6 Things To Ask Yourself Before You Gift A Puppy

6 Things To Ask Yourself Before You Gift A Puppy

There is nothing more heart-warming than blessing a loved one's life with a four-legged, furry friend. But, sometimes, not everyone is ready for that kind of present. Also, you should adopt, not shop.

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You'd love nothing more than the look on your relative's face when they see you've given them man's best friend. There really isn't a gift that tops getting a puppy. It is even better and sweeter when you adopt a pup from a rescue shelter.

It's two gifts in one. You adopt a pup and gift them with a new lease on life and you gift a family with the presence of a puppy. But as cute as it is to have a puppy, it comes with loads of work. So before you decide to get someone a pup this holiday season, please, for the sake of returned Christmas puppies everywhere, heavily consider the following:

1. Do they have the time to raise an animal?

Having a puppy is a lot of work, training a puppy is even harder. It takes consistency and dedication. Is the person you will give the puppy always working all day? Do they go out all the time? Stay away long weekends? It is entirely possibly to be too busy for a puppy, just be responsible enough to know when that's your situation.

2. Can they house-train the animal?

Do they have knowledge in potty training an animal? If they've never done it before, do they have the time and patience to do so? Mistakes will happen during training. Do they have the patience to be understanding and calm when accidents happen?

3. Do they have the means to raise and care for an animal?

Puppies need to get vaccines and have a vet they can go to for any emergencies. Some animals may need to be fixed at some point in their lives. They need food to eat every day, medicines, pet deposit fees. These things cost money and especially with the vet, it isn't cheap.

4. Do they have the living space to take in an animal?

Please don't get a puppy for your loved one who lives in a small apartment with no grass area outside. Pups need space, they need room to run, they need room to grow. Does the person you want to give a puppy to move around a lot? Do they often rent apartments that don't allow pets? Do they have a yard or space to take the dog outside?

5. Do they have the patience for the puppy stage?

There will be carpets stained, shoes destroyed, trash dug through. It's a puppy thing. No matter how hard you try, you can't prevent everything from happening, puppy accidents included.

Does the person you wish to gift a puppy have the patience to handle these incidents? Do they have to stay calm when accidents happen and focus on teaching the dog right from wrong?

Or are they going to get mad and fed up when their favorite pair of shoes get chewed up? Are they going to mistreat the dog and not teach it any different when things like getting in the trash happen?

6. Adopt, don't shop. 

Shelters across the world are filled with dogs who would do anything for a new family to love and cherish. Some shelter pups require a little more loving, nonetheless, they just as much deserve a new lease on life just like any other pup. Before you go to a chain pet store and buy a puppy, please consider adopting from a local shelter first.

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5 Companies That Still Use Slave Labor

Let's talk about the modern slave trade.
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Growing up in a country where freedom is always a right and expectation — whether you live in the United States or one of the other 86 "free" countries — it is easy to believe that, compared to the well-known 1800s slave trade, we are doing pretty well when it comes to civil liberties, freedom, and overall social welfare. Documents such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) have been approved by the General Assembly of the United Nations, meaning that the vast majority of nations have agreed that every individual has the right to basic human dignity.

Despite this significant progress, however, there are 45.8 million people enslaved today, more than any other time in world history. The United States Department of Homeland Security has launched the Blue Campaign in light of this growing industry, hoping to raise awareness of the human trafficking that persists in local communities. Additionally, you can watch this video for a summary on the Global Slavery pandemic. I will write about the problem of human trafficking in the United States on another day; however, global slavery affects us whether it is in our city or halfway around the world. In fact, companies that you purchase from every single day use slave labor for their work instead of paying employees a fair wage.* Don't believe me?

Here are five companies that are using slave labor to make their products TODAY, and where you should shop instead.

Nestle

Nestle is one of the largest companies that has consistently carried out human rights violations all over the world. Not only did they illegally take water from California during the drought in 2015, but in the 1970s they got third-world mothers to use infant formula by selling it at reduced prices, and then when the mothers could no longer breastfeed, they raised the price of formula so much that many children were malnourished and starving.

Their most recent problems revolve around slavery in the cocoa industry. In 2009 several former child slaves sued Nestle because they were trafficked and forced to work on Nestle farms in Cote d'Ivoire. Another suit was filed by former child slaves in 2014, stating that "Studies by International Labour Organization, UNICEF, the Department of State, and numerous other organizations have confirmed that thousands of children are forced to work without pay in the Ivorian economy." In 2016, the Fair Labor Association executed an assessment of Nestle in Cote d'Ivoire. They claimed that 70% of Nestle farms were not trained on the prohibition of forced labor. Further, they stated that "there is no process in place to monitor, report, and remediate cases of forced labor at the farms." With this in mind, they did find evidence of potential forced and uncompensated labor. Additionally, they found evidence of child labor—many of these children never enrolling in school — in which children were getting paid little to nothing, and often working in dangerous conditions.

INSTEAD: buy from Ben & Jerry's or Theo. They will satisfy your sweet tooth and are Fair-Trade guaranteed.

Nike

Nike has REALLY cleaned up their act in the last several years, but with a standard of no slave labor, they still have quite a way to go. In 1992, activist Jeff Ballinger published an exposé in "Harpers" that revealed the story of a child in Indonesia working in disgusting conditions, and for a mere 14 cents per hour (far below the minimum wage in Indonesia at the time).

Since then, Nike has begun to report supply chain information. The most recent report claims that, in 2016, only 86% of their factories were up to the minimum standards they set. Though they give a good indication of how far the company has come, these standards are set by Nike and assessed internally, making it difficult to compare standards to a universal one.

INSTEAD: shop at Patagonia! All products here are Fair Trade Certified!

Starbucks

Starbucks claims a mission for ethical sourcing, meaning their company policy requires them to abide by a standard of "ethical sourcing" that they have created. They only have two Fair-Trade coffees available for purchase. After the development charity Oxfam reported that Starbucks was depriving Ethiopian coffee growers of $90 million every year, Starbucks was challenged by the public eye to “clean up their act,” and did so by creating their own “ethical sourcing” standards, that they implement themselves, and certify 99% of their coffee with. Whether or not these standards are viable, they are not Fair Trade Certified at this time.

The U.S. Department of Labor has a list of locations and goods that use forced and child labor. Starbucks lists coffees from countries such as Guatamala, Kenya, Costa Rica and Panama; however, none of these single-sourced coffees are certified by them as “Fair Trade.” Rather, they are all regions that are known to use child labor.

INSTEAD: buy the Starbucks Italian Roast and Café Estima; they are certified by Fair Trade! You can also order online from Café Justo, Jurang and Equal Exchange —entire companies dedicated to producing Fair Trade coffee.

H&M

A 2016 report stated that as of December 31, 2015, 31 out of 72 H&M suppliers were using illegal contracts. In other words, these contracts allowed for wrongful termination. Now I know what you are thinking: the current system of hiring/firing in the U.S. is full of problems, and it takes way too much work to fire a bad employee in most cases. Well, the situation in countries like Cambodia and India are a little different. Often times, employees of H&M will be forced to work for excessive overtime hours—far beyond the legal limit—with no increase in their weekly take home pay. They are also often working in sweatshop conditions, with no breaks and unsanitary environments. Moreover, the contracts allow the factory to fire a worker for refusing to work these long hours. In fact, a garment worker in Cambodia stated: "We often get sick around once a month. We don’t eat enough and work too much trying to maximize the piece rate. Also, we don’t stop to go to the bathroom. We often work through lunch breaks or go back into work early, so there is hardly any time to rest."

INSTEAD: shop at one of these other retailers that are guaranteed to have fair-trade labor!

Walmart

Well, this one is probably the least suprising yet. According to a 2016 report by the Wage Alliance on Walmart's value chain, Walmart refused to sign the 2013 Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh that 200 companies signed following the collapse of Rana Plaza. It also stated that all 14 factories in Cambodia were studied, and they all violated local overtime laws consistently, with some forcing 14 hour work days without overtime pay "in sweltering heat, without adequate supply of clean drinking water or any breaks." These same conditions were expressed by workers in factories in India, Indonesia, and Bangladesh. The report continued to list countless instances of workers given severely less than they were promised, or even cases where owners of factories fled without paying workers at all.

INSTEAD: OK, I know it's hard to pass up Walmart prices. However, here is a full list of companies that are fair trade. Even if you start small, I know you can find a way to cut back on your slavery footprint! Want to know how many slaves work for you now? Visit the Slavery Footprint mission to find out.

*I use the term “fair wage” because many people who are enslaved are trapped in a cycle of debt bondage. This means that an individual or family works for pennies per hour to pay off an ever-increasing debt. Oftentimes this debt is passed down for generations. To learn more about debt bondage and other forms of slavery, visit the non-profit End Slavery Now, here.

Cover Image Credit: iragelb / Flickr

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From A Rescue Dog: Thank You For Putting Me On A Chain

You tried to keep me chained to a tree, but I found my forever home in someone's arms.

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When I was a puppy, I saw different families come to get my brothers and sisters and take them home. I was sad, but I knew my day was coming. I knew that soon, I would have a family come get me. Then, you came. You picked me. I thought it was the happiest day of my life!

When we first got home, you let me stay inside. I thought I was the luckiest puppy in the world. But, I started having accidents in the house. I didn't know any better. I spent all day inside by myself; what was I supposed to do? I also chewed up a few things: sunglasses, shoes, and a hat to be exact. But, isn't that what puppies do? You fussed at me, a lot. I swear I didn't know it was going to make you mad, or I promise I wouldn't have done it. After a few days, you'd had enough. You took me outside. I thought we were going in the yard to play. I didn't know I'd never go inside again.

You took me to a tree in the backyard and attached a chain to my collar. It was so heavy. I didn't know what was happening. You left me a bowl of food and a bowl of water but nothing else. I didn't have a dog house or any toys. I heard you say that I didn't deserve it. I wish you knew how sorry I was. I hated being outside all by myself. I cried all night. I cried every night for a few weeks, but I eventually gave up. It wasn't doing anything.

You used to come to bring me fresh food and water every day, but after a few months, you began to forget about me. You gave me food and water maybe once a week. Do you have any idea how hot I was in the summer? Especially when you forgot to give me more water. The winter was even worse. I was freezing cold every single night. I'd wake up in the mornings covered in frost.

My whole body ached. Your kids would be outside playing, and they wouldn't come near me anymore. I had fleas. I didn't smell good. I probably looked scary because I was so skinny; you could see almost all of my bones. I was heartbroken. When you'd come outside, I'd bark because I wanted your attention. You didn't care... I lived outside on this chain for almost a year. I was hopeless. I was stuck. My heart was broken. I wished you loved me back.

Then, one day while you were all gone, a lady saw me. Neither of us knew it then, but the second she looked into my eyes, I became hers. She had a place in her heart just for me. She noticed I didn't have any food or water, so she gave me some. She was so nice. I got hugs and kisses; I had forgotten what those felt like. She even let me give her kisses back! The lady left, and I was so sad. I thought about her all night. Apparently, she thought about me all night, too. Because, the next day, she came back.

I saw her talking to you, but I didn't know what was going on. She walked over to me and took my collar off. I was a little confused, but it felt so good to not have my neck weighed down by the heavy chain. I jumped on her and gave her so many kisses. She didn't yell at me like you used to. She just smiled with tears in her eyes. She called me to follow her to her car. I looked for you, but you had gone back inside. I wouldn't ever see you again. This was actually the happiest day of my life.

She took me to her home, and she let me go inside. She put me in the bathtub, and I was scared at first, but it felt so good to be clean. After my bath, she gave me food and water. I ate and began to feel much better. She let me sit on the couch with her, and I fell asleep with her rubbing my belly. I woke up, and she took me outside. I was so scared I wasn't going to get to come back in, but I did! She let me come back in. That night, I slept in the bed with her. I was so happy.

This is my life every day now. I get to love her, and she loves me back. I am so thankful that she saved me. I'm not outside in the heat or freezing cold. I'm not hungry or thirsty. I'm not neglected. I'm not abused. I'm with her. I am taken care of.

I hope you never get another dog. You don't deserve one. But, thank you for getting me. Thank you for leaving me on a chain. Without you, I wouldn't have found my forever home. I wouldn't know what love is. I wouldn't get to love my human every single day. She loves me more than you ever could. So, thank you.

Love,

A Rescue Dog

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