I feel this is a very good summary of how the AR movement has evolved. Thank you Sharyn for writing this.
Pet Puppies and Show Breeders
So is there no alternative to having dogs raised commercially in long rows of cages and sold at pet stores?
Yes, there is but it will take some major turning around in show breeders' thinking and not many of us are brave enough to stick our necks out and do it. Our ingrained "good breeder" beliefs are just too strong, but mostly it is peer pressure that keeps us from changing. Unfortunately we are going to lose our right to breed at all before anyone decides it's worth risking popularity to speak up.
How we got here: Before World War II, most people had mixed breed dogs because purebreds were just too expensive. No problem finding a puppy because spay/neuter was rare and there were lots of all kinds of pups to be had. As the sixties rolled around, in fact, whole litters were being euthanized at dog pounds because there were few leash laws -- dogs roamed around the neighborhood looking for love -- and no spaying. I was nine in 1960 and one of the joys of my life was the variety of dogs wandering around for me to play with. The dark side was that our neighbors' dogs sometimes had puppies that occasionally mysteriously disappeared around six weeks old with some mumblings from the adults about shelters and finding good homes. The truth was most, if not all, of them were euthanized. There were too many puppies for the homes available. That is pet overpopulation and we still have it in cats.
Around this same time, people were getting more affluent and the price of purebreds was coming down. The government had encouraged the commercial breeding of dogs as an economic measure and suddenly the ads in the paper were not only for Shepherd mixes, but for "German Shepherd puppies, $50." (One of those, incidentally, was my first purebred dog. when I was 16) So now families who had bought purebreds often bred a litter or two for extra income or just for the experience of having pups. And purebred puppies began entering the pound for euthanasia as well. That was pet overpopulation too. Too many puppies for the homes available.
Enter the various humane societies and the spay/neuter campaigns -- unarguably much needed to curb the overpopulation and stop needless euthanasia. Shelter euthanasia dropped 70 percent between 1970 and 1990 and has continued to drop since then. In the late '80s and '90s, good breeders also added spay/neuter contracts to their puppy sales, further reducing the number of unwanted litters. It gradually became unfashionable to allow your dog to have puppies unless you were a show or working dog breeder. "Nice people" just didn't allow their dogs to contribute to pet overpopulation. We breeders went it one better and started being seriously nasty (or at least condescending) to anyone expressing an interest in breeding and once the internet got going, all a person had to do was mention to one breeder that she MIGHT be interested in breeding, and there was a Do Not Adopt circulated throughout the breed lists. That person would play hell getting a puppy from a show breeder after that.
In the early '90s, perhaps a bit earlier, two things happened in the humane movement. Some of the organizations realized that without an overpopulation crisis, they didn't have a message to use to collect donations which were needed to pay the staff. But they didn't declare success and shut down. Ever known an organization to do that? Even the March of Dimes moved from polio to other birth defects when the polio vaccine ended their original crisis. No, they continued to scream "OVERPOPULATION" and they began to ease into a more radical movement called animal rights.
The animal rights philosophy is summarized on PETA's website as "animals have rights and deserve to have their best interests taken into consideration, regardless of whether they are useful to humans. Like you, they are capable of suffering and have an interest in leading their own lives; therefore, they are not ours to use — for food, clothing, entertainment, experimentation, or any other reason." It's the last part of that that will end our right to breed them. The ARs will deny this on the phone (no one would send them money if they admitted it!), but if you dig deeply enough, you will find that, yes, they DO believe no one should keep pets.
"Pet ownership is an absolutely abysmal situation brought about by human manipulation." Ingrid Newkirk, national director, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PeTA), Just Like Us? Harper's, August 1988, p. 50.
"In a perfect world, all other than human animals would be free of human interference, and dogs and cats would be part of the ecological scheme." PeTA's Statement on Companion Animals
"One day, we would like an end to pet shops and the breeding of animals. [Dogs] would pursue their natural lives in the wild ... they would have full lives, not wasting at home for someone to come home in the evening and pet them and then sit there and watch TV," Ingrid Newkirk, national director, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PeTA), Chicago Daily Herald, March 1, 1990
PeTA's "No Birth Nation" program is not a moratorium on breeding. It is an END to it. So where will pets come from? Hmmmm. Think about that when you call them for information. Heck NO they are not going to admit it in so many words. (some of the people who work there may not even know it, and for sure most of the people who send them money don't know it) Who would donate to an organization working to end pet ownership, for heaven' s sake? PETA is not shy about saying ALL breeders are bad. And if we all stop breeding, WHERE WILL THE PETS COME FROM???
In the '80s HSUS was still a "good guy," but during the last couple of decades of the 20th century, it was slowly infiltrated by the extremists, who quietly obtained board and high level executive positions. There are still some good people working for them, but when Wayne Pacelle became president, the conversion was complete. Now that is one organization that will NEVER admit to wanting to end pet ownership, but what else do these quotes from Wayne Pacelle mean?
"We have no ethical obligation to preserve the different breeds of livestock produced through selective breeding. . One generation and out. We have no problem with the extinction of domestic animals. They are creations of human selective breeding." Wayne Pacelle, Senior VP of Humane Society of the US, formerly of Friends of Animals and Fund for Animals, Animal People, May, 1993
When asked if he envisioned a future without pets, "If I had my personal view, perhaps that might take hold. In fact, I don't want to see another dog or cat born." Wayne Pacelle quoted in Bloodties: Nature, Culture and the Hunt by Ted Kerasote, 1993, p. 266.
As hard as it is for many of us to believe, people LIE to achieve their goals. And those of us who have worked in this arena for a few years know for sure that animal rights advocates will lie at the drop of a hat if they believe it will help their Cause.
HSUS is not as radical as PETA. We call it "PETA with a suit and tie." HSUS claims to support "good" breeders, but they know well that there are not enough non-commercial breeders to supply even all the GREAT homes with the most popular breeds. If everyone HSUS wanted to stop breeding did stop breeding, only about two in ten people who wanted a dog would be able to get one.
Everything except the No Pets agenda is on the websites of these organizations, and you can find that too if you spend a little time.
In summary, though the spay/neuter campaign was badly needed, show breeders fell into the AR trap of taking it to the extreme. Now most of the purebred dogs in this country are produced from the worst stock we have. No one gets a dog from a show breeder with blessings to breed it -- so if you want to breed, you go to a commercial breeder or pet shop. Result? What you'd expect. Poorly socialized puppies, many with genetic problems and bad temperaments. So guess what -- they end up in shelters, and the ARs scream PUREBREDS IN THE SHELTERS!! WE HAVE OVERPOPULATION!!!! STOP BREEDING!!! So we cut back even more, the commercial breeders pick up the slack and down goes the quality of purebred dogs.
Think about this. It is exactly what has happened and is happening.
Tomorrow: What breeders have to do to "stop puppy mills" and save our breeds and our right to breed.
By Sharyn Hutchens