If Perception is Reality, Are Purebred Dog Owners and Breeders Losing?

by Susi on November 29, 2012

in Animal Rights, Breeders, Facebook, Uncategorized

Post image for If Perception is Reality, Are Purebred Dog Owners and Breeders Losing?

Hypothetically speaking, let’s say you’re on your way to an appointment and pass someone wearing this t-shirt as you walk to your destination.

 

What is your gut reaction?

What if they’re wearing the shirt below?

 How about a shirt that has these words on its front?

Is the sentiment below not as offensive because it’s less specific?

Was your reaction to the “Euthanize a Breeder” shirt as visceral as it was for the shirt bearing the image of a symbol synonymous with the killing of 6 million people?

And if it wasn’t, is it time for a gut check?

A while back, a “kerfuffle” arose on Facebook over a page promoting the sale of t-shirts that read, “I love dogs, euthanize breeders.”  The shirts, commissioned by an animal rights group, offended many people who asked the page owner to remove the image or change it.

She refused.

The more requests she got to remove the picture, the harder she dug in her heels, and to be honest with you, I understood this in as much as I disliked the shirt. No one likes to be told what to do, especially on their own Facebook page or blog.

The owner received scores of comments on her page which ranged from respectful requests to downright rude remarks, and it didn’t take long for her to block all comments. Unable to express themselves to the owner, frustrated readers (mostly dog people, as far as I could tell) reported her site to Facebook administrators for promoting “hate” speech. I’ll never know if it was the administrators who flexed their muscle, or if the owner simply cried “uncle” under the weight of so many complaints, but within hours, the photograph was removed and replaced with a picture of a duffle bag.

From a business standpoint, I thought the owner missed a golden opportunity to make some serious money. If she had posted a photograph of an “I hate breeders” shirt alongside an “I love breeders” shirt, and tacitly encouraged a war of sales between dog fanciers and an animal rights activists, her profit would likely have allowed her to kick back for the rest of the year in style.

A few days after the fuss died down, I got curious and visited the Facebook page of the group which was said to have commissioned the t-shirt. I got the same feeling about the “lay of its land” that I always get with animal rights groups: An emotional ponzi scheme, if you will, of well intentioned but misinformed animal lovers residing at the bottom of the pyramid who with little, if any, critical thought, have bought into the wholesale guilt of breeders. The further one goes up the pyramid, the more concentrated the power, and in my view, the more sinister the agenda becomes, as in the case of PETA.

Facebook pages include an “about” section offering a glimpse into the background of the page owner. On this page’s “about” section was a response written by Kelly Hayward (whom I presumed was the page owner) to a Robert Lipsyte commentary entitled “Let Dogs be Dogs” appearing in a 2005 edition of USA TODAY. She wrote, “I speak from years of experience working in animal shelters and in veterinary hospitals and from the standpoint of someone certified in euthanasia. People who allow their animals to breed are the reason for this sad situation [the euthanasia rate in shelters] whether they are bred for profit or by chance. Purebred animals die just the same way as mongrels and mutts do, by the way. I know because I have put many of them to sleep when the rescue leagues and no-kill shelters are full, or when they bite, or have expensive health problems, and when the shelter where I work is spilling over with animals. I came to this work because I love animals, having gone vegetarian in 1986 and relinquished all fur and leather goods from my closet. I desperately want to make the world a better place for animals.”

Let’s put aside the fact that “for profit or by chance” are evidently the only reasons Ms. Hayward sees for dogs being bred, it never having apparently occurred to her that a breeder with well defined goals would intentionally seek to improve the breed and their lines in it. What strikes me, instead, is that this person who claims to want to make the world a better place for animals is okay with calling for the deaths of people whose greatest crime is to breed their dogs – all breeders, regardless of integrity or lack of.

It’s a fuzzy line anymore, the distinction between free speech, hate mongering, and a business owner’s right to sell goods on their own Facebook page, but where was the outrage from fans of Ms. Hayward’s page over her call for the deaths of breeders via a t-shirt?

Oh wait, I get it. It’s no big deal. This is like the jokes we told in the 60’s and 70’s, right?

A research paper by two sociologists, Satoshi Kanazawa of the London School of Economics and Jody L. Kovar of Indiana University of Pennsylvania, found that blondes were actually more intelligent, on average, than others.

In those decades, we roared with laughter over the latest “Polak” or “dumb Blonde” joke and rarely, if ever, considered how this kind of humor seeped into the pores of a culture which regarded the jokes as harmless. After all, no blondes or people of Polish descent were actually harmed in the telling of the jokes, right? Political correctness (which in my estimation has since gone amok) actually had its roots in discouraging jokes made at the expense of an ethnic or racial group. It cultivated a climate in which future generations would frown upon such humor, and it worked exceedingly well because now we can’t poke fun at anyone.

Or can we?

In the 21st century, political correctness seems to be to be rife with double standards, or why else would breeders be open game?

I looked for other hate groups on Facebook and discovered many. There was the “I Hate Justin Bieber,” page, the “I Hate Julia Gillard,” page, as well as the “I Hate Smokers,” I hate clowns,” and “I hate my teenager” pages.  None that I could tell had commissioned t-shirts calling for the object of their hatred to be euthanized. I didn’t come across one “Kill Justin Bieber shirt, but if I had, my guess is that the FBI might have been interested in it, as well, since they investigate hate crimes.

But isn’t calling for the euthanasia of breeders a hate crime?

Well isn’t it?

Among reasonable, moral people with a grasp of history, the swastika is symbolic of an evil, dark time in history when one group of human beings began to systematically eradicate another group of human beings off the face of the earth. Far too many people said nothing, did nothing.

Consider all the people who’ve seen a “Euthanize Breeders” t-shirt and said nothing because they don’t breed dogs, or maybe they don’t even own a dog. Are they tacitly consenting to the moral value of its message?

I think they are because words mean something.

Ensuring that the next generation also continues hating what they don’t understand, this hoodie is available in children’s sizes.

A generation of Polish kids grew up feeling bad about being Polish because the pop culture in which they lived tolerated “dumb Polak” jokes. By not making a distinction between responsible individuals who breed for the love and betterment of their purebred dogs, and shoddy, irresponsible people who stick two of the same breed of dogs together for profit, t-shirts and bumper stickers that take pot shots at dog breeders make all of us equally bad in the mind of the public. As I see it, the animal rights movement has effectively put us at cultural odds with society right now and that will continue as long as our voices are mere squeaks in the cacophony of the blaring animal rights chorus.

The last election persuaded me that our society is being redefined, but the animal rights movement was redefining breeders long before that. Our opponents are legislating our rights as dog owners and breeders out of existence, and to effectively fight back, we have to prevail in the cultural war by winning the smaller battles of words. Control language and you control thought. To that end, we describe who we are. We define the value and historic worth of purebred dogs. We demonstrate to the world what a good breeder does differently than a bad one. We “walk the walk” with our neighbors, our friends, our co-workers and our relatives. We speak up and challenge what we know to be inaccurate, even if it’s a goofy t-shirt. After all, if only six people bought and wore that “Euthanize” t-shirt, how many more saw it at a shopping mall, on a busy street, or at school?  The constant drip drip drip of even the wrong message eventually becomes the only message which morphs into the “correct” message. We’re not just battling the animal rights movement here, we’re fighting our own society’s perception of us.

“People are disturbed, not by things, but by the views they take of them”  – Epictetus

“Know what’s weird? Day by day, nothing seems to change, but pretty soon…everything’s different.”   Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes

In the end, wouldn’t our task be easier if we had society in our corner?

 

{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

Charlee November 30, 2012 at 7:14 am

Wonderfully said…………..

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Susi November 30, 2012 at 10:08 am

Charlee, you know how much I appreciate your feedback!

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sherry November 30, 2012 at 8:56 am

AWESOME Article!

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Susi November 30, 2012 at 10:08 am

Well thanks, Sherry! I appreciate that you read it and took the time to comment!!

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jan dykema November 30, 2012 at 10:29 am

maybe we should confront these people and ask them… what does this mean.. I am a breeder.. would you like to kill me..or if a child is wearing the shirt..ask.. hmm do you mean kill your own child? or what exactly does that shirt mean.. what message are you trying to get across.

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Susi November 30, 2012 at 10:42 am

Now THAT’S what I’m talking about, Jan. Respectfully, pleasantly and in a non-confrontational way, I think we DO challenge them to examine themselves. It’s much easier to even jokingly call for the euthanizing of breeders when they’re a nameless, faceless concept. Much harder when you actually have one standing in front of you and they’re not a monster.

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Douglas March 22, 2014 at 11:57 pm

The problem with this is that to the type of people wearing this shirt, This IS confrontational, at least to them. When your viewpoint has skewed to such a degree that you would be willing to publicly declare that you would like to be a murderer anyone who even remotely questions your point of view is an instant target. I know this because I’ve been on the receiving end of it several times from several different people.

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Yvonne DiVita November 30, 2012 at 11:38 am

Another outstanding and well researched post. I’m appalled by this – as I’m appalled by many outrageous T-shirt slogans – and I also believe words mean something. Words are the weapons some people use to punish others. Part of me feels sad that people are not only so misinformed about breeders and breeding, but that they willingly cling to these beliefs because… they must be true – how could a breeder be a good person when breeding contributes to the overpopulation of pets? Another part of me is angry because the misinformation is more than wrong, it’s just another case of discrimination based on lack of education.

So… I’m struggling with how to educate. I come here, because I know I will learn from you. I know you’re a very good person -and you’re one of several breeders I know who share the education and information we need to challenge people’s misconceptions. And, you have a loving heart for your dogs, as we pet lovers do for all of our pets. But, I’m eager to learn… and I love breed dogs and cats and I love dog shows and cat shows and I don’t for one minute think the solution is to stop breeding – so I don’t think I count.

Do I? How can I make a difference?
p.s. to the shirts – people wear offensive shirts all the time; often they aren’t even aware of the slogan – if we fight fire with fire (words with words) should we have more “I love my breeder” T-shirts? Or, do we work harder to educate and find more voices to stand up for what’s right – the right of good breeders to continue the wonderful lineage of animals that are so precious, to lose them would be a tragedy?

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Susi November 30, 2012 at 12:14 pm

Well, Yvonne, you know the answer on how best to educate (grin) – you’ve got the perfect forum in BlogPaws. The Shelter and Rescue people aren’t wild about us, either. The t-shirt, “I love my breeder” is also an awesome idea. Losing our purebreds isn’t even a concept I want to entertain, and yet I do daily. They are at risk in ways no one wants to acknowledge because, in my view, it’s an indictment of the society in which we live. The more the well-do-do are vilified, the more purebreds will come to be associated with them as they have the means to buy them. The French killed purebreds were killed on sight because they represented the aristocracy. It may take twenty years, it could be less, but I’m not liking the direction of things.

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Yvonne DiVita November 30, 2012 at 2:38 pm

We are definitely going to address this in and at BlogPaws. And you’re right, it’s an indictment on society. I don’t, however, feel that the well-to-do are vilified. Some, perhaps. But, in my circle, we have high respect and admiration for most (Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, others I could list)… and to those “kinds” of folks being the only ones having the funds to acquire breeds – from our community membership I’m not seeing it. Our breed owners are every day people like you and me. That’s why I have hope. That’s why I know we can make strides. That’s why I believe the solution is to educate and open the dialogue and not expect everyone will come along, but that the people with true appreciation for animals of all kinds, will finally see the importance in what you do, Susi, and what so many reputable and good breeders do.

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Susi November 30, 2012 at 3:10 pm

I look forward to seeing what you do at BlogPaws with this, Yvonne. Someone, somewhere has to build a bridge between responsible dog lovers from both the dog fancy and the shelter and rescue world if we’re to fight the more hostile forces out there, the animal rights zealots. Perhaps it’ll be you!!

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Lisa November 30, 2012 at 12:20 pm

I have a t-shirt that says

Save our pets
Spay neuter and debark all politicians!

And I mean it!!!! 🙂

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Susi November 30, 2012 at 12:36 pm

Snort 🙂

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Sarah November 30, 2012 at 6:43 pm

Is it too late to apply for a federal grant for the preservation of an historic breed? I feel entitled … and entitlements seem to be the way to go for everything/anything and the way to cure all “hate.” Hope you got another snort! : )

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Diana November 30, 2012 at 9:38 pm

Absolutely excellent post. I think t-shirts saying “I love my breeder” is awesome and also saying something to these people who would wear such a t-shirt. We, as breeders have to constantly tell the public it’s ok to be a responsible breeder and to encourage people to seek us out. Thank you, thank you again. Your post is so enlightening. And, I don’t miss FB btw, especially when I hear this kind of shit is on there. It reminds me too much of the election and the mean stuff that was said about Mitt.

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Susi November 30, 2012 at 10:20 pm

Thank YOU, Diane. It’s always more gratifying to get the endorsement of one’s peers. Keep the faith! And if you decide to go into the t-shirt biz, let me know!

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skeptifem December 1, 2012 at 3:15 pm

“In the 21st century, political correctness seems to be to be rife with double standards, or why else would breeders be open game?”

…maybe it is because breeders aren’t actually marginalized for an immutable characteristic? I don’t agree with equating backyard breeders of fighting dogs or neglectful owners churning out litters with people who follow ethical breeding practices, but your argument about political correctness is kinda crap.

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Susi December 1, 2012 at 11:22 pm

The irony of what I perceive to be an “under 40” feminist from Utah weighing in on political correctness in the dog world is too delicious – and I thank you, Skeptifem, for this bright spot in my day. While I respect your skeptiscim, may I suggest that you start with the DNA testing to which you referred in your “Pit Bull Awareness” month blog? DNA testing in dogs is highly unreliable, in large part because their sampling base is so small. Also, as an aside, be aware of one or two things that you might want to add to your quiver when weighing in on Pit Bulls: Fact: After the UK banned Pit Bulls in the 1990s, the number of Pit Bulls in the country plummeted but the number of dog bites stayed the same. Fact: Pit Bulls score higher as a breed on the American Temperament Test Society’s evaluation than Golden Retrievers do; Fact: statistically speaking, you have a greater chance of being killed by a falling coconut than by a Pit Bull. Please let me invite you into “my world,” where the double standard of Political Correctness when applied in the dog world is vivid, and not sheltered by the Utah mountains.

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Lesley I Merrill December 2, 2012 at 6:49 am

FYI Kelly Hayward is back on FaceBook in all her passion with a new page titled “I Hate Dog Breeders” and she does a tad more than encourage verbal commentary…

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Debbie December 2, 2012 at 7:05 am

I believe words have meaning. Maybe not immediately, but over time. I’m concerned about the growing negativity toward breeding dogs and opted to fight with my own words. I took my rescue magnet off my car and replaced it with “I “heart” My Show Dog” and added the phrase “Love Your Dog Thank A Breeder” to my checks. I’m still passionate about rescue, but rescue has millions of promoters. There are very few people promoting breeding.

I like the t-shirt idea!

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Susi December 2, 2012 at 10:26 am

I agree with you, Debbie, and with every point you make. I like your personal approach to combating the negativity of which you speak – now everyone with a purebred dog gotten from a responsible breeder did the same thing, that’d be sizeable wave of positive messaging. I like it!

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Stephani Owens December 2, 2012 at 4:54 pm

while I understand all of these comments, I truly believe we are too politically correct anymore. I dislike having to curb my views because it might offend some poor, pitiful soul. OH, give me a break, free speech is a right given to us by the constitution, nobody can tell me what to say, however, I do welcome all points of view, I might disagree with you, but you also have the right to say what you want. to the people who created the ridiculous “kerfuffle” SHUT UP, you are not better, no is your view point, to bully someone for their viewpoint is just as bad as the teenage bullies who eventually end up killing someone by suicide, because that person could not take the hateful, disgusting comments and actions by all you better than God idiots.

I am a breeder, I work very hard to make sure I am doing the best for my animals, I have also volunteered at shelters and the Human Society, and yes the pound, a lot of these animals I have taken home and they have lived good wonderful lives. Does that make me want to stop breeding my dogs, no. I bred horses for years and did not hear the same input or hate mail we not get if we breed dogs, maybe I am wrong, but I don’t see the same crap with purebred cat breeders either. I believe all of you who hate breeders to not understand, we are not puppy mills, we are very careful to breed only the best according to the standard of our parent breed club, we health test, we make sure the puppies we sell that are pet quality are neutered or spayed, or the new owners do not get the papers to the dog. I respect your right to say your thoughts, but please to not bully or call people names. lest it be you on the other end of the stick for something you believe int.

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Susi December 3, 2012 at 12:16 pm

I simply can’t add a word to your comments, Stephani. You said it eloquently, and for many of us. I appreciate you sharing them here.

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vanessa January 20, 2013 at 11:45 am

is ur dog a corded havanese? i have one but he has non crdedfur
i want to put him in shows but were still training so it will be tough

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Susi January 20, 2013 at 12:23 pm

My dogs are Pulik (Hungarian Sheepdogs), Vanessa, but you are correct in thinking that the Havanese can also be corded. I know of people in my breed who’ve been showing, quite successfully, their corded Havanese. You don’t mention what kind of training you’re doing – for the conformation ring?

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