Vicky Cayetano: All I Want For Christmas Is For People To Be Responsible Pet Owners - Honolulu Civil Beat


About the Author

Vicky Cayetano

Vicky Cayetano is a longtime businesswoman, philanthropist, former First Lady and recent gubernatorial candidate. She is active in the community, advocating for small businesses, animal welfare, supporting the arts and other aspects of our community. Opinions are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Civil Beat’s views.


It’s the Tuesday before Christmas, and you might be like so many people running around trying to find that perfect gift for your special someone or for the children.

You think to yourself, “What can you get them that they don’t already have?” Ahh yes … a real live puppy!

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Before you seriously pursue it, consider the following:

A puppy is not something you give someone as a present, like a toy or a treat. Dogs, cats, and any kind of pet comes with a level of commitment and responsibility.

While they undoubtedly bring an incredible amount of joy into one’s life and family, like any relationship it requires commitment and the responsibility to spend the time needed to care for and enjoy the relationship. While a dog can indeed be a child’s best friend, the child should also be ready to understand that the giving in such a relationship must be mutual and if they are not ready to make that level of commitment, it’s better to stick with a stuffed toy or robot that can be dumped when they are no longer interested. 

Before you give a puppy or dog as a gift to a child, understand that “to teach said child to be responsible for another being” is NOT a good reason. It is the neglected animal that will suffer. Be prepared to care for this new family member yourself. If you are not prepared to do this, do not bring a new pet into your household!

If you are ready for a pet and specifically talking about dogs, not only because you need to find a present, but for all the right reasons, then be sure to do your research before you get a dog. Do your homework.

Don’t run out and spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on boutique dogs with cutesy names. Check the background. In many cases, these boutique dogs are nothing more than poi dogs with a hefty price tag schemed up by backyard breeders.

Many of them do not put a limit on the frequency of their breeding and produce as many as they can with no thought to the future care of the dog or the quality of the litter that is bred. Whether they are “pom-skis” (a mix of Pomeranian and a Husky) or even the ever-popular labradoodles, backyard breeders breed not for quality but to satisfy a market that is generally ill informed and think these dogs are cute.

Check out the background of a dog you are considering getting before you find yourself with a dog that has been bred with no consideration for genetic weaknesses and the problems it could bring to its owners.

Australian Labradoodle Puppies of mixed colours
These Australian Labradoodle puppies are cute. But crossbreeding can lead to health issues and other problems. Even the original breeder now says he regrets mixing the retriever with the poodle. Getty Images/iStockphoto

My sister rescued a dog whose owner was no longer interested in or willing to care for it. This was a young dog that showed all the signs of poor breeding and needed medical attention. The dog was blind before she was even five and along with a host of other medical issues, she required significant attention and vet fees. While this dog was given as comfortable a life as she could have, it took much attention and expenses from the owner, something that every potential dog owner should ask themselves if they are willing to do. 

Many of these dogs are not recognized by the American Kennel Club because there has not been any research on these “poi” dogs/mixed breeds to provide dog owners with their known genetic weaknesses. 

It is notable that the inventor/creator of the labradoodle (a mix of the poodle and Labrador retriever breeds), Wally Conron, said in an interview on the Australian Broadcasting Corp.’s podcast, “Sum of All Parts,” that creating that mixed breed was one of his life’s regrets.

“I opened a Pandora’s box and released a Frankenstein monster,” he said. He said this because he felt that what he had done sparked other crossbreeding for all the wrong reasons.

So please, if you are ready for a dog, look at either rescuing one from a shelter or do your homework and get a legitimate, well-bred, genetically certified dog from a qualified breeder.

Ironically, Conron had the best of intentions when he bred the first labradoodle for a blind woman in Hawaii whose husband was allergic to longhaired dogs. He thought that it would have been an easy problem to solve, noting that poodles which do not shed could be a good choice.

“Over the period of three years, I tried 33 standard poodles, but not one was successful,” he said. His boss then pressured him to find an alternative, so he decided to breed a poodle and a Labrador. However, he encountered resistance from poodle breeders, likely because they were concerned about cross breeding.

He then decided to mate a male poodle that belonged to his boss, Harley, with a female Labrador, Brandy. That coupling produced three puppies in 1989, in what are regarded as the world’s first labradoodles.

Conron then sent hair clippings from each of the three puppies to the woman in Hawaii but only the clipping from one of the puppies elicited no allergy reaction from her husband. So, while that puppy was sent to Hawaii, there remained the other two dogs which no one seemed to want.

Conron then went to his public relations department and urged them to notify reporters that they had created a “special” hypoallergenic guide dog breed. With clever branding the labradoodle was a surprise hit, much to Conron’s regret later. 

While it has grown in tremendous popularity, the labradoodle has still not been recognized by the American Kennel Club. It takes many years and detailed record keeping (including health statistics) for this to happen.

This is important because illegitimate crossbreeding results in many of these poor dogs being bred with genetic defects that will cost them and their owners pain, suffering and tremendous veterinary expenses. 

A good number of rescue dogs in shelters are the result of people buying from horrific puppy mills and backyard breeders and then find that they no longer want to be saddled with a “defective dog” and medical expenses. These dogs are turned over to a place of uncertainty, through no fault of their own.

In the meantime, human greed by unscrupulous breeders who prey on ignorant buyers continues to perpetuate the cycle. 

And do not think that just because a vet has given the puppy its initial vaccinations, that the veterinarian is certifying the puppy’s health in any way, because they’re not. It is a business transaction, and the vet expects the dog’s owner to do their own in-depth investigation and then provide ongoing care. 

So please, if you are ready for a dog, look at rescuing one from the shelter and giving them a second chance at life. Believe me, you’ll experience a new definition of happiness.

If you must have a purebred, get a legitimate certified dog from a qualified breeder. The American Kennel Club certifies responsible breeders, who prove they health-test breeding stock, and provide healthy puppies as “Breeders of Merit.”

Getting the right family companion will save you heartache, money and stop these unconscionable breeders.

Read this next:

Chad Blair: What’s Next For Kai Kahele?


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About the Author

Vicky Cayetano

Vicky Cayetano is a longtime businesswoman, philanthropist, former First Lady and recent gubernatorial candidate. She is active in the community, advocating for small businesses, animal welfare, supporting the arts and other aspects of our community. Opinions are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Civil Beat’s views.


Latest Comments (0)

Thank you, Vicky, for being such a dedicated supporter of our animal friends! Yes, adoptive parents should be fully informed of all the requirements for taking a dog or cat into a home. They become a member of the family and deserve the same respect and caring. Keep up the great work!

nobreathgirl · 1 month ago

Also worth considering the environment/planetary impact of your pet. Actually, your pet's diet. Annual greenhouse gas emissions from dry dog and cat food was estimated to be 106 million tons of carbon dioxide. A country producing the same levels would be the world’s sixtieth highest emitter. (University of Edinburgh, 2020- Area twice the size of UK needed to feed the world's pets) For the sake our future generations of many species, hopefully we humans are replacing our children with overall lower environmental impact pets. This might be the case in Spain, Italy, Japan, and Greece. Did I just say that?

luckyd · 1 month ago

All I want for Christmas is for the City and County to take back the animal control function and stop the killing of tens of thousands of innocent animals each year with plans to kill tens of thousands more at a new "facility" (I'd use other words to describe it but CB would not permit) in Kapolei. It would also be nice if the State stopped giving them grants in aid and passing legislation to keep them in business. Wrong side of history.Giving animals as presents is a bad idea but refusing to take Hawai`i no-kill is on a whole other level of bad judgement. It's disappointing that the author continues her long- term support of the idea that the best way to relieve animal suffering is to kill them all - a disposable capitalist model that rewards both the breeders and the disposers with financial gains.

Frank_DeGiacomo · 1 month ago

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