Post image for The Elevator Speech Part II

For a long time now, purebred dog owners have hungered for guidance on how to push back against opposition to own and ethically breed their dogs. It is for this reason, I suspect, that an e-mail I wrote and posted on the National Purebred Dog Day Facebook page was shared over 220 times within hours.  I was astonished.

The e-mail was sent to an artist who declined my offer to share her artwork on the NPDD page because she couldn’t support dog breeding. I responded with a pleasant acknowledgement of her note, but thought there were a few things she should know about purebred dog ownership and I pointed them out to her.

Apparently, this resonated with Facebook friends of the page.

Over the last couple of years, I’ve been encouraged to write an expanded version of that e-mail, but I’ve resisted doing it. Having an opinion hardly makes me an authority on most things (don’t tell my kids), let alone on the art of persuasion; the Facebook experience changed my mind. If over 200 people found a hastily written e-mail to an artist helpful enough to share with others, maybe offering a few ideas is something I can do without coming across as a know-it-all. Don’t tell my kids.

Of one thing I am certain: We need to stop waiting for someone else to speak up for us. It’s not going to happen, and waiting for deliverance has only set us behind. If each of us connects with one person, persuades just one person of the hypocrisy at the heart of the animal rights movement, our efforts will grow exponentially and we will become a bona fide backlash movement. I believe this.

In the course of an average week, we encounter people who don’t know what we know. They don’t go to dog shows, belong to dog clubs, or read dog magazines. They don’t know the issues we face, and they don’t much care. They’re not bad people, they’re just people unaffected by issues that affect us.  They might own a rescue dog because it seemed like a kind thing to do at the time, but these folks aren’t any more invested in the shelter or animal rights movement than they are in the dog fancy.

And you know what I say about people like that?

We need them. 

We need them to be informed pet owners who know better than to donate to HSUS, and be able to recognize falsehood when they hear it. We need them to think in spite of emotionally charged TV ads from the HSUS. We need them to understand that ethical breeders aren’t responsible for every bad thing that happens to a dog in this world, and it falls upon us to help them learn why.

We might meet them at a cocktail party or stand behind them as they buy dog food.  We might have twenty minutes to share our point of view, or mere moments to plant the seed of thought.  These quick  “spiels” are called “elevator speeches” because we have our “audience” only for as long as it takes to an elevator to go from one floor to another.

Before I go too much further, however, a word.

An “elevator speech” is beyond the comfort level of shy or reserved people, one reason I’ve resisted writing an article like this up until now. It’s not difficult for me to strike up a conversation with a stranger, but it is for others. Stay true to your nature and your presentation will be more authentic.  My suggestions will work in e-mails, as part of a letter to the editor, included in a comment under a Facebook post, and with someone you know. What’s important is that each of us does something.

The “elevator speech:” The opening, the delivery, and the content:

What do you suppose is the most important element of an elevator speech?

In my view, it’s the delivery.  Delivery is what gets someone to listen to us. It’s what made the phrase, “I’ll be back” so menacing when Arnold Schwarzenegger said it, not so much when someone else did.  It’s what would make James Earl Jones reading a phone book an enjoyable experience.

He promised to come back. And he did.

He promised to come back. And he did.

Animal rights, rescue advocacy, anti-breeder sentiment – these are emotional topics, but once a temper is lost or our emotional investment is revealed, we become vulnerable, and our message is dismissed because we’re dismissed. The more pleasant and matter-of-fact our delivery is, the more effective we are. 

Dog fanciers are portrayed as snotty, insensitive, and rude by our opposition, so don’t be those things.  An amiable, engaging, and matter-of-fact demeanor goes far in disarming hostility and suggests that the points you’re making are so irrefutable as to be common knowledge (it’s just that the boob you’re talking to missed the memo).  Kidding aside, don’t mistake attitude for condescension. Informing an inquiring tourist that the Grand Canyon is in Arizona isn’t condescension, it’s a statement of fact. That’s how you want to present your information, and you want to present it in a way that leaves the tourist with the impression of Americans as a helpful, pleasant lot (or dog fanciers as reasonable people).

The Opening 

When a conversation at a party or gathering turns to pets in general, or dogs in particular, your “opening” is easy, but how does one start a conversation with a stranger?

Look for common ground that suggests association with a dog.  If you happen to be standing near a person holding the leash to, say, a German Shepherd, you might say in a friendly manner, “German Shepherds are a great breed!  What a shame what the animal rights movement is doing to them.”

The natural response to your statement will either be agreement or puzzlement. “What is the animal rights movement doing to German Shepherds?” they might ask you, and that’s your opening.

At a check-out line, you might find yourself behind a person buying dog food, a toy or treats, and you might ask what kind of dog they own, or for whom they’re buying the treat. If it’s a particular breed, again you can say, “What a shame what the animal rights movement is doing to (name the breed).”

Your answer to their puzzlement,  of course, is that the animal rights movement is legislating ethical, responsible breeders invested in their breed out of existence, and leaving only substandard breeders to breed unsound puppies in unstimulating environments. Your answer is that the animal rights movements has, at its core,  a radical agenda that seeks to eliminate pet ownership.

Buying dog food is a golden opportunity to connect with other dog owners

Buying dog food is a golden opportunity to connect with other dog owners

If the dog owner qualifies their breed as a “rescue,” as in, “It’s a rescue Beagle,” you’ll want to ask first if the dog came from a dedicated breed rescue group. It not, you might ask with feigned innocence,  “Is a rescue Beagle different from a Beagle bought from a responsible, ethical breeder? Huh.”  Depending upon their answer, you may inquire how they know that their dog is, in fact, from the United States (if it’s not, see below for all the reasons importation from other countries isn’t a good thing). You might ask if they’re concerned about creating a market for substandard, unethical breeders who have found a lucrative market in producing “rescue” dogs. You might ask if they realize that the entire breed will suffer as “shelter dogs” supplant dogs bred by responsible breeders dedicated to the preservation of their breed.


For my purposes, “content” refers to data, and you should learn as many of these statistical “tidbits” as you can since they can be inserted anytime, anywhere, and when your “target” least expects to hear them;

A favorite strategy of the “opposition” is to challenge you for the source of your fact, so I’ve included them;

Another favorite tact is to trash the source when its data can’t be disputed. If the source is challenged for being biased, such as the AKC, simply turn the tables on your “opponent” and insist that they provide their own data, then challenge that source as being no less biased, and, in fact, has more to gain financially by promoting humane relocations, perpetuating the mythology of overpopulation, partnering with pet store chains in adoption drives, and driving dedicated breeders (i.e., the competition) out of the market.

Fallacious accusation: The Dog Fancy is the Problem

The following list is helpful when the fancy is accused of turning its back on shelter dogs. The AKC compiled these statistics in 2007 through a survey of member breed clubs and is currently updating them, but new figures were not yet available at the time of this article:

  • Nearly 33% of dogs acquired by member club rescue committees come from shelters, animal control and pounds, and over 90% of them come without AKC papers (the point you’re making by mentioning the lack of registration papers is that dog fanciers have nothing to gain by rescuing dogs of their own breed);
  • Nearly 94% of breed clubs are directly involved in rescue efforts for their breeds. Ed Note: That number is probably closer to 100% since the survey was taken;
  • Over 77% of clubs work with other, non AKC-affiliated rescue organizations to transport, foster and adopt-out dogs. Ed Note: That number is probably much higher now;
  • A quarter of breed clubs report they take in more than 20 dogs each year. Half of them rescue over 60 dogs, 14% rescue 200 or more, and 16% of breed clubs report rescuing over 1,000 dogs a year;
  • While some clubs ask owners surrendering a dog to make a donation for the cost of care, over 77% do not (as of 2007);


The “overpopulation” myth

Over the past twenty years, the dog overpopulation has been significantly reduced, if not altogether ended in many parts of the US, in large part because spay and neuters have led to a reduction of animals turned in to shelters. Some shelters have had to abandon and replace their traditional role of caring for and finding homes for local pets and have turned to importing pets for the local pet marketplace; Despite regional differences showing a massive drop in actual shelter numbers, the overpopulation myth not only continues, but perpetuates. Patti Strand of the NAIA wrote: “The practice of relocating pets from a crowded shelter to one with empty runs within the same community also leads to confusion if the source of the animals is not reported. The practice itself may be reasonable and humane if it increases adoptions, but too often all participating shelters count the same animals in their totals inflating the number of shelter animals reported for a given community.”

  • As many as 300,000 puppies a year are imported yearly based on early estimates; Source: G. Gale Galland, Veterinarian Center for Disease Control Division of Global Migration and Quarantine 2007;
  • 199,000 dogs entered the US from Mexico in 2006 alone; Source: Center for Disease Control report in 2006;
  • Not counted in the CDC’s estimated number of imports are dogs brought into the US from Mexico by other groups such as Compassion Without Borders (which partners with another group in Albuquerque, New Mexico to bring MexiMutts into the U.S), United Hope for Animals in Southern California, BlueRoadRunner, and SAMM (Save a Mexican Mutt), or are only a handful of such groups bringing dogs into the United States from Mexico Source: TheDogPlace;
  • Also not included are organizations (i.e. Islanddogs), which relocate dogs from Central America or the West Indies (i.e., AARP which has a subsidiary corporation in Florida);
  • Estimates are that 10,000 puppies entered San Diego County from Mexico in just one year. Some dogs only a few weeks old are sold for $1,000 each in shopping center parking lots on the street. Source: California Border Puppy Task Force;
  • Of those 300,000 imported dogs, approximately 25% are either too young to be vaccinated, or lacked proof of valid rabies vaccination;** At a recent NAIA conference, it was reported that one litter of puppies was found to have been spayed and neutered before their eyes had even opened;
  • Import trends suggest that an increasing number of unvaccinated puppies are being imported into the United States, mostly through commercial resale or rescue operations.” **

 **Source: The Division of Viral and Rickettsial Diseases of the Center for Disease Control in a filed report regarding Importation of Dogs into the United States;

  • Although most shelters use the issue of ‘pet overpopulation’ to raise funds, … few of them have sufficient records to support the term. In fact, a major impediment to solving the US stray and surplus pet problems is the lack of reliable shelter statistics. Source: Patti Strand, NAIA;
  • The average person is largely unaware of massive importations of dogs, such as the Sato Dog Project (championed by PETA). According to their own records, the project had already imported 14,000 street dogs from Puerto Rico by 2003, and 100-200 dogs are still brought in monthly and sold for $200- $250 a piece. Critics maintain that rescuing these dogs does little to reduce the problem of stray dogs in Puerto Rico and ends up fueling overcrowding at the U.S. shelters. Source: NBC; 
  • Since 2006, the importation numbers per year have [likely] doubled. Importation from Canada, Mexico, Central America and the West Indies, where no regulations are required, continues on a daily basis. Source: L.D. Witouski, AKC judge with an Associate Degree in Law, AKC Legislative Liaison and Editor of The Dog Place;
  • In Colorado, shelters and rescues imported more than 13,000 dogs for adoption during 2011 alone, displacing local Colorado dogs. Source: Colorado Department of Agriculture

The Animal Rights Scam

63% of Americans think that HSUS is affiliated with their local humane society or pet shelter, and 59% think that that the organization “contributes most of its money to local organizations that care for dogs and cats.” Think again.

  • The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) raises over a million dollars a year but gives only 1% of its budget to local pet shelters;* 
  • The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) does not operate a single animal shelter;*
  • $17 million dollars of donations that might have helped local shelters save cats and dogs has instead been socked away to HSUS’ pension fund;*
  • People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), “champion of pets” has killed 29,398 pets at its headquarters in Norfolk, Virginia since 1998. Source: Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services; 
  • Legislation was introduced in New York in 2009 which would have made it illegal for shelters, including the ASPCA, to kill animals that rescue groups were willing to save. It was estimated that if the law passed, 25,000 animals a year would be saved. Ed Sayres, former CEO of the ASPCA, made it his personal mission to ensure that the law would not, killing it in the legislature every year. Since then, an estimated 100,000 animals that had an immediate place to go have been killed. Source: “The Death of 100,000 Animals,” November 13, 2013 by Nathan J. Winograd;
  • While Lois Lerner’s IRS was targeting specific political groups, Members of Congress called for an investigation into the lobbying activities of the Humane Society of the United States, a tax-exempt group Lerner admitted being involved with as an “active member;” Source:;
  • Less than four percent of Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), a nonprofit organization promoting preventive medicine and research alternatives, are actual physicians, and one of them is former PETA Foundation president, Neal Barnard. Source: Center for Consumer Freedom; 
  • Of the $1.88 million HSUS raised to “help” animals, $1.8 million went into the pockets of for-profit solicitors; Source: Center for Consumer Freedom;
  • 71% of New York rescue groups and 63% of Florida rescue groups reported shelters killing the very animals they had offered to save. Source: “The Lie at the Heart of the Killing,” March 12, 2013 by Nathan J. Winograd;
In 2003, in more than 15 states, PETA handed out his graphic comic titled "Your Mommy Kills Animals" to children accompanying women wearing fur outside holiday performances of The Nutcracker and other theatrical shows.

In 2003, in more than 15 states, PETA handed out his graphic comic titled “Your Mommy Kills Animals” to children accompanying women wearing fur outside holiday performances of The Nutcracker and other theatrical shows.

  • PETA often claims that they only kill animals that are injured or sick. But in 2005 police caught PETA employees dumping recently killed animals that were healthy and adoptable just hours before. Source: Center for Consumer Freedom;
  • Solicitation campaigns in Massachusetts done on behalf of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) netted zero dollars for animals in 2012. Source: Massachusetts attorney general;
  • In 2012, the Humane Society of the United States raised $1.8 million. Only 4% actually went to help animals: Source: The California Attorney General


Note:  I’ve used Nathan Winograd as a source, which may raise some eyebrows. He’s not a friend of the dog fancy, but neither is he a friend of the HSUS or PETA. His numbers, as far as I know, are well researched and useful to the conversation about overpopulation myth. We may not agree on everything with Mr. Winograd, but we don’t disagree with this statement: “In the end, killing is occurring in our nation’s shelters not because there are too many animals, but because killing is easier than doing what is necessary to stop it, and because as heartless as that reason is, shelter directors have been allowed to do it anyway. Why? Because the people who should be their fiercest critics—those within the animal protection movement itself—have provided them political cover by falsely portraying the killing that they do as a necessity born of pet overpopulation.

It’s hard to know where to stop when providing statistics because there are just so many of them. This should be enough to get you started, and when the AKC releases its updated survey numbers, you can be sure I’ll write about it here.

Be bold in taking this “fight” to the opposition by being an advocate for your dogs. HSUS and its ilk has had twenty years to perfect their deception, and it will take time for us to undo what they’ve done.  The alternative is unthinkable.

{ 56 comments… read them below or add one }

Beth January 11, 2014 at 6:24 pm

Interesting – I met and worked with Nathan during a USDA seizure of some dogs who were in terrible physical condition. He contacted our rescue because of the specific breed knowing they would be best served by people with breed experience. It was a true pleasure and all the dogs of our breed went on to have wonderful, happy lives. He was a pleasure to work with.

That said, I’m not a big fan of no kill since I’ve met too many dogs that have no business living in anyone’s home, no matter how qualified… and I’m not a fan of warehousing them if they can’t live as pets.


Susi January 11, 2014 at 6:30 pm

Thanks for writing, Beth, I’ve not yet known anyone who actually worked with Mr. Winograd and am happy to have your feedback. As with most things, balance has to be a part of the ‘no kill’ concept, and just because we “can” extend life doesn’t mean we should. What is Nathan’s response to this observation, Beth?


Joan Sammond January 11, 2014 at 7:47 pm

please let me know of a rescue effort winograd was ever hands on with. i’ve yet to see him do anything other than bash the orgs that are really out there in the trenches. he’s a joke among the real animal welfare industry. seriously, a joke.


Susi January 11, 2014 at 7:51 pm

Thanks for sharing another viewpoint, Joan. I know he’s a wildcard among some, but as I see it, if someone has verifiable information, I’m not sure we should dismiss it because the source of it wasn’t “boots on the ground.” I’ve never jumped off a high rise, but I trust the statistics that tell me death is certain if I do it.


bestuvall January 12, 2014 at 9:59 am

Hi Joan.. nice to see you admit that the HSUS et all is indeed an industry. If the “trenches ” is an office at every state capital plus huge headquarter right outside of DC then yes HSUS is there using donor dollars to lobby against dog breeders and making every effort to remove your right and mine to own and breed dogs.
Hi Beth: Warehousing is a strange term to use for dogs that are allowed to live in shelters and kennels rather than be killed for “space”. I agree that not ALL dogs can be saved but many can live a good life without being pets in a single family home without being killed.


Goldi January 13, 2014 at 9:17 am

To bestuvall: The term “warehousing” as used among shelter people refers to keeping animals confined in a shelter for a LONG period of time. It is a sad fact that some animals just don’t get chosen to be pets — just like some girls don’t get asked to the prom or some little boys don’t get chosen for anybody’s team. It IS tragic, but it is reality. Unless they have turned feral, dogs and cats NEED human companionship. Keeping a companion animal in a shelter for many months or a year or more than a year is a cruel form of solitary confinement that makes their lives a torment. Even though kind shelter workers may show them affection, it is not the same as being in a home. Sometimes an animal will literally lose its mind as a result of being confined in a shelter too long. I volunteer at an exemplary shelter run by our county. They take in all owner surrenders from their area of jurisdiction. Two on staff vets give needed care. A special officer arranges off site “adoption” events so animals get maximum exposure to people who may want them. The shelter works with several breed rescues, some private rescues, and PetFinder to aggressively work to find homes for animals. As a result, their euthanasia rate is VERY low (less than 14%) because it includes only the horribly injured, incurably sick, and dangerously vicious. Healthy animals capable of becoming pets are not ever put down because there is no need to euthanize for space. Animals that have been in the shelter TOO long get farmed out to foster homes. Nathan Winograd actually came here a few years ago to help a seriously nasty group try to close our shelter because we were (gasp) a “kill” shelter. Yes, our shelter provides a merciful release for animals that have no hope of a happy life — and many, many people in our county fought to keep it that way. A true “no kill” shelter doesn’t put down any animal. As a result, some linger in lonely torment in cages for a long, long, long time. That is the definition of warehousing. I hope that’s helpful.

Kristina January 11, 2014 at 6:25 pm

Beautifully written, and you’re absolutely right. The fight has to start with each and every one of us. We’ve been passive too long.


Susi January 11, 2014 at 6:32 pm

I appreciate that, Kristina. There are times I feel like a cheerleader trying to bolster the spirits of my comrades, other times I just want to shake reality into them. All any of us can do is what we can do – as long as we do SOMETHING.


Cathy January 11, 2014 at 7:18 pm

Great article again! And as far as “No-kill” shelters – anyone who believes in that should go back and find the HBO documentary they did on “Shelter Dogs” several years ago. One of the ones they went to was a true, no-kill shelter. There were dogs there that no one could touch – were completely vicious but because they were 100% no-kill, those dogs had to live out their lives in the confines of their cage with no contact of any kind (because they’d kill anything if given the opportunity). There has to be some reasonable decisions made as to what is adoptable, and what is truly not. What conditions are treatable, and what would be cruel just to say you were keeping the dog “alive” but with no real quality of life. Sometimes it’s not just the large amount of $$$ that are required, but the fact that it really isn’t fair to the animal, either.

sorry, didn’t mean to go off on my own soapbox – as always you have a well-written, well-researched article.


Susi January 11, 2014 at 7:46 pm

Don’t apologize, you make great points, Cathy, and they can only help in the discussion of a tough topic. I fear there are times when the best interest of the animal isn’t what we want to hear.


Randy January 11, 2014 at 7:26 pm

A ton of stuff in your article and some good observations and some I would not agree with,. lol Won’t try to comment on all but a couple of thoughts. I guess some would blame shelters for EU and some would blame breeders for breeding figuring that is where the animals are coming from. What is kind of a shame is that I don’t suspect either group is responsible for all of anything. I think most breeders and most shelters are not in favor of a bunch of EU where ever it is. That might be a common starting point for additional discussion. Second, I certainly cannot speak to all areas but given that EU is occurring in many shelters (at least in the South) it would seem that their are too many animals or not enough adopters using the shelter and the idea of importing animals based in need is completely foreign to this area. Any animals imported so to speak are simply cuter or the rage breed at the time and displace other animals to shelters or fields in the county. The 17 million available homes number often quoted is based on a pet survey done over 8 years ago and surveyed owners of all pets (fish, birds etc.) to see if they might get another unspecified pet. Slightly less than half surveyed were not even dog or cat owners so I am not sure how well it applies and it was never designed to determine potential dog and cat adopters/buyers. Regardless of its validity the 17 million adopters have not seemed to play out in the real world and that has created the problem in shelters or rescues that have relied on it. Thanks for your article.


Susi January 11, 2014 at 7:52 pm

Thanks, Randy, and just so that I’m clear, “EU” refers to euthanasia?


Randy January 12, 2014 at 8:09 am

Yes Susi, EU refers to euthanasia. I usually can’t spell it so cheat, lol….


Charlee January 12, 2014 at 9:00 am

Oh thank heavens for the explanation. I thought it was the European Union, and my head was reverberating w/ THOSE implications!


bestuvall January 12, 2014 at 10:15 am

EU, put to sleep, euthanasia, a peaceful release ( PETA), put down.. whatever.. it is still killing when it is dogs that could find homes with a bit more effort. Good blog Susi and I refer your readers to one written at Yes Biscuit. The blogger and I do not always agree but she calls it like it is for many “shelters”, even those in the much maligned “south”, where killing is the norm and no one seems to want to change. Those shelters ( actually the are more like pet stores) that import dogs from other areas make plenty of money from these dogs as they are the ones that are written up. ie “California dogs fly in private planes to Oregon, all Chihuahuas because there are too many in CA and not enough in Oregon”,( picture in your mind .. Hispanics who do not care how many puppies their dogs have and of course are the main owners of Chihuahuas) “Michigan shelter receives 100 dogs per month from the “south” where mandatory spay neuter laws are not in effect” ( picture in your mind backwoods uneducated hillbillies cracking out puppies by the thousands and “dumping” them at shelters for transport and resale) While that may sound harsh we all know that subliminal messages are given when these statements are made.
Heck they even “import ” dogs to the Detroit area where dogs roam the streets ( supposedly) Why? Because people don;t want “those dogs” they want “other dogs” small, cute and purse sized.. so the shelters supply them the same way as a pet store would instead of trying to help their own. easier to carry out the unwanted in body bags, import the salable ones and cry “overpopulation”

bestuvall January 12, 2014 at 10:16 am

Randy.. if you cannot spell euthanasia. try “euth” but no matter it is still killing


waylen January 13, 2014 at 2:06 pm

and yet another problem that interferes with the placement of some of these animals is that the standard for the adoptee is set so high that many folks that could give some of these animals a great home are turned away by the shelters as unfit homes!!!

Willie January 11, 2014 at 9:12 pm

This is a good article. There is a lot of good ideas here. Step by step, we need to inform the unsuspecting public. I’d like to see the dog fancy get more involved. Seems to me the AKC could spend a few dollars on a hard hitting factual power point presentation that could be distributed to local dog clubs for use educating elected officials at the local level.
There is a move afoot by Animal Rights and some so-called “rescue” and humane organizations in Southern California to brainwash local city elected officials into passing ordinances outlawing the sale of dogs, cats and rabbits from retail establishments. Activists have been successful, having contacted cities and pressured them into thinking their way and by the time it comes before full councils, it’s pretty much a done deal.

However, all that being said, there has been success in defeating ordinances when organized resistance is applied. When the lies and deceit are exposed, it makes a difference. It’s high time for those in the dog and cat fancy to stop running and hiding and go on the offense. We need to beat them to the punch.

Another thing about pet overpopulation myth: Thousands of dogs are being imported from out of the country – Mexico in particular – to fill a need. There needs to be pressure exerted on a federal level to put a stop to this.

If we don’t get a handle on this – and soon – the purebred dog and cat will cease to exist.


Susi January 11, 2014 at 9:20 pm

Thanks for writing, Willie – and I can’t disagree with any of what you’ve written. There have been little successes along the way (even against the HSUS) that give is a glimmer of hope that it can be done with organized effort. The AKC has a nifty legislative arm of their website which indicates what is happening where, and templates for writing letters to legislators, but they are unlikely to do our work for us on a local level. As you said, we need the fancy to become more engaged and I’ve already written about this hoping that one time, it’ll stick!


Julia Simmons January 12, 2014 at 7:45 am

We need to shut down all puppy mills and strictly regulate breeding until dogs aren’t dying in such alarming numbers in our nation’s shelters. You can disagree, but you can’t disagree AND call yourself a dog lover, really that’s why the burgeoning majority of Americans ate not on your “side” (duh).


Susi January 12, 2014 at 9:43 pm

You, Julia, are Exhibit A of something called “motivated reasoning.” Despite being given facts, statistics AND their credible sources, you refuse to entertain that you could be wrong. So be it. There is no reaching you.


Julia Simmons January 13, 2014 at 11:26 am

It’s called rescuing your rejected dogs for years. I know more than I ever wanted to, without your breeder propaganda. HEY! here in San Antonio where there just aren’t enough homes, my rescue friends have taken in 60 small breed dogs from “loving” breeders in the past week, boy you could just tell by their demeanor, matted hair, and 2″ long toenails how much these loving breeders care about dogs! We aren’t even talking about puppy mills- just dog “fanciers” here that are seeing the profits drop (they’re on to ya!) so instead of letting their little money makers retire in their homes, they dump them on the already painfully overwhelmed rescues. I know, I know you’re “different”! You love your little moneymakers like children! No one ever abuses children…. like I said, luckily the consumers are starting to become more savvy, thank goodness. Time for y’all to get real jobs! I have one, it’s not so bad- you’ll survive.


Julia Simmons January 13, 2014 at 11:39 am

p.s. center for consumer freedom is NOT a credible source. lol


Susi January 13, 2014 at 12:21 pm

How eloquently you weigh in on thousands of people whom you’ve never met, Julia. Your experience, Julia, yours alone and those of the vast number of people you know evidently make you the last word on the subject. How special. Following your logic, there is no distinction between good politicians or bad, organic farmers, or teaching methods, they’re all equal. Here’s a news flash, Julia. You don’t know what you think you know, and if you don’t have the spark of mental curiosity to investigate for yourself what’s been presented in the article, you will remain as you are: Well meaning, naive and unwittingly contributing to the problem.


bestuvall January 14, 2014 at 9:55 am

when you cannot disprove the message you can always dis the messenger. Notice how HSUS and others have never sued CCF for anything that they have printed. Thye file lawsuits on a daily basis but they do not sue CCF. And really Julia can’t you be anymore inventive than to spout the same old lines? It gets tiring.

jackgalt January 13, 2014 at 10:18 am

Seems pretty simple, Julia. Shelters need to stop killing them and transporting them hither and yon and actually setting up a program to reunite the owners of lost dogs with their owners and a program to educate frustrated and adoptive owners about canine care and behavior . In Illinois an organization does just that and re-united 600 Illinois lost dogs with their owners in 2013–one of them had been taken by police to a shelter, which in turn sent it 900 miles away in West Virginia–where the microchip identified the true dog owner. Another was sent from a Chicago rescue and ended up in POLAND before its microchip was checked and owner found. Both were reunited with their owner with considerable expense.


Susi January 13, 2014 at 10:29 am

POLAND???? They sent a rescue dog from Chicago to Poland? Words fail me.


Julia Simmons January 13, 2014 at 11:30 am

YES! Just stop killing them, easy as pie! The shelters will look like the puppy mills you all champion, and the ones that don’t get adopted will suffer, or intake will be closed to let the dogs succumb to life on the street instead, but hey- at least they’ll be alive!


bestuvall January 14, 2014 at 10:02 am

Why does a dog that is not sold and re homed “suffer”? Aren’t shelters supposed to be just that? Shelters.. places of refuge Not places that if a dog is not sold they will be killed.. that is hardly “sheltering”. So yes just stop killing them for space and for your convenience. Succumb to life on the streets? Really? A bit dramatic don’t you think.. but yes at least they will be alive..better in most cases than being dead because you decide to kill them.


DC January 13, 2014 at 2:11 pm

I work in a shelter. We do not have to euthanize healthy friendly animals and we only receive 200 puppies in a year. We have families vying for puppies, pleading and begging to choose them to adopt the puppies. When and if we get a purebred dog, the dog usually has no breeder info that the owner can recall. If by any chance we can figure it out, the breeder takes the dog back no question. The dogs we have are untrained, moderately unhealthy and in some cases dangerous. So eliminating the gentle healthy dogs so that people will be more willing, out of desperation, to take a biting diabetic dog is not going to work. Helping people choose the right dog to begin with, train the dog effectively and educate about managing vet bills is a better expenditure of effort. Or you could just adopt one of my biting sick dogs. That would help.


DC January 13, 2014 at 2:13 pm

I should have said the REMAINDER of the dogs we have have issues. Because we do get over 1000 dogs per year and many are easy to place. Didn’t want to dis the shelter dog!


Susi January 13, 2014 at 2:25 pm

Thanks for the work you do, DC, and for sharing your experience with Julia. We don’t doubt the veracity of the workload Julia faces, but we find her characterization of ALL breeders inaccurate, unfair, and only contributing to the problem of misinformation about the subject. I’m happy to agree with you that a healthy, well functioning shelter operates in the manner you describe. Sadly, I’ve also heard from volunteers that their shelter is anything BUT how you described. One thing we can ALL rally behind, I think, is the National Animal Interest Alliance’s “shelter model” which I’ll be writing about soon. Where adopted, it will hold ALL shelters accountable for accurate data openly available that will dispel some myths out there.


bestuvall January 14, 2014 at 10:04 am

DC working it the right way!!! Julia working it the wrong way.

JenniferT January 15, 2014 at 6:51 pm

Thank you DC. I could almost have written your response. Unfortunately, the shelter where I *used* to work now is on the importation wagon train. I refuse to be a part of that. They turn down the local dogs, which are primarily pits and pit mixes, and take dogs from all over the place that are more ‘desirable’, which makes them not a shelter anymore, but a pet store. Pits and pit mixes are mostly good dogs, but they are not for everyone. Someone who won’t train their pit and lets it run unsupervised is someone who will be responsible for a dog attack at some point.

As you have observed, people getting the right dog is so very important! It is the people getting the cute husky mixed puppy free from the neighbors who hate brushing and hate dog hair on the furniture who drop it off at the shelter because they didn’t think a ‘short haired’ dog would shed that much and need that much brushing who should have gotten a responsibly bred puppy that could be professionally groomed with a short, easy care clip, or even a hairless breed. It is the people who have a lease that says, “No dogs over 25 lbs” who adopts the ‘chihuahua mix’ puppy at the shelter only to have to bring it back when it is 5 months old and 30 lbs, still growing who should have gotten a responsibly bred puppy that would have been very predictable in size.

It is those dogs who were impulses rather than planned who wind up in shelters. I have rescues now, and have had shelter dogs, mixes and rescues for all my life. They are GREAT dogs, but only because I’m lucky enough to have had a wide range of experiences, and am able to be flexible with things like grooming, exercise, and temperament. Not everyone is able to do that. The right pet in the right home is much more likely to be in that home its entire life.


Charlee January 12, 2014 at 9:05 am

Thank you so much for getting all of these facts and figures in one easy to access place. I know I tend to read these statistics, remember some, but never remember where I saw them or how to find them again. It helps so much to have a nice package ready to go.

I am so proud to know you, and to watch what you are accomplishing w/ DogKnobIt. Reaching people with humor make the facts less intimidating and easier to understand. Thanks for all you do for the dogs that make our lives the richer thru their presence.


Susi January 12, 2014 at 9:53 am

Awwww, thanks, Charlee. I hope you know how humbled I am by such compliments. The minute any of this goes to my head, life has a way of putting me in my place, usually in highly embarrassing situations with lots of witnesses.


Charlee January 13, 2014 at 9:38 am

That I get, all to well. However, it’s ok when somebody else says it ABOUT you, even if YOU saying it about yourself would bring down the karmic retribution! LOL


Alison Barrett January 12, 2014 at 4:51 pm

I am so glad to have these references available. It’s frustrating to be given statistics but then be unable to quote the source. I helped run a shelter in the Denver, CO area for 20+ years. I have shown dogs the entire time, and lived with the dichotomy of that. The Kennel Club I am a member of is very interested in getting the word of what is really happening out to the general public, and we are informing members, sending reps to conferences and doing what we can. We were against importing dogs into our rescue group, except from another shelter in Colorado that was overloaded or needed help for some reason. It’s an uphill battle, but I talk to people every chance I get. Dog parks make for a wonderful captured audience.


Susi January 12, 2014 at 9:40 pm

Dog parks ARE a fabulous place to make contact, Allison, and I’m glad you mentioned that here because I forgot to. There are SO SO many statistical facts out there but hard to find them all in one place. I just scratched the surface, I”m afraid. Thank you for the world you’re doing with the shelter – and no – I don’t think it’s a contradiction at all. Most of us got into dogs because we love them, helping where we can is a natural extension of that. Me, I rescue them off the street – or they find me, but we always seem to find each other. What’s your kennel club, we might know some of the same people.


Susan January 12, 2014 at 9:35 pm

Thank you for a very informative article. I am going to share it around because you have cleared up so many misnomers.


Susi January 12, 2014 at 9:37 pm

You bet, Susan! Thanks for writing, I’m happy to help!


M in TX January 12, 2014 at 10:59 pm

Thanks so much for this. I live in the rural South. I have to say many of the shelters and rescue groups here are part of the problem. The current director of my own local shelter, took down all web listings and banned her volunteers from so much as putting a picture of an adoptable dog on their facebook page. The shelter is open 1and 1/2 hours a day 5 days a week. They are closed when most people aren’t working, which makes it impossible to see the available dogs or volunteer. The dogs are under-excercised, filthy and unsocialized. No wonder people give up and buy from whoever has a litter of cheap puppies.

The shelter in the nearest metro area has a reputation for adopting out sick dogs and having serious breed prejudice. A woman was once had her “dangerous breed” dogs picked up at large and was told she would have to wait 3 days before she could pick them up. The actual policy is she had 3 day to pick them up, or they could be adopted/euthanized. They were euthanized. Many pit bulls, GSDs, Rotties, etc w/ owners have been killed due to paperwork errors


Susi January 13, 2014 at 9:29 am

Thanks for sharing your experience, M. Your note underscores how largely regional current population issues are, and I’m disheartened to hear of the impediments the director of your local shelter has pushed in the way of facilliating more active participation by volunteers, let alone adoptions. Has no one “ratted” out this director, complained to the agency which oversees it? Easy for me to ask, I suppose.There are likely dynamics in the area of which I know nothing. What would help, M, in your estimation? Perhaps a few complaints by some of us?


bestuvall January 13, 2014 at 11:51 am

Dear Golidi;
warehousing is not a proper term to use if you consider dogs to be more than keeping a washing machine at a warehouse. We do not kill humans who are not invited to the prom or not picked for a team. Your idea that dogs and cats especially NEED human companionship and if they don’t get they are better off dead is a common one among shelter workers Your shelter sounds like a true no kill to me if you are only killing incurably sick animals but most are not doing that.. they kill for space and many other reasons, some just because they can. and I believe that some kill becaseu they are stuck in the rut of “blaming the public” and killing as a habit I do not believe that animals should be killed because they have been sheltered for any length of time.. be it days or years. if a shelter has to keep a dog or cat in “solitary confinement” then there must be a reason.. most animals can get along with other animals or humans that can interact with them. dogs and cats sleep a good part of the day and do not need to be petted and “loved” 24/7. Think of kennel dogs or pack dogs that live in hunt kennels..Cats especially do not need constant “love” and as most cat owners will tell the cat chooses when it wants to be “loved”. Barn cats live a solitary life or at least a life with other animals ( some that they kill) and not much human interaction. Situations are different for every one


DC January 13, 2014 at 2:27 pm

Good point. I work in a shelter and what we mean when we say “warehoused” is this.
We have a cat who’s been here over 200 days. She lives in a full sized room with windows and other cats. She doesn’t have litter box issues and likes people who happen to come by which is often because we are open to the public every day. There is no reason she can’t live out her natural life here.

However, since we get 15 new animals every day (we don’t turn them away because we are the only shelter for 500 miles) which ones should I euthanize so that she can keep her spot? If she were not doing well (litter box issues, aggression) how long should I keep her just in case tomorrow is the day her perfect match arrives? Not asking you to answer because there are no answers for questions like these. It’s just possible you didn’t know that’s how it is to choose who gets the beds tonight. (We use all 11 No Kill programs: off site adoption, TNR, training, S/N, etc).


DC January 13, 2014 at 2:18 pm

Can you fix the HSUS numbers? True that they send less than 1% to shelter pets but they actually take in over ONE HUNDRED MILLION each year. With only 8 million animals needing sheltering in a year, and many of those returned to their owners or adopted, that $ONE HUNDRED MILLION would really put a dent in the homeless animal population. Even if they only did it once! Or even if they only gave half for a few years.


Susi January 13, 2014 at 2:27 pm

I’m happy to amend the number, DC, just send me a verifiable source?


DC January 13, 2014 at 2:42 pm

Because some will say HumaneWatch as a source bothers them I found this 990 which is Federal document no matter where it came from.


bestuvall January 13, 2014 at 2:28 pm

we all fall into this trap.. Dogs and cats and other animals are not ‘adopted” they are rehomed usually for a fee which constitutes a sale. When you buy a dog or cat you do not adopt it.. nor are you and adopter. Animals in shelters are rehomed or not. language matters


Asec January 13, 2014 at 9:29 pm

My veterinarian was denied by a rescue group for a hunting breed, because her dogs were trained hunting dogs(pointers).


Susi January 13, 2014 at 9:35 pm

So they not only disapproved of a qualified adoptee, but of hunting. Next, it’ll be because an adoptee is the wrong ethnicity, hair color or political persuasion. A very slippery slope.


Maureen McGrath January 13, 2014 at 11:50 pm

I have list 2 friends because of my dog hobby. It makes them cry to see my puppies. They see a direct causal relationship between the new life born in my home and a shelter dog being killed. I can’t understand their thinking and I have no idea what to say to people like this.


Susi January 14, 2014 at 10:53 am

Maureen, you have a golden opportunity to educate your two friends. I don’t know them, of course, but I suspect they may be “educate-able.” They need to know that you mourn the loss of life as they do, but perhaps they can still be lead to see that your puppies aren’t removing opportunity from a shelter dog because the person who buys your Papillon would be highly unlikely to adopt a shelter dog (unless, of course, the day comes when the ONLY dog available IS a mixed breed shelter dog because it has become illegal to breed or purchase a purebred dog, or ethically bred purebreds have become black-market purchases). They should know that there is a rate of return for dogs adopted by people who wanted something else (say, a Papillon). Isn’t it better that they get the dog they really wanted, a breed that matches their lifestyle and expectations? You are offering choice. I would never deny a mixed breed a change at life and happiness, but to force a potential owner into getting something other than what they really wanted is to condemn a dog to misery for failed expectations. Let me know how it goes if you “go there.”


Sue Alton January 16, 2014 at 7:10 am

Our Humane Society group ran the city shelter for 4 years. What an education. I had always liked the idea of “no kill” shelters that is until I figured out that it just means that when they are full they get to send the incoming animals to another shelter kill/or not. City shelters are regulated by laws..they can not turn animals away and if they are full then someone must decided which animals are put down to make room. There is much howling about this, how wrong it is..the rescue groups pull as many animals as they can..but it is still a fact of life. There are not enough homes for all these animals. In the years past, after our contract expired with the city our group has worked hard to raise and donate as much money as possible for low cost spay neuter. It is the only way to stop the slaughter of these animals. The numbers may be better in other parts of the US, but here in South Texas..Brownsville we still kill 5-7,000 animals a year at the city shelter. The no kill shelters in the area do manage to find some homes for animals..but I imagine most of them end up warehoused. Until the killing stops..I think spay/neuter must be mandatory and breeding should be left to professionals who she be licensed and inspected. When we aren’t killing thousands and thousands of animals anymore…then we can get all philosophical and talk about what to do.


Susi January 16, 2014 at 10:01 am

Thanks for writing, Sue. The overpopulation issue is, I believe, regional, and where it exists, it’s invariably in the south where attitudes about spaying and neutering seem different from those elsewhere. I’m in agreement with you on the spaying and neutering on that score. Sadly, regulations intended impact substandard breeders also apply to the “hobby” breeder who is invested in their breed, pours over pedigrees, researches and conducts health checks, and raises puppies in a home environment. That breeder will find it hard to comply with rules written for a commercial operation, i.e., hosing down kennels with water so hot, it would peel wall paper off a wall. This conscientious breeder, which in my view is the steward of its breed, doesn’t live in a home where there’s a drain in the middle of the floor in every room. This breeder socializes their puppies and makes sure those pups aren’t fazed by ceiling fans, vacuum cleaners or small children. On this score, Sue, we are in disagreement. And while the sad picture you paint is the reality in your area, the fact of the matter remains that in the rest of the country, dogs are being imported to fill demand. Read some of the other comments made her to get a wider view of the situation. It’s a mess, if nothing else.


Susi January 13, 2014 at 2:11 pm

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard this, Waylen. True story: Someone I know applied to adopt a “rescue” Malinois and was denied for reasons unknown. The denied adoptee is a veterinarian who has owned Malinois for over 30 years. Still scratching my head over that one….


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