Invisible Voices

a voice for the voiceless

Confessions of a (former) breeder

portie not jumping off boat at water trial

Yes, it is true, I was a breeder. More on that in a bit. For the people who don’t tend to get past the first paragraph, I’ll say this first: I do not think breeding is right; I think all breeding should be stopped. My reasoning for this is multi-layered, and I’m not going to go into it here. The simple fact of the world being overcrowded and people killing 10 million former companions every year for being homeless, that should be enough, though it is a fairly shallow reason. Neva said it beautifully on my recent “One-sided partnerships” post.

Horses, dogs, cats, and other animals don’t owe us entertainment and service simply from the accident of their birth. Likewise cows, chickens, and other animals don’t owe us their bodies or their eggs or milk simply because they were born into servitude and born into those bodies. Just as children don’t owe abusive parents silence and respect simply because they were born to them.

I’ll leave it at that. It isn’t the main point of this post, after all, but it is still a point that can never be made too many times.

This post is inspired partially by my own reaction to certain statements in the general AR community about breeders, which I’ve always passed off as my residual identification with breeders. Most of my inspiration to actually post about this came from a recent comment Mary Martin made on my “is it my anger, or their fear?” post.

[…] I am choosing to befriend and coax–even my “enemies”–rather than alienate them. Then, at least I have a long-term chance at educating them, and maybe someday they’ll do something with that education: like align their actions with it

Now, if you read Mary’s blog at all, you know that one of her main goals in life is to end Greyhound racing, so it is easy to imagine that she is thinking of the Greyhound racers (and breeders) when she speaks of enemies. I don’t know for certain, and I haven’t asked; it is more likely a general statement, not just Greyhound breeders.

Thinking of Mary and her fight against Greyhound racing leads me to what I’m going to talk about tonight. Breeders. Dog breeders specifically. Me. Well, I’m not a breeder now, but I was a dog breeder for about 10 years of my life.

I’m not going to talk about the people running puppy mill farms, or the “backyard breeders”, or the ones breeding dogs to sell to labs, the dog fighters, the Greyhound breeders, or any of the obvious abusers. Many of you might think this leaves no breeders to talk about, but you’d be wrong, by a large margin.

For what it is worth, pet shops are supplied almost exclusively by puppy mills and backyard breeders, who are really just scaled down versions of puppy mills. Even when I was a breeder, I constantly advised everyone I talked to that they should never buy from a pet shop because they were then supporting puppy mills!

Breeders, the ones like I was, are what we called “conscientious breeders.” I think that term still applies to this subset of breeders, though obviously I don’t agree with breeding at all, now. (see first paragraph.) A contradiction? Perhaps. Many probably think I’m doing something wrong by making a distinction between the different breeders, but I think they’d be wrong about that. From now on in this post, when I say “breeder” I’m talking about the “conscientious breeders”, the ones like I was, the ones that are in the majority in the dog world I inhabited.

You see, the “conscientious” breeders really do love their dogs. I speak from experience. My own, as well as my experience of the many breeders I knew during my ten years in the “dog world.” There are a few myths out there about us that should probably be debunked.

One of the first is that breeders are only in it for the money. That’s a joke, it really is. The only people who ever had money were the ones who were independently wealthy. Oh, I’m sure there were a few here and there who managed to make something from it, but in general, anyone who got into it with the thought of earning a few bucks quickly learned better. People poured money into their dogs and got very little back in terms of “profit”. And yes, we loved our dogs.

That’s another myth. That breeders don’t love their dogs. Have you ever talked to a breeder? Wait, most of you have “talked” to me. I love animals no more now, now that I’m vegan and an activist, than I did back then, when I was a breeder. Misguided, yes, I was. Lacking in love, no. The breeding of a specific type of dog is a labor of love, as odd as it seems to us, as animal rights activists. The genetic problems, the 10 million homeless animals killed every year, how can that be a labor of love? They’re blinded by their love, is how. They feel there is something so special about their certain kinds of dogs, they are compelled to make sure these traits aren’t lost. It isn’t completely logical, but the emotion behind it is real. I can understand their viewpoint, because it is exactly the path my thoughts would take back then. I no longer agree with it; I see the logical fallacy now, where I didn’t before.

I’ve forgotten the rest of the myths, so instead I’m going to explain why breeders are sometimes our best allies in the fight for companion animals and could be more so in the future if we stopped treating them like enemies.

First, you might be surprised to learn, breeders are almost as anti-breeding and pro-spay and neutering as we are. They are just as anti-puppy mills and anti-backyard breeders. For those shaking their heads in disbelief, all I can say is that I speak from 10 years experience as a breeder. The reasoning is pretty simple – breeders are very much into specific purposeful breeding. In some ways this is for purely selfish reasons, having to do with “dog world” stuff I won’t bore you with, but at the same time, breeders are conscious of the overpopulation in the world. The breeding they do is consciously with a purpose and it is, in its own way, fairly regulated. The contracts they make their buyers sign generally include a spay/neuter contract, with exceptions for specific puppies. No, this isn’t perfect, but it is a far cry from the puppy-factory that they will be just as vocally opposed to as animal rights activists are.

Second, rescue. Breeders work hard at keeping “their breed” out of the shelters, and they network extensively to save individuals they have reason to believe is of their favored breed. While this may very well make you think less of them for their favoritism, the truth is that they do help get individuals out of the shelters, which lightens the pressure on the other animals. The other part of that truth is their connections, their strength in rescue, is going to be specific to their breeds. In that sense, it is no different than you or I choosing to save cats or dogs or frogs or whatever species we have the most experience with, the best resources to save.

Third, they really do love their dogs. As Mary sees, though we are fighting against certain aspects of what they do, the only way we’ll ever get them to see our point is by approaching them through their love of dogs. I’ve seen breeder websites where they talk about “crazy animal rights people” who, as best they can tell, want to make owning animals illegal. While that isn’t far from the truth, since viewing and treating animals as property is a pivotal problem in society’s attitudes towards animals, it is far from what is in their minds when they say/write/read/hear it. That statement sounds to them like we want to make companion animals illegal, and without any context, that takes on a sinister cast. We look like the haters, from their perspective, and they become the dog lovers, the protectors against us, the animal rights activists.

It is all perspective. We won’t convince them of anything as long as we point fingers and call them animal haters. They know they don’t hate animals, so it pretty much invalidates any other point we might have to make about breeding, from their perspective.

Which isn’t to say we shouldn’t hate on those who deserve it. And there are plenty of those. Not everyone in the dog world I inhabited was actually a conscientious breeder, but within our breed circles, and sometimes extending to other breeds, we knew who was in it for the dogs and who was in it for themselves. Let’s not miss our opportunities to form alliances where it counts – in saving the lives of animals.

I’ve only covered part of the picture, of course. I haven’t talked about the money we poured into genetic research, the strict standards we had (self-imposed within our community) with regards to forcing everyone to be up-front about certain genetic issues in our breed if they wanted to advertise their dogs, their kennel. There are many things I haven’t talked about; I simply wanted to present a perspective of dog breeders, the dog breeders like I was, that I have concluded that the majority of people think don’t exist. When I find myself cringing at things people say, people who are fighting the same fight as I am, I can only imagine how those who aren’t animal rights activists react. People who we could form alliances with, if we weren’t alienating them.

I am more than willing to answer questions people have of my experience, and especially if they want to figure out how to reach and reach out to breeders. I still have a lot of contacts, especially among Portuguese Water Dog breeders.

Oh, did you miss it before? I don’t think breeding is right, and I think all breeding should be stopped. I also think that people don’t hate animals, just because they haven’t learned to look critically at the things they were taught to believe about humans and non-humans growing up in this human-centric world.

portie jumping off boat at water trial

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38 responses to “Confessions of a (former) breeder

  1. Seb July 1, 2007 at 4:57 am

    I appreciated your very thoughtful post, as always! Thanks for sharing what you’ve learnt through your past experience and helping us understand.

  2. Mary Martin, Ph.D. July 1, 2007 at 6:49 am

    I only wish (racing) Greyhound breeders were in it for the love of dogs. They cull/kill thousands per year, as puppies (then there are the ones killed during racing or because they’re not fast enough). I do know that Greyhounds bred to show are usually not bred by the same people, so maybe at least those people love the dogs and keep them in reasonable living conditions. Naturally, I love this post, and I love you for divulging this pivotal part of your life. Tell me, with conscientious breeders, what’s the cull policy? When, and how, do they “get rid” of the lesser quality pups?

    Also, there’s an intact male (show dog) Portuguese Water Dog at one of my dog parks and he is vicious and the king of the park. If he’s there, we turn around and go to the beach or a different park. Are they particularly aggressive as a breed? Is it, as my husband says, because this particular dog’s “twig and berries” that he’s so aggressive? Or is it just an individual thing, maybe.

  3. Deb July 1, 2007 at 10:49 am

    Thanks Seb!

    Mary, there is essentially no cull policy. The lesser quality pups are sold as “pet quality” the higher quality pups are sold as “show qualty” (those are the ones that don’t have the spay/neuter clause in the contracts when they’re sold) or kept for showing and potential breeding by the breeder. Most breeders only keep a very small number of the dogs they breed, and they will either keep their aging dogs to the end, or they will find good homes for the ones that they are “retiring”.

    There are some exceptions to this, which everyone I ever talked to agreed with me, that it was horrible. And that is some breeds of dogs only allow certain colors, and some breeders (I never met these people, so I don’t know if they were decent in other ways) would kill puppies at birth if they weren’t an acceptable color. Interestingly, this is how West Highland White Terriers got started – they are white Cairn Terriers, a color not “allowed” by breed standards. The people I knew would have simply sold the pup as “pet quality” and to hell with what anyone else thought about that!

    As for Porties, they’re usually the sweetest dogs in the world, completely non-agressive. They would be among the dogs I’d trust the most around children, for example, and my dog would let kids pull on her, and do whatever, and she’d just grin and soak up the attention. They tend to be very protective, especially when it comes to the water, and if you are floating on a tube or something and “your” Portie is with you at the beach, many of them will tow you back to shore if you get too far out for their taste. (no joke, one of the dogs we sold to a family in canada would irritate the kids by not letting them go out far!)

    However, they have gained in popularity in recent years, and as always, that means there are some people who will not be as conscientous about their breeding and will allow a beautiful but ugly-tempered dog to wreak havoc on the personality of the breed. It is really sad, and you can see this in almost all of the popular breeds.

    Of course it could also be shyness, with his fear coming out as agression. Either way, these people are compromising their ethics and the breed itself by leaving him intact, obviously with the potential to be bred. I’ve never had any issues with the intact males, and I did a fair amount of showing, so I was around intact males quite a bit. These people might be clueless, and could benefit from a good talking to. If you found out any more info, I could see what I can dig up!

  4. Neva July 1, 2007 at 11:32 am

    I agree that accusation and finger-pointing are counter productive in many cases. However, the frustrating question remains of how to break through the barriers with someone who is 100% there emotionally, in their love of animals, but avoidant when it comes to facing the facts of companion animal overpopulation, or the effects of eating animals for that matter.

    The existence of conscientious breeders allows a lot of less conscientious stuff to continue. I don’t know exactly how to communicate that properly, but I’ve talked to a lot of people with pure bred dogs and nearly all will say that their dog came from a very high quality breeder who only bred a few dogs in her home for the love of the breed. Then when pressed further it often turned out that their dog came from a pet store, but the pet store assured them that no puppy mills were involved. When it comes down to numbers it becomes obvious that most dogs probably do come from puppy mills.

    For a close to home example my mother got her samoyed from a conscientious breeder. This woman bred very few puppies and had a contract clause that if the person ever wanted to give the dogs back for any reason they could. My mother did eventually give her dog back when he got sick… Anyway, if all breeders did that, then realistically how many puppies could they sell? So the demand for pure bred puppies as a disposable toy is met primarily through puppy mills.

    Aside from the obvious concerns: Animals are not ours to use; there are still other problems, as you realize and write about.

    I kind of got into it with HSUS over their “How to pick a good dog breeder” fact sheet and webpage. One of my primary contentions was that if someone visits a breeder and determines they are not a good breeder, they’re still likely to purchase a puppy. This happened with my dad, he visited a golden retriever breeder and was disturbed by conditions there but still bought a puppy (who turned out to have a tragic genetic condition which he died from later) because he fell in love with the puppy and couldn’t leave him behind in such a bad place. So telling people to check out breeders and make an informed decision seems to go against the very human emotional response of bonding quickly with a puppy. This is another way that the existence of conscientious breeders can enable puppy mills.

    Thanks for being so honest and thoughtful in your entry though. I think most of us who are vegan come from backgrounds that included doing things we now feel are wrong. Breeding dogs seems to pale in comparison to all the times I went fishing as a child, or that I raised and loved birds my parents killed and cooked, or that I ate animals my father shot. In fact, I love and rescue rabbits now, but I ate them as a child.

    I think it’s important that those of us who come from the background of “being part of the problem” address the messages that did and didn’t work with us to make us reconsider our relationship with animals. That doesn’t mean we have all the answers but we might have some insight that isn’t obvious to people who have never been there.

  5. Deb July 1, 2007 at 12:44 pm

    I think one of the most important things to keep in mind when talking to either the people who purchase their dogs (or cats for that matter) or the people doing the breeding themselves is that they’re going to be defensive.

    Just as defensive as we all were when we examined our meat eating for the first time, our dairy and egg consumption.

    The immediate reaction is going to be justification, explanation, proof of why it isn’t wrong, and why it might even be good. Where else does the “would it be better if they had never existed at all” question come from?

    A few “why” questions or “wouldn’t it be better if” question might help break down the barriers here. And as a friend of mine always says, get people to go vegan and the rest falls in line. Even though I wasn’t a breeder for years before going vegan, I never thought there was a thing wrong with breeding until after going vegan, and being faced with the question from the ethical standpoint.

    And yes, most conscientious breeders are the type to have a only few litters per year, and many have a waiting list for those dogs. I’m not sure where the majority of people get their breed dogs from, but there are too many pet stores selling animals to think that it isn’t a real issue when talking about the overall issue.

    But that really does go back to creating alliances with breeders on this issue. Working with them on something like this could easily create an opening to talk about animal issues in a more general sense, as well as make progress with regards to the puppy mills.

    And then it comes down to it being up to us, as invidivuals, to work on other people as individuals. Mary’s story about the equestrian she spent two years talking to before the woman started to really see the horse issues from the horses point of view…well, that’s a good example of what I think it will take. None of these changes can happen overnight. As much as we’d like it to.

    For myself, I would not help someone find a reputable breeder, unless they were going to get a rescue from that breeder. A lot of people have semi-legitimate reasons for wanting to get a certain breed of dog. For me, the first dog I got was a Cairn terrier. We needed a dog my mom wouldn’t be allergic to. I was desperate to get a dog, not that it would have occurred to me that getting a purebred dog was wrong. I was 8. Cairn Terriers don’t shed, they’re small, and whatever else went into us choosing that breed, I no longer remember. Anyway, if we listen to the reasons that people want certain breeds (they’re nice, they’re good with kids, they like the water, they don’t shed, they don’t bark, on and on) we might be able to help them see how they can get what they think they need from a “mixed” breed, or a rescue, or something other than purchasing a puppy.

    And if we convince people that purchasing a “pure breed” dog isn’t the way to go, regardless of the source of that puppy, then we’re making progress.

    But there again, ignoring what is driving them to look at pure breed dogs isn’t accomplishing anything. We have to listen to them, and work with them to figure out a better solution.

    For me, if someone had told me that purchasing a dog was likely condemning another to death, I’d have been off saving whatever dog I could. Could I have convinced my parents of that? I’m not sure. To confuse things a bit more, I grew up in a small town, and our shelter was temporary housing for the dogs who were temporarily lost. As far as I could tell, the only way to get a dog in the first place was to either know someone who had a litter, or to look in the classifieds for people selling or giving away dogs. A pure lack of understanding on my part as to what it was like elsewhere, but then again, that was the reality in my little town! Which isn’t to say that we couldn’t have gone to a nearby town to do the saving of a dog on death row, had I understood.

    But my parents…I’m not sure they would have gone for it. My dad is hard to sell on animals (though he always seems to be the softie and they know it. My cat has him wrapped around her paws, and knows exactly how to get him to give her treats.) and he and my mom had had one difficult experience with a “mixed breed” dog; I think my mom convinced him that getting a pure breed meant we could go into it knowing something of what the dog would grow up to be like.

    Education, listening, helping people find alternatives. It is mostly always the same formula, I suppose, regardless of what topic we’re talking about.

  6. Deb July 1, 2007 at 12:48 pm

    This actually reminded me of a conversation I had a few months ago with someone who had a purebred cat. I asked her about the cat, and we were able to talk about the issues of breeds. It turns out that she was no longer in favor of purchasing pure bred cats or dogs, so I didn’t have to deal with that, but I think in talking to her I was able to strengthen her resolve on the matter, and I probably educated her on yet more issues surrounding the purchase of breeds, which means she’ll be more confident when convincing others not to buy pure bred cats or dogs. That is a rippling effect we shouldn’t ignore.

  7. Mary Martin, Ph.D. July 1, 2007 at 3:24 pm

    I have a very good friend who, when I first met her a handful of years ago and suggested her next dog be a rescue, said: “Sweetie, I only buy pure breed dogs.” I knew from her defensive, I-grew-up-on-Palm-Beach tone, that I should launch a babysteps education campaign that would also have to make her examine her lifelong association of wealth and status with pure breeds. She never did get the new Cairn terrier she wanted (she already has one), but she did adopt two mixed breeds off the street after she cleaned them up and got them vet care. And now she knows the gratitude in the eyes of a rescue, and she’s a vocal opponent of breeding. Experiences like this give me hope. Even in the most hostile of environments, ethics can often rise to the surface with a little loving help.

  8. Deb July 1, 2007 at 4:36 pm

    That gives me hope too.

    I was reminded of one of the reasons my mom has always held out that she’ll get another pure bred dog next time (if there is a next time) she gets a dog, and that is obedience competition. In the past, you could only compete and get titles if you had a pure bred.

    That has changed in recent years, with “mixed breed clubs” rising in counter point to the AKC, and you can now earn essentially the same titles, regardless of whether you have a pure or mixed breed. http://members.tripod.com/mbdca/

    In general, I think many people do believe that pure breds are somehow better. There is the assumption that you know what you’re getting, which is sort of true but mostly not. For some, it is status, others it is asthetics. For some it might be practicality, such as being limited to dogs of only certain sizes if you’re living in most apartments and even many condo communities. There again, adopting an adult negates that as an issue.

    And then we have one of the biggest issues I think the entire question faces – what we really need to convince people of is that as cute as puppies are (and who can deny that?), it really isn’t better to adopt puppies. There are a lot of myths around this, such as the bond that can be created, or being able to prevent bad habits from being formed. (Ha! Even the two dogs we had from conception had just as many bad habits, if not more! We’re not infallible ourselves, no matter how great our love, and so we help create just as many bad habits as anyone else would have!)

    If you could, would you mind sharing some aspects of your babystep campaign, or any other advice you might have on helping people recognize the ethics involved in these decisions, even when they are initially resistant?

  9. Mary Martin, Ph.D. July 2, 2007 at 9:10 am

    As I see it, there are two issues: the association of purebreds and status, and the overpopulation crisis, hence irresponsibility of breeding, conscientiously or otherwise. We have some prominent people in our hood who only rescue. They’re socialite-types who are vocal anti-fur, anti-breeding people. So that one was easier than I thought. All I had to do was talk about those people, who have hundreds of millions, and my job was done (with, of course a discussion about why that particular person makes the associations she does, and deconstructing them). The stats, as you know, around purebreds in shelters, along with the number killed each year because they’re homeless, plus a dose of: mixed breeds live longer, have fewer health and genetic problems, and fewer behavior problems (and please, correct any of that), is the next step. Finally, I like to delve into the motivation for buying/adopting. Is it to save a life or to acquire a status symbol, and if it’s the latter, they should get a new car (preferably with a non-leather interior) instead. If the motivation is some kind of conspicuous consumption, I always mention that there are rescue groups for just about every pure breed dog. I do all the research and usually contact the group and set something up for the person to make it easy for them, particularly if it looks like they’re moving quickly. I hope that helps. Maybe I’ll blog about it. If the motivation were to give a dog a loving home, the person wouldn’t have been contacting breeders to begin with.

  10. Deb July 2, 2007 at 7:02 pm

    well, mixed breeds sometimes live longer, they sometimes don’t, and they are less prone to genetic problems, however they are just as prone to health problems that are non-genetic. As for behavior problems, I’d say there are positives and negatives on each side. Genetic behavior problems happen in both, and they can propogate more quickly in the breeds in the hands of an unscrupulous breeder. However, an intact mixed breed who is allowed to roam and has a bad temperment is just as likely to spread that temperment around. And then you have the learned behavioral problems, which are possibly more prevalent in the mixed breeds, though it is entirely dependent on their background, their experiences, and to some degree their innate personality. Same as with the pure breeds.

    Abuse can happen in any dog, of course, and that can have a dramatic impact on anyone’s personality. Experiences for the puppies between 3-8 weeks are extremely important as well. I can tell you that the litters I raised could hardly have been better adjusted, with special attention given to the dogs on either end of the personality spectrum. And yes, we did some personality testing, and it was used exclusively to help us with the puppies development as well as to make sure we were making good matches with the prospective owners/adopters. I know that not all breeders were as attentive as I was, but I know that I was not alone in the attention I gave the puppies I was raising.

    I also think that the attraction to pure breds is often a lot more complicated than as a simple status symbol or as conspicuous consumption. Believe me, neither of those were reasons we purchased (and then bred) Cairn Terriers and Portuguese Water Dogs. Most of the people I personally know who have pure breds are just average middle class people. And so I actually disagree when you say that if the motivation were to give a dog a loving home, they wouldn’t be contacting breeders.

    I’m sure that is true in some cases, maybe many cases. But certainly not all. Though I would agree with that statement if there was the qualification on it, regarding whether the people actually understood the issues, the millions of dogs killed in shelters every year. I swear most of the people around me are oblivious to these things, and only partially from trying to bury their heads in the sand.

    The thing to remember is that a lot of people (the majority in my experience, but I have no way of knowing if this is the majority overall) are looking to purebreds because of a variety of reasons, including the feeling (which isn’t always justified) that you know better what you’ll be getting (more predictable personality and physical traits in adulthood), perhaps combined with specific charactaristics that they need or would be a good match for them (i.e., someone who is elderly wouldn’t necessarily do well with an energtic dog, and might look to a breed that is known for being a lap dog, or someone who is allergic to dogs who shed), also many people have grown up with the idea that “you get what you pay for” and there is an assumed quality increase when buying pure breds in their mind. Well, that is really a farce, because pure breed dogs definitely have more genetic issues. It could be childhood associations – maybe they grew up with golden retrievers or whatever dog, and can’t imagine another kind of dog they’d want to share their lives with more.

    There are so many reasons that people are drawn to purebred dogs, and if their motivation is to give a dog a loving home AND they are educated and assisted when it comes to finding a dog to make part of their home, then I think almost all of these people would feel that much happier with their decision to rescue than to purchase if they’re presented with it that way.

    Every kind of dog is given up or abandoned, and the reasons why are just as varied as the reasons why people want dogs (of any kind). One reason that probably happens too often is (imo) personality mismatches, combined with a lack of education. This is one reason why I think we should listen carefully when people say “I only want a pure bred xxx dog.” Do we assume it is a status thing? Why not ask them. We might be surprised (or not) at the answer. And if someone wants the Cairn Terrier/Golden Retriever/Whatever Breed for something other than status, keep talking to figure out what it is about those dogs that they like so much, because there is no doubt many (if not most, or all) of those charactaristics can be found in the unique mixed breeds in the shelter. And there are always the rescues.

    It is perspective and education, and once again, if we can wean people off the idea that it is better/easier to get puppies, it would go a long way towards people not having to worry so much about how big or what kind of personality the dog would have in a year or two. They’d meet the dog as they are right now, and at least half of what they want to know would already be answered.

  11. Kenneth Cassar July 3, 2007 at 4:45 am

    Interesting. However, this blog entry does not address the fact that any kind of human breeding of non-humans treats the non-humans as property. This problem remains even if numbers are contained and ther is no “homeless animals” problem.

  12. Deb July 3, 2007 at 5:37 am

    Actually, I explicitely talk about property status as an issue.

  13. Kenneth Cassar July 3, 2007 at 8:12 am

    I guess you’re right…it’s the “conscientous breeder” thing which perhaps misled me. But I know what you mean. You mean that this type of breeders do not do it (breed) for egoistic reasons (like to make money), but do it because they honestly think it does no harm. In this case, education (and not confrontation) is the key…and who best to do that than someone who’s “been there”, like you.

    Keep up the good work.

  14. Mary Martin, Ph.D. July 3, 2007 at 8:57 am

    I hear you (read you?) but you asked for my experience. And where I live, and for the people I’m referring to, status is the issue. And there are associations they have with certain breeds even. For instance, Rhodesian Ridgebacks and Goldens are associated with very different people, just like Bentleys and Volvos are. Talk about treating nonhuman animals like property! They’re viewed in a very similar way here. I wish the degree and complexity of thought you describe was involved in dog-purchasing decisions around here!

  15. Deb July 3, 2007 at 11:19 pm

    Kenneth, yes, I really wanted to focus on this subset of breeders, whose mindset I do know so well, as people who are likely to be open to education, to saving more animals. Or, at the very least, who can be counted on to form alliances in rescuing and opposing things like puppy mills. I did not mean to imply on any level that this makes breeding okay; simply that these individuals are not evil, heartless people. They do love their dogs, and dogs in general, and if we ignore that we miss an opportunity to engage them. I do think that education is the key, keeping in mind that they’re bound to be defensive. Aren’t we all, when we face having to give up something we love? Thanks for not jumping all over my rather cranky response this morning, and apologies for being cranky! I was up rather late last night trying to help a 7 year old neighbor who got locked out of her house wake up her parents to get back inside! That’s my excuse for being cranky this morning anyway. 😉

    Mary, you are right! I reacted, forgetting that I had asked about your experience in particular. Yes, I can completely imagine a group of people who treat the breeds as much as an accessory as anything else, and I certainly did see some of that in the dog world. However, I was more deeply involved in showing, training, things that really end up being quite a bit of effort, and so even the society folks (and I knew quite a few people from Greenwich, Ct area, so there were plenty) in the world I inhabited tended to be in it for a bit deeper reasons.

    So my apologies for forgetting that your response was not meant to be a general one. But in general, those are still things we should keep in mind, because they can help us get through to people, when the non-status reasons apply to the situation.

    Happy 4th everyone!

  16. Allergic Patient July 4, 2007 at 2:31 am

    Nice blog, I think you have written this article very well, you bring up some solid information. Thank you for sharing this information with me I really do appreciate it. Keep up the good work. Look forward to seeing what else this blog has to offer. =) TY for taking so much time working on such a great blog.

  17. Kenneth Cassar July 4, 2007 at 4:39 am

    No problem, Deb. We all have our moods 😉 I actually admire your independent thinking and the way you are not “afraid” to express your ideas even on topics you know will be controversial. Your blog is one of the few I check out regularly for updates 🙂

    Anyway…happy 4th (US independence day, isn’t it?)

    Kenneth from Malta

  18. Deb July 4, 2007 at 6:30 am

    Kenneth, this particular topic is one that had been in my head for years, so it was more like I finally had to just get it off my chest, come what may! I don’t know if that is not being afraid, or just being sick of thinking about posting it! But honestly, I have some excellent, encouraging friends, and that gives me more courage than I’d have alone.

    Yes, today is the US Independence Day, a day of fireworks and beer for the typical american. I’ll be celebrating with some liberated chickens, helping out at Eastern Shore Sanctuary. 🙂

  19. Mary Martin, Ph.D. July 4, 2007 at 7:51 am

    So I’m walking the dogs on this several mile long path around my hood this morning and a jogger stops to admire the dogs and asks where I got them from and I tell her and she says, “If you’re ever interested in breeding, my sister breeds Italian Greyhounds and it’s a great way to bring in extra money. People who don’t want to deal with a big dog but want the look of your dogs will pay a lot of money for one. She’s at the point where she might even quit her regular job and just breed more. I can give you her number . . . ” Like dogs are a flippin’ multi-level marketing operation.

    I respectfully declined and stated that I didn’t think breeding dogs was a good idea, as it appears that we’ve already got plenty. I was about to mention that her business proposition treats dogs like widgets, but I remembered that you have such great things to say about some breeders, and that they love the dogs and all that. What would you have said?

  20. pattricejones July 4, 2007 at 4:24 pm

    This discussion is very interesting to me, for two reasons. First, because my beloved sister lives with, loves, rescues, and — yes — propagates and shows dogs of a particularly rare and endangered breed. (I won’t say which breed because they are so rare that she might be identifiable and she’s got enough troubles with me as the sibling whose very existence keeps her from being entirely respectable, although she claims she doesn’t mind that at all.) I can second what Deb said about that small subset of breeders. My sister has gone to extreme and often expensive lengths to rescue dogs of her favored breed (and even a couple not of that breed) from shelters and from truly horrific situations. The dogs at her house get lots of love and top quality care, although they are “humanely trained” for shows, which of course violates their dignity and self-determination. When she does breed them, those who adopt the pups are screened and do have to sign a contract which includes continued contact so that she can make sure they are getting good care.

    I know that she doesn’t think of dogs as “property.” On the other hand, she doesn’t accord them the respect and self-determination that she, as a social justice activist, believes all people deserve. So for her, I guess, dogs fall into some kind of limbo in between property and people. My guess is that that’s true for most “animal lovers.”

    I have expressed my discomfort with the dog shows and with the creepy interventions (artificial insemination, locking a female dog into a closed space with a male from whom she otherwise would flee) involved in breeding. She responds by asserting the importance of preserving the genetic integrity of that particular breed — as if that genetic makeup were some sort of natural expression of dog biodiversity rather than an artifact of human intervention into dog reproduction.

    Which brings me to the second reason this discussion interests me. As a feminist, I understand that liberation includes reproductive freedom. And, of course, both breeding and spay/neuter trangress the reproductive freedom of nonhuman animals. While I grudgingly go along with spay/neuter as temporary stopgap, I am as uncomfortable with it as many self-described abolitionists are with welfare reforms.

    I bring this up not to start a welfare/abolitionism-style debate but, rather, because thinking about the feminist liberationist critique of spay/neuter maybe can lead us to potentially productive tactics. What would make a difference in “pet” overpopulation (and the attendant deaths of millions of homeless dogs and cats) without transgressing reproductive freedom? Stopping breeding of course.

    Right now we have the opposite of a healthy solution, where the unnatural breeds are forcibly reproduced while the much more genetically healthy “mutts” are not allowed the freedom to be parents. Neither the “pure breeds” nor the “mutts” are allowed the emotional benefits of raising young, since pups are taken from their mothers so early, or of being raised by their own parents.

    If we stopped breeding, then the remaining dogs could do as they pleased, limiting their own populations as wild and feral packs of dogs do.

    How could we stop breeding? By making it illegal to sell dogs. Take the profit motive out of it and, while the small number of so-called conscientious breeders Deb describes might keep it up, sll of the puppy mills and backyard for-profit breeders would have no incentive.

    Could it be done. I think so, if major organizations made it a priority and were smart in their tactics, passing bans in friendly cities and counties before even thinking about state or national legislation. While the breeders are a lobby, they are nowhere near as powerful as the agriculture lobby (which would make this tactic impossible for farmed animals) and, I suspect, could not collectively promise (or threaten to withold) anywhere near the same number of votes and donation as what we might call the humane lobby, which includes not only animal liberationists but all of those dog and cat lovers who deplore puppy mills.

    Remember, here in the USA, the abolition of slavery was preceded by the abolition of the oversease trade in slaves. Then, the ban in the buying and selling of slaves was a key step toward their ultimate liberation. Could it work for dogs and cats here and now?

  21. Mary Martin, Ph.D. July 4, 2007 at 7:16 pm

    I completely agree with the spay/neuter-feminist aspect. This is one of those gray areas where I compromise (as if it’s my place to use the reproductive freedom of another as a bargaining chip). I am hoping that a diversified approach of spay-neuter and education and combatting the selling of “pets” and breeding will make the spay-neuter necessity (I can’t help but see it as that right now) less necessary (/justified). I do feel it’s like a welfarist measure because it doesn’t target the actual origin of the problem, and it makes the animals pay for human mistakes, hubris, and irresponsibility. I do wish major organizations would take a stand and not cater to the masses who don’t take the value of nonhuman animals seriously on any level.

    I’ve often heard the I’m-maintaining-the-integrity-of-a-genetic-line argument from breeders and people who buy purebreds and I just don’t see the validity. For me, it underscores the property paradigm even more.

    I was present during a breeding session at the property of a woman who spends her life rescuing greyhounds. And she had a horse whom she loved dearly. I arrived and she said, “I was hoping you wouldn’t have to see this,” and I proceeded to watch four men basically gang rape her horse with a stud. They tried to hold her still by pulling on the tethers they tied to her. THIS, FOR A HORSE YOU LOVE? It was nauseating and the poor horse kicked and screamed and fought for her freedom. And then I find out this wasn’t the first time her beloved horse had to endure such treatment. And all because she wanted to extend her relationship with the horse by attempting to reproduce her. TO ME, that’s selfish and smacks of an attachment disorder. We all die. Our “pets” will all die. The idea is to use the love we have for them and give it to another animal who needs it in life (if we still think having pets is one solution to the problem we’ve created). This probably comes from my buddhist tendencies.

    The woman with the horse spends every waking hour helping dogs, premarin horses, and other rescues. Her story shows me that nobody is any one thing, and even the most compassionate, kind, generous people can do misguided things out of love.

  22. pattricejones July 5, 2007 at 7:16 am

    Stories like that make my head feel like it’s going to explode from the accumulated rage of generations of raped women and animals.

    When I was 17, I witnessed something similar. It was just before I left home for the last time. My mother got it into her head to breed the Siamese cat whose care we had taken over when her elderly caregiver died. “No,” I said, “she doesn’t want it and her body’s too slim and too old for birth.” She wouldn’t listen, bringing in a male Siamese, from whom our cat fled and hid. I protected her as well as I could but one day when I wasn’t home my mother locked them into a room with no hiding places. Sure enough, she died while having the kittens. I’ll never forget the day: 01 April, 1979.

    Since then, I’ve had the same argument you describe with I don’t know how many women who claim to love the female horses and dogs whose bodies and rights they violate so intimately. I say “claim to love” because, while I do believe that love is there, I do not believe that love is at the root of this sick dynamic.

    No, I think it’s much more complicated when women participate actively in the sexual violation of the female animals in their care. Specifically, I think it’s the same unconscious dynamic — identification with the aggressor — that, for example, leads women who have been genitally mutilated to participate in the genital mutilation of their daughters and other girls. It’s the same dynamic that leads women who were sexually abused as girls to not see, or even (actively or passively) facilitate the sexual abuse of their daugthers by their male partners.

    So, as in so many other examples, the sexism-speciesism connection leads us to the deepest recesses of our collective psychology, forcing us to look at the things we least want to see. This is why it’s so essential for animal liberationists to be (rather than simply outreach to) feminists and vice versa.

  23. Mary Martin, Ph.D. July 5, 2007 at 7:55 am

    I was going to say “claim to love” and I didn’t. That’s fascinating.

    I’m so sorry about April 1, 1979. I didn’t even have any relationship with the horse I saw and I had nightmares for weeks about all of the raping of animals for human use of some kind. But to have that experience with a beloved animal must have been heartbreaking and sickening.

    I, sadly, expect men to abuse and exploit women and even female nonhuman animals, but when women exploit themselves, their children, or any other creature, male or female, I’m profoundly disappointed and embarrassed. And sometimes it’s all so big and interconnected that I can’t imagine where to start to unravel and heal even one tiny strand.

  24. pattricejones July 5, 2007 at 1:11 pm

    Mary says, “it’s all so big and interconnected that I can’t imagine where to start to unravel and heal even one tiny strand.”I think it’s like a traffic roundabout. Wherever you want to go, the place to enter is: Anywhere. But you have to keep the whole circuit in mind lest you inadvertently go off in a tangent in the wrong direction. None of us can work on everything. But if all of us keep the interconnections in mind while working on specific problems, we will be more likely to suceed in our own campaigns and unlikely to inadvertently actively exacerbate (or passively facilitate) interconnected problems.

    Dog breeding is one way into the sexism-speciesism roundabout. It offers us a window into and a way to start working on one of the most intractable problems in human history. (I say “one” rather than “two” because I see the sexual subjugation of women and animals as so deeply linked that they are — pardon the trite metaphor– two sides of the same coin rather than separate entities.) If we can keep that in mind, we will be more likely to succeed in actually doing something about dog breeding. Rather than distractions, the interconnections are (or ought to be) essential components of our analysis of the problem and strategy for its solution.

    Dog breeders are motivated by profit, yes, but also by our deranged desire to control (rather than live in harmony within) nature, by conscious or unconscious sexism on the part of male breeders, and — if I am right — by unconscious identification with the aggressor among female breeders. Attack only the profit motive and you will leave breeders like those described by Deb untouched. Ignore the profit motive and you will surely fail. Attack the profit motive — since that’s responsible for most of the breeding — by using strategies that will awaken the queasy uneasiness that is always lurking somewhere when internalized sexism is at work and then maybe you can do a little work on the root of the problem while also making headway on the material manifestations of the problem.

    How? Returning to the idea of a ban on the trade in dogs, for example, summon up support for that ban among self-described dog-lovers (a group that we know includes these breeders we’ve been talking about) by using images and language designed to provoke the discomfort that we know must be below the surface. Get stories like we’ve been telling into mainstream media in the same way that we’ve managed to get other behind-the-scenes cruelties into the spotlight. (Again forgive these trite metaphors. I’m typing quickly and they just keep coming to mind.) Give other people the nightmares we’ve been having, not weilding terrible images aggresssively but compassionately insisting that this is the reality you need to see. Just as the woman whose boyfriend is raping her daughter needs to be made to see what is happening, even though this knowledge will cause her great distress, all of the pet show people and other lovers of “pure bred” dogs need to see the suffering upon which their fetish depends.

    It wouldn’t hurt to get academic feminists into the project, beginning to build support for the idea that all kinds of animal breeding is causally related to sexual violence and control of reproduction among humans. Surely the breeding of pure bred dogs — which is, at heart, the control of another animal’s reproduction for pure pleasure — could be used as a way to talk to feminists who are not (yet) animal liberationists about the speciesism-sexism link.

  25. pattricejones July 5, 2007 at 1:26 pm

    Separately, thanks for the empathy about 01 April 1979. I’ve not thought about that day in years. The whole episode was horrifying. Now that I think about it, I was using the word “rape” and being laughed at for doing so even then.

    And (this will not turn out to be so much of a tangent as it seems) on that April Fool’s Day when the raped cat died while having those precious pure-bred kittens, my first love broke up with me because — in her words — “I can’t be gay.”

    That day really blew me away. Even taking into account the fact that I was an already traumatized teen, my reaction was extreme. I dropped out of school and into drugs. It was a long time before I recovered my equilibrium. Now that I think back with my more complete understanding of the intersections, I better understand why what might seem like real but relatively routine sorrows — the death of a beloved “pet”, a teenaged breakup — had such a profound effect.

    Think about it: There’s a reason that gay libbers back in the day called heterosexuals “breeders” with the same sneering tone that members of oppressed groups use when deploying mocking nicknames for their oppressors.

    Homophobia and animal breeding have exactly the same root: Control of reproduction for the profit of the patriarchy. On 01 April 1979 both of those manifestations of sexism slammed into a teenaged survivor of sometimes sexualized abuse. No wonder I took it so badly!

  26. Pingback: SuperWeed » Blog Archive » Bad Breeding

  27. Deb July 5, 2007 at 10:15 pm

    Mary and pattrice, for the most part I have nothing to add other than to say that I’m really enjoying that you are taking this conversation places I couldn’t have. I really owe a lot to my commenters on this and many other posts, for making things so much more interesting and in depth than they would have been with just my thoughts out there!

    Mary, in answer to a question you had a day or so ago, about the sister of the breeder, where there was a clear money motive, really I end up with just more questions! It could be that the only motive is money, and it actually sounds like in this case money is the primary motivation, if not the only one. In which case, no matter how nice a house she lives in, she’s definitely not a conscientious breeder, she’s a backyard breeder. She is treating those dogs as nothing more than tools, commodities, and most likely disposable ones. At least that is how it sounds so far.

    But I would still have hope that she could be reached. I’d plant questions in the sister’s mind. I’d ask about the dogs themselves, making it clear I had some worry. It might turn out that both women present the situation as a great money making opportunity because they might think that will get them more respect or something. It depends a lot on the specific social situation they are in, I think, whether capitalism is seen as a tool of the devil or the height of perfection. (and every point in between, depending on who you talk to)

    When it comes to the people who only care about money, pattrice is probably right that attacking the dog trade through legal means is most likely to make a difference, if educating the purchasers isn’t going to cut it. But if they love their dogs, that’s always the place to start, with that love.

  28. Mary Martin, Ph.D. July 6, 2007 at 6:31 am

    Thank, pattrice and Deb. Just suppose the Italian Greyhound breeder lives in a fabulous house (she probably does), and she really is treating the dogs like commodities. The world around me is disgracefully like that so I wouldn’t be surprised. Their kids are even treated like little status opportunities. Would you be kind enough to give me a short script? A couple of lines of either statement or question that I could present, in the company of others (I do edit myself based on who is present, though that might not be a good idea)?

    In person, on the fly, I tend to be glib, which probably isn’t helpful. When I have the time, and this is going to sound terrible, I act ignorant and ask really basic, fairly stupid questions with a smile (and no sarcasm) and as a result (and talk about trite sayings . . .) give them enough rope to hang themselves. It’s a civil conversation in the guise of educating me. Before long, they don’t have answers to my questions. They begin certain that whatever they’re doing is right, and slowly deteriorate in certainty. This isn’t exactly honest of me, but I’d rather them be unable to deny the conclusion they themselves have reached than me tell them something they can deny. If there is an intellectually honest, non-manipulative way to achieve the same result–please share it.

  29. pattricejones July 6, 2007 at 1:15 pm

    I’m not sure that the Socratic method is intellectually dishonest. You’re just asking questions. Maybe it feels emotionally dishonest because of the smile. When I use that method, I tend to look dumbfounded or confused, which I truly am when I am trying to puzzle out the thinking behind certain reprehensible behaviors or beliefs.

    Is it manipulative? I don’t know. The best teachers teach by asking questions that lead students to discoveries. Is it manipulative to lead a student to discover an algebraic principle rather than tell it to her outright? When my African American students say something against “illegal immigrants” and I ask a series of questions — about both facts (e.g., who drew that border in the first place, and why?) and values (e.g., who gets to decide who lives where? why?) — isn’t that more respectful of them than if I immediately stated my viewpoint?

    (Whenever I do that kind of thing, by the way, they always end up asking what I think and I always answer honestly, explaining my reasoning, after they’ve had their say.)

    Of course, in this instance, your partner in dialogue hasn’t agreed explicitly to be taught by you. On the other hand, doesn’t all conversation between consenting adults include an implicit assumption that either or both parties might end up learning something? And, in this instance, you are being taught too. While you may already know certain key facts about how breeding usually works, you truly don’t know exactly what this person does. And, if you’re like me, you truly do what to know what the other person thinks and feels about it all, so they really are teaching you something too.

    Finally, in admittedly very different circumstnces and kinds of dialogues, I’ve learned that the question method often does lead to insights and information I wouldn’t have gained anyway. Very often, when my students and I discuss something like potentially lethal fights over perceived disrespect, I find out that what I thought I knew isn’t true or, at least, doesn’t begin to be the whole story.

  30. Mary Martin, Ph.D. July 6, 2007 at 1:40 pm

    Thanks. My guilt comes from the fact that I have more information than they do regarding my intention. Technically, they’re about to be ambushed. I went to law school for like 10 minutes and you sign up for the Socratic method. Same in doctoral classes on pedagogy. And though we all teach each other and learn from each other all the time informally, I find that to set out to “school” someone is intellectual bullying. Though I might learn something, the odds that my paradigm will shift or be threatened are slim. They have much more on the line, but don’t even realize it. There’s nothing as excruciating, for me, as watching someone while a new idea emerges within them that is contrary to the old one. I feel their pain and have compassion, that what they thought was true or real is not. My father, who was nearly ordained as a Catholic priest, recently (he’s 74) said that he knows that there was no Adam or Eve or Noah, and that the Bible isn’t a true account of anything. I went out on a limb and said, “So then the resurrection is just like original sin or Adam and Eve, right?” And he disagreed. I went through the logic with him again and he said, “Mare, I have to believe in the resurrection. My faith depends on it.” And his eyes welled up. Twenty years ago, I would’ve paid to see that. But now, when I see how much pain it causes him to even entertain a new idea about something so integral to his life, I almost wish I never challenged him. I see the same look in people when I explore their beliefs about nonhuman animals. I’d love to say it’s wonderful and exhilarating to witness the a-ha, but for me, it’s not, and I feel like I’ve done something cruel.

    Lucky I never went into academia!

  31. Deb July 6, 2007 at 2:01 pm

    I was thinking about this at work today, and I came to the same basic conclusion as pattrice, about the socratic method. I like that style of teaching, because I think that we always have to answer the question for ourselves anyway, so when someone presents it as a question, and you think about it, analyze, conclude, that seems honest as well as effective. Even if you’re being led with the specific question, which, let’s face it, is always what is happening, it still gives you room to think about it.

    So, in between googling to solve my annoying issue with aspects at work (which naturally had an easy solution which I just couldn’t see at the time), I thought about it. I thought about what questions I would have responded to when I was a breeder.

    And that brought me to the first question you’d need to ask this woman, or her sister. “It is just for the money?” Because, really, you need to start there. You won’t know how to proceed if you don’t know their answer to this, and even specifically how they respond to this question.

    People tend to want to please others. Even if they’re cold-heartedly treated the dogs like interchagable commodities, there is a really strong chance that they won’t admit it, especially if they know (and they will) that you would think negatively about that.

    So you start with them assuring you that it is about the dogs, they love the dogs. I think that it should be fairly easy to lead them in an honest way. You don’t necessarily have to pretend to be naive about things, but you can still ask the questions. “Don’t you feel bad thinking about all those dogs in the shelters, especially the millions that get killed every year?” Eh, that might be one you have to work up to, but why not have that as a goal question, and whatever you need to work up to it, you could play it by ear?

    Because, for me, when I was a breeder, that’s the little niggle that was always in my mind. Or, often, anyway. I didn’t have people asking me these questions. I’m not sure I would have been able to look critically at what I was doing, because I *loved* raising puppies. I think I would have loved saving dogs too, though.

    I know for certain that if someone had just come up and said “this is wrong and here’s why” I would have been completely closed to that.

    I probably am not answering your question very well, but all I can really do is give you a target, the rest you have to play by ear. Get them to admit that it isn’t all about money, and then head for the dogs that need saving.

    If it is all about money, flat out, I’d probably head towards questions of backyard breeders (I imagine for a person in a grand house, they’d hate to be associated with backyard breeders; it might get them thinking) and dogs bred for research. See what they think about these questions. Just by asking the questions, we’re implying there is a connection, a relevance, to them.

  32. pattricejones July 6, 2007 at 2:14 pm

    I just want to say quickly that the kind of bullying questioning routinely used by law school profs and sometimes used by other academics is very, very far from the respectful, thought-provoking kind of questioning good teachers use to, for example, lead elementary school students to puzzle out for themselves why some plants are prickly. That’s the kind of questioning I’m talking about, which good teachers (which I try to be) use at all levels of education, from pre-K to graduate school.

  33. Mary Martin, Ph.D. July 6, 2007 at 2:14 pm

    “Don’t you feel bad thinking about all those dogs in the shelters, especially the millions that get killed every year?” I asked that once, and the woman actually said, “Dogs in shelters have nothing to do with breeding dogs–it’s two completely different worlds” (she lives near me and breeds Bichon Frises at her house). I proceeded with a very logical series of statements, and she would have none of it. Total denial. Shelters are over there, and I’m over here with my purebreds. Shelters attract one kind of person, I attract another. And any of the dubious 25% of the dogs that are in shelters that are purebreds are from puppy mills and not from people like me. I got nowhere. But you’ve both helped me tremendously in how I might frame the situation in the future.

  34. Deb July 6, 2007 at 6:51 pm

    Yeah, that is exactly what too many breed people will say (it is the standard line that I believed for a long time), however there are a lot of breed people heavily involved in rescue, which sort of shoots that whole theory down. And it is more than likely true that most of the purebred dogs in shelters are not from these breeders, because there is a lot of effort at prevention (i.e., the contracts where the breeders will accept the dogs back, no question; this is something that is emphasized and encouraged, to be honest, and when first getting started in breeding, it was explained to us how important it was to make sure this clause was in the contract, and how important it was to make sure to bring it up to each buyer, etc), however that doesn’t answer the question of how many dogs she could be saving if she wasn’t spending her resources on breeding. I would avoid the question of who is in the shelters, and focus on the fact that there are these dogs in shelters. Question what makes them care about their dogs, why it is okay for her to breed more dogs, but for other dogs to die, things like that. It is tough, because it is too easy to shut people down, so soften the questions and make them less direct would be my advice.

    It is the place to start, I think, but that doesn’t mean it will be easy, because the defenses are firmly in place and rather automatic. People hear it when they’re buying, to make themselves feel better, and by the time they’re into breeding they probably have convinced themselves it is simple fact.

  35. Kim Campbell July 9, 2007 at 10:44 am

    I live in an area where very few dogs are put to sleep, as we have a no kill shelter. The ones that are are too vicous to adopt out or to sick and old (although they will try for a while with these ones) There is a 2-3 year wait for small dogs at our local shelter, so the need isn’t already fulfilled. We do have automatic spay/neuter of all animals BEFORE they are adopted out. I breed Bichon Frise, do rescue whenever possible (not many come through the shelters or rescue in this province). My puppies are sold on non-breeding contracts and must be returned to me if they are unable to be kept.
    How is this different then some families having many children by natural method, rather then adopting the many homeless and suffering children throughout the world?

  36. Deb July 9, 2007 at 7:17 pm

    Kim, there are a few basic differences, though I’m going to have to make some assumptions about the hypothetical family.

    – the human mother having kids instead of adopting presumably takes part in the choice to have kids, or at least consents to having sex, which we can take to be equivalent.

    – the human mother having kids instead of adopting is not selling her children, nor is she forced to sell them.

  37. Mary Martin, Ph.D. July 10, 2007 at 10:21 am

    Deb,

    That’s the most succinct, accurate response I’ve ever seen to that very common question. Thanks.

  38. Pingback: Deep Roots » Blog Archive » Carnival of Empty Cages #6

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