Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Paper Trail: A Rant

Those of us involved in rescue know all-too-well the kinds of breeders that refuse to acknowledge that any worthwhile dog (read: papered) could possibly end up homeless.

Of course, such a notion is ridiculous. Papers are frighteningly easy to get in any registry, and as registries and breed clubs don't have ethics committees or any limits on the number of puppies any one breeder can register (at all or per stud/dam), you end up with unbearably prolific breeders selling and studding dogs, and winning the occasional ribbon (not hard, given the numbers of dogs produced) and blaming all the breed's problems on "the backyard breeders," as though these breeders have conjured up foundation stock out of thin air.

For whatever reason, many members of the show community most irresponsible about their lines are the first to deny the trickle-down effect.

Well, hear it now: papered dogs are in fact contributing to the overpopulation crisis we're having.

How so? A few ways...

Here's an e-mail I received today, forwarded from someone because their friend is giving up his dog:

Name: Respek
Born: April 28, 2004
Blood: Half Blue Nose, Half Red Nose
-The mother was papered but I'm not into that.
Coat: Blue-grey with an orange sheen
Tricks: Sit, Stay, Shake (both hands), Speak, Come, Get Your Toy, House Broken
Neutered: Yes
Cost: Free to a good home.

Here's the thing: when breeders sell off intact puppies to people after charging a lot of money for them, a lot of these people are going to breed that dog and sell off more puppies to recoup their costs, or because they think it's the thing to do, or because puppies are cute and their cousin wants one. Papers aren't really important unless they help jack the sale price (or have a picture of Ben Franklin on them).

And yet, I've spoken with more than one "good" (read: papers their dogs and shows some of them) breeders in this exact situation - i.e. one where a dog they sold off has been bred and now one of the pups is in the shelter or about to be - and not a single one of them has taken responsibility for the dog, claiming that it's not their problem, that they didn't breed the dog, that oh dear oh well so sorry, but that's not their dog, too bad.

One classy gal – who does indeed actively show in the UKC - told me that "I tell my buyers I can't take dogs back, I don't have the room and I don't know what they did to the dog. What if that dog is aggressive? I don't want it back."

When I told her the homeless dog was spayed, she was horrified and said, "I don’t understand why anyone would neuter a show dog. It’s just ridiculous." I pointed out that these dogs weren't being shown whatsoever (this one wasn’t even papered), but that didn't sway her opinion. Of course, it wasn’t her fault that this litter was sired from an unpapered dog – she just sold the dam.

I then pointed out that neutering her pet-quality animals before she sold them would cut down on people carrying on her lines so sloppily. Her reaction to this was volatile and less-than-accepting.

So, apparently an unpapered dog with a paper trail is a "show dog" who deserves to be intact and bred as long as that dog isn't in a shelter, at which point it's backyard bred, isn't worth anything and isn't the responsibility of the person who started the breeding chain. Hmm...

The bottom line is that without show breeders being more responsible about educating their buyers, being proactive about spay/neuter programs and education, and being more responsible about who buys their dogs and how many they make, this breed is going to continue in the downward spiral of overpopulation that is threatening to get it banned for good.

In the same vein of passing the buck and ignoring what anyone with two good eyes can see at the local shelter or in AKC/UKC/ADBA registration numbers, registries and breed clubs are very quick to jump to action to defeat any bill that's going to try to curb rampant overbreeding, but not so quick to be proactive about instilling the most basic of controls from within.

Why don't registries limit the number of puppies that any one breeder can register? Why don't breed clubs have ethics committees? Why don't these groups institute spay/neuter programs and education? The AKC lists 112 million dollars in assets for 2006, with 86 million in Net Assets - surely they can find room in their budget to get spay/neuter vans out there in low-income areas all over the country.

So why don't they do this?

The answer: it's someone else's problem, of course. Let the rescuers and shelters deal with social change; the registries are busy having beauty contests and defeating ear-cropping bills and hiring expensive lobbyists to ensure that their business model - which is entirely dependent upon making more and more puppies - remains protected.

These kinds of programs might also be seen as an admission that we're actually having an overpopulation crisis of epidemic proportions (which we are), and as the registries continue to deny that there's too many adoptable animals out there dying, I don't suppose that spay/neuter programs fit into their mission statement, PR messaging or marketing segmentation.

It really is unfortunate when animal organizations/companies and fanciers turn their backs on the neediest of animals - in this case, the adoptable millions dying in the shelter system every year. If real change is to happen for the homeless animals out there, the folks at the top of the food chain need to step up and lead by example.

And that example needs to be set yesterday.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this posting Les. Depressing, but oh so true. You're articulate as ever.
(Made me think of Sukie! no?)
One more example of a class system mentality.