TFPF has always been known for our uncompromising, unwavering views on companion animal issues. We aren’t afraid to make the difficult comparisons, say the unpopular thing, or point out the uncomfortable truth if it means that cats and dogs will benefit.
We hold ourselves to the highest standards when it comes to rescuing, caring for, and re-homing animals. And we place our adoptable cats and dogs with responsible, loving, lifelong adopters who share our views.
Below is an overview of what sets TFPF apart. Just click a title to read more about a particular topic, and if you have a question about TFPF’s position on any issue, please feel free to ask us!
If you stand by TFPF, please make a generous donation today.
Many people who acquire dogs quickly tire of them and banish them to the backyard, where they are “out of sight, out of mind.” Others want “guard” dogs who will bark at intruders. Many of these dogs spend their entire lives in solitary confinement – trapped at the end of a chain or confined to a pen or kennel. They suffer through frightening thunderstorms and all weather extremes and are typically denied vital medical attention and any form of companionship.
Every summer, chained dogs die preventable deaths because of a lack of protection from the heat. Doghouses – although essential for keeping dogs dry during summer thunderstorms (and winter snowstorms) – don’t provide much relief from the heat. In fact, a doghouse can act like an oven, trapping hot air inside. Cold weather also spells extra hardship for outdoor dogs, who can suffer from frostbite, exposure, and even dehydration when water sources freeze.
Chained dogs bark out of frustration and loneliness, which can turn into a public “nuisance” and trigger threats from annoyed neighbors. Chained dogs have been shot, poisoned, stoned, set on fire, and tortured in countless other ways.
Chained dogs can injure children or anyone else who might wander into their yards. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), chained dogs kill more children than do falls from trees and playground equipment and accidents involving fireworks combined. Dogs who spend a lot of time alone in back yards or tied out on chains are more prone to aggression and biting, while dogs who are socialized and enjoy life with their human “packs” are protective without being neurotic.
Dozens of communities have either banned tethering and chaining or have included tethering provisions in their animal protection ordinances. Please make a promise to all dogs who are trapped at the end of a chain in your neighborhood that you will work to add your community to that list.
Choke and prong collars are designed to punish dogs for pulling by inflicting pain and discomfort. They can cause serious physical and emotional damage to dogs and should never be used.
The use of choke collars has been associated with whiplash, fainting, spinal cord injuries leading to paralysis, crushing of the trachea with partial or complete asphyxiation, crushing and/or fracture of the bones in the larynx, dislocated neck bones, bruising of the esophagus, bruising and damage to the skin and tissues in the neck, brain damage and prolapsed eyes caused by sharp increases in pressure in the head, and other injuries.
The metal spikes of prong collars pinch the skin around dogs’ necks when they pull and can scratch or puncture them. Over time, this can cause dogs to develop scar tissue (which has no feeling) and/or build up a tolerance to the painful pinching sensation and thus continue to pull, making walks even more difficult. Dogs may interpret the tightening of a choke or prong collar around their neck as a stranglehold (which it is, after all!) and become fearful or even aggressive.
The most humane and safest option for walking a dog who tends to want to pull is a front-leash attachment harness, such as the Sense-ation. When dogs lunge or pull while wearing the Sense-ation harness, the front leash attachment redirects them back toward the dog walker. With patience and positive reinforcement, walks can be a pleasant experience for both human and dog.
No matter what a pet shop owner or dog trainer might say, a dog crate is just a box with holes in it, and putting dogs in crates is just a way to ignore and warehouse them until you get around to taking care of them properly.
Crating is a popular “convenience practice” that is often used on adult dogs. It deprives dogs of the opportunity to fulfill some of their most basic needs, such as the freedom to walk around, the opportunity to relieve themselves, and the ability to stretch out and relax. It also prevents them from interacting with their environment and learning how to behave in a human setting.
Crating began as a misguided way for people to housetrain puppies. The theory was that a dog in a small cage will “hold it” rather than eliminating, and dog owners would thus not have to pay close attention to their puppies while they were confined to the crate. It wasn’t long before dog trainers began recommending crating for adult dogs who had any type of behavior problem as a way of stopping the behavior. But this method does not teach dogs good behavior, and it certainly doesn’t take into account their social, physical, and psychological needs. Dogs are highly social pack animals who abhor isolation and who crave and deserve companionship, praise, and exercise. Forcing dogs to spend extended periods of time confined and isolated simply to accommodate their guardians’ schedules is unacceptable, and it exacerbates behavior problems, leading to even more crating.
Crate training does not speed up the housetraining process. Regardless of the training method, puppies do not develop full bladder control until they are about six months old. It is counterproductive to crate young puppies in the hope that they will “hold it.” They are physically incapable of doing so and are eventually forced to urinate in their crates after experiencing great discomfort while trying not to soil their beds. Puppies who repeatedly soil their crates often lose the urge to keep them clean, which prolongs and complicates the housetraining process.
Pet store and puppy mill puppies, who are born and raised in crate-like structures, tend to be difficult to housetrain, and they may experience severe anxiety and develop fearful and/or destructive behavior if they are confined to crates. They may even injure themselves while trying to bite or scratch their way out.
Crate Training Ramifications
Studies have shown that long-term confinement is detrimental to the physical and psychological well-being of animals. Animals caged for extended periods can develop many different disorders, including the following:
- Eating disorders/li>
- Obsessive licking/li>
- Separation anxiety/li>
- Inability to bond with humans/li>
- Muscle atrophy
When there is a better, more humane way to train dogs, why would we subject our canine companions to a training method that is obviously not in their best interests?
TFPF does not oppose keeping a dog confined to a small area as necessary if it is in the dog’s best interests (e.g., when complete rest is ordered by a veterinarian or when confinement will keep the dog safe during travel). In such cases, guardians should always take steps to ensure that dogs are provided with bedding and the opportunity to relieve themselves and that they are given access to water, fresh air, food, companionship, and other basic necessities.
Crating Alternatives for Working Guardians
There are numerous humane alternatives to crating for people whose work schedules require that they leave their canine companions at home during the day. TFPF supports humane, interactive dog training, which promotes and teaches guardians effective ways to communicate with their animal companions. Committed caretakers who successfully complete training and continue to provide their dogs with rewards for good behavior can be confident that their dogs will not engage in destructive behavior while they are away.
For those who cannot make it home during the day to provide their dogs with a potty break and some attention, TFPF recommends hiring a reputable pet service or soliciting a reliable person, perhaps a neighbor or relative, to take one’s dog out for a midday walk. A “doggie door” that provides access to a secure yard with a privacy fence is another option for giving dogs the opportunity to relieve themselves as well as for alleviating boredom and preventing neurotic behavior. Paper training can be another way to handle dogs’ need to relieve themselves when they can’t go outside. And having an animal friend to keep them company is another great option for keeping dogs stimulated and content while the human family members are away.
What’s Wrong With Crating Dogs and Puppies?
How to Win Friends and Influence People Not to Crate Their Dogs
Declawing is a violent, invasive, painful, and unnecessary mutilation that involves 10 separate amputations – not just of cats’ nails but of their joints as well. Its long-term effects include skin and bladder problems and the gradual weakening of cats’ legs, shoulders, and back muscles.
Declawing is both painful and traumatic, and it has been outlawed in Germany and other parts of Europe as a form of cruelty. Many veterinarians in the U.S. refuse to declaw cats, who experience extreme pain when they awaken after surgery and have difficulty walking until their paws heal.
Without their claws, cats are virtually defenseless. Some cats will stop using their litterboxes. Sensing their vulnerability, some cats become paranoid and develop neuroses. Others who escape the safe confines of home are left completely vulnerable to predators and abusers.
Scratching does not cause a problem if cats’ nails are trimmed properly. Scratching posts and consistent guidance about where they may scratch also help cats learn not to scratch furniture or other inappropriate items.
TFPF strongly opposes “no-bark” shock collars and “invisible fences,” which electrically shock dogs when they bark or cross an invisible line. In addition to causing physical pain and potentially serious injuries (ranging from burns to cardiac fibrillation), these devices can cause severe anxiety and lead to psychological problems in some animals. No dogs should have to live in fear of getting shocked for engaging in normal behavior such as barking or crossing lines that they can’t see in their own homes.
Dogs trained with shock collars and invisible fences may develop fear or aggression toward what they believe is the source of the shock (e.g., kids on their bikes, the mail carrier, the dog next door). Dogs have also been known to run through invisible barriers when frightened by fireworks or when chasing a squirrel and then to be too scared to cross back through the barrier to return home.
Although invisible fences might sometimes work in keeping animals within certain boundaries, they do nothing to protect the confined animals from cruel humans and roaming dogs or other animals who have access to the property.
Real fences and positive training methods in which dogs are rewarded for good behavior are kinder and more effective.
Euthanasia is a sad reality caused by people who abandon animals, refuse to sterilize their animals, and patronize pet shops and breeders instead of adopting stray animals or animals from animal shelters. Every day in the U.S., tens of thousands of puppies and kittens are born, and there will never be enough homes for all these animals. Animal shelters and shelter workers are stuck with the heart-wrenching job of dealing with unwanted animals.
Some people wonder why “surplus” animals can’t simply live in animal shelters instead of being killed. Even if government-sponsored and private animal shelters had the resources to house the millions of homeless animals born in the U.S. each year (and they don’t), “no-kill” shelters do not provide a solution to the problem of companion animal homelessness.
Cats, dogs, and other companion animals need much more than food, water, and a cage or pen. They also need lots of loving care, regular and sustained companionship, respect for their individuality, and the opportunity to run and play. As difficult as it may be for us to accept, euthanasia (when carried out by veterinarians or trained animal shelter professionals with a painless intravenous injection of sodium pentobarbital) is often the most compassionate and dignified way for unwanted animals to leave a world that has no place for them.
TFPF’s experiences with trap-alter-and-release programs and “managed” feral cat colonies have led us to believe that these programs are not usually in cats’ best interests. We have seen firsthand and have received countless reports that cats suffer and die gruesome deaths because they are abandoned to fend for themselves outdoors.
Many are in “managed” colonies, which usually means that they are fed. Having witnessed the painful deaths of countless feral cats, we cannot in good conscience advocate trapping, altering, and releasing as a humane way to deal with overpopulation and homelessness.
Horrific fates await most homeless cats – they do not die of old age. If you have a cat at home, you know that veterinary care is a necessity. Cats get heart disease, leukemia, bladder problems, ear infections, and more. Imagine if your cat were outdoors and you did not know that he or she was in trouble. Or imagine if, upon seeing an obvious symptom, you could not catch your cat to provide treatment. Contagious diseases such as rhinotracheitis, feline AIDS, and rabies are common in “outdoor cats,” who also sustain puncture wounds, broken bones, brain damage, or loss of an eye or limb after they are attacked by other animals or hit by cars.
During winter months, automobile engine fans slice through cats who seek shelter from the cold under car hoods. If cats escape these perils, they may still fall prey to an agonizing death at the hands of cruel people. TFPF gets flooded with calls about cruelty to animals every day because, across the country, free-roaming cats are mutilated, shot, drowned, poisoned, beaten, set on fire, used in ritual sacrifice, stolen by “bunchers” for medical experiments, or used by dogfighters as “bait.”
Advocates of trap-alter-and-release programs argue that feral cats are just as deserving of our consideration as other felines and that it is our responsibility to alleviate their suffering and ensure their safety. We absolutely agree. It is precisely because we would never encourage anyone to abandon their own cats in, for example, a parking lot or a warehouse district that we discourage the same for feral cats.
Although altering feral cats prevents future generations from suffering, it does not protect cats from the litany of other problems that they may encounter. Allowing feral cats to continue their daily struggle for survival in a hostile environment is rarely a humane option.
TFPF believes that it can be marginally acceptable to trap, vaccinate, alter, and release feral cats when the cats are isolated from roads, people, and animals who could harm them, are regularly attended to by people who not only feed them but also provide them with veterinary care, and are kept in areas where they do not have access to wildlife and the weather is temperate. The biggest problem is that most cats, once they are caught to be sterilized, will not be able to be lured by traps again when they are sick or injured.
Some people such as alleged animal rights activist Nathan Winograd, have suggested that the solution to animal overpopulation lies with so-called “no kill,” or “limited-admission,” animal shelters. However, these shelters are deceptive at best. Animals at “no-kill” shelters who have been deemed unadoptable may be “warehoused” in cages for years. They become withdrawn, severely depressed, or aggressive, and this further decreases their chances for adoption. Cageless facilities avoid the cruelty of constant confinement but unintentionally encourage fighting and the spread of disease among animals.
“No-kill” shelters and “no-kill” rescue groups often find themselves filled to capacity, which means that they must turn animals away. These animals will still face untimely deaths – just not at these facilities. In the best-case scenario, they will be taken to another facility that does euthanize animals. Some will be dumped by the roadside to die a far more gruesome and horrible death than an injection of sodium pentobarbital would provide. Although it is true that “no-kill” shelters do not kill animals, this doesn’t mean that animals are saved. There simply aren’t enough good homes – or even enough cages – for them all.
Open-admission shelters are committed to keeping animals safe and off the streets and do not have the option of turning their backs on the victims of the overpopulation crisis as “no-kill” shelters do. No one despises the ugly reality of euthanizing animals more than the people who hold the syringe, but euthanasia is often the most compassionate and dignified way for unwanted animals to leave the world.
TFPF operates what could be called a “shelter of last resort” for the most broken animals. We regularly foster and adopts out cats and dogs to loving, responsible, and lifelong homes. We lawfully transfer lost and stray animals to open-admission shelters where they are given shelter, proper veterinary care, and a chance at adoption. We also assist members of the public, often turned away by “no-kill” and “limited-admission” shelters, with surrendering their unwanted cats and dogs to open-admission shelters.
Like dogs and small children, cats who are let outdoors without supervision are vulnerable to the dangers of cars, other animals, cruel people, and diseases. In addition to a dramatically lowered life expectancy, there is an increased risk of disease. Feline leukemia, feline AIDS (FIV), feline infectious peritonitis (FIP), toxoplasmosis, distemper, heartworm, and rabies can be difficult to detect and, in the case of FIP and distemper, impossible to test for. They are also highly contagious and can easily be passed on to other companion animals.
Many people consider free-roaming cats to be pests. They do not want cats to urinate, defecate, dig, eat plants, or kill birds on their property. Across the country, free-roaming cats are shot, poisoned, and stolen by angry neighbors. They are also mutilated, drowned, beaten, set on fire, used in ritual sacrifice, stolen by “bunchers” for experiments, or used by dogfighters as “bait.”
Fortunately, cats can live happy lives indoors, and they can be given opportunities to explore the outdoors under supervision. Like dogs, cats should be allowed outdoors for walks on leashes that are attached to harnesses and to explore securely fenced yards. A product called Cat Fence-In, a flexible mesh barrier that can be placed on top of privacy fences to prevent cats from climbing out, can help you keep your feline companions safe in your yard.
We at TFPF very much love the animal companions who share our homes, but we believe that it would have been in the animals’ best interests if the institution of “pet keeping” – i.e., breeding animals to be kept and regarded as “pets” – never existed. The international pastime of domesticating animals has created an overpopulation crisis; as a result, millions of unwanted animals are destroyed every year as “surplus.”
This selfish desire to possess animals and receive love from them causes immeasurable suffering, which results from manipulating their breeding, selling or giving them away casually, and depriving them of the opportunity to engage in their natural behavior. They are restricted to human homes, where they must obey commands and can only eat, drink, and even urinate when humans allow them to.
Because domesticated animals retain many of their basic instincts and drives but are not able to survive on their own in the wild, dogs, cats, or birds, whose strongest desire is to be free, must be confined to houses, yards, or cages for their own safety.
This is a best-case scenario. Millions of dogs spend their lives outdoors on heavy chains in all weather extremes or are kept locked up in tiny chain-link pens from which they can only watch the world go by. Millions more are confined to filthy wire cages in puppy mills, forced to churn out litter after litter until they wear out, at which time they are killed or dumped at the local animal shelter. Even in “good” homes, cats must relieve themselves in dirty litterboxes and often have the tips of their toes amputated through declawing. Dogs often have to drink water that has been sitting around for days, are hurried along on their walks, if they even get walked, and are yelled at to get off the furniture or be quiet.
Most compassionate people could never imagine that anyone could throw a litter of kittens out the window of a moving car, and they would certainly be shocked by TFPF’s inches-thick files on cases of dogs and cats who have been shot with arrows, blown up with firecrackers, doused in gasoline and set on fire, cooked in microwave ovens, used as bait in dogfights, tortured in satanic rituals, beaten with baseball bats by bored kids, dragged behind cars to “teach them a lesson” for running away, or bound in duct tape to silence their barking. Abuses such as these occur on a daily basis.
As long as there are cats and dogs in need, TFPF will continue to help them and find them responsible, loving, and lifelong homes. But our primary focus is to reduce the population of cats and dogs through spaying/neutering, and encourage people to adopt animals (preferably two so that they can keep each other company when their human companions aren’t home) from pounds or animal shelters – never from pet shops or breeders – thereby reducing suffering in the world.
TFPF supports breed-specific protection for Pit Bulls – specifically, legal requirements that all Pit Bull dogs be spayed/neutered. We, in fact, advocate for a ban on breeding all dogs, including Pit Bulls as breeding any dogs should be illegal as long as millions must be euthanized in animal shelters every year.
More than any other breed, Pit Bulls are in crisis and they need help right now. They face systemic, relentless abuse and neglect. They are also the most frequently abandoned dog breed, and as a result, tens of thousands of Pit Bulls must be euthanized in shelters every year.
Pit Bulls are seen as macho status symbols – they’re taunted, abused, used as show pieces – and they pay a heavy price. Because there are breed-specific reasons why people abuse them, they also need to be protected for breed-specific reasons.
TFPF promotes the adoption of homeless animals from shelters, and we are not, nor have we ever been, in favor of taking Pit Bulls out of homes in which they are cherished as members of the family. Requiring that they be spayed/neutered means that fewer will be born into abusive, neglectful homes – it’s that simple.
Fighting Pit Bull protection measures isn’t helping Pit Bulls. Requiring that all of them be spayed/neutered means that fewer will be born into abusive, neglectful homes – it’s that simple.
Some people who call themselves Pit Bull advocates cry, “Discrimination!” at the mere mention of breed-specific legislation. TFPF supports a ban on breeding Pit Bulls and Pit Bull mixes as well as strict regulations on their care, including a ban on chaining them.
Laws like this aren’t breed-specific “discrimination” – they’re breed-specific protection. They prevent Pit Bulls from being born only to be exploited, abandoned, and abused. And with 3-4 million animals euthanized every year for lack of a good home, there’s simply no reason to bring more dogs of any breed into the world.
Many people know to avoid puppy mills and “backyard” breeders. But many kind individuals fall prey to the picket-fence appeal of so-called “responsible” breeders and fail to recognize that no matter how kindly a breeder treats his or her animals, as long as cats and dogs are dying in animal shelters and pounds because of a lack of homes, no breeding can be considered “responsible.”
All breeders fuel the animal overpopulation crisis, and every time someone purchases a puppy or a kitten instead of adopting from an animal shelter, homeless animals lose their chance of finding a home – and will be euthanized. Many breeders don’t require every kitten or puppy to be spayed/neutered prior to purchase, so the animals they sell can soon have litters of their own, creating even more animals to fill homes that could have gone to animals from shelters – or who will end up in animal shelters or so-called “no-kill” animal warehouses themselves.
Simply put, for every kitten or puppy who is deliberately produced by any breeder, an animal in an animal shelter dies. Producing animals for sale is a greedy and callous business in a world in which there is a critical and chronic shortage of good homes for cats, dogs, and other animals, and the only “responsible breeders” are those who, upon learning about how they contribute to the overpopulation crisis, spay/neuter their animals and get out of the business altogether.
Producing more animals – either to make money or to obtain a certain “look” or characteristic – is also harmful to the animals who are produced by breeding. Cats and dogs don’t care whether their physical appearance conforms to a judge’s standards, yet they are the ones who suffer the consequences of humans’ manipulation. Inbreeding causes painful and life-threatening genetic defects in “purebred” cats and dogs, including crippling hip dysplasia, blindness, deafness, heart defects, skin problems, and epilepsy. Distorting animals for specific physical features also causes severe health problems. The short, pushed-up noses of Bulldogs and Pugs, for example, can make exercise and even normal breathing difficult for these animals. Dachshunds’ long spinal columns often cause back problems, including disc disease.
Adoption: The Only Compassionate Option
There is no excuse for breeding animals or for supporting breeders. If you love animals and are ready to care for a cat or a dog for the rest of the animal’s life, please adopt from your local animal shelter, where there are cats and dogs galore – tails wagging and hearts filled with hope, looking out through the cage bars, just waiting to find someone to love. Shelters receive new animals every day, so if you don’t find the perfect companion to match your lifestyle on your first visit, keep checking back. When you find your new animal companion, you’ll be glad that you chose to save a life – and made a new best friend as well.
If you know anyone who is considering purchasing an animal instead of adopting from an animal shelter, please share this article with them, and please consider making a donation today to support TFPF’s vital work to save lives.