A Dilemma – An Appointment vs. A Roadside Puppy Seller


On Saturday afternoon, I was driving to meet a friend for a hike with our dogs. (She has two and so do I). I was running a few minutes late. I was on the busiest thoroughfare in town when I saw a truck parked on a wide pullout on the other side of the street with a large hand-painted sign on the side: “Golden Retriever puppies for sale, with a phone number.” There were several large dog crates in the back of the truck and I could see (as I slowed as much as I could without getting rear-ended) that there were at least a half a dozen pups in the crates.

My blood just boiled. Nothing can get me madder than irresponsible breeding. Especially when I think about the homes and futures these (probably unvaccinated, surely unneutered) puppies will have with the people who spontaneously decide to buy one, just because they saw the sign. See you in six months at the shelter, puppies!

Remember, I was later to meet a friend, and I had two hyped up dogs in the car who were looking forward to their hike. So I called the police as I drove. The police dispatcher confirmed that such roadside selling is illegal in our town – but said that on weekends, she could call animal control officers out only if it was an emergency. And she said that she could put it out on the radio, and if an officer had absolutely nothing else to do he might go by and cite (or “run off” the seller, she said), but that “honestly, hon, it was unlikely that anyone would.” Argh!

As a member of the Board of Directors of my local shelter, which has a contract to provide animal control services to our town, I was privy to our recent contract negotiations with the city. I know how long (days) we spent arguing about the amount in the contract provided for animal control services that are provided on an emergency basis (before 8 am and after 6 pm on weekdays and on weekends). I understand that if the dispatcher sends our officers out too often, we will be the ones trying to figure out how to pay the officers’ overtime – and it could come out of the funds that we use to keep animals in the shelter as long as possible, trying to find homes for them.

By the time I got to the trailhead and met my friend, I was full of anger and regret. I wished that I had called my friend and cancelled our walk, so that I could have stayed and confronted the person selling the puppies. Actually, I wished I was the kind of person who didn’t think twice about confronting idiots like roadside puppy sellers. I HATE confrontation. I would have been shaky and probably ineffective. And really, is there anything I could have said to change the circumstances or to change the mind of the person who was selling all these pups? Is it likely that someone who had a litter of (purportedly) purebred, eight-week-old puppies would be convinced by some shaky middle-aged lady that producing said puppies for profit was wrong, bad for the puppies and bad for the community and bad for the puppies already awaiting homes at the shelter?

I spent the first half of the walk hashing all of this out with my friend, who listened patiently. Then, I realized how beautiful the almost-setting sun was, lighting up the dry grasses in the meadows we were walking through, and how happy all of our dogs were, galloping along off-leash. I had to let it go for a bit. But I haven’t stopped thinking about it.

What would you have done?