To the editor of THE EAGLE:

I was more than a little dismayed to read the article in your recent Pet-o-rama special section entitled "Mixed breed dogs making a comeback." First of all, it is not true that mixed-breed dogs live longer or are healthier! It is not that there is anything wrong with mixed breed dog, but getting a mixed-breed is a crap shoot. You could be lucky and get the best characteristics of both breeds, but you have an equal chance of getting the worst!

Many mixed breeds are accidents. Rarely have there been health checks or adequate preparation for the puppies. The so-called designer breeds may be worst of all because the unsuspecting new owner often spends as much as one would spend for a purebred without any of the guarantees. Labradors and poodles are both prone to hip trouble. Without prior testing (an expensive x-ray), you are asking to have a dog that may be crippled and in pain as it gets older. If you breed two dogs of vastly different purpose and temperament, the dog is more likely to be out of control.

As the article stated, more than 75 percent of the dogs in shelters are mixed breeds. The reason is why the proliferation of mixed breeds is a really bad thing! It is estimated that 10,000 dogs are euthanized every day! All puppies are cute and a free or inexpensive one is easy to come by. A litter of puppies is expensive to properly raise, and requires a lot of time and effort. Inexperienced breeders are often too eager to get rid of them. With no predictable knowledge of your new puppy’s size, temperament, coat and disposition, you can have a nightmare on your hands when it’s full grown.

Based on the percentage of mixed breeds in shelters, the surrender resulted from the dog being a poor fit for the family, having became too ill to care for, or was too easily disposed of. The reason people think the mixed breeds are healthier is probably because those are the ones that were kept! People who research carefully and wait for a pure-bred puppy are more likely to have a vested interest in the dog they have chosen.

Of course there are puppy mills, the horrific results of which are well publicized. It is your responsibility as a prospective pet owner to do your homework and ensure that your puppy will be healthy, a good fit for your lifestyle, and have the best start in life. You should take care to choose a breed based on the known characteristics of that breed -- you will know whether the dog will be good in an apartment, how much grooming and exercise will likely be required, what the ultimate size and weight will be, whether the dog sheds and/or drools, and what its predictable temperament will be.

If you’re ready for an adventure, then a mixed breed may be the right dog for you, but, remember, there are millions of dogs and cats thrown away every year. No one should allow his/her pet to breed indiscriminately, and no one should contribute to the pet over-population by paying people to do that, either by buying from a puppy mill, encouraging mixed breeding or failing to have your pet neutered.

SALLY

UNDERWOOD-MILLER

Stockbridge