Friday, November 27, 2009

Coton de True Liar

There is a debate raging in the Coton de Tulear community about whether or not the breed should seek AKC recognition. The prevailing attitude among the fanciers in this breed seems to be that AKC recognition will induce popularity for the breed, which in turn will cause them to be bred in so-called "puppy mills" and consequently end up in droves in animals shelters. I read this statement in a recent issue of an online Coton magazine, regarding the effects of AKC breed acceptance:

"The number of abandoned Cotons waiting to die in
shelters will add to the 7,600 AKC Registered dogs that are killed in America's
shelters every single day."

Hmmm.....some quick math and we see that 2.8 million AKC registered dogs are killed by shelters every year! Oops, just one pesky little detail, AKC doesn't even register that many dogs in a year! In 2007, AKC registered just 400,000 litters, and slightly over 800,000 individual dogs.

There is certainly no data to support that number of purebred dogs entering our shelters, much less to state that they are all killed! Estimates (figuring on the high end) are that shelters kill roughly 2 million dogs per year, and an even higher number of cats. But according to the author, (president of a Coton club for over 30 years) more AKC registered dogs are dying than the total number of ALL dogs killed. Huh??

I hope his PhD isn't in math. We'd have to have every dog from every purebred registry in the US lined up to enter the shelters directly from their whelping boxes, and we'd still need more "victims" to meet this wildly overblown claim.

Fact is, there are NO reliable nationwide shelter statistics, no central reporting agency, there are only estimates. Who compiles the statistics? The very people who want to inflate the numbers for dramatic effect! The AR kooks of PETA and HSUS.

Shelters have no way of knowing if a dog is truly purebred, much less registered. However, if THOUGHT to be purebred, breed rescues normally will take these dogs. We have had shelters call our breed rescue, only to find that the dogs are mixed and do not remotely resemble specimens of our breed!! We often take them regardless. These dogs are probably listed in someone's statistics book as being purebred.

This study of shelters nationwide lists the numbers of purebred dogs entering shelters at just 5 percent:

A similar previous survey found the percent of purebred dogs in shelter intakes at 7.3 percent (reported by Nassar, Talboy, and Moulton, 1992, American Humane Association). These numbers relate to intakes, not deaths. Naturally the death numbers are much lower. And, happily, all shelter numbers have been steadily declining for years!

The facts are that we have SHORTAGES of adoptable dogs in the New England states, and in parts of California like San Diego and San Francisco. The facts are that there are many groups importing shelter dogs from Europe, the Caribbean, Mexico and China.

If the Coton breeders prefer to keep the breed somewhat an exclusive commodity that is certainly their prerogative. But own up to the real reasons! It is disingenuous to blame AKC for all the ills of the dog world. The rhetoric I am hearing is that AKC acceptance will substantially increase popularity and, by further extrapolation, that the breed will be “ruined” by this newfound popularily.

Heck, we have people ruining breeds just fine on their own, without the help of any registry. However, AKC is the ONLY registry that conducts breeder inspections...close to 6,000 every year....and AKC spends an inordinate amount of resources on breeder education, legislative efforts, and their Canine Health Foundation. What evil curs!

Next point, AKC registration does not necessarily induce popularity. There are about 50 breeds within the AKC that have such low registration rates that they are considered REAL rare breeds. Dandie Dinmont Terriers. Now THAT’s a rare breed. Pulis, PBGVs, Mudis, harriers, Otterhounds etc….all are rare. The English Foxhound is the rarest AKC breed right now. Google "Coton de Tulear" and literally thousands of breeder websites will appear, all around the globe. The breed is not “rare” at all, but is priced accordingly. What a great marketing tool!

What contributes to a breed's popularity is usually the underlying "cute" factor, or the overall appeal of the breed. A breed with gentle disposition, soft coat, small size, and pretty colors will be popular. No matter where it is registered, if it is purebred, or if it is a mix of the "Poo" variety. Cotons are already in pet stores, and bred commercially. So that ship has long ago sailed. They are popular.
The very people claiming that they don’t want the Coton to become popularized, are the ones who have websites promoting the breed. They claim that the world of AKC dog shows has ruined many a breed, yet check out their websites...... they participate in plenty of dog shows, earning titles and enjoying bragging rights…and boy, do they brag.

Several Coton breeders had exhibits set up at the Pet Expo just this past May, some with puppies on display. These are the same people with websites touting their champions and extolling the virtues of the breed. The very people claiming that they don't want their breed to be popularized!

Well, no need to cloud the issue with facts. Coton breeders will continue to rationalize and insult others in a desperate attempt to maintain their status quo. Who gives a flying fig where Cotons (or ANY dogs) are registered, or even IF they are registered?

Just don't throw stones at AKC when you live in a glass ARBA house.

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