Dear Mr. Perkins,
I woke up this morning to news that you had sold your family dog, an adorable English bulldog, on Twitter. My first reaction was to retweet the news with a two-word comment: "Totally abhorrent". But as the day has gone on, I realize that I may have been too harsh. I also think I need to explain what prompted my initial response.
First of all, Kendrick (may I call you Kendrick?), I get it. You were concerned that the dog was too large to be around your youngest child. I'm a mom, and there's nothing I wouldn't do to protect my daughter. You're a caring father, and we can see eye to eye on that. However, it's important to model responsible and humane behavior to our children. Also, I'll just say that a well-trained dog is a danger to no child, and I'm guessing you're a man of means who can afford the best training money can buy. Now, I'll admit that I don't know your situation, but perhaps there were other remedies besides giving your dog away (or selling him, as the case may be). For the sake of argument, though, let's assume that your child was indeed in danger, and that there was nothing you could have done to mitigate that danger, and the dog had to go. Let's discuss what could potentially happen when you indiscriminately offer a living being to 56,000 strangers, and one of them accepts.
If your dog had a behavior issue to the extent that you felt your own child was unsafe, you've just passed that issue on to another person. Now, maybe you screened your dog's new owner very carefully, and I apologize if that's the case. But, if you didn't, what do you think will happen if that behavior reappears, this time perhaps with an owner who doesn't have 56,000 Twitter followers and vast financial resources? Your adorable dog, whom you said "needs to be gone by tomorrow", could very well end up at an animal shelter, where his life will be in danger, and where his very presence may cause another innocent animal to run out of time and lose his or her one precious life.
Kendrick, do you know that at least four million dogs and cats are killed in American animal shelters each YEAR? Thousands of animal welfare workers and rescuers--my people--work tirelessly day and night to prevent as many deaths as possible, but our best efforts aren't good enough. I know, I know...your dog didn't go to the shelter, but that's not the point. The point is that, at the root of the problem, too many people see animals as belongings that can be discarded as easily as a shirt that's slightly out of fashion. Too many people don't realize that when your new puppy howls at night or their cat sheds on the furniture, you don't just drop your pet at the shelter gates and drive away without looking back. Animals are sentient beings, they're at our mercy, and they deserve better. They deserve to be treated like family and taken just as seriously.
Like it or not, Kendrick, you're a role model, and the fact is that you just told untold thousands of people who admire you that it's totally okay to pawn a living creature off on someone else without a second thought. After all, Kendrick Perkins did it, and he's an upstanding citizen, right?
Again, I don't want to condemn you. I'm sure you're a really nice guy just trying to do the right thing. Here's my offer: at any date, time, and city of your choosing, I'd love to take you on a tour of your local animal shelter so you can see why what you say, and what you do, matters. I know you'll leave with a different perspective.
Kendrick, you may not know this, but you are needed. I need you. The thousands of people who do the hard, heartbreaking work of caring for (and killing) shelter pets need you. Believe me, I know the value of athletes demonstrating compassion toward animals. As Executive Director of Adopt-a-Pet.com, I've worked with star athletes like Mark Buehrle, David Backes, Alex Gordon, Jeff Francoeur, Luke Hochevar, Bryan Bickell, and John Buck on campaigns promoting pet adoption. I've seen the difference those campaigns made in their communities. People look up to them, and they listened to their messages, and they did wonderful things. What will the people who look up to you do?
Adopt-a-Pet.com is North America's largest non-profit pet adoption website which helps millions of pet lovers find new family members. For more info on dog adoption or cat adoption, visit our website and follow Adopt-a-Pet.com on Facebook and Twitter.