Editor's Page

Let's Get Busy

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Our sport is under consistent attack these days. It is up to us as breeders and fanciers to do our part to advocate for purebred dogs. In 2009 my goal is to give our readers ideas, tools and information to help demonstrate to the public that we are breeding healthy, happy, wonderful dogs, some of which are show dogs, yes, but much more importantly, all of which are meant to be companions for many years and to share in people’s lives.

Let’s start with a recent assertion that show dog breeders carelessly allow disease and disfigurement to occur in our dogs because all we care about is “trying to win rosettes.” Since its founding in 1995 the AKC Canine Health Foundation has received donations of more than $25 million, with AKC contributing $10 million, which went toward canine health initiatives. More than $13 million has been donated to canine health research. More than 150 AKC parent clubs make annual donations to support research for genetic disease in the breeds they represent. Hobby breeders spend tens of thousands of dollars annually getting x-rays for orthopedic clearances, samples for DNA tests, blood, skin and tissue samples for a range of other tests, plus cardiac testing, hearing tests and more. Additional funds go to record these test results with OFA and the Canine Health Information Center (CHIC). This factual data negates the claim of animal rights extremists that we are purposely breeding dogs that have disfiguring and debilitating genetic disorders because we concentrate only on beauty. This is powerful information that fanciers must share with the public and which needs to be advertised.

Next let’s think about how often in the history of civilization grassroots efforts have effected real and lasting change. Countless times. There are 500 AKC member clubs and more than 5,000 affiliated clubs. In the next six months if even half of those clubs commit to spending one morning or afternoon at a mall or a fair, at PetsMart or Petco, at a community college or on a university campus, with a handful of their members’ dogs, informing people of the truth about purebred dogs and the health testing we do, think what that grassroots effort would accomplish. Much of what the extremist animal rights movement aims to limit involves not just breeding dogs — it involves our most basic rights and freedoms. Young people in this country are among our most socially aware and politically active citizens. We don’t want them to believe the lies that the extremist movement tells them, so we have to go out and educate them. Then those socially aware and politically active citizens will make our grassroots effort even stronger by becoming part of it.

We can’t just keep paying lip service to these ideas. Whether we know the details or not, our American Kennel Club is working to ensure that we retain our rights to breed and own dogs. Each breeder, exhibitor and fancier must also contribute to this effort. We can no longer remain naïve and think that as individuals we can sit back and do nothing. This is not hyperbole, it is truth – the future of our sport and the future of our freedoms are at stake. A grassroots effort is being organized in the U.K. as I write, and we must join in that effort. I will bring you more information next month on that effort. In the meantime go to your next kennel club or breed club meeting and start right now organizing your own effort to educate the public. If your club just had a meeting, phone some of your fellow members and brainstorm about how your club can do something proactive. If you don’t belong to a club, join with fellow fanciers in your area and spend an afternoon talking to the public. Let’s don’t let ourselves down – let’s don’t let our dogs and our sport down. Let’s get busy.

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Fred   San Francisco, CA

2/1/2009 1:53:15 PM

Christi,

Your basic drift is that we need to be active in educating the public. I would assert that the basic criticism leveled a the fancy is valid, and that much more needs to be done than PR while failing to address the fundamental issues. While I support CHF, they have no control over the breed standards or the inaction and resistance of the breed clubs. We, the fancy, are like the deniers illustrated in the BBC documentary. Too often, "safe" research is supported, while important research into genetic diversity, the effects of closed gene pools, the genetic basis of conditions, etc, is avoided.

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