While the song “How much is that doggie in the window?” may have been a chart-topping song in the 50s, made famous by singer Patti Page, its message today speaks of a more sinister side of human nature—that of breeding animals for commercial gain. More than 60 years on, and to mark the start of Puppy Mill Action Week in 2008, the Humane Society of the United States teamed up with Patti to change the tune of this ever-popular song. Shining her brilliant voice and compassion for animals, Patti now championed the plight of homeless cats and dogs, urging one and all to heed the important message that animals come with a lifetime of commitment, care and kindness, and it is they who so often end up paying an enormous price.
Sadly, universal is the whim to purchase that cute puppy or kitten, which no doubt contributes to the over 250,000 healthy and homeless dogs and cats who are killed each year in Australia. Such a daunting statistic does not even take into account a growing number of other animals, like ducklings, who share the same morbid fate. Their cuteness and fluffiness lure naïve and unsuspecting members of the public, just like Flappy’s human, to impulse buy, without a thought for the lifetime commitment they have just entered into. In this instance, the human happened to be a 15-year-old child who purchased the two-weeks-old duckling for $12.50 at a market. Flappy’s chirping alerted a startled family that more had arrived home from school that day than books and homework. Quickly recognising the family’s inability to meet the species-specific needs of baby ducks, the call was made to Edgar’s Mission for assistance. Fortunate is Flappy that the outcome has been good, but, alas, not so is the outcome for the myriad of ducks and drakes who are so thoughtlessly and illegally dumped on wetlands throughout the country, if they even make it that far.
Although thoughtlessly separated way too young from her protective mother, who would have taught her important life lessons, and currently in a world devoid of feathered friends, Flappy is daily surrounded by humans who love and care for her very much, and at nighttime a ticking clock, teddy bear and heated room are her confidants. Proving the resilience of animals and making the absolute best of her current situation, Flappy is content to follow her new human friends, all the while delighting one and all with her sweet antics of standing as tall as she can and madly flapping her stumpy little wings. We know it won’t be too long before Flappy is ready to fly the coop to our beautiful waterbird habitat and an entire new world of ducky delights; only then will we breathe a sigh of relief that our rescue is complete.
So when next time you ponder the question, “How much is that doggie (or cute duckie) in the window?”, please consider this: The price they pay for being there is simply too much, and that our friends pay such a price is something we all should all be in a flap about!