Friday, January 9, 2009

We had to destroy the village to save it

I can haz ... oxygen?

The British documentary Pedigree Dogs Exposed was aired shortly before the birth of Raised By Wolves.

You can view the whole thing here.

The producer's stance? Purpose-bred dogs are worthy of preservation. The breeding practices enforced by Kennel Clubs, grounded as they are in disproven 19th-century eugenics theories, are destroying the genetic health of pure breeds, and causing unimaginable suffering in the products of "selection" for show-ring exaggeration. If we are to enjoy the company of purpose-bred dogs in the future, the Kennel Clubs are going to have to be dragged kicking and screaming into the reality-based world.

(Raised By Wolves' stand on the AKC, UKC, KC, etc.? Let 'em dig their own graves. I'll give them the shovel. Hell, I'll rent them the backhoe if it will go faster. Purpose-bred dogs and their owners will do much better without some central government telling them what is "correct," dictating who may mate with whom, and handing out rewards for brainless conformity to groupthink. The faster these bloated bureaucracies implode, the easier it will be for people who actually like dogs to get on with the project of conserving, perpetuating, and enjoying the particular kinds of dogs they like.)

Now (HT to Patrick the Terrierman), the zombie army over at PeTA is trying to lamprey itself onto the message of Pedigree Dogs Exposed.

And the producer of of the documentary, Jemima Harrison, is having none of it.
“PETA is a bunch of crackpots who do not care about anything but publicity and making money. They have not bothered to contact us - and, indeed, if they did we would make it very clear we do not want their support. It devalues and marginalises a film that raises a serious issue that needs to be addressed, and quickly.”
You go girl.

Here's where you expect the lecture about the difference between "Animal Rights" and "Animal Welfare."

Here's where I'm supposed to remind you that the death-worshippers at PeTA kill just about every animal they get their hooks into, that they practice theft by deception in order to get more animals to kill, and that they are committed to the extinction of all domestic animals.

They will destroy the village and pronounce it saved.

Okay, consider it done.

More important is the message that we must not let lunatics distract us from reality. We must reject the fallacy that the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

PeTA protests outside of Kentucky Fried Chicken? This does not mean that the broiler industry is A-OK on animal welfare, environmental quality, and human health.

PeTA screams that fur is murder? Does that make leghold traps humane? Does it mean that mink farming is not a cruel enterprise that caters to the vain and callous?

PeTA pisses off MAD with an anti-milk, pro-beer campaign? This does not mean that those California Cows are "happy."

PeTA claims they hate puppymills? Well so do I.

It's become all-too-easy for the calculating frontmen for agribusiness, the fur industry, the puppymill industry, and all manner of commercial animal abusers to convince dog owners -- especially dog hobbyists -- that "users" of animals must present a "united front."

If you don't support farrowing crates and shooting wolves from airplanes, goes the propaganda, they will come and take your dogs.

And dog hobbyists -- some still call themselves "fanciers" and identify as "part of The Fancy" -- who are thoroughly trained to obey a faceless entity over which they have no control -- the dog hobbyists fall for this bullshit.

By criticizing any atrocity -- veal production, canned hunts, Japanese "scientific" whaling, egg factories -- the animal lover is "playing into the hands of PeTA."

So, command the industrial animal abusers, shut up!

And that's where a lot of the screaming from "The Fancy" about Pedigree Dogs Exposed comes from.

We've heard it before. When this article was published, for example.

And this book.

To be sure, much of it is pure defense, from the people who are personally engaging in ongoing animal abuse by breeding what they know to be unsound animals in order to win ribbons. You can't expect someone who doesn't care that the dog he deliberately created cannot, by design, breathe, walk, see, hear, or pee normally to suddenly see the light.

But more telling is the squawking from dog hobbyists who consider themselves "reformers" and "mavericks," who actually train their dogs, who brag about "titles on both ends," who take part in dog sports (as opposed to the hilarious "Sport of Dogs.") The people who tch tch and turn away sadly when they pass by the German shepherd pageant ring on the way to their rally entry. It's a real shame what they've done to those dogs ...

The squawking is scripted by the political arm of the animal abuse industry and read by hysterics. It goes
Don't bring attention to our dirty laundry. Going public about the genetic abuse of animals we purport to love plays into the hands of PeTA. If we just keep deceiving the public, it will all be okay. We can fix this all without systemic reform or any scrutiny from the outside. Purebred dogs are ours. Nevermind that we sell the extras to ordinary people as pets, and that we've spent the last sixty years selling the unfounded idea that our sickly culls are better pets than "mongrels." The Code of Silence is our only hope.
Sorry guys. Your wagons can't bend into that circle. You've spent too much time agreeing with one another about what makes a good dog, and no time at all in the reality-based universe. Science passed you by a hundred years ago. Popular culture is catching up. Sometimes that takes the form of a new stupidity -- all hail the Labradoodle -- but the trend is always to strip you of your unearned authority on matters "dog."


  1. A friend and I were talking about this the other day.

    The animal liberation people deliberately use emotional language in order to disguise their agenda.

    It's not that people are opposed to animal welfare, it's the old 'give them an inch' thing.

    What needs to happen is that we stop using their language, which allows them to define the terms of the argument. We also need to be very specific about the practices and initiatives of the AL crew that are not consistent with animal welfare and call attention to them.

    Also, the kennel clubs have to pull their heads out of their posteriors or they won't have anything left to save.

  2. "PeTA claims they hate puppymills? Well so do I"

    PeTA and their ilk consider you to be a puppymiller. They hate you. I'm guessing that you don't entirely agree with them.

    "There’s no such thing as a ‘hobby breeder,’" and when asked about them, she laughs out loud. "Don’t let them fool you," she says. "They’re all one in the same."

    As far as whether diary cows, broiler chickens, egg hens, swine and other livestock are well-cared for or cruelly abused, I don't know what to believe. Society has been bombarded with graphic images intended for maximum emotional effect. Some of these images were flagrantly staged, and some are real but not necessarily representative. Pile onto this the inflammatory language and flat out lying from HSUS and PETA, extremists who wish to outlaw animal agriculture and who know as much about good farm animal husbandry as they do about building aircraft carriers. This is not a recipe for getting at the truth. Yet the popular perception is largely fueled by all of this.

    I am not inclined to believe that large-scale meat, milk, and egg farming could be cost-competitive if it involved routine animal abuse. It doesn't pass a logic test. Seems to me that somebody else would come along and treat the animals a bit better. This would lead to higher productivity, and would win in this low margin business.

    Egg hens that are abused have poor egg productivity. Meat animals that are abused make for poorer tasting meat.

    The future hamburgers grazing the grassy hills in the gorgeous parks where we train our SAR dogs have got it pretty good.

    I'm more inclined to get my information about what goes on at large livestock farms from university animal scientists who study farm animals than from either Big Ag or from the "we all know they're abused" popular perception created by HSUS and PETA. The animal scientists I've spoken with convey a quite different picture of the situation than "what we all know". YMMV.

  3. Oh for Christ's sake Laura.

    "University animal scientists" ARE big ag.

    Follow the money.

    I get my information on farm animal welfare from farmers.

    Like the third-generation dairy farmer who chokes up when describing to me what passes for "husbandry" on a California mega-farm. Because a cow deserves better.

    And iconoclasts like Joel Salatin, Wendell Berry, Gene Lodgsdon, and Donald McCaig.

    I agree that the brood cows grazing in the park have it pretty good. If I had to be a commercial farm animal, I'd choose the life of a brood cow or a range ewe. It's still cost-effective to manage these animals much the way they have been managed for thousands of years.

    Their offspring at the feed lot, growing fat and diseased on an unnatural diet, standing in their own shit, rumens atrophying -- notsomuch.

    No one is going to persuade me with "animal science" or rationalizations that caging a hen for her entire life, so that she cannot flap her wings, walk, dust bathe, make a nest, scratch, roost or get away from her cellies is not horrific abuse. No drop-kicking required.

    One hour spent watching my poultry enjoy all of these things should make it clear to any sensible person what it would mean to deprive them of all opportunities for normal behavior forever.

    Normal chickens do not need to have their beaks burned off to keep them from eating one another alive.

    Chickens raised in healthy surroundings do not need to consume sub-clinical antibiotics every day in order to stay alive.

    As for the contention that abused animals don't "produce" -- well, how did puppymiller/hoarder Linda Kapsa get to 200+ dogs in five years?

    With good husbandry?

  4. So are they "farmers" if we agree with them, and "Big Ag" if we don't? Seems like that leaves no room for any complex reality, it's only good and evil.

    And yeah, when I want facts, I'm inclined to believe scientists. I certainly don't assume that every one of them in an entire scientific discipline is a shill.

    Linda Kapsa was not operating a successful commercial livestock operation, she's a hoarder/breeder of dogs. A commercial livestock operation needs to be efficient and cost competitive to survive in a low profit margin world. Dog breeders do not exist in that kind of competitive economic environment, none of them do, which is why so many of them get away with ignoring what Ag Scientists have determined about the effects of inbreeding depression (there's a wealth of studies on livestock species and inbreeding depression). Animals piling up in Kapsa's yard unsold is not a sign of a successful commercial operation. Her "farm" was apparently so unsuccessful as a commercial operation that she couldn't afford to feed the animals any longer.

    BTW, it's not just the brood cows who free range the hills where we train. Their offspring live there as well, well after the cows are moved out.

    I guess we'll have to agree to disagree.

  5. LauraS --

    I don't know where you are, but it's pretty easy to learn about grass-fed/rotational grazing and the science behind it and why that's better for animal herd health -- most states have a organic farming association (here in PA, it's Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture) and since it's winter, it's conference time! :-D

    I was actually going to suggest to Janeen and H. that in light of so many ESs that will need homes, maybe they want to visit some of the organic farming/sustainble ag conferences as an exhibtor and get some names of growers who would like a farmcollie or two.

    If you really want to talk ag science with "those on the ground," maybe you can be "empowered" by NESR to be an exhibtor and visit some of these conference. They are always a huge blast with folks who love their business and enjoy talking animals -- I think you'd learn a lot and definately be able to talk science with really knowledgeable people -- both growers and sometimes researchers.

    Ag schools are a real mix right now -- many professors have to "raise their own support" and the easiest way to do that is to get the corporations to pay for your research -- so that means more chemical-based (drugs/additives, etc) research, rather than more place-based which doesn't require purchased elements that a company can sell you. Now, some professors, once they get tenure, are telling the companies to find someone else while they do whatever research they want, because their basic support is assured, but it's a steep curve. Nowever, you will meet many of these researchers at the conferences.

    The best resarch-based government-sponsored ag information website I know of is here:

    Now, I'm a produce grower, so the grass-fed stuff could be thin here, but the ATTRA folks know all and where the good research is, so if you can't find what you're looking for, just ask. I trust them more than anyone else in the business.

    Think about promoting ESs at this winter's sustinable ag conferences -- I'd love to go to PASA this year, but local politics requires that I stay home and lobby this February, so I'm stuck here. But it's always fun.


  6. Beer is kinder than milk?

    This proves the idjits at PETA are speciesists.

    Milk is just a product taken from a living cow. Many beers still contain LIVING ORGANISMS! But PETA sez "No, no! Don't take milk from a cow (no matter how well cared for she is), it's cruel." Better to send millions of innocent yeasties to an untimely death when you eat them alive.

    Why doesn't PETA take a stand on fermentation? Or antibiotics?

  7. I wish the commerical puppy producers in this state WOULD behave like commercial (and purebred) cattle producers and select for efficiency. And cull.

    But they would be foolish to do so when the 'rare, deaf, white' (Boxer, Dalmatian, Bulldog) can be marked up twice and sold to the little old lady who'll spend her pension on veterinary care for a dog who should never have been bred in the first place.

    'Puppy mill' isn't a description from the Meyers-Briggs personality profile. It's a business model.

    The bottom line is..well, the bottom line.

  8. Jill --

    The key is in the salvage value.

    A cull cow is valuable hamburger.

    A cull dog is (choose):

    a) "pet quality"
    b) whaaa?

    The puppymillers didn't invent the idea of "cull" as "valuable to sell as pets."

    Nor are they solely responsible for the idea that a functional defect is a selling point.

    Anyway, while most livestock breeders are a good deal more constrained by natural selection's action on their bottom line, the livestock world is not immune from foolishness.

    Read up on the 19th century fad for "fat cattle" for the show ring -- indulgence of a rich man's fancy, but widely considered inedible.

    They were achieved with both unprecedented husbandry practices and genetic selection for bizarre form.

  9. Laura, how much time have you spent around big Ag?
    I'll give you a brief example. In medical school, at Michigan State, we had a short class on "Occupational Medicine." We visited an automobile factory, a pig farm at MSU, etc. We were taught from the standpoint of the worker: exposure to chemicals, falling in pig feces & dying... The conditions of the pig runs were not just inhumane, they were unporcine. Crowding like you would not believe & more than I want to write.
    I'm not a PETA supporter, and I eat lots of meat. But I buy my bacon from pastured pork down the road from a farm where I've seen the piglets trotting around. Nor am I a raw milk faddist, but I avoid BGH. I don't deny my sheep antibiotics when they are ill, but I don't put antibiotics in their food every day. I feel that if you own, raise, or eat animals, you must take an ethical stance.


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