Every year, a major sporting event takes place either on the last Sunday of January or first Sunday of February. That tradition continued this past weekend. It was not the Super Bowl, but rather the Puppy Bowl.
This past Sunday marked the Puppy Bowl XIV. Since 2005, the TV channel Animal Planet, along with the ASPCA and several animal shelters, have held a program every year before the Super Bowl in which a few dozen puppies (along with some appearances by other animals) run around in a vague approximation of a mock football game.
There are noticeable differences between the two sporting events, of course. Unlike the heavily commercialized Super Bowl, the Puppy Bowl is a nonprofit event meant to serve a good cause. Every puppy that appears on the program is available to be adopted. The program is actually filmed ahead of time in October, meaning that some of the puppies appearing may already have been adopted. Still, there are not only the remaining puppies, but it also serves to raise awareness of adoptable animals. Just as the Puppy Bowl is now aired every year before the Super Bowl, other programs, such as the Kitten Bowl V, now air every year before the Puppy Bowl.
These efforts to raise awareness about adoptable animals are necessary. Many people are unaware of the critical differences between adopting pets and buying them from pet stores. Animals living in shelters consist of strays, as well as animals that were abandoned, surrendered or seized from indifferent or even cruel owners. What people may not know is that some of those puppies are seized from the very breeders that produce the puppies found in pet stores.
Some pet stores do sell shelter animals. However, many also sell puppies that come from breeding mills. Puppy mills are cruel; the dogs are isolated from each other, including their families, and kept in cramped cages. They also receive inadequate nourishment and little veterinary treatment. Combined with a number of hereditary conditions, these “pure-breeds” suffer from awful health conditions and shorter life spans then the mixed-breeds found in shelters. Puppies that are obviously sickly or do not sell are left to die, not euthanized, but shot or left to starve. It is easy to feel for these puppies and want to buy them, but doing so only serves to benefit the mills that want nothing but profit. Even purchasing other pet supplies from pet stores can fund these mills. It is better to let these mills be shut down and for shelters to take the rescued dogs in.
There are a number of other reasons to choose to adopt an animal over purchasing one from a store. Shelters do everything they can to take care of their animals, and some will even pay for their vaccinations. Even without that, animals in stores are very expensive.
Shelters can also be relied on for help and advice with caring for a new pet. Shelter animals are in general healthier and live longer, because “mixed breeds” do not suffer from the breeding practices of puppy mills, and shelters still offer a variety of ranges.