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Dog Breeding: Who speaks for the dogs?

“Good people are good to their animals.” (Proverbs, The Message translation)

FOUNDING FATHERS PERSPECTIVE

May I never get too busy in my own affairs that I fail to respond to the needs of others with kindness and compassion. (Thomas Jefferson)

“Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.” (John Adams)

FACTS

About 35,000 puppies are born every day in the US, and about 10,000 human babies. As long as this birth rate ratio stays constant, there will never be enough homes for all the dogs.

Each year, 3.3 million dogs go into shelters:

  • 1.6 million are adopted
  • 620,000 go back to their owners.
  • 1.2 million are euthanized (3,300 per day)

ASPCA, “Shelter Intake and Surrender”
Animals Abused and Abandoned, “Spay and Neuter” 


There are an estimated 10,000 puppy mills in the US, breeding 2 million puppies annually. “Puppy Mills” are breeders, licensed and unlicensed, who individually breed up to thousands of dogs annually, for profit. They sell them primarily to pet stores and to individuals on the internet. Pet store dogs come almost exclusively from puppy mills.

Puppy mill dogs are often raised in inhumane conditions, frequently develop poor health, and often die en route to destinations all over the country. Puppies are often separated too soon from their mothers, resulting in health and emotional problems.
The Puppy Mill Project, “About puppy mills”


The American Kennel Club identifies their organization as “The Dog’s Champion.” The AKC has fought AGAINST over 150 laws designed to protect dogs from puppy mills.

The AKC gives Breeder of Merit awards to breeders, designed to encourage “better breeding practices, better attention to dog health issues, and more responsible ownership.”

A 2012 recipient of the AKC “Breeder of Merit” award was a puppy mill operator who was convicted of 91 counts of cruelty against the dogs he was breeding and sentenced to 30 years in prison. Prior to the breeder’s conviction, the AKC visited his facility twice and declared the breeder in total compliance with their standards.

The majority of the AKC’s annual revenue ($72 million in 2016) comes from registration fees paid by puppy mill breeders.
The Humane Society of the United States, 2/8/15. “The AKC: Worst in show”
American Kennel Club, 1/28/11. “AKC Veterinary Outreach Program”
American Kennel Club 2016 Annual Report


The Animal Welfare Act is the only federal law that regulates the treatment of animals, including puppy mills. The AWA was passed in 1966 and most recently amended in 2013. It establishes a minimal level of care for most animals used for research or exhibition, and requires animal dealers to be registered, licensed and subject to federal inspections. The AWA applies only to large commercial breeders and has no authority over smaller private ones. The AWA’s inspections of puppy mills are minimal, and their enforcement against abusive practices is weak.
United States Department of Agriculture, “The Animal Welfare Act
Wikipedia, “Animal Welfare Act of 1966”
Humane Society of the U.S. 2/6/17 “Notice of intent to enforce lawsuit” 


“No-kill” animal shelters are a misnomer. While they do not kill dogs themselves, they don’t accept a number of breeds and behaviors. Rejected dogs either get released onto the streets by their owners and die, or are sent to shelters that DO kill un-adopted dogs.

Three of the primary animal welfare organizations (Humane Society, ASPCA, and PETA) agree on the need to reduce the dog population. They agree on the need for neutering/spaying, and are against puppy mills. However, unlike the other two organizations, PETA opposes No-Kill shelters because they believe extended confinement to cages is less humane than euthanization. This disagreement keeps PETA from fully collaborating with the other two groups.
ASPCA policy and position statements, “No-kill community coalitions”
PETA. “The deadly consequences of no-kill policies” 


A breakthrough in neutering male dogs is to simply give them a testicular injection of calcium chloride. It is fast, cheap, effective, requires no anesthesia or surgery, and one vet can treat 70 dogs per day or more. This method cost $1, and is practiced by a growing number of dog shelters. It has been resisted by many veterinarians, who typically charge $45 to $135 to neuter a dog.
Wall St. Journal, 11/28/14. Beck, Melinda “Too many dogs? A simple solution”
Cost Helper Pets and Pet Care, “Dog spay or neuter cost” 


25% to 90% of AKC purebred dogs have genetic disorders caused by their breeding.

Mixed-breed dogs purchased from shelters have fewer health issues and a lower start-up cost of ownership than pure breeds. Mixed-breed dogs have more flexibility in adapting to a variety of living situations. Adopting a pet from a shelter also saves a life.
Pet M.D., “Top 10 reasons why mutts are awesome”
Dog’s Best Friend: Annals of the Dog-Human Relationship, Derr, Mark, pg. 195

SUMMARY

All of the problems associated with dogs are caused by their over-population. This results from excessive, abusive breeding by large and small puppy mills, driven by consumer demand for purebred animals. Dogs are the largest part of the $60 billion per year pet industry. The financial enticement to breeders, owners, retailers, the American Kennel Club, and veterinarians has corrupted them all to varying degrees. The current dog breeding situation will continue until the pride and financial gain of all those involved becomes a lower priority than stopping the suffering of millions of animals who can’t protect themselves.

POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS

  • The federal government should increase the AWA budget. They should commit the relatively small amount of funding necessary to increase its inspections and toughen its enforcement regarding puppy mills.
  • Individual states should impose a significant tax on the purchase of purebred dogs through pet shops, and on purebred dog shows sponsored by the AKC or similar organizations. The revenue produced would be used to educate the public about the benefits of purchasing mixed-breed dogs.
  • State departments of education should require the facts of the dog problem – and how to solve it – to be taught as part of the K-12 social science curriculum.
  • Animal welfare organizations should not let relatively minor disagreements on animal shelters prevent them from working together on the larger issues of restricting puppy mills and educating the public.

Brief #30A- April 10, 2017

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