Saturday, February 20, 2010
When Direct Mail Is a Threat to Dogs
In the last week we have seen PeTA and the Humane Society of the U.S. inject themselves into the arena of pedigree dog health.
Wayne Pacelle wrote a piece over on his blog, trying to inject himself into the debate, while PeTA crashed center ring at the Westminster dog show with two activists holding placards that were laughably off-message.
My position is pretty simple: direct mail professionals and vegan clowns will not improve the debate on the health and future of pedigree dogs.
Here's a thought: The men and women who actually care about dogs have brought this debate up to to this point, and they continue to move things along quite smartly.
Maybe they don't need any "help" from people whose primary interest in dogs is direct mail fundraising?
Of course, I am not the first to say it.
Jemima Harrison, the producer of BBC's Pedigree Dogs Exposed, has already blasted PeTA for its stunt theatrics, noting that the world hardly needs a lesson in dog health from a group that kills 97% of the dogs brought to its shelter.
So why are PeTA and HSUS suddenly so interested in dog health?
It is not because these are new issues!
In fact, this debate is as old as the Humane Society and far older than PeTA. But for more than 100 years, the "humane" movement has said nothing. Problem? What problem?
In fact, as I have noted in the past, this silence was not entirely accidental. The animal rights movement and the parade of mutants we see in the Kennel Club show ring today are different roses that have sprouted from the same root. And that root has nothing to do with dogs.
"Pedigree people have pedigree dogs" sniff the over-weight matrons of the Kennel Club who seek to associate their common lives with aristocrats or historical figures who once owned "their" breed.
"And pedigree people do not abuse animals by hunting them, or eating them" sniff the under-weight vegans of PeTA who are trying to find a "cause" that will elevate their lives over the humdrum.
For both sides, the only "work" required of a dog is for it sit on a couch.
And that's why both sides are so dangerous to dogs.
You see, most dog types and breeds were created for something: improved function.
Herding dogs were created to herd.
Livestock guarding dogs were created to guard.
Terriers and dachshunds were created to go down tight holes to bolt or battle a fox or badger.
Pointers and setters were created to hold steady over birds -- first for nets, and later for firearms.
Retrievers were designed to retrieve shot birds, tossed boat lines, and pretty much anything else a human might suggest.
But of course the folks at PeTA and HSUS do not buy the premise.
These organizations are actually opposed to hunting and herding.
Have a husky pull a sled? That's cruel!
Have a greyhound catch a rabbit on the fly? That's cruel!
Have a collie herd sheep? Thats cruel!
PeTA and HSUS deny the functional reason hunting, herding, and pulling dogs exist.
For PeTA and HSUS the only purpose of a dog is to be a pet.
And since a pet has no real function other than not to bite the hand that feeds it, there is no need for dog breeds at all.
Knowing this, why would anyone ever listen to HSUS or PeTA when it comes to breed health?
A concern about breed health assumes you actually care about the breed.
But, of course, that is a bit hard when you have open contempt for the work that breed was created to do!
Which is not to say that the AKC and the Kennel Club are not thrilled to see PeTA and the HSUS start talking about canine health.
Now the kennel clubs can try to frame the "debate" as being about "animal right lunatics" who are in opposition to all canine work and breed purposes, versus kennel club "dog experts".
And never mind that the Kennel Club's dog "experts" have never dug a terrier, shot a bird, hitched a sled, or coursed a rabbit.
And never mind that this debate was created and is being pursued by those who have put "Dogs First" rather than direct mail economics.
Neither side cares about that now.
For PeTA and HSUS this looks like a new topic with which to fill their direct mail coffers.
For the kennel clubs, this looks like a new development which can be used to deflect serious charges about pedigree dog health and welfare.
Each will try to use the other to carry on with their "business as usual."
And if that happens, the dogs are sure to suffer.