Website lets you shop for kids like you shop for a shelter pet

Website lets you shop for kids like you shop for a shelter pet

CultureDecember 23, 2016 By Reilly Capps

Ever buy a dog from a breeder, as opposed to getting one from the pound? You can't go out in public anymore. Your friends will shame you until you can't look up. "Do you know how many unwanted pets there are out there?" they'll say. "We rescued our dog. Rescued her. And I for one think that's the only way to find a pet." Then they continue: "We just had our third child, and she's wonderful."

It boils my blood. But, take my advice: Do not, if you want to have any friends left at all, say the following:

"You rescued your dog? Rescued it? What did you do, pull it from a burning building? Helicopter it off a rooftop during Katrina. No, you got a free dog from the pound.

"So what if I got a dog from a breeder. I wanted a certain kind. And let's talk about your little natural-resource-sucking little spawn. Why is it wrong to get a dog from a breeder, but perfectly okay to breed your own kids?

"Did you know, there are thousands of rescue humans? They're not called that, they're called foster children. Would you like to see them?"

Then pull up on your phone the website AdoptUSKids — then see who has the moral high ground. There, you can literally search through thousands of profiles of the most adorable kids you've ever seen. And when I say search, I mean search, in a way that is disturbing. On AdoptUSKids, there are 4,365 profiles, representing far more kids than that, since many of them come in sets of multiple siblings that don't want to be separated. On the search page, you can plug in the kids' ages, genders and skin colors. (How fucked up is that? If you just want a white baby, you can get a white baby. Which, in case you're wondering whether America really is racist, the answer is yes, it is crazy racist — there aren't that many healthy white babies left.) 

These profiles are the saddest, most shameful thing. These poor kids try to take the smiliest, most wholesome picture they can, and the staff writes the most glowing review. Like, "Ja'Mone enjoys dancing, singing, playing basketball, and not growing up with crushing abandonment issues." A fair portion of the kids are special: wheelchairs, tiny heads, helmets. Which means lots of people are giving birth to kids with special needs and then fulfilling none of those needs. If you have an intact heart, it's impossible to scroll through the results for very long without wanting to either adopt six to ten of them or else close the site and never look again. The guilt is incredible.

Everyone understands this emotion when it comes to dogs. Before she "rescued" her dog, Dottie, my sister used to scroll endlessly through a website with shelter pets. This is one of America's premier ways to procrastinate. Adopting Dottie changed her life, she said: it gave her purpose. And it super changed Dottie's life. Dottie was living in a cage; now she gets treated like royalty.

Now my sister scrolls through AdoptUSKids. She says she'd like to take in a foster child.

The pervasiveness of the "Rescue a Shelter Pet" mentality — there are even license plates about it — while there's so little attention given to foster kids helps bring to light one of the most appalling hypocrisies: in a lot of ways, we treat dogs better than we do humans. For example, if you see a dog tied up to the curb outside a bar, you'll stop and pet him and say "who's a good dog?" But if you see a homeless person on that same curb, you avert your eyes and quicken your step. Also, you can still spank your kid and even whip them, but if you punch a dog you're going to prison. And people will watch movies all the time with horrible violence, death left and right, but if a dog gets killed people say it's over the line.

So — next time I meet a person with a "rescue" dog but a "breeder" child. I'm going to point out the hypocrisy. As my sister says: "We shame the shit out of people who buy puppies from breeders/puppy mills when there are 'so many good dogs who need homes', but it's not the same for human children. I'm not saying people shouldn't have ANY of their own children, but for every one you make, you should probably adopt one or two."

Amen, sister.

Speaking of which: sis, you've got a nice stable husband now and a pretty good life: when are you guys gonna have kids? I want a new niece/nephew, and you've already got a dog. I promise I won't shame you for it — much.