When it comes to the court of public opinion, choose your battles wisely

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There’s a lot to be said for individualism. There’s a lot to be said for standing up for yourself. There’s also a lot to be said for fighting the court of public opinion. Or trying to, at any rate.

But the sad reality is that if you try to do that — you’re probably going to lose.  Because, like it or not (and personally I don’t like it a bit) the court of public opinion is pretty damned powerful.

It seems like the couple from Virginia that I told you about last week may have learned that the hard way.

Eli, the In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot.
In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot Eli catching up on the latest news. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

To refresh your memory, the couple — who already owns a dog kennel — wanted to expand it. But in order to do that, the couple needed a special land use permit from the county.

From what I understand, the application for that permit has been withdrawn — for the time being, anyhow.

If you’d like to know why, you can read more about the decision — and what’s next for the couple — here.

In all honesty, I’m not surprised. As I told you last week, the couple’s plan came under considerable scrutiny — not from the county — but from the public. Dozens of people made their displeasure clear at the most recent municipal meeting on the subject. And even more did so by signing a petition.

Specifically, opponents have objected to the number of dogs the couple wants to keep on the property for breeding purposes and the number of puppies those dogs will have.

Needless to say, the couple’s attempts to allay the public’s fears and concerns regarding a potential “puppy mill” have fallen on deaf ears.

But just what is a puppy mill, anyhow?

According to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), puppy mills are “inhumane commercial dog breeding facilities that may sell puppies in pet stores, online or directly to the public (in flea markets or via classified ads).”

The HSUS also says puppy mills disregard the dogs’ health—both physical and emotional—in order to maximize profits.

The organization estimates that there are at least 10,000 puppy mills in the U.S., and that fewer than 3,000 of these are regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Collectively, the licensed and unlicensed breeding operations produce more than a million puppies that end up being sold in the United States each year.

Meanwhile, millions of unwanted dogs and cats are euthanized each year.

So an important question remains. Even if the breeding operation this couple is proposing is legitimate, do we really need more purebred or “designer dogs” when there are so many animals in need of forever homes?

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