Rescue Don’t Buy
“Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
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After reading Nancy Kalish’s article in Psychology Today, “It’s National Purebred Dog Day2,” this quote came to mind. She is a professor, author, and psychologist who blatantly displays her lack of compassion and ignorance of animal rights, shelter dogs, breeding, and companion animals. I came across her vapid supposition that purebred dogs, in particular, Briards, do not end up in shelters and are somehow different and incapable of being unhealthy or abandoned. I wish this were true as one of my client’s two Briards has cancer at the young age of 6, bought from an “ethical” breeder. This health and adoption illusion, are not only untrue but irresponsible to propagate, and a displays one’s ignorance about breeding, behavior and encapsulates the epidemic of the animal holocaust – turning away.
Nancy has little, if any, education in canids biology, behavior, rescue, shelters, neurology, nutrition, breeding, etc. other than her claimed “love of dogs” as her credentials. Unfortunately, the American Kennel Club (AKC) relies on talking heads with Ph.D.’s, just like Nancy, who have minimal canine knowledge. To produce pseudoscience articles in support of breeders and breeding more dogs, while millions die every year, discredits herself and the publishing journal, Psychology Today (PT) for allowing such a neophyte to speak on a topic in which she has no background or expertise. They would be just as disillusioned and ridiculous in asking me to speak intelligently about the complexities of biomedical engineering. The claim, “As a psychologist, I know how important it is for bonding and training to start young” while true, is as confounding as the rest of her claims. I did not realize that in her doctorate dissertation, or anywhere along the line in a psychologist’s educational pursuits, they went into depth about dog training and ethology. I believe Nancy, a self-proclaimed expert in bonding and training, is out of her ken and should stick to what she studied.
More dogmatic statements ensue, “Briards in heat are not wandering the streets to become briard-doodles, or whatever.” So if I am to understand this, Briard breeders never make mistakes. How many purebred bitches become pregnant after escaping from home, or when (not if) someone drops a leash or has an unneutered playmate or beau…etc. To make these blanket statements are irresponsible and foolish. No, god-forbid a cross with a Poodle! Instead, Briards were mongrelized with the much more “desirable,” Beauceron and the Barbet. Some tens of thousands of years ago, all dogs evolved from wolf varieties. Then, they were bred to form one breed or another. Briards are no different and didn’t somehow escape evolution.
Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and Internet Chat Rooms for a Briard?
This is a fascinating claim from a Ph.D., “And if my dog gets sick, after the vet, I turn to the briarders on the Internet lists for their expertise and experience with many briards.” This is odd, according to Nancy, Briards “are relatively healthier than many other dogs.” She goes on, “The goal is to breed out the diseases that affect the breed and make the breed healthier. Care is taken to introduce new genes into the gene pool for maximum health.” After all, the reason she advocates buying from breeders is because of the looks of the dog and “healthier Briard that has passed all of their health clearances” rarely get sick, so it seems she would so rarely need a veterinarian, let alone have to turn to internet chat rooms for advice. That anomaly would hardly be worth mentioning. Sarcasm is heavy for the outlandish and paradoxical nature of these statements.
Others such as Robert Rich have pointed out additional axioms to consider, “Evolutionary biology shows us one metaphor for this trap of stylistic boundaries, in terms of species diversity and inbreeding (ref. E.O. Wilson). When a species sub-population becomes isolated, its traits start to diverge from the larger group to eventually form a new species. Yet under these conditions of isolation, genetic diversity can decrease, and the new environmentally specialized species becomes more easily threatened by environmental changes. The larger the population, the less risk it faces of inbreeding. If that population stays connected to the main group of its species, it has the least chance of overspecialization and the most chance for survival in multiple environments.”
Dog Breeding Moratorium
In some rare cases breeding may be warranted, however, a moratorium on breeding dogs even for a year or two would likely be sufficient to prevent the unnecessary killing of millions of innocent animals. It’s simple math. Breeding could commence after the shelters were cleared, new, stricter laws regarding pet parenthood were enacted, intelligent, well thought out regulation was put in place for breeding and selling pets, and the public was educated as to the benefits of adopting and training.
I love the morphological differences, shapes, sizes, and dispositions of various breeds, but above all, I love life and health, not death. I love a variety of different breeds, and no one is arguing to get rid of all or even some breeds, however, life and not killing, must come first and foremost, before all else for the simple fact of equality and liberty. Because contrary to civil law, animals have rights and one of those rights is to live. Contrary to Nancy’s argument, animals are here with us, not for us.
This isn’t the first time an otherwise theoretically intelligent person speaks ignorantly outside of their wheelhouse and opines about subjects that are not understood or simply does not consider or deliver all of the facts. I am delighted to listen when someone supports groups verbally, monetarily or in any way shape or form but the highest form of help is ‘doing’ not ‘talking’. When it comes time to watching dogs die at staggering rates (millions every single year) and to ignore this tragedy and paradoxically claim you that you “love” dogs is an oxymoron of the greatest proportion. Cool hand Luke said it best, “What we have here is a failure to communicate.”
Most Breeders = Puppy Mills
Most breeders are puppy mills in disguise and have a conflict of interest whereby money is put before the health and well-being of animals. In a socialist, centrally planned capitalist economy and fiat monetary system, there is simply no getting around this. Let’s drop the formalities and political correctness of the article and cut to the chase. In the dilettante Nancy Kalish’s ostentatious piece2, her analogies, and argument are highly flawed and obliquitous. She makes some absurd inaccurate analogies and points which highlight her ignorance about breeders, animal welfare, and show off her lack of compassion about animal welfare and dogs. Nancy justifies, advocates and recommends buying dogs from breeders instead of adopting homeless dogs by dogmatically stating, “And I did not rescue an orphan from Romania or Guatemala or China, although there are orphans who need homes. I chose to give birth to my child.” This is a red herring, ignorant and flawed logic. This type of myopic position fails to discuss or see the main point of rescuing or adopting a dog rather than buying one.
The first problem with her argument is regarding conspecificity vs. heterospecificity. A dog (a nonhuman animal) is an extended part of your family, not a nuclear member in which you gave birth to (or at least I hope not). Furthermore, 4+ million babies (orphan humans) are not inhumanely killed every year, solely because they are homeless! How can you compare having your own baby to buying a dog from a breeder? Perhaps if Nancy volunteered in a shelter or was in the trenches, injecting poison or gassing these beautiful animals, watching gorgeous, well behaved, healthy, loving animals die day after day, her pious, pompous attitude would change. It’s easy to sit in an ivory tower touting “I fell for the looks” of a dog breed while millions die. I simply do not have that ‘luxury’ of conveniently forgetting or turning away, and cannot relate to Nancy’s position. Her argument is extraneous and morally reprehensible.
This seemingly erudite article was merely claptrap. This article made me sick to my stomach intellectually and viscerally. Her proclamation that she cannot find her purebred dog in shelters is also blasphemous and unfounded. There are estimated over 25% purebreds in shelters.1 There are between 3 – 4 million dogs, and cats killed every single year! That is around 10,000 pets every. single. day!
Take a deep breath and let that genocide sink in.
Adopt Don’t Shop
While Nancy’s aberration does not hold water, it is irresponsible not to draw logical analogies and parallels to actual, real-life examples – apples to apples not apples to cars. By the sounds of Nancy’s exaltation, one would believe she may have some affiliation with puppy mills the American Kennel Club (AKC). The etiology of why millions upon millions of dogs are killed every year, is the very “solution” Nancy trumpets, breeders. “Ethical” breeding with all of its inherent conflict of interest and structurally unsound arguments is as immoral, oxymoronic, and unnecessary as what “ethical” breeders practice, abusive, ear cropping, tail docking, and declawing.
Please watch Pedigree Dogs Exposed, although hard to find because of all the takedown requests by breeders, still out there for the viewing. Breeders and dog breeding, “The greatest animal welfare scandal of our time.”5-6
The skewed nature of our laws, where dogs (and all sentient beings) are treated as property and not as legal persons, affords little if any rights to nonhuman animals. To make a comparison of adopting orphan babies to adopting dogs is not only structurally unsound but irresponsible and negligent. Perhaps Nancy would have done well adopting Abraham Lincoln’s quote, “It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.” It would be nice for a writer to do a little lot more research in the field of discussion before opining so ridiculously and unintelligently.
Love Doesn’t Discriminate
Dozens of dog pure breeds and most mixed breeds have the qualities Nancy mentions. The only thing that sets her beloved Briards apart from the others is looks. Therefore, Nancy’s reasoning for buying dogs from breeders is based on looks, as she states, she “Fell hard for this breed.” Umm, No, I would contend you fell for a unique individual, not a breeds looks. The shallowness and notion of falling primarily for a dog’s appearance and calling it true love is akin to an immature, undeveloped, adolescent mind and emotions prior to the advent of wisdom, compassion, and understanding have had a chance to develop. What breed characteristics did you “fall for”? Further, can love and emotion be attached to a breed or is it really tied to an individual, with a unique personality and character trait? I think that Nancy needs to reevaluate her feelings and take some time to look within, dig deep and uncover the true origins of her emotions. Introspection would do a person well before “falling” for a superficial quality (looks) of a breed or a look of any animal, no? The irony is deafening coming from an author of “Lost and Found Lovers” and a researcher on rekindling romances and “love” who is waxing poetically about love based on superficiality and looks! Am I the only one laughing?! If this weren’t so absurd and tragic, it would be hilarious.
Pure Breed Behavior and Medical Health Problems
The ridiculousness continues with statements such as, “Why? Because breeders of Briards protect the breed they love. They do not have more puppies than they have committed buyers, and each prospective Briard family is carefully screened.” Nancy places Briard breeders on a pedestal, and suggests, all other breeders could care less about the line, heritage, genetics, husbandry, etc. I am not sure why she makes this bold, pompous, ignorant assumption but nothing could be further from the truth. The inherent conflict of interests between breeders and the desire to make money cannot be ignored and skews and warps their relationships with the dogs and families who purchase them. There is no getting around that Briard “breeders,” “moral” or not, are not doing this for free and thus are affected by profit! As a psychologist, you should understand this basic tenet. There are no differences from a Briard breeder to that of another breeds breeder, as Nancy naively contends. There are ethical breeders and unethical ones across the spectrum of breeds. Briards are no more special, sorry to burst your bubble.
The fascinating extremes continue with pearls like this, “Because breeders of briards protect the breed they love. They do not have more puppies than they have committed buyers, and each prospective briard family is carefully screened. If the breeder believes that the family and the briard are not a good match, the breeder will not sell the puppy to that home. It’s not easy to convince a responsible breeder to sell a puppy to you!” For fun, I just search Briard on google. On the first page was a link to a puppy sale website titled “Next Day Pups.” When you go to buy a Briard pup, I immediately found a breeder who would ear crop and ship their puppies. That sure must be the thorough owner evaluation and screening Nancy is referring to!
Ridiculous statements such as, “Because of their ancestry, different breeds suit different personalities and lifestyles of people: you know what you are getting—there is a national standard for each breed. Breeds are national treasures…” No, living animals are national treasures. For every pure breed dog, I can show you one that doesn’t fit the “profile” and expectation of that breed. Why? Because dogs are unique individuals just like humans. Stereotypes do not hold water, and no, you “don’t know what you’re getting”! I do behavior consultations for aggressive Golden Retrievers, train Akitas, American Pit Bull Terriers, and Rottweilers who are service dogs and/or therapy dogs and Briards who are aggressive to people, Yikes! Imagine that! Nancy seems to discredit the nurture part of the nature/nurture equation. Her self-proclaimed “national treasure,” is nothing more than hers, not national and not a treasure. What is truly a treasure is life! And when you have a choice (and we always do) saving a life and not turning our backs on dogs because of discriminatory superficial looks, is true compassion and love.
We sure don’t need more pedantic claims such as, “And you will not find a Briard puppy to rescue from a shelter.” Huh?! Am I to believe ivory towers do not possess access to Google?! I call bullshit to these claims that even a cursory search would have discovered. Ignorance is not an excuse in this ubiquitous information age, look it up, professor. However, regardless even if that was true, it is still a moot point and doesn’t address the immorality of breeding dogs while millions die. Sitting idly by as others die because you “fell for” for the look of a dog, quite frankly, leaves me speechless. Come to Miami where 20,000+ pets are killed every single year, and I guarantee I will personally help you find a dog of your dreams. You can then put your actions where the support is needed most. Rescue groups are not “politically correct” as you smugly pronounce, they are compassionate! Which is something you seem to be lacking.
The documentary, “Pedigree Dogs Exposed,” by the BBC, also highlights some of many congenital and hereditary afflictions that plague purebred dogs.
I became a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (CDBC) and Certified Profession Dog Trainer (CPDT) because I love animals, (alive, happy and healthy) teaching, helping others (not just human animals) and because more than any medical disease, poor behavior is the number one killer in dogs every year. I speak empirically that purebred dogs (Briard and others) from “ethical” breeders have as many, if not more behavior problems and training issues than mixed breeds.
Animal Rights, What Rights?
In more craziness, Nancy goes on to state, “There are plenty of cats, rabbits, chicks, guinea pigs, horses, and other animals that could use a good home. Are all people responsible for all these?”
Um, YES, we are! If not for humans, raping, enslaving, torturing, and exploiting animals for sports, fashion, entertainment, animal testing, animal agriculture, etc. then who is responsible?! Abdicating responsibility is not only cowardly but shameful. It is incumbent upon us, and we have a moral imperative to take care of the very animals that we imprison, domesticate and cause so much pain and suffering towards. People domesticated these animals, and in doing so, we take on the responsibility for their lives. We manipulate gene codes, play ‘god,’ create life and take life, so yes, we as a society are responsible! We create dependence and neediness and then turn our backs on animals when it suits your needs (or looks) to determine who lives and who dies. Who made humans ‘god’? I do not know about Nancy but my higher power is not a person and contrary to popular ignorant belief, we have no right to decide who lives and who dies. This disconnection with reality and oneself is a blatant display of what plagues humanity, speciesism, ego and the foible of human exceptionalism.3
A further cursory view of the topic is displayed when Nancy states, “I don’t eat animals, but I also don’t judge people who do. It’s a choice, based on one’s personal convictions.”
That’s funny; I thought the choice between two animals is a two-way street! Doesn’t a “choice” involve two sentient beings who are aware they are choosing?4 Sure, you have a choice to eat whatever (whoever) you want, be it chicken, dog, or any animal. But does the animal on the plate choose to be dinner? What about a non-human animal’s right to “choose” you so conveniently disregard? Just as you have so conveniently disregarded 4+ million pets in the United States that get slaughtered every year because you like “the look” of a certain breed. This irresponsibility speaks directly to why being a pet parent is a privilege NOT a right. And it is high time we started changing our cultural thinking about dog “ownership” and animal rights and the ability of humans to “own” them.
I contend that if you superficially love a dog that looks a certain way, this is a problem, not a solution. This act speaks to discrimination and superficiality. Do you feel the same way about people and love someone based primarily on looks? I hope your partner stays physically gorgeous all of their life or you’re headed down a rough path. What would an educated, licensed, therapist in the field of relationships and love, tell a patient if they stated, “I only love Indian men or blonde women with large breasts”? What advice would you say to your children when they come asking, what is love, and you try to explain that beauty comes primarily from someone’s external appearance? Boy, I’d like to be a fly on the wall in your household. If looks are your primary determinant of being a pet parent, you should reevaluate your relationships with yourself, your partner and all others.
Do Not Turn Away From Our Pets
Nancy’s article is a sad, screaming advertisement for what is wrong with people today and the pervasive mental dysfunction even amongst our professors and therapists. Nancy is every rescuer, shelter, and lover of lives, bête noire. Her view is so far removed from my reality, it is hard to connect with any statements and is largely inscrutable. How phlegmatic and cold can one be when animals needlessly die day after day, after day, with no end in sight. Death is an antonym of love. How can one claim to “love” another while they enable, facilitate and watch others die and then defend the very breeders who are some of the largest contributors to the problem!? Who contributes most to the death of roughly 4 million adoptable pets in the United States alone? Not only breeders (ethical and nonethical) but irresponsible, fatuous, misleading articles like this. So tell me, when did you lose your compassion?
Turning your head is a perfidious display to a human’s best friend. This is not a quixotic debate; breeding should end until we cease killing adoptable dogs and our shelters are empty. The paradigm of killing will end when breeding ends, and when it does, what side do you stand on? Pink Floyd said it best “Don’t accept that what’s happening, Is just a case of others’ suffering, or you’ll find that you’re joining in, the turning away.”
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“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
And what matters more than LIVING and defending life!? You either support life or support death. There is no middle ground.