A and No Pet Store Puppies fighting against old, inhumane practices, the animal community gets ever-closer to being ensured great lives, even if they don’t have owners. The most effective change will be exacted by individuals willing to fight for humane legislation and willing to adopt pets in need.
“It’s about saving lives,” Ritz said. “We are concerned with saving the lives of death-row shelter pets who otherwise have no chance… and educating the general public on the importance of not only kindness towards living creatures, but also to making a life-long commitment to your pets; they depend on you.”
If you’re looking to add a new puppy to your household, but want to make sure the dog was not from a puppy mill, either adopt from your local ASPCA or A4A shelter or adoption center, or visit nopetstorepuppies.com to see a list of stores that uphold the “No Pet Store Puppies” initiative. Information and news about the movement is also listed on the site. For more information on the “No Kill Movement” or for more adoption options, visit advocates4animals.com, or to find the nearest ASPCA location near you, visit aspca.org, or humanesocietydayton.org for the Dayton area and cchs-petshelter.org for Clark County.
Reach DCP intern and freelance writer Kevin Kryston at KevinKryston@daytoncitypaper.com