Way back in the early 1960s when Dr. Seuss (aka Theodore Geisel) was writing “What Pet Should I Get?” — which was finally published in July 2015, 22 years after his wife, Audrey, discovered the manuscript in his office — most people bought their pets from stores.
In the book, the brother and sister from the Dr. Seuss’ “One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish” go shopping at a pet store.
A lot has changed in over 50 years. As people became more aware of the horrible conditions in puppy mills, from which most stores obtain their pets for sale, the mantra, “Adopt, don’t shop,” became popular. People began going to animal shelters instead of stores to find new family members.
Many cities, including Los Angeles, outlawed the sale of pets from stores. Nowadays, most of the dogs and cats in the businesses that still exist are from local shelters.
To address this change, an addendum has been added to “What Pet Should I Get?” by its publisher, Random House Children’s Books. The note advises readers to adopt pets from a shelter rather than buy them from a store.
However, the new addendum does not discourage having exotic animals as pets, such as the monkeys and large birds featured in the book. This doesn’t sit well with Ingrid Newkirk, president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).
“There should have been a disclaimer that said wild birds do not make good pets, they do not belong in cages,” she told the Los Angeles Times. “If you want to adopt, choose a rabbit or a puppy at a shelter and leave exotics and wildlife alone.”
I agree with Newkirk that parents and teachers reading the book with kids should be “careful to use it as a learning exercise and a teaching exercise.”
‘How Much Is That Doggie in the Window’ Also Got an Update
Just like “What Pet Should I Get?”, Patti Page’s 1952 novelty hit, “How Much That Doggie in the Window?” was about buying a pet from a store.
Page, an animal lover, re-recorded the song in 2009.
“When I recorded that song more than 50 years ago, ‘doggie in the window’ seemed like a sweet and harmless message, and everyone thought the corner pet store was just a place to see sweet and adorable puppies,” she said in a video for the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).
“And now the puppies in pet stores may still be adorable, but most of them come from puppy mills. So I’ve changed my tune.”
The new version of her hit was retitled, “Do You See That Doggie in the Shelter?” It included these revised lyrics:
“Do you see that doggie in the shelter?
The one with the take-me-home eyes?
If you give him your love and attention
He will be your best friend for life.”
Page, who passed away in 2013, donated the rights to the new song to the HSUS.