It has been a year now since I made the humane decision to say goodbye to my best friend Pollo. It had been a decision that I dreaded for nearly three years as his health began its slow decline. But I had promised my friend that I would never let him suffer.
I bought Pollo as a puppy from a store called “Pets Plus.”
The pet store had done its job well. The store was clean. The puppies in their little windows all looked cute and not overly playful. I had it in my mind that I wanted to purchase a Golden Retriever. And there was this little fourteen pound bundle of fur. He was coming with AKC papers so that if I decided to breed him or show him, I would be able to prove his being a pure bred Golden Retriever. Of course I bought all the necessary supplies, large dog cage, food, toys, and a sign that the store insisted I had to buy and said, “Beware Of Dog.”
I expect anyone who is an animal lover is probably screaming at their laptop or Ipad right now, “YOU DON’T BUY DOGS OR CATS FROM PET STORES!!! THERE ARE SO MANY OTHER WAYS TO GET A PET!!!”. What I uncovered just months after Pollo’s purchase, taught me one of the most valuable lessons when it comes to pets, NEVER, NEVER buy a pet from a pet store.
Goldens are a natural water dog, and Pollo was no exception. I had taken Pollo to a family members inground swimming pool, and he had a blast. On our way back home, Pollo was sitting next to me in the front seat, looked up at me, and let out a whimper of distress that I had never heard in my life before, and collapsed. I pulled the car over, and immediately looked at him to see what was happening. His eyes had rolled into the back of his head, and his tongue was fading into a whitish color, and he was not breathing.
I raced to the first vet hospital that I could find, and carried his lifeless body inside. I could not believe this was happening. I was told to wait outside of the exam room in the waiting room. About a half an hour later, the exam room door opened, and out came Pollo, tail wagging, huge smile on his face, prancing on over to me as if nothing had happened. While I was happy to see my young friend recover, I was also confused.
The vet had explained to me that it was quite possible that it had been some sort of cardiac episode. That if it would happen again, she was going to recommend putting a heart monitor on him to see if they could determine what was causing the problem.
Being an animal caretaker myself, as well as a detail-oriented patient myself, I knew that the more information that was available, the easier it would be to find a cause of this episode. My lesson began.
I went back to Pets Plus for one thing. I had not received Pollo’s AKC paperwork yet, which would have had the names of his parents on it. It was simple, I wanted to find the health records of the sire and bitch (dad and mom) of Pollo to see if there was any kind of health history. Long story short, the pet store fought me on this, objecting, saying that they would not do so. At that point, they handed me the AKC paperwork also. But the paperwork had glaring omissions and errors. I now realized something was seriously going on with this poor puppy, and the pet store was hiding whatever it was.
There is a line in Stephen King’s movie “Storm Of The Century” where the lead character and villain repeats the same line, explaining to everyone his simple request, “Give me what I want, and I will go away.” That best describes my personality. I was not being unreasonable up until that point. I was just looking for information as to the health background of my little fur friend Pollo. It would not have cost one penny to give me this information. Instead, what I discovered, only raised my ire and brought on a new cause for me.
Pollo was purchased from Pets Plus pet store. Pollo was purchased from a puppy mill in Lancaster county Pennsylvania. Pets Plus denies this adamantly, as most all pet stores who sell puppies will deny, but they are doing so with a technicality. Most pet stores buy their puppies from a broker who drives to the various puppy mills where the broker buys the puppies. Bottom line, most puppies sold from pet stores come from puppy mills. Eventually, I would unleash the USDA, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, and many more agencies on this pet store chain, as well as the Stoltzfus family where Pollo came from. Eventually, as I decided to pursue legal options against Pets Plus, an unusual invitation came to me from Warner Brothers Studios in Manhattan. It was an offer from the “People’s Court” to appear and have my case settled in front of Judge Marilyn Millian. I was actually shocked that the pet store would agree to appearing on television with all of the evidence I had against them, but the did. And so, Pollo and I travelled to Manhattan, by Warner’s request for his attendance, and I won my case against Pets Plus. You can see the summary of the case at the following link:
I have a videotape of the episode, but nothing digital was available to place in this blog (sorry).
But while the story occurs to have a sad origin, and clearly I will never condone buying any pet from a pet store, I have learned that there are so many other pets in need of homes. For those that want “pure bred” pets, even they are available through animal shelters and other breed specific rescue organizations. And they all need homes. I bring this up, because the holidays are right around the corner. There are plenty of animals that need homes without continuing the practice of overbreeding worn out mothers who are eventually just thrown away when they can have no more litters. Many pets bought from pet stores end up being abandoned during the holiday season, often to end up in shelters, and unless adopted, end up with a worse fate than their origins.
But for being a “puppy mill” dog, and I consider him having been rescued, he gave me nearly one third of my life with memories and loyalty. I allowed Pollo to simply be my friend. I did not “show” or breed him as I would have had he been a AKC registered dog. I did not compete with him in agility competitions as many goldens are known for their intelligence. I just let him be “him.” And he was happy, always happy. And that is exactly how I will always remember him. I gave him nearly fifteen years, (unheard of for a golden retriever), but the life he gave me can never be put into words.
Pollo, I hope you are having a great time up in heaven. I know you will be waiting for me at the Rainbow Bridge. I will see you there.