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Puppy Raffles and Live Auction Fundraisers

A friend recently contacted me wanting to know how to answer this person...a few emails later this article was born. There is not much on the internet about raffling a puppy for charity, though I understand it's quite common! There are also some VERY good reasons why this shouldn't be done, even if it's for a noble cause. Here is a paraphrased version of the original request (the disease and charity has been omitted for liability reasons - though this could apply to ANY charity or fundraiser):

I am on a fundraising committee for the (Name) Charity and I am looking for a dog breeder or pet shop who might be willing to donate a puppy for an event we are having. Other chapters have done this and it has been very successful. The word goes out ahead of time so the people attending will come prepared to bid at our live auction. Last year the puppy auction raised $5,000. I've been racking my brain but so far I haven't come up with any leads. A nearby chapter has done this for the past three years and I didn't hear any bad reports. The people who won the bid for a golden lab puppy a couple weeks ago had just lost their lab and came to the fund raiser prepared to buy the puppy. In fact, everyone in the room knew they were upset due to the loss of their dog and no one would outbid them. My experience so far with this group has been very positive. The people who go to these functions are there because they've been touched by (name of disease) in some way. Some are patients, some are survivors, some are doctors, and some are just loved ones of those who have (disease) or who have lost someone to (the disease)....like me. I have a committee meeting this week and we will be discussing the auction so if you could get back to me before this, it would be good.

Here is the response I wrote for my friend to forward:

Well, you could just explain that's no better than a puppy mill (possibly worse) and how does she know the home will be prepared for a dog. Tell her she is dooming an innocent puppy - an infant - to a life of possible hell with someone that is probably quite unprepared to deal with it just because they had a couple of bucks and impulsively "bid" on the puppy because it's cute - then won.

Each breed is different and has different needs and may not fit into the family that "wins" - so is she willing to take it back and find it a good home in a few months, or even years when they dump it at the humane society? Is she willing to act as the puppy's breeder and call the people and help them with puppy-raising problems? Is she willing to guarantee the puppy will have a happy, healthy existence with a kind and loving family? And how can she guarantee the winner isn't a cruel person? or a dogfighter that wants to use the puppy for "bait" (torn to shreds while alive)?, or some other sadistic sicko? Will she take responsibility if this happens? Someone will have to live with themselves if this happens - will she be able to? How about if the dog becomes a burden or bore and the people just leave it matted and hungary, thirsty and dying in their backyard starved for attention? Is she willing to go get it and take it home? Why would she do this to an innocent life anyway?

Ask her if she wouldn't mind auctioning one of her children instead, she'd probably get more money!...ask her how that would feel - hey, pedophiles need kids too.... make sure it's a young cute one. Oh yes, and since no decent breeder would give her a puppy, she will probably have to get one from a less than reputable source - which means that a puppy that grew up in miserable conditions, gets to continue a life of misery. And even if the puppy gets a loving family - the loving family will probably get lots of medical bills to go with the puppy to pay for hip replacements, eye problems, heart problems, or maybe they'll just get lucky and it will die young from distemper or a congenital problem before it's temperament problems become apparent. No one is going to give her a quality puppy they have taken the time to raise properly, socialize properly, spent a small fortune on to make sure it's healthy, etc. and doom it to a possibly miserable existence because it was "won" by the highest bidder.

You might just tell her it's just plain unethical no matter what the organization has done in the past - and if the media got a hold of this info - or the ethical dog breeders did - her organization would be MUD. It's a fine thing to care about (human disease) - but not at the risk of another life. Hey, lets just torture people or animals for (disease) and raise money. Stick pins in children - $10 a pop! It's for charity! (but that doesn't make it right?) Like I said, is she prepared to auction one of her kids for the cause? Because essentially that's what she's asking a breeder to do when she's asking them to donate a puppy. I know lots of people that would basically never consider donating to any (disease) organization ever again if they knew of this.

It may have worked out for them in the past...but how does she know the puppy will be a good fit in the home that wins? Just because you've been touched by (disease) doesn't make you a good home for a specific puppy. Do they require proof of a fenced yard before bidding so the puppy doesn't run out into the street and get run over? Do they check that it will be fed a good food? That the people can afford or will get vet care? A good breeder goes to great lengths to try and put the right temperamented puppy (which has been carefully bred for health, etc.) in the best home for the puppy and will ask lots of questions to make sure it's a suitable home - or won't sell the puppy. What if a sedintary home gets an active puppy? A shy puppy in a home with 4 little kids pulling and poking at it? (cruel for one thing, possibly a liability in as far as if the puppy bites one of the kids - guess what organization will get sued?) How about a dominant puppy in a home where it's their first dog - disaster waiting to happen. My sister in law bought a puppy - and she is well equipped to handle most things having had dogs all her life (she was great with Shadow!!!!) and this puppy she bought (a golden yet) was too much - was biting and dominant and really pushing every button. She ended up paying several thousand dollars to have the dog trained by a professional to get it back on track -the only other option was to put it down. And she is GOOD with dominant, pushy dogs! How many people do you think will pay thousands of dollars for a dog they WON? How would a family have fared that was inexperienced? (another dog bite statistic? dog put down?). And like I said, there is always the creepy element that can turn up when they hear they can get "bait" cheap....I recall that happened awhile back. The puppy was won by a guy that that raised fighting dogs - guess what happened to that puppy? It was in the news if I remember correctly - and the organization that auctioned the dog was run through the ringer by the local media - "puppy killed for charity" or something like that. I bet they loved that PR.

If they decide to do it, I DO want to know so I can tell others about this auction. I find it amazing that someone so "caring" for people would even consider being so cruel to another species. What is she teaching her children? - that money is more important than a life? Live dogs are disposible and can be won like a stuffed dog at a county fair?

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Unfortunately the person that proposed this is probably just ignorant, and unfortunately there are others that also think this is an appropriate way to generate income for a charity. They get what they want ($$$) and rarely follow up on the puppy years later to see if it still really does have a "good" home. I would suspect the vast majority don't -- or are dumped at shelters and rescues when the novelty of "winning" wears off, the puppy is no longer small and cute, and they begin dealing with the day to day responsibility and expense of owning a pet. If you run across one of these people, please do some innocent puppy a great favor to point out it's a STUPID thing to do and perhaps forward them this article.

Many thanks to "TheLadyMichaela", a very good friend and caring pet owner, for the opportunity to put forth this article because it needed to be said. If just one puppy is not auctioned because of this page, it will have served it's purpose. Please feel free to reprint as long as there is a link back to us (omalmalamutes.com) and credit is given (Cindy O'Malley, author). Thanks for saving a puppy!