Advice columnist gives dog buyer a chewing out

The is little evidence to support that a law aiming to control puppy mills in Pa. has been effective since becoming a law in 2008. (AP Photo)

After the great "puppy mill awakening" of 2008, some commercial dog breeders who lost the war over stricter regulations went back to their kennels with their tails between their legs.

How were they going to sell their "cash crop" now that the world was clued in to the inhumane treatment and suffering inside these kennels, particularly of breeder dogs consigned to a life of caged misery?

Since suddenly society now frowned upon buying a dog from a pet store or commercial breeder, breeders came up with a new way to advertise their dogs: they would be available for "adoption" - at retail prices of course.

Some breeders did and still do simultaneously run breeding facilities and a "rescues" in Pennsylvania. Are they "rescuing" their own unsold puppies or those of neighboring breeders who got stuck with a litter of pups past their pet store expiration date? Who knows.

At the same time rogue rescues began cropping up here and in New Jersey purporting to be rescuing unwanted dogs from breeders when in fact they were brokering for puppy mills.

Imagine our surprise when we saw advice columnist Carolyn Hax's brilliant reply to a Pittsburgh area woman who wrote in to say she felt guilty about telling people she bought from a breeder. Here's what the buyer wrote and Ms. Hax's response.

Dear Carolyn

I recently “adopted” a purebred dog, or at least, that’s how I think of it. Some people ask, “Did you adopt her?” I just say yes. Is she a mix? I say, “Nope, she is a (breed).” Is she a rescue? This forces me to say, “No, I got her from a breeder in Pittsburgh.”

If they ask this last question, my answer gets an odd stare at best, and a preachy and judgmental reaction at worst.

Hey, I get that people are passionate about giving needy dogs loving homes. But I knew what kind of dog I wanted, and I love her, and if someone didn’t give her a great home she’d become a rescue anyway. It seems similar to giving a hard time to a person using a surrogate instead of adopting a kid. Mind your own business! When people go on about this, is there anything I can say?

– Also Feel a Bit Guilty They’re Right

DEAR ALSO FEEL A BIT GUILTY THEY’RE RIGHT: If you don’t want an “odd stare,” then maybe you should stop telling people you adopted a dog that you actually bought from a breeder.

Yes, people can be judgmental about everything they can think of to be judgmental about. But when you fudge to cover your guilt complex, you don’t make them think very hard.

From now on, when people ask you whether you adopted your dog, don’t get cute. Just say, “No, I got her from a breeder.” If they try to guilt you for bypassing shelters, then remind yourself whose business it is, and handle it as you would any other intrusion: “(Shrug.) This is what worked for me.”

By the way — since you agree to a degree with your critics, why not put your money where your guilt is? There’s more than one way to rescue a dog.