Sunday Commentary – Those opposing legislation to protect pets are looking really bad right now

There are some organizations such as hunting clubs, the NRA and the American Kennel Club that have been working of late against efforts to protect companion animals – must notably in regard to anti-puppy mill legislation.

I’ve got a bit of advice – particularly for the best dog breeders in the country. Get out in front of those opposing legislation to protect animals or risk being lumped into the pile with organizations that are being placed, by their own actions, in a very bad light.

Missouri, of course, is the most recent example. Proposition B contains some very basic and reasonable regulations – such as access to time outside for the breeding dogs, regular vet care and better housing. Speaking out against reasonable guidelines such as these comes across to the public as being against better living conditions for breeding dogs. This view from the public is reasonable and correct.

People who have pets can easily compare how their pets live to how dogs live in mass-breeding facilities or puppy mills. We all feel that we would never want our pets to live 24/7 in a small cage, without access to playtime – inside or outside – or even toys. Our pets are part of our families.

It’s not hard at all to come to the conclusion that no dog or cat or any animal should be treated as nothing more than a breeding machine.

But I’ve quite often read or watched video of a breeder stating they cannot meet the minimum requirements in regulations such as those in Prop B. So they can’t house the dogs in kennels that allow space to move around? So they can’t allow for time outside for their breeding dogs? So they can’t meet the very minimum guidelines for veterinary care?

That’s not good. But then again, I have visited breeding facilities that far exceed these minimal regulations. So I know it can and is being done.

The really good breeders need to also understand the following. Despite the best efforts of so many people like me who are trying desperately to get people to adopt homeless pets, there is a large segment of the population that will continue to purchase puppies.

Without puppy mills in the picture – or at least if we can put a major dent in the next few years in the number of puppy mills operating across the map –  it would mean more customers will turn to quality breeders. It’s an issue of supply and demand.

Again, us animal-welfare types are going to keep pushing for adoption as THE best option. But we are realistic in understanding we will fall short of getting this message across to everyone. And actually, if we animal-welfare types had our way, we would eliminate puppy mills and greyhound racing and get a huge segment of the population on the spay/neuter bandwagon.

If we were to even get close to our ultimate goals in these three areas, then there would potentially  be far fewer dogs becoming homeless each year. In this dream of a goal,  the homeless population could be greatly reduced and puppy mills would be a rarity. What entity might be left to provide dogs to those who chose not the rescue? – Right, the quality breeders.


One response to this post.

  1. Posted by D Gary Grady on January 30, 2011 at 10:31 pm

    I’ve been wondering why the better breeders don’t get behind laws setting minimum standards. After all, it would reduce competition from cheaper-to-run factory-farm-like puppy and kitten mills. I have two guesses: (1) They’ve been convinced by misrepresentations of what the laws say, combined with bogus “slippery slope” argument that if you let “them” get away with passing reasonable laws, they’ll just turn around and start passing unreasonable ones. (2) They’re being leaned on by breeder organizations — which include many puppy mill operators — to go along with the party line and assured that “self-regulation” is better than outside regulation (just as the financial industry claimed).


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