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Why Was I Doing This?

This article originally appeared on PETA Prime

This was just one question I repeatedly asked myself on the way to a demonstration at the Golden Gate Kennel Club dog show. Did I really want to participate in a protest? Was it worth a 100-mile drive? Was I emotionally prepared?

Many people who are actively involved in animal issues understand that your heart strings are constantly tugged. You may be more attached to your extended animal family than what relatives deem “normal.” You constantly write checks to animal shelters or local rescue organizations. You have daily conversations about your “radical” diet. At times, it is exhausting.

On top of this day-to-day reality, the past week had been even more challenging. A friend announced the purchase of yet another “show dog,” and a cousin shared pictures of the eight puppies her unspayed dog had just delivered. When those nearest to you do not understand, the disappointment seems greater and the hurt runs deeper. I felt defeated and discouraged.

In spite of my current mood, I decided to go to the demo. Within minutes of arriving, the venue staff was expressing their displeasure at our presence. Why did they not understand that we were there only out of concern for the 3 to 4 million individual animals killed in animal shelters every year? Unlike the breeders or the kennel club, we had no financial incentive. We were driven by compassion alone. Undeterred, we held our ground. Then the police arrived.

The questions I had asked earlier came back to haunt me. I was not ready for this confrontation. I should have stayed at home. Then something unexpected happened: The policeman kindly reminded us to avoid the entrance, and then he pulled out a picture of his rescue dog and said, “Best shelter dog ever. Good luck today.”

His positive comments set the tone for the day. I was pleasantly surprised by the number of people who immediately understood our mission and thanked us. They stated that they would never buy an animal as long as the shelters were full. Others seemed confused by our presence, but as they read our signs and watched the video of animals being euthanized, their faces softened, and they graciously accepted our literature.

I participated in constructive conversations about the impact that breeding has on the overpopulation crisis and on the misconception that purebreds were somehow better than other dogs. There were, or course, individuals upset by our presence. Some would avoid eye contact and look down at the ground as they quickly entered the building.  Others were more vocal about their displeasure. For these people, we were a reminder that their choices have fatal consequences. But we were also a reminder that a benevolent option does exist-adoption.

By the end of the day, my spirit was renewed. Surrounded by compassionate activists and encouraged by the kind words of strangers, I was confident that our message had been heard. I knew there would be shelter pups soon going to their forever homes. My original doubts were gone. I no longer questioned what I was doing there but instead questioned why it had taken me so long to get there.

Nancy Hartwig is an engineer by day, a harpist by night, and an ethical vegan all the time. She is currently working on her signs for the upcoming Ringling Bros. circus protest in Sacramento.

Commenting is closed.
  • Nick says:

    Okay…so before anyone lashes at me for my post, let me first say that I am coming at this from a position of curiosity. I am a 26 year old male, a medical student and triathlete from Nelson, New Zealand that decided to go vegan after 25 years of eating meat. I believe in so much that PETA does, and share a passion for it.With this said, I do not understand the distaste over “show dogs”.

    I say this as an owner of 2 German Shepherds, and one dog that I found tied to a storage shed. My family has owned this line of Shepherds since WWII, when my grandfather brought one over. I owned the grandmother of mine since I was very young, and plan to breed one of mine (the other is spayed) due to her kind demeanor and calmness. I will breed her once, and all of the puppies will go to my large family to very good homes to continue the tradition. The dogs are part of the family line…I do not understand this “factory puppy” idea. Are these prevalent in the US? Why show dogs? I only know of one show dog, and it is a Lab that works for the PD nearby. Please educate me, websites, etc. I am a passionate dog person and this ignorance bothers me. Thank you!

  • Zephyr says:

    There are many other reasons not to buy “show dogs”. Breeders will focus on conformation more than behaviour, health and what the dog was originally bred for. Often, if a puppy isn’t up to scratch, they’ll kill it.

    I got my Border Collie from a backyard breeder and my two cats from the SPCA, most of the dogs at our local shelter have some of what is classified as “dangerous dog” in them, and this was my first dog so I haven’t had much experience and my mum wouldn’t let me get one from the SPCA.

  • My_Name_Is_Hope says:

    i love this article i have five shelter dogs i love them all but the dog who is truly mine is my dog duke he’s now n he’s the best 🙂 and @Meg Schramm . i think your awesome. and its sad to hear the way she treats her dogs.

  • My_Name_Is_Hope says:

    i love this article i have five shelter dogs i love them all but the dog who is truly mine is my dog duke he’s now n he’s the best 🙂 and @Meg Schramm . i think your awesome. and its sad to hear the way she treats her dogs.

  • LLPR says:

    Grace Baine Mother Nature in peril accused of animal cruelty because she wanted to take dogs to the vet since her tennants Melinda Clark and Eric jackson neglected to feed them aside from neglecting to pay the rent google search Mother nature in peril Grace Baine on imdb

  • LLPR says:

    Grace Baine known as Mother nature in Peril activist humanist Heroine for PSA reduce reuse recycle, was accused of stealing dogs who were neglected by her former tennants Melinda clark and Eric Jackson. the dogs were found outside dehydrated no food or water and looked malnurished. Grace was tryiing to rescue the animals and was accused of burglary and harm to animals. No good deed goes unpunished We are asking PETA if a citzen is willing to help why doesn’t the law protect them. The tennants neglected their dogs adn their children by not paying rent and having a history of evictions. Peta let’s send out a petition on her behalf to get that accusation removed

  • Catlady with a love for Dogs says:

    Dear PETA, dear activists,
    At firt, I would like to thank You for what You are doing. You are saving so much lives, You are giving so much hope, You are making this world so much more human.

    My heart became a little bigger and my eyes so much wetter after reading this article. I am deeply touched.

    It is a beautiful feeling to know that people just like You are changing the world. I wish I was there. But thanks to You I have the power to help animals from here, from my home. I know that I can not change the etire world by saying NO to hurting and killing animals (and thanks to some other vegans I can say YES to “meat”, faux fur, faux leather, milks and egg products ;), but I can change my world by doing so, and at the end, isn´t that a part of the entire world?

    Thank you, vegans,vegetarians, everyone who ever did someting good for animals, you are heroes, you are changing our world.

  • FurFriendly says:

    Meg Schramm , im very glad you said what you did, i am so happy I have never had to experience something like that with a family member, and I hope she takes your words seriously. Thank you for saying something, it was courageous. You were the voice the animals needed.

  • Rev. Meg Schramm says:

    I get discouraged too. After hearing all I’ve said about elephants in captivity, one of my relatives took her son to ride the elephant at the Santa Ana Zoo. When I heard about it I told her she was lucky the elephant didn’t snap and choose to run amuck that day. I also adivsed her to have her 2-year-old son tested for tuberculosis….and then I sent her the link to to back it up. My cousin keeps her dogs in unspeakably horrible conditions in her back yard; the last time I saw her dog he was so matted I spent most of the visit brushing him out. She said the dogs are not allowed in the house because they are not house broken. I said, “So train them.” My cousin said she did not have time she works from home and has to watch her grandchildren. I responded that if she does not have time for the dogs than she should turn the dogs over to a rescue group instead of making them live outside in a messy, dangerous back yard (which her grandchildren also spend most of their time in because she “tunes them out while she works.”) I informed her that the next time I came over and found the dogs and the kids in those conditions while she solders computer parts I would call Child Protective Services as well as the SPCA and file formal complaints. Needless to say we are no longer speaking. Her daughter also has two dogs whom she treats in this way; her excuse is the dog’s nails mark up her parquet floor. I told her that since I’ve seen her kids mark up the floor also, why doesn’t she chain them outside and make them sleep alongside the dogs on the cement patio?