Puppies as Prizes? Please, not again.

An open letter to any organization who thinks it’s a good idea to auction off a puppy during a fundraiser:

We’re a little concerned.  Actually, we’re a lot concerned.  A year or two ago, we were made aware of the fact that the Wrightsville Beach Flotilla committee auctioned off a puppy as a fundraiser during it’s kick-off party.  We heard about it after the fact and we didn’t want to make a big deal about it.  We thought, okay, hopefully we won’t hear about this awful practice again.

Unfortunately, we were wrong.  The Child Advocacy and Parenting Place Exchange Club has plans to auction off a puppy at it’s gala in Wilmington on September 26th and we can’t hold our tongues any longer.

Now, we are certain that this is not being done out of blatant disrespect for the life of that puppy.  We are sure no one would go through with this if they realized just how wrong this is.  So we’d like to take this chance to educate anyone who doesn’t see why this could be a problem.

Sure, it seems like a good idea, right?  Puppies are cute.  People like to buy puppies.  Why not auction a puppy as a fundraiser?  On the surface this may seem like a great way to raise money and everyone goes home happy, right?  Except, sometimes, they don’t.

For a lot of people, pets are part of their family.  Would you buy a member of your family at an auction?  Using a puppy as a “prize” to the winning bidder turns the puppy, a living, breathing creature, into a commodity.  Those of us who love our pets, don’t see them as a piece of property, we see them as companions.

The decision to adopt or buy a dog is not one to be made spontaneously.  That’s another problem with an auction.  When you decide to get a dog, you are committing to 10, 12, 14 or more years to that dog.  That great necklace or beautiful work of art you bought at the last fundraiser can be given away or tucked into a closet when they no longer suit you.  A dog?  Well you can’t just get rid of a dog because it no longer suits your lifestyle.

We’ve been to a lot of fundraisers and can tell you from personal experience that it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of bidding.  The next day, when the reality sets in that you spent $1,000 on a watch you’ll never wear, you can always find something else to do with the watch.  The next day, when the reality sets in that you spent $1,000 on a puppy that needs training, house-breaking, vet visits and a whole lot of your attention for the next decade or more, there’s no going back.

Let’s not forget the breeder in all of this.  Now while we are clearly pro-adoption, don’t think we’re getting on our soapbox because we are anti-breeder.  All the respectable breeders we’ve spoken with would never in a million years allow one of their puppies to be auctioned off to the highest bidder.  The question of ethics came out of the mouths of several breeders we spoke with.  To quote one of them, “That is unthinkable to me.  Who would give a puppy for a prize and who would adopt it?”

Perhaps most disturbing of all is the way the fundraiser in question is promoting the auction items:

“Up for grabs will be a new puppy to treasure, jewelry to flash, a weekend in New York City to brag about, a Cancun condo to swag about and an in-home celebrity chef meal for six prepared by James Bain.”

Up for grabs?  Sorry, but somehow we don’t see how a puppy fits in with “jewelry to flash” or a “Cancun condo to swag about.”  We wish you all the best with your fundraiser and we’re sure it’s for a good cause, but please, please don’t be careless with a puppy’s life.  A puppy is a living creature that deserves a loving and nurturing home, for all the right reasons.  One of those reasons is not because someone was the highest bidder.

*Calls to the Child Advocacy and Parenting Place Exchange Club were not returned.  If we hear from a representative, we will be happy to post their response.

UPDATE:  We’ve learned that the auction of the puppy is actually just a “stunt” to raise more money for the charity.  A news report from WECT says a fake “bidder” has already picked out the puppy and was planning to purchase it anyway.  Does that make it better?  Our position is that this is still wrong.  As we said before, the whole idea of a puppy auction objectifies the animal as a piece of property instead of what it is – a loving creature that comes with needs and responsibilities.  This whole thing leaves us scratching our heads and we question the ethics of an organization that would treat this incident as trivial.