When one ventures to reinforce and mock a cliche of another group with broad and unsupportable blanket statements–like the declaration, “There are no responsible breeders”–it helps that one isn’t reinforcing a stereotype themselves.
Leslie Smith is a San Francisco liberal, a vegan, and a pit bull lover. Child free at 40, the sounds of her last eggs dying can be faintly heard over the murmur of her exsanguinating heart. She channels Thomas Robert Malthus and Ingrid Newkirk, and she has clear hangups and hypocrisy regarding money. The only way she doesn’t drive a Prius is if she got a Honda Element for her dog. And you can bet there’s a “We are the 99%!” bumper sticker right next to a “Who Rescued Who?” paw on the back of it.
Can you guess how she feels about dog breeders? Yeah, it’s not a stretch. There’s more heavy breathing, foaming at the mouth and puddles of drool than a Dogue de Bordeaux mounting a St. Bernard. The product makes about as much sense, too: it’s bloated, angry, lazy, and stupid.
I’ve already discussed Smith’s rant against Nathan Winograd and the No Kill Movement, which in many ways suffers from the Narcissism of Minor Differences. Winograd is San Francisco liberal, a vegan, and a pit bull lover, but his argument about how to save pit bulls does not rely on a fantasy world where Hindenburgs–lightweight bags of hot gas bound to crash and burn–like Leslie Smith can wave a wand and make it all better with ridiculous non-solutions.
Leslie Smith has documented her slobbering hatred for breeders over several posts on DogTime and in this and following posts I will dissect her radical views and counter them. We’ll start with her statements from a post titled “There are no responsible breeders.”
As for breeders…
So with that logic, why doesn’t DogTime list breeders? Don’t those animals also deserve a happy home?
Indeed, they do. The difference is, breeders are actively adding to the number of animals in need of homes. Not only that, they’re profiting from the venture. While we are still euthanizing millions of dogs and cats each year, there is no reason to increase the companion animal population. And there’s no reason to help breeders stay in business.
There is an immense amount of stupid in this one paragraph, so let’s begin the reality check.
- “Breeders are actively adding to the number of animals in need of homes.”
No. People who acquire then abandon their pets are actively adding to the number of animals that need homes. That is the only trait which is both necessary and sufficient to quantify the cause of animals in shelters. Animals come into shelters when they are abandoned, stray, or feral, which itself is directly the result of an abandonment. Stray dogs are not in need of homes, they already have them and only need the chance to live long enough in the shelter to be reunited with their families.
There is no single source of animals that come in to shelters, but breeders are not a major source. In fact, everything about Breeders makes dogs less likely to enter shelters: they are purebred or designer crosses, they are sold for non-trivial amounts of money, they are meeting a demand with a supply, they are selling to an interested public not giving oops litters to friends and family, they are produced by people and for people who value their existence and want to produce more of them because they are not finding what they desire available in the market, etc.
Sure, there are pregnant bitches who get surrendered and even boxes of newborns brought into shelters, but these are bred by happenstance, not volition. I can even imagine that there are Breeders who abandon used-up breeding stock to shelters, and this is rather reprehensible, but it certainly can not be a major source of animals coming into shelters, nor do I believe that this is a popular quality of Breeders.
- “they’re profiting from the venture”
Here we have Leslie Smith’s icky feelings about money bubbling to the surface. I’ll note that she has no problem cashing checks and paying her rent by aggregating other people’s content and putting ads on it, a parasitic middle-man business model that adds very little value to the system. In the corporate world, she’s clearly a taker more than a giver. Should we question her handful of articles because, dog forbid, she profits from them? Should we condemn her shelter volunteer work because she funds that volunteerism with ill gotten gains from capitalism?
Do I really need to defend the concept of profit and money to people who have IQs with three digits?
Many Breeders counter this charge with “But I don’t make a profit!” but losing money is not necessary to being an ethical and quality dog breeder and I’ll cover the issues surrounding this charge in a later post.
Dog Breeders create value that does not exist spontaneously in nature. Dogs were and are produced by the effort and minds of men, nature only provided the raw material of the wolf from which we have shaped and improved and customized many dog breeds for the survival and pleasure of man. When breeders accept payment in a consensual act of mutual benefit with buyers, they exchange equal value which itself represents productivity and value that has been created and now traded. That money is what rewards the hard working and the innovative, that money is what puts bread on your table, that money represents the good will and trust of mankind that we can all survive, thrive, and benefit by trading our genius and labor through a medium that itself has little intrinsic value other than to serve as a token of that trust. This is a moral good.
- there is no reason to increase the companion animal population
There are numerous reasons to increase the companion animal population. Every demographic measure speaks positively to this. The human population is growing. The number of households is growing. The percent of households that are welcoming pets is growing. The number of pets per household is growing. The number of cared for pets has gone nowhere but up and there is no end in sight. This, while the number and percent of animals entering and killed in shelters has fallen precipitously for decades. People are spending more, providing more care, and placing more value on companion animals than ever before. There has never been more to celebrate and less to bemoan about companion animals in human history. These are the good old days of the human animal bond!
- there’s no reason to help breeders stay in business
Smith clearly doesn’t understand the vital fact that dogs can not be created de novo from raw materials bought off a shelf. They are not like Twinkies which can be halted now and reinstated some time in the future. It has taken tens, if not hundreds of thousands of years to mold the dog out of the wolf and the only thing keeping this most amazing of man’s inventions going is the maintenance of the gene pool from one generation to the next. This requires an unbroken chain of breeders and it’s a fragile system. Human events like World Wars were enough to wipe out entire breeds and put many others on the slow road to extinction through genetic bottlenecks. The proposal to ban breeding until all shelter animals find homes is a manifestation of this same destructive force.
A moratorium on breeding for even one year would have devastating consequences on the genetic health of all breeds, especially in relation to female contribution. It is very hard to maintain the genetic wealth unique to females in a population where females can only have a limited number of offspring and males can have almost an unlimited number. The fertile window of females is also much narrower than males and any moratorium would greatly exacerbate this fact.
Breeders provide a list of services and a network of human connections which directly combat the shelter problem. They produce a product that has real and perceived value, making it much less likely to be abandoned on a whim. They strive to produce dogs fit for the market demand, dogs that are easy to care for and which have good temperaments and sound health, which prevent them from being abandoned to shelters. They innovate and maintain previous innovation by experimentation to create breeds with unique characteristics that people can choose to better suit their wants and lifestyles, keeping animals in homes instead of leading to more failed relationships. All dogs are not the same.
The business of dog breeding is what has created and maintained EVERYTHING we value about dogs. No dog was created by the idiotic self sacrifice and equivocation proposed by the likes of Smith.
Tune in for further analysis of the dangerous arguments made by Leslie Smith who is unhindered by facts and unencumbered with reason.
Posts in this Series:
- DogTime Smears No-Kill
- DogTime’s Slobbering Hatred for Breeders I
- DogTime’s Slobbering Hatred for Breeders II
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