Thursday, June 28, 2012

Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics

There is an often-repeated mantra of the AR groups that 25% of dogs entering shelters are purebred. This claim is based on a shelter survey that was done decades ago, when shelter demographics were considerably different than they are today.

This study of a handful of shelters lists the numbers of purebred dogs entering shelters at 29 percent. However, this is a study limited to 12 shelters and only the owner-relinquished dogs were assessed. Please note that only 5% of cats were purebred. Averaged out, that is a rate of only about 12-13% purebred animals, considering that cats outnumber dogs in shelters by almost a 2-to-1 margin.

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)

In fact, there is no definitive way to ID a dog by breed. Breed is something that we presume depending on whether or not the animals can reproduce their same type. Even DNA testing is unreliable. Pedigrees and DNA for parental match are helpful, but breed ID is uncertain at best. Even asking the owner about their relinquished pet’s breed is not accurate, as owners may report their animal as purebred when it isn’t. It’s human nature to want to tag your pet as belonging to a breed. “My dog is a Chihuahua”…commonly heard by shelters as they receive a small dog that is not purebred by a longshot. But, he LOOKS like a Chihuahua, so they've always referred to him that way. They don't even know where he came from, they found him. Or they got him from a neighbor who had a litter and doesn't know exactly who the sire was. Hmmm.

Another baloney statistic bandied about by the animal rights kooks is the number of intact animals entering shelters. The ASPCA claims that 90% of intakes are intact animals.

Firstly, it is only possible to see by visual inspection if a dog was surgically neutered. No one bothers to check to see whether a dog with all his original equipment is actually fertile. As for a bitch, it is not possible to know for sure by external visual inspection whether she is intact or spayed. Even surgical scars, if present, are meaningless, as there are other surgical procedures done other than sterilization. Hard to believe, I know!! And the pre-pubertal spays that are so in vogue right now leave almost invisible marks. Many a shelter pet has been opened up for a spay, only to find that OOPS she has already been spayed.

Shelters workers in most cases presume to know the reproductive status of pets by simply looking at them. When it comes to trap-neuter and release prorams for feral cats, it is a common practice to notch the ear prior to release so that, if picked up again, they’ll know it’s already been neutered. If it were easy to tell if a cat was neutered or intact by looking at him, why would they bother with notching the ears?

Male cats require a careful palpation to assess for testicles. How many stray and feral cats are actually assessed before they are killed? Most likely, NONE. True, feral cats are unlikely to be neutered, and cats are the majority of shelter intakes in most areas, usually by a 2-to-1 margin. Yet shelters lump their presumptions regarding the reproductive status of dogs right in there with those of feral cats and kittens to drum up sensationalism in their propaganda.

We do know that 78% of owned dogs and 88% of owned cats are sterilized. (APPMA 2012 nationwide owner survey). Here in California, the latest shelter stats show that out of 467,000 dogs entering our shelters in 2010, 89,000 were owner-surrendered. So, about 20% who were "pre-owned", shall we say. The 90% figure is suspect simply due to the fact that, based on averages, at least 15% of intakes would be sterilized former pets. And only if virtually NONE of the other intakes were sterilized would there be a ghost of a chance of approching that 90% figure.

Incidentally, the California stats do not include reproductive status, of either dogs OR cats. For obvious reasons discussed here. Yet ASPCA continues to pronounce their bullshit facts and figures on their websaite as gospel truth.

Shelters are presuming to know what they cannot possibly know, the reproductive status of their intakes. They rebuke the public for the false presumption of failure to neuter, and, to add further insult to injury, they are lumping dogs and cats together....but only when it suits their agenda of sensationalizing their phoney baloney statistics.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Canine racism

In the early 20th century German Shepherds were reviled. They were regarded as aggressive, mean and untrustworthy. The mental association of the breed with German Nazis didn’t help its image either. What turned the tide in the negative public perception of this breed was the advent of a nationwide television hero named “Rin Tin Tin.” Suddenly, a breed that was shunned, feared and hated became adored as a family pet and admired for its courage and loyalty.

Every era needs its scapegoat, and so it goes today, with the popular media and even some so-called “dog bloggers” (who really should know better) railing against “pit bulls.”

For decades, one of the most popular types of dog in this country has been the “bully”-type breeds. This type of dog has served as the mascot for the “Little Rascals”, the logo dog for “Target” stores, the dog listening with rapt attention to the RCA Victrola, and the “Spuds Mackenzie” dog in beer commercials. Helen Keller owned a beloved bull terrier. Millions choose dogs of this type when selecting a family dog, and why not? According to aficionados, the Bull Terrier was known in Victorian times in England as the “nanny dog” because it was so reliable with children. Whether the legend about this nickname was true or not, it certainly COULD have been true. Bully breed dogs are smart and loyal and brave, known on many occasions to save the lives of their owners. Just like all dogs of all breeds.

Breeds that are popular tend to be over-represented in shelter statistics and bite statistics. This only means that there are more of them around, not that they are a problem based solely on their type of breed. There are a lot of Chihuahuas in shelters too, and they figure way up at the top of the list for dog bites as well. The most pressing concern about dog bites is the risk of rabies, and that risk is the same regardless of whether the bite came from a bulldog or a Chihuahua.

It's amazing that people who would be immediately offended if a human racial slur was slung are so willing to fall into that sort of insulting and ignorant activity when it comes to dog breeds.

Now we are seeing unsubstantiated claims thrown about that “pit bulls” are a large percentage of shelter intakes and deaths. To illustrate the fallacy of this idea, here is a message I just received from a friend of mine in response to an article I posted about shelter stats on our breed club list:

“I am not sure where they get the information on "Pit Bulls" - it seems to me that pretty much anything large can get that designation. A neighbor's AKC Labrador escaped and was impounded. They swore they had not had any Labs brought in, yet there he was. But he was a Pit Bull. Good job she went and checked personally instead of just taking their word for it.”

This is a typical scenario. Shelter workers are conditioned to be disgusted at the sight of “pitbulls” and to watch warily for them at every turn. And all those misidentified dogs are lumped into the statistics claiming that “pit bulls” are rampant in shelters.

The California Federation of Dog Clubs has produced a Breed ID workshop for shelter workers. There is a quiz included with pictures of dogs of many breeds, and quite a few of them look similar to so-called “pit bulls”. In fact, according to the CFoDC, there are 25 purebred breeds that are commonly mistaken for “pit bulls” including Boxers, Rottweilers and (yep) even Labrador retrievers.

Try for yourself and see how easy it is to identify a dog breed just based on appearance alone:

At the risk of sounding trite, how we can treat man's best friend this way? He gives his all for us, and we villainize him, outlaw him, and kill him. 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

APHIS Illumination

Many thanks to the wonderful folks at Washington Animal Watch and The Cavalry Group for their fantastic work on the new APHIS rule proposal and the PUPS bill. They're savvy enough to present the information in an easy-to-understand visual format and are busily disseminating that information on social networks like Facebook. Here are two posters from WAW, along with a nice flowchart that was formulated by Mindy Patterson's Cavalry Group. Thanks Mindy! 
Please "LIKE" Washington Animal Watch and The Cavalry Group on Facebook and be sure to follow their respective sites ( and Great information to pass along to your family and friends who may not be intimately involved in the dog world. 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

ALERT - USDA Proposal to Regulate Hobby Breeders

ALERT - USDA proposal to regulate hobby breeders

The Humane Society of the US

recently submitted a petition on the "" website asking the Federal government to crack down on "puppy mills". In response to the over 30,000 signatures on that petition, USDA/APHIS is considering revising their rules.
Currently, anyone who sells pets at retail is exempt from USDA licensure requirements. That means if you are a hobby breeder or a pet store selling pets directly to the public, you do not need a license from the USDA. Only those breeders who sell pets at the wholesale level currently need a USDA license.
The new rule, however, would revise the definition of "retail seller".
If you:
  • Have MORE than four intact female animals, and 
  • ADVERTISE over the internet, in the newspaper or over the telephone, and
  • Don't arrange for each buyer to visit your place of business to see the pet before or immediately after the purchase, then
You would no longer be considered an exempt retail seller, and under the new proposal would be required to be licensed and inspected by USDA.
Needless to say, this would be devastating to most serious hobby breeders. However, the USDA is accepting public comments on this proposed new rule. ALL comments will be read and considered. We call upon all pet owners to contact the USDA either on-line or by mail and inform them of your concerns over this proposal.
Be sure to have your comments submiktted on line or sent by mail by July 16th. Note that letters sent by mail MUST be received on or before July 16th to be considered.
The link that will take you to the "submit comments" page is:
Do not send form letters. All form letters that are the same but signed by different individuals are considered ONE letter, no matter how many are received by APHIS. Your personal comment is important, even if it is only a sentence or two. A long letter is not necessary. You may comment more than once.
When commenting on line, please note that there is a time limit (approximately 20 minutes) that you can keep the "submit comments" page open. If you want to take time to compose your letter, then it is most efficient to draft it in a word program and then cut and paste it onto the comment section.  
In writing your letters or comments, you may wish to use some of the following talking points:
  • It would be cost-prohibitive for me to have to build a USDA-compliant kennel. I would be unable to continue breeding.
  • I prefer to raise pets in my home for optimal socialization. I do not wish to keep them in a kennel.
  • This proposal would be harmful to my rare breed. Buyers are usually distant and rarely visit the premises during a sales transaction.
  • I am selective in the homes I approve for my puppies; I sell few pets locally, and must advertise and ship. This proposal would hinder my ability to find the best homes for my pets.
  • This new rule would be financially devastating to me. I cannot afford thousands of dollars to build a kennel facility to come into USDA compliance.
  • Requiring me to allow strangers into my home exposes my animals to contagious diseases. These can be fatal, particularly for young puppies and kittens.
  • Strangers entering my home makes me vulnerable to criminals who could target me for robbery or other crimes.
  • Strangers entering my home can include animal rights activists who are philosophically opposed to any pet breeding. These extremists may likely file unsubstantiated complaints against me, claiming authority by having entered my home.
  • Rescue groups often rely on use of a foster home network. They could not comply with USDA requirements and would be forced to cease operations. Crippling rescue groups would cause shelter intakes and deaths to rise.
  • This proposal is government overreach.
  • This proposal is a violation of my right to privacy.
  • As a pet owner, I am concerned about my future ability to purchase a well-bred, well-socialized pet for a reasonable price.
  • I am concerned about the future availability of service dogs, such as guide dogs for the blind. These dogs must be exposed to a variety of social situations and external stimuli. If serious hobby breeders are forced to keep their dogs and puppies in kennels, those dogs will not be suitable for service work.
  • As a hobby breeder who works away from my home, I cannot comply with the APHIS requirement to be available for unannounced inspections. I would be forced to quit breeding or face thousands of dollars in fines for noncompliance with this rules.
There are undoubtedly many more concerns with this new proposal. You may return to the page and comment as many times as you wish.
The AKC is also gathering signatures on a petition to send to USDA.
As of today, June 14, 2012, there are over 31,000 signatures on the AKC petition….a nice counter to the HSUS anti-breeder petition. Please do sign the AKC petition also, but remember, your signature on a petition is NOT a substitute for your official, personal comment to the USDA on their website. Both are helpful, but your personal comment to the USDA is ESSENTIAL to defeat this proposal.
Thank you for taking a few moments out of your day to post a comment to the USDA and to sign AKC's petition.
Sincerely yours,
Officers and Board of Directors
Federation of Dog Clubs
*****Cross-posting encouraged******

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

USDA attempts to regulate small breeders

How many of our rights and freedoms are we supposed to sacrifice in the attempt to protect the morons who don't research their purchases? Just when does the onus for personal responsibility enter the picture?

If you buy "hot" merchandise there is a legal presumption that you should know better. Why should people not be held accountable when they themselves support sellers and brokers like "Wizard of Claws" and such? Those buyers are perpetuating the problem and they are just as bad as the ones who sell them the dogs. IMO they get what they deserve when they buy without doing their due diligence and proper homework.

The government takes a few random complaints from idjits as their excuse to intrude and impose their ridiculous, excessive "standards" across the board. Like all government agencies, the primary operative mode for the USDA is self-preservation; expanding its sphere of influence and sucking up more and more of our tax dollars to ensure survival.

If we point out the exemption for the casual home breeder, who thoughtlessly allows their unregistered, unvaccinated, un-health-tested bitch to have an unplanned litter, next thing we know THAT will be made illegal and the owners of ALL bitches everywhere will be included....they'll dredge up the good ol' PUPS standard of ONE BITCH as the threshold for federal regulation.

Let's face it, the intent is not (or at least should not be) to "regulate" businesses that abuse animals, but to drive them out of business. And the ARs know that support for that goal will take out many other too. That's their plan! Unfortunately the rest of us will go down the drain right along with the few abusers when they are legislated out of the picture. The free market generally works best. Exposes and public education have worked to solve the  "overpopulation crisis", why not education about how NOT to buy a dog to solve the problem of unethical internet sellers?

Monday, June 11, 2012

Trojan Horse

A proposed change in USDA rules would bring almost every pet breeder under federal guidelines, forcing them to build commercial kennels and submit to unannounced inspections by either the public or the USDA. The new proposal would appease the blood-lust of animal extremist groups like the HSUS, PETA, ASPCA, and In Defense of Animals. These groups support a surge in the war against pet breeders, and using the US Federal government to aid in their vendetta makes it even more objectionable. Imagine our own federal income tax dollars spent in the quest to shut down any in-home pet breeding. Nauseating.

The new proposal comes at a time when we find the Federal government under heavy pressure from the HSUS and other AR groups to over-regulate animal breeders under the guise of improving animal welfare. Anti-hunting, anti-breeding, and anti-agriculture bills are popping up all over, and our legislators still don't seem to be clued in yet to the AR agenda.

The idea with the new USDA proposal is supposedly "to close a loophole for pets sold on the Internet." The truth is, there is no "loophole" that needs closing. Pet breeders are heavily regulated already at the Federal, state and/or local levels. With the federal budget deficit, there are insufficient resources to enforce the rules for commercial breeders as currently defined without bringing thousands of new entities under the USDA umbrella. And, so-called "Puppy Mill Bills" have been passed in almost a dozen large states, making federal intervention unnecessary in those locales.

A comment period is currently open until July 16. Please do go to the site to voice your objections and request the proposal be withdrawn:

To view previous comments and get an idea of what others have already said, check here:

Now, ay, here's the rub. Should enough people complain that the USDA withdraws the new rules, there is a bill pending in Congress that will accomplish pretty much the same goal. This bill is PUPS and we have blogged about it here previously. PUPS would tag anyone with ownership of ONE bitch, who sells "X"-amount of dogs or puppies in a year, as a commercial breeder. Makes no difference if you are an active hobbyist who does some breeding but still operates at a financial loss as most do….it's just a numbers game played with the intent to stop breeding by any means possible.

PUPS has nearly enough sponsors to be passed should it come to a vote. And, if the new APHIS regulations are not implemented once the July comment period closes, then I strongly suspect that PUPS will be brought up almost immediately for a vote quicker than we can say "WHAM BAM THANK YOU MA'AM ".

So it is important to continue to oppose on both fronts….PUPS as well as the new APHIS regulations.