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Q&A with Kim Kavin, author of Little Boy Blue
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Kavin & Blue Portrait
Kim Kavin & Blue

When journalist Kim Kavin decided to adopt an adorable pup on Petfinder.com, she didn’t realize that her good deed would lead to a book exposing shelter practices as well as reporting on the amazing canine rescue network responsible for saving that pup. We talk with the author about her book, Little Boy Blue: A puppy’s rescue from death row and his owner’s journey for truth about what she learned on that “journey.”

Bark: Here in the San Francisco Bay Area, I’ve been seeing more purebreds especially with first-time dog people, than I have in the past (historically, mixed-breeds have been the city’s top dogs), and it’s a trend that concerns me. What’s your take on the best way to get the word out about shelter adoption?
Kim Kavin: That’s interesting, because in New Jersey, as well as all the way up the corridor to Boston, the trend is the opposite. Dog parks are filling with rescues, most of them from southern states. I interviewed the town clerk in New Canaan, Conn., a very upscale town, who told me that the trend toward adopting has been noticeable in terms of the new dogs who are being licensed. Rescuing a shelter dog has become the educated “thing to do” in more affluent areas.

Everyone I interviewed for Little Boy Blue told me that education is the answer. They were thrilled to hear about the book; they said they’ve been screaming like banshees about adoption for years, and finally, people are starting to take notice. We need to keep that level of education going, and growing. If people simply understand the options—what they’re buying into when they acquire a purebred from a breeder versus what they’re supporting when they adopt a rescued dog—most do the right thing. Education is the key.

B: What five things can shelters do to improve their adoption rates?
KK: From what I saw during my visits to the best shelters, as well as from reviewing research on this subject by experts, the top five are as follows:

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Submitted by Anonymous | August 20 2012 |

"Numbers and expiration dates." That is disgusting. Communicating just this bit of information to people about shelter dogs could be enough to change hearts and minds.

Submitted by Lyn deMarrin | September 16 2012 |

As a long time weekly volunteer at an animal shelter I support Kavin's recommentations. However, I must strongly assert that getting an animal adopted must not be an end that justifies any means. Prospective adopters must be interviewed (and perhaps other strategies employed as well) to determins, as much as humanly possible, if they will be good owners. After years of witnessing the results of heinous behavior of bad owners, I have come to believe that there are much worse things for animal than euthanasia. Let's follow Kavin's recommendations while remembering that adoptions should not be about adoption numbers or about reduction of kill numbers, but about successful pairing with a loving home.

Submitted by Kim Kavin | September 21 2012 |

Hi Lyn,

I couldn't agree more. That's why "Little Boy Blue" talks about the five-page adoption application and home visit that Lulu's Rescue required before I was allowed to adopt Blue.

Hopefully you will read the book and see how it supports the very thing you are suggesting.

Best,
Kim Kavin

Submitted by Mary DiBlasi | September 17 2012 |

I read and enjoyed the book for the most part. But early in the book there was a comment about the price of rescue dogs and rescues making money. I volunteer with a rescue and have contacts with several others. Believe me, no one in a genuine rescue makes money. The adoption fees charged barely cover the cost of the care put into each dog and if it more than covers the care of one dog, it goes toward the care of another whose medical care or training expenses were exorbitant. Some of the puppies come in with parvovirus which is very expensive to treat, some of the older ones come in with heartworm, which is also very expensive to treat. Even just the basic round of shots and testing for parasites, etc. is expensive "up north" and microchipping is routine and not inexpensive. Now that you are more familiar with rescue I hope you see that the fees are not out of line, but I wish you had not exclaimed over paying $450 for a "shelter dog" who has since brought you so much joy and affection. Would a $1,000 purebred have brought you more?

Submitted by Kim Kavin | September 21 2012 |

Hi Mary,

I'm glad you enjoyed "Little Boy Blue." I'm guessing you skipped the chapter later in the book where I do indeed delve into the costs that rescues pay, and make clear to the reader that most rescues actually lose money on most dogs.

Most people who adopt do in fact question why a "free dog from a shelter" costs $400 or so when it gets to a rescue. "Little Boy Blue" makes very clear that I was just like these people, and then I educated myself to find out it's because reputable rescues are providing medical care and more.

Best,
Kim Kavin

Submitted by Mary Shepherd-Ennis | January 17 2013 |

Little Boy Blue is wonderful. It is well written and moves along so well. Hated reading about the gas chambers but since I have done cat rescue for over 40 years along with some dogs and varied wildlife, I read that early.

I ask this of you. Please research Dr. Melanie Joy. Please read her book Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs and Wear Cows. Your rather casual comments about not being vegan loving and eating summer bbq's tells me that you are missing some very important emotional intelligence and emotional understanding of animals. In SKorea at a notorious market you can pick your live kitten, cat or dog and have it prepared any way you like...while it lives through being boiled fried or roasted....your choice. Pigs are known to be the 5th smartest animal, way above dogs. So how would you feel about someone taking Blue to cook alive? Those SK dogs are the same as Blue and when the cats and dogs are rescued they make the same wonderful pets as Blue.

It is actually more cruel to kill animals loving life, cared for and eating well than those who would love to die to end their suffering. Please read the above.

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