Written by Patti Strand, Founder and
Chairman, National Animal Interest Alliance
For nearly 30 years, groups like People
for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) – groups that use animals
in their fundraising campaigns – have worked zealously to restrict dog ownership and breeding in the US, and their work
is paying off. The future of dogs and dog ownership in America is now threatened.
Raising funds under the banner of
animal protection, PETA and HSUS have been able to disguise their anti-pet agenda from even their own pet-owning donors while
critically wounding purebred dogs. They have accomplished this through nonstop propaganda and legislative campaigns that demonize
all breeders, pushing laws that if passed would eliminate even the most careful and humane breeders, right along with the
What has become clear is that eliminating
purebreds is the key to dismantling dog ownership, a long-standing goal of radical animal rights groups. In a society where
at least 74% of household dogs are already neutered and where very few parts of the country still have free-roaming dogs whose
progeny could impact domestic dog populations, purebreds are the entire game, set and match. If you eliminate purebreds, you
will greatly reduce and eventually eliminate dog ownership for most Americans.
It is not hard to imagine a society
without widespread dog ownership. Such countries exist all over the world. America is unique when it comes to pet keeping.
In many countries, dog ownership has always been limited to the rich; while a distinguishing characteristic of American pet
ownership has been its widespread availability to all income levels. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association,
over 37% of US households own at least one dog, a much higher rate than any other country in the world. Even in times of economic
hardship, Americans have understood the importance of pets in people’s lives and developed programs to assure that animal
lovers of modest
means could still enjoy the comfort
of a pet.
Because of fundraising
hype and a practice called humane relocation, the true status of dog populations in the United States is unknown. Some fundraising
groups still claim out-of-control dog overpopulation in their fundraising/legislative campaigns,
but times have changed and that term is now outdated. It mischaracterizes the current problem as one of over supply, something
that was generally true in previous decades, but which is better described today as a dog retention or dog distribution
In many parts of the country, the
Northwest, Northeast and Great Lakes Region for example, consumer demand outstrips supply to such an extent, there would be
a tremendous shortage of dogs were it not for the importation of dogs from distant states and even foreign countries. Humane
societies in high demand states import 10's of thousands of dogs annually from surplus states to meet local demand. Meanwhile,
unregulated, fly-by-night parking lot peddlers import and sell dogs from Mexico, Puerto Rico, China and India out of the back
of trucks. A small but growing number of animal shelters and sanctuaries actively pursue foreign dogs as well.
The importation of foreign dogs for
the US pet trade suggests that American dog breeders, at least in some parts of the country can no longer meet demand. Statistics
from bona fide dog registries, and anecdotal information from dog referral services
point in the same direction. Likewise,
shelter impounds, which reflect long-term pet population trends show incredible declines over the last few decades and although
some parts of the country are ahead of others, the downward trend is present virtually everywhere. If this trend continues
as we expect it will, the shortage of dogs now evident in the North will spread across the US. In the meantime, unless American
breeders can preserve their breeds in the face of anti-breeding zealots, dog breeding will be outsourced to foreign countries
and Americans will lose the option to choose a healthy, well-bred dog of a breed they love.
Food for thought: Purebred dogs don’t
qualify for listing under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) because they are domestic animals, but if they could be listed,
it might be time to recognize that many long-standing AKC recognized breeds would already qualify for protection as threatened
or endangered. Not only do they lack sufficient breeding pairs to assure their future, but we would argue that they meet 4
out of 5 of the listing criteria set out by the ESA, only one of which is required for listing. 1) Their habitat is threatened
by urbanization, mandatory spay-neuter laws and unrealistic limit and zoning laws; 2) Their declines are exacerbated by the
predation of radical fundraising groups that exploit problems in order to raise funds and push political
agendas; 3) They suffer from a lack
of enforcement of existing laws, leading the public to support ever more burdensome laws; 4) They suffer from manmade factors
that affect their continued existence.