I have been following the discussion over on Fussy with great interest. Mrs. Kennedy posted about the eye health issues her bulldog, Katie, is having, and that started an intense debate on breeders vs. rescues as places which to obtain dogs, neutering and spaying, etc. This is obviously something on which I have an opinion. And quite a strong one. One which is different from Mrs. Kennedy's. So, rather than clog up her fantastic blog with it, I'm going to use my soapbox.

With possible exceptions for working and service dogs, I don't think dogs should be intentionally bred. Not by large scale breeders or small scale breeders, not with any kind of licensing, just not at all. I place little value in keeping up breed lineages, especially as compared to saving the lives of the thousands of dogs that are put down every year for no reason other than that there are too many of them. The truth is that we (humans) have domesticated these animals and we are responsible for their surival. All of them, not just the breeds we fancy on a given day, not just the ones that are genetically perfect, all of them. And breeding is bad for them as a whole.

Like just about everything else, it's a supply and demand issue. People who breed their dogs intentionally do so with a motive to sell puppies. It may not be extremely profitable for most, but if there wasn't at least some market for it, far fewer people would do it. So, first, the impetus is on the "consumer." DO NOT BUY A DOG FROM A BREEDER. Rescue a dog. If you are adamant about a given breed, look into breed-specific rescue. And, better yet, take a good hard look at your reasons for being breed specific, and for not wanting to consider mixed breeds. Then weigh those reasons against a dog's life. Because if you buy instead of rescue, you are sentancing one more dog to death row. It's that simple.

If you are insistent upon getting a puppy rather than an older dog (I honestly think this is a terrible idea, having taken in both puppies and older dogs, but to each their own), and you are committed to rescue, you are just going to have to be a bit less picky about breed. Which isn't to say that you should discount breed completely--there are good reasons to lean towards specific breeds and discount other breeds, and I think taking breed into account is a good idea. However, if you have decided that of all of the possible breeds of dog out there, there is only ONE that is right for you, then you probably shouldn't have a dog. They are more similar than they are different.

Another thing to consider is time. Often, you get be put on a waiting list at a breed specific rescue, then notified when a dog of your preferred breed comes up for rescue. Mark and I will likely do this in the future, as there are a few specific breeds we are interested in having, and they don't show up in rescue all that often. It's the combo of thinking you need a healthy dog of your preferred breed and your preferred age RIGHT NOW that makes people think breeders are the only way.

Having addressed demand, there's also supply. Why not buy from a breeder when they are so many of them? The lack of control over dog breeding is, to my mind, atrocious. That we'd actually consider breed specific legislation before we'd consider putting basic restraints on breeding is ridiculous. Here again I get radical--I don't think spaying and neutering should be optional. I think that having an non-altered adult dog should be illegal, except in regulated and rare cases. People should not be able to breed their dogs just because they want to. Think that's a civil liberties violation, that your dog is your property and you should be able to do with it was you wish? I disagree. Just like you can't legally beat your dog, you shouldn't legally be able to breed your dog. And the only want to stop breeding, either intentionally or not, is to get the dog fixed.

Obviously my positions on this subject are radical. Most people, even dog rescue advocates, don't agree with me. But I don't care. I think the way we fail to take care of the animals we've domesticated in this society is a fucking disgrace, and radical measures are going to be necessary to correct that situation.

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I know it is a totally unoriginal idea, but I'm pretty sure the solution to our problems lies in Cambodia. Specifically, selling our extra dogs to Cambodians as food. I don't think they are particular about the breed, either, which is wierd -- I imagine different dogs taste differently. In my imagination, poodles and purse dogs are sweeter, while the tougher dogs are naturally salty and make a better jerky.

I agree completely. (with Grace rather than the dog-eating weirdo, in case there was any doubt)

I can't believe you called Cambodia "wierd"! Nothing wierd about Cambodia, unless you count the explosive potatoes that grow all over the place.

I didn't, I called you weird. And at least i can spell it.

Your sentiments are so perfectly understandable, and respectfully stated. But there is just a lot you don't know, as well, and I say that will the utmost respect and love. "People who breed their dogs intentionally do so with a motive to sell puppies." 100%, patently, unmitigatedly false. Yes, I am one of those "evil breeders," and there are thousands like me in the following regard: I show my dogs, and I only breed when I want to further my program. I have not only never made a profit on a litter of puppies, I've never, EVER even recouped what I put into that litter financially. Just curious--do you hold the PeTA stance that there should be NO domesticated animals, period? It's fine if you do; it's a free country, and we're all entitled. The only reason I ask is that your hard line of "intact dogs should be illegal, period," will result, ultimately, in the extinction not of just a few "select breeds" but the extinction of dogs as a species, altogether. Thanks for being nice about it--it's shocking how few people who hold strong opinions are capable of that, and you do it well.

Actually, I do believe that dogs shouldn't have been domesticated. I think that since they were, we have a responsibility to take care of them, but their eventual extinction as a domestic speices would be OK with me, theoretically. I don't think it would actually happen, though. Whether your motive is to sell puppies or further your lineage of show dogs really doesn't make much difference to me, actually. Either way I think it's selfish, given the circumstances. he fact remains that intentional breeding feeds into the already huge dog overpopulation problem, and dogs get killed because of it.

OK. That tells me all I need to know. You follow, to a 'T', the Ingrid Newkirk line. Thanks for explaining your position. I hope you are right that it "won't actually happen," because my animals, both dogs and horses, have gotten me through some tough times and shared with me some of the best times of my life. I think the world would be a much sadder place without pets, but your vision of a world like that is perfectly within your right to work toward. Can't say I wish you luck in that regard, but I can say I like you. (I would love it if you could ask any of my dogs, or any that I have bred, in their cushy homes being loved like crazy how "selfish" I am. ;-)) Ditto the horses. I do disagree that thoughtful breeding "feeds into" the dog overpopulation problem, because the kinds of people who are buying from what I would consider "bad" breeders are going to demand a supply from somewhere--and since they're not getting it from me or people like me, you can bet they'll go somewhere else, which is just what they'll do if all the "good" breeders suddenly stop ALL breeding. And it's headed that way, especially with the current administration. With Hunte Corporation being given protected status, dog breeding is becoming agribusiness. Maybe soon that's all that will be left. Thanks again for a thoughtful, non-confrontational response.

You are preaching to the choir re: how much your animals mean to you. I honestly don't know if I could live without my dogs at this point. I certainly wouldn't want to. But that doesn't change the fact that I don't think domestication is fair or right, as a concept. A world without pets would be sadder for humans, I agree, but what right do we have to enslave animals for our own companionship? I very much doubt your particular pets think you are selfish--that wasn't what I was getting at. It's more what I stated above--breeding creates more animals for what is, in essense, enslavement. And it does this while other, already existing animals, are unnecessarily killed. I can't think that is anything but selfish, not just on the part of the breeder, but on the part of anyone who purchases a pet (i.e. creates demand for intentionally bred pets).

I can't answer that, because I simply do not, and never will, see a good, loving, human/dog relationship as "enslavement." I find the idea ridiculous, laughable. As you do my position. But that's what makes the world go 'round.

I totally agree with you, Grace. Also on the "enslavement." Not all pet owners think of their pets as individuals with rights and needs but mere servants to feed their egos, keep them company, obey orders and even to kick around when the mood strikes them. I'm a cat person myself and I preach to friends with cats not to let them have kittens. We do not need more kittens!

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