Columns: No Margins, No Limits, No Kidding!
DEFINING PUPPY MILLS
It has come to my attention, through a series of bombarding emails, that there are folks out there who believe we must support puppy mills to avoid bad legislation.
February 2010 | TheDogPress.com
Lotta Chien, Guest Columnist
They claim we need puppy mills. They say we need their money and support in the legislative arena so we must make peace with those who treat dogs like inventory in order to ensure we, as well as they, can continue to breed dogs.
One of their points is that there is no legal definition of a puppy mill. That is only partly true, ii Court Defines Puppy Mill. What they don’t tell you is there is also no legal definition of a responsible breeder but amazingly, most people can tell the difference when they see it!
I wonder why these sudden new friends of the puppy mill industry don’t want the public to see that difference; one that breeders have worked so long and hard to maintain? The mill industry has their own action groups why do we need to join them? When a responsible breeder stands up and says ‘the mills are our fellow breeders’ just what does that accomplish?
This could legitimize the animal rights group’s claim that all breeders are the same. The concept that puppy mills, commercial breeders, show breeders, and hobby breeders are all alike, and none are any better than the others, sure isn’t something I support. Do we really want lawmakers to believe we should all follow USDA rules? (The USDA may know livestock farming but they sure don’t know much about raising companion animals in my opinion.)
We’re told that we must all stand together with puppy mills to keep from going under. Well I’ve never heard anyone claim that the best way to end a war was to side with the enemy. I don’t see how aligning with commercial breeders, whether large or small, can help preserve the concept of purebred dog breeding as a home hobby.
Yes some ‘commercial breeders’ have excellent ‘facilities’, far better than a hobby breeder might have, but since when is raising dogs in a ‘facility’ a plus for the dogs or the people who will eventually own them as companions? How does a ‘facility’ win out over loving care, home raising, careful selection of breeding stock, socialization and careful home choices for pups?
Certainly in all the years AKC has been actively encouraging puppy mill registrations, the dogs were not better off in those facilities. What we do have is decades of AKC quietly making profits off the puppy mills and no evidence of controls or education beyond how to register litters. Even now you see AKC ‘fixing’ it so dogs on limited registration or with no registration at all can be bred and have AKC registered pups. I’m sure many of you can also remember when AKC was all for the PAWS legislation perhaps hoping to be the ones profiting off of inspecting kennels for the new regime. Then AKC wonders how it could be losing dog lovers’ support?
If AKC has to give up one of its registering groups, I don’t think it will be the one that is costly to maintain instead of a profit center. Corporate AKC thus might not always have the welfare of responsible breeders foremost in their minds, no matter what individuals working there might believe in. Anyone working in a big company knows that company goals and ethics may not reflect that of the individual workers.
We’re told we need the mills to produce enough puppies for the market’s demand for dogs. Why is that? Just because there is a demand doesn’t mean it has to be met or that it has to be met by commercial facilities. What if instead of commercial breeders we had more home raised dogs from top quality dogs sold to pet owners who then might become interested in dog sports?
Before the USDA decided dog farming of purebred dogs could keep farmers on their family farm, when you wanted a puppy you looked for a local breeder. You put the word out among people you knew. You got a pup from the family down the street or the next town over, a friend of your cousin, or someone you worked with who had a litter. For a dog for hunting or herding you went to someone who used their dogs for that purpose. For an inexpensive family pet you might find a cross bred dog or a ‘cull’ from a show litter.
I find it hard to believe it is a ‘negative’ for dogs, or their owners, when their pups come from local home breeders who raise their pups in with their families instead of in commercial situations. Just think what it might do for dog shows if more people had exposure to raising their own pups!
I think this new campaign to embrace the puppy mills in hopes we can make use of their money or political power to attain our own goals is not only hypocritical (we hate you for being greedy profit seekers ruining our breeds but give us your money and political support and you can be our friends), but bad planning for gaining the support of people who love and care about dogs. Those are the people we need to convince that we are NOT like the ones they see on prime time news and in AR campaigns. The public needs to know “dog breeder” is not a dirty word. We need to define and distinguish ourselves, not be lumped in with the commercial breeders who do not have the same values and goals.
In a recent AR campaign in MA, voters followed the AR thinking that greyhound racing and breeding was inhumane and cruel. The responding arguments from the racing side of things were all about how the AR campaign would put people out of work and cost the state tax money. I feel a focus on the responsible breeders and the untruths in the AR ads may have changed the results. In the eyes of the general public the dogs ‘won’ and now the state of MA will pretty much never see greyhounds again once the retired racers placed by rescue groups all die off. For a dog lover, lost income isn’t the same as caring about the dogs.
Is embracing the puppy mills as ‘brethren’ going to do dogs any good (remember the dogs?) or aid in the general public having a better view of dog breeders? Will it keep the public from supporting legislation that will wipe out all private dog breeding? Will it keep them from responding to animal rights media campaigns? In my view we need more of the dog loving population with us not against us.
At the same time I see those calling for us to embrace the mills also bashing rescue, shelter adoptions, vegetarians, those who use wool or fur, even those who helped bring to the USA dogs that a soldier fell in love with while overseas; as being somehow ‘against’ us and to be avoided. This to me simply makes it look like the general idea is to push away all the exact types of people, dog lovers, whose support we need to defeat bad legislation. Getting in line with the very people who are making breeder a dirty word, and giving the AR groups more ammunition for their campaigns to stop all breeding seems self-defeating.
There is something wrong with this picture. To me it looks like someone has managed to get insiders in the fancy to agree to make us all extremely vulnerable to the AR campaigns by trying to blur the line between the ‘bad guys’ and the ‘good guys’.
Here’s a quote from someone who says it better than I – “He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.” Martin Luther King, Jr.
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