Racist history of dog control?

In Clayton Cramer's important 1993 essay, The Racist History of Gun Control, the author makes note of another sad fact of history. Not only was gun control rooted in racism, but the racists who imposed it on black people also imposed draconian dog control:

The perception that free blacks were sympathetic to the plight of their enslaved brothers, and the dangerous example that "a Negro could be free" also caused the slave states to pass laws designed to disarm all blacks, both slave and free. Unlike the gun control laws passed after the Civil War, these antebellum statutes were for blacks alone. In Maryland, these prohibitions went so far as to prohibit free blacks from owning dogs without a license, and authorizing any white to kill an unlicensed dog owned by a free black, for fear that blacks would use dogs as weapons. Mississippi went further, and prohibited any ownership of a dog by a black person.[5] (Emphasis added.)
While dog control is admittedly peripheral to Cramer's central argument about gun control, common sense suggests that if the goal is to keep people in a state of subjugation and defenselessness, dog control would be at least as important as gun control.

It might even be more important.

Anyone who has owned a dog knows that unlike a gun, a dog is on duty 24 hours a day, and is alert to the slightest intrusion. A gun is an inanimate and inert object without its owner, and if the owner is not home, his guns are useless, no matter how many there might be. Not so with a dog. Many people who own both dogs and guns would consider their dogs the first line of defense in any home invasion situation. And I'd be willing to bet that in many instances, dogs have prevented the homeowners from ever having to resort to the defensive use of firearms. Why? Because the invader simply runs away. The dog awakens the owner and gives him an adequate amount of time to prepare his defense. In those rare instances when the intruder shoots the dog instead of going away, then the homeowner knows that a gun is required.

Just as there are no adequate statistics on how many criminals were deterred by the presence of firearms, I am sure that there are few statistics on the number of people alive today who would have been killed in the absence of their dogs. That's because if the would-be intruder flees, there's no reason to call the police, and often no way to document that he was ever there, much less explain why he fled. Dogs -- like guns -- save lives.

I've written three posts now about California AB 1634 (mandatory spay/neuter bill), and I'm wondering whether anyone has looked at it in light of the racist history of dog control. While I'm sure the sponsors would point out that the measure is race neutral on its face, I'm wondering whether they've considered whether the law would have a disparate impact on poor, black, or minority communities.

Let's look at the exemptions:

  • Pure bred dogs owned by professional breeders who hold business licenses;
  • People who can prove that they devote time to winning prizes at dog shows;
  • Police dogs and seeing eye dogs
  • I'm sorry, but while these categories are race and income-neutral, common sense suggests to me that low-income people and minorities tend to be under-represented among the "pedigree community." (For starters, pure bred dogs cost a bundle.) Of course, my suspicions may be wrong, but a cursory look at dog show pictures reveals attendance by mostly white (if not "lily white") crowds. Not that there's anything wrong with that. No one is forced to go to a dog show or own a pure bred dog.

    But we're talking about a law here.

    As to people who breed and show purebred cats, I know even less about whether it's a low income or minority pastime. Somehow, though, I think that in police practice, this law will lend itself to being enforced against dogs -- and especially dogs in low-income and minority communities. It's one more law that the police have at their disposal which can be used to supply "probable cause" to enter and search the premises. The officer could say that based on his experience and knowledge as a police officer, he believed that the dogs involved were not exempt as show dogs, nor was there any license on record for a commercial dog breeding enterprise at that address.

    Considering that under AB 1634, puppies would become inherently illegal contraband, all an officer would need to say is that he heard the "sounds of a crime being committed" in his presence, and no warrant would be necessary.

    So, while I think the measure is unconstitutional for the reasons I explained earlier, I think a good argument can be made that the enforcement of AB 1634 would have a disparate impact on minorities and lower-income people. Moreover, because it would severely decrease the availability of dogs, it would drive prices sky high -- an economic factor inevitably disfavoring low-income dog ownership. Which means that if you're poor and you want to protect your home, a gun might be more affordable than a dog. (Fewer dogs, more guns.)

    I don't know how much thought the California legislature has given to these issues, but it strikes me that they might need a little sensitivity training.

    MORE: Another important point is that minorities and low-income people are far more likely to become victims of crime -- precisely why they are in more need of dogs than higher-income people. Whether its sponsors intend it or not, AB 1634 would -- by making dogs unaffordable -- harm the very people who are most in need of help.

    posted by Eric on 05.02.07 at 09:34 AM










    Comments

    I reject your reasoning here on several counts. First, the fact that a law is economically discriminatory does not mean that it is unfair. For example, cigarette taxes disproportionately affect the poor, and a higher percentage of the poor are minorities, but that does not mean that cigarette taxes are racist. Similarly, laws mandating minimum fuel economy disproportionately affect the rich (who don't care about the cost of gasoline), but we don't consider them racist.

    The greatest error in your posting is the claim that this law would drive prices sky high. Currently the supply of dogs exceeds the demand by several million dogs per year, leading to the destruction of these animals. Thus, a reduction in supply will have no effect upon prices -- unless supply falls below demand, an unlikely development, but one that can be addressed if it arises.

    Froblyx   ·  May 2, 2007 11:41 AM

    If you had read previous posts, you would know that there *is* a _puppy_ shortage. Supply will fall below demand at this rate.

    With regard to the post and people buying dogs for protection, this does happen. In a neighborhood in Detroit where I have a rental house, I have noticed the number of homes with dogs has gone up considerably since the safety of the area has gone down.

    It would not surprise me for a group to have an agenda to disarm the populace via dog control. I have read articles where when the SWAT teams practice home invasions, the first thing they do is shoot the popup of the dog. As the article says; "You perform the way you practice."

    _Jon   ·  May 2, 2007 1:08 PM

    Your assertions about a puppy shortage are not borne out by the facts. You quote a number of random sources claiming puppy shortages, but you offer no numbers and no particulars. Perhaps there is a shortage of brown female rottweilers -- a shortage of 2. Without any kind of quantitative data, you have nothing substantial. Moreover, the one source you offered that does provide quantitative data -- the Border Patrol numbers -- indicates about three times as many adult dogs imported as puppies. If you use this data to support a claim of a puppy shortage, then you must also conclude that the shortage of adult dogs is three times greater -- a notion belied by other evidence.

    There is no evidence of a puppy shortage. There is evidence of an overall surplus of dogs. This link (http://www.americanhumane.org/site/PageServer?pagename=nr_fact_sheets_animal_euthanasia) provides some numbers on dog euthanizing. Millions of dogs are euthanized each year. Only 25% of the dogs entering shelters are adopted. There is clearly a gigantic oversupply of dogs in general, and no evidence of a generalized undersupply of puppies.

    Froblyx   ·  May 2, 2007 1:46 PM

    Are not AKC dog shows by definition, based entirely in racism? Promoting the concept of 'Purebred' as not only better but preferable. The idea that we can create 'better' through selective breeding and genetics was the core belief hailed by White Supremists, then Adolf Hitler.
    True, American farmers practice genetic selection, but they don't pit the chickens against the hogs in a Summer Classic.

    A dog show is the modern equivalent of Gladiators: a battle of breeds, in a process of elimination. Adolph Hitler shared the philosophy of creating perfect humans by their looks, bringing them to their natural perfection.
    Still another aspect reminiscent of Hitler, purists deny and disavow the 'impure' which are rounded up from the streets, impounded, then destroyed by the millions. Just like Jews and Blacks? Purists weren't concerned about exterminations then, just as racists are indifferent to 'mixes' now killed by the State.

    Statistically, more black dogs are found in the pounds since black color dominance is the rule of the gene. "Just black mongrels", I'd casually bet the Supremecist would say.

    And Show dogs, are just modern-day slaves, kept in cages to do the master's bidding: down and back or jerked by the leash, kept intact for breeding. True, some, better masters, allow the slaves to be loose in the house. They are not permitted to dine at the table because they may be unclean.

    Since performance was never a factor of dog shows, are not these animals simply being exploited for their looks just like fashion models? Are we not sending the wrong message to children and thru our society by show enthusiasts promoting exterior beauty and pricey grooming over performance and moral conduct?

    I believe the answer is for AKC to apologize to black people and minorities, Jews and American Indians, Chinese and Japanese for continuing and supporting the tradition of racial profiling in America. We should be more tolerant of our differences and not less. AKC should also take some of the proceeds of their $450 million fee registry and commence arming minorities who cannot afford dogs, so that we will all sleep better at night with less barking. This 'Racist History' is also a testament that breeders will say ABSOLUTELY anything to continue exploitation for financial gain. They should apologize, too.
    But we 'minorities' are not holding our breaths.

    Roger Evan   ·  May 2, 2007 2:35 PM

    I am in absolute agreement as to what such draconian laws are all about. To control the people-- the disadvantaged-- the poor, the minorities, the handicapped. If it were not for my dogs that I had as a teenager, I would have been raped! They saved me! I believe the mandatory spay/neuter law in California is directed with the poor, the blacks and hispanics, directly in their gunsights. The people that proposed this law, Assemblyman Levine and Judie Mancuso, will agree it is punitive to the poor. They obviously feel the poor do not deserve the right to have and breed dogs. And this bill comes from a Democrat! It appears Democrats no longer protect the interests of the common man,woman or child. Soon all pets will have to have microchips implanted as per the "law" regardless that microchips cause cancer at the microchip site. Next all our children will have microchips implanted at birth as per "law". These are bad laws. Any law that is punitive to any part of the populace because of their race, gender, social or economic position is bad law. All one has to do is investigate why mandatory spay/neuter ordinances have been recently imposed on two large cities: Los Angeles and Sacramento. Multi-million dollar construction contracts have been made for new animal control installations in both these cities to the same firm. My bet is these firms represent the good ol boys, and that neither are minority firms. The new animal control facilities will be the beginning of a new penal system-- for animals in a state where prisons, also filled to capacity of minorities and the poor, are big business. Furthermore, costs to maintain the "four-legged prisoners" will be significantly less compared to the two legged ones. With $500 fines per animal and possible criminal charges written into the bill, they may be able to fill both "prisons". Welcome to the New Democratic Party!

    Diane Amble   ·  May 2, 2007 3:35 PM

    I share your disdain for dog shows, but connecting dog shows with racism does seem far-fetched. Perhaps you'd be more successful comparing them to beauty pageants?

    I'd much prefer to live in a world without breeders, but I cannot think of how to compose a law that would do so and not trample on rights.

    Froblyx   ·  May 2, 2007 3:43 PM

    How can these laws be directed at the poor when any poor person can adopt a dog at the animal shelter for a nominal fee? This doesn't stop people from owning dogs; it stops people from breeding dogs.

    And please don't offer the argument that adoption costs are too high for poor people. The cost of adoption varies by county, but generally runs about $50. That's about what it costs to feed a dog on the cheapest dog food for a year. If they can't afford the adoption fee, however will they be able to keep the animal from starving?

    Froblyx   ·  May 2, 2007 3:47 PM

    Eric, you wrote: " In those rare instances when the intruder shoots the dog instead of going away, then the homeowner knows that a gun is required." I think it is very telling that in the Branch Davidian raid, the ATF shot the pet dogs before ever going to the door with their warrant. (I don't have a citation for that, but came across it in more than one place.) Also, the Ruby Ridge incident began when U.S. Federal agents shot the family dog, prompting the 14 year-old to return fire at the agents.

    Stewart   ·  May 2, 2007 6:07 PM

    The BATF and police *always* shoot the dogs. If you want citations for this, Stewart, go to David Codreas' site and start browsing through his "Only Ones" links.

    I don't have an article citing that at the Davidians in particular, but there's ample enough incidents to draw a proceedural estimate from.

    Ironbear   ·  May 2, 2007 7:15 PM

    Yeah, I've posted about police shooting dogs before:

    http://www.classicalvalues.com/archives/2004/06/friendly_fire_i.html

    For the umpteenth time, there IS a puppy shortage, and there will always be unadoptable dogs. (That people suurender their dogs has no more to do with overpopulation than women surrendering babies for adoption.)

    As to the contention that "any poor person can adopt a dog at the animal shelter for a nominal fee," right now that's true. Give a law like AB 1634 time and there will be very few dogs for adoption. Unless they are imported from foreign states or countries, where will dogs come from if breeding all but purebred dogs is stopped?

    Read "The End Of Mutts?"

    http://www.classicalvalues.com/archives/2007/04/post_325.html

    The Humane Society link is dated 2002 and offers no reliable statistics from California. See the graph here:

    http://www.doggonecalifornia.org/

    The bottom line is that the state has no business making it a crime to own a perfectly normal intact dog.

    Eric Scheie   ·  May 2, 2007 7:52 PM

    In the rural area of California where I live the two most popular breeds right now are Jack Russell Terriers, and Border Collies. There is a shortage of quality puppies in both, if price is any indication. Most dogs for sale don't have papers. They very often have the "look" of the breed, but sport exotic markings. With Jack Russells, you have the smooth coat, simi-rough coat, and rough coat. Some with floppy ears, some with perky ears. Some shed profusely, others not at all.
    They weigh from 12 or 13 lbs. up to 23 or 24 lbs.
    What they all have in common is that they are some type of fiesty Terrier that passes for a Jack Russell.
    For people like me, it doesn't matter that the dog isn't a purebred. In fact, through years of experience I would much rather have a healthy mongrel than a neurotic, & often inbred, purebred.
    This law will make that a crime.

    Frank   ·  May 3, 2007 12:37 AM

    If the claim has been made umpteen times that there is a puppy shortage, then the mistake has been repeated umpteen times. The evidence provided shows no puppy shortage. Indeed, the simplest of economic analyses demonstrates this. If shelters in the Northeast are importing puppies from the South, then there is clearly an excess of puppies in the South and a shortage of puppies in the Northeast. The net result is zero: no evidence of shortage. Indeed, the fact that the South can spare puppies clearly shows that the excess of puppies in the South is greater than the shortage of puppies in the Northeast.

    The glaring fact that is being swept under the rug is that millions of dogs are being euthanized every year. MILLIONS. If we have to euthanize millions of dogs, then we have an excess, NOT a shortage, of dogs. Isn't this simple and obvious?

    Now let's talk about some of the special factors: puppies, dogs brought in by their owners, and dogs that are so sick/injured that they must be euthanized.

    1. Puppies. Yes, people prefer puppies. But to suggest that a one-year old dog should be euthanized to permit people to adopt puppies is, IMO, barbaric. I understand that older dogs don't adopt well. But people can have just as rich a relationship with a dog at one year as a puppy. Part of our problem here is our special attachment to puppies. Lots of people have litters of puppies, have great fun with the puppies while they're young and cute, then dump them when they get older. This is the kind of behavior that the law is aimed at, and I applaud clamping down on this irresponsible behavior.

    2. Dogs brought in by their owners. Look at the statistics provided in the links. Only about 20% of the dogs arriving at the shelters are brought in by their owners. From my read of the statistics, 75% are "excess" dogs that are collected by animal control or brought in by people who discover them.

    3. Sick/injured. The statistics provided in the links suggest that perhaps 5% of the dogs brought in must be euthanized for health reasons. That's not the source of the problem.

    The basic truth is this: we have too many dogs in this country. We are killing them by the millions every year. Some people think that it's wrong to do so. Those people are proposing a law to reduce this slaughter. Other people don't care about the millions of dogs being euthanized, and oppose the law. There's no absolute right or wrong here; dogs have no constitutional rights. This is just a matter of the people in a democracy deciding what's best.

    I understand the statement:

    The bottom line is that the state has no business making it a crime to own a perfectly normal intact dog.

    There's a lot of truth in that. But it is also true that:

    The state has every right to prevent the breeding of a huge excess of dogs.

    Perhaps we need a more focused law. Perhaps we should criminalize the breeding of dogs rather than the ownership of intact dogs. If your dog has a litter of puppies, then you pay a steep fine. Unfortunately, this kind of law will only result in drowned puppies. Moreover, there's no way to guarantee that there will be no litters without neutering dogs. So this law is in principle the same as a drunk driving law: it doesn't directly stop the deaths from accidents, but it does stop the behavior that causes the accidents. As such, it is overkill: there are plenty of people who drive drunk without hurting anybody, and there are plenty of people with intact dogs who prevent them from having litters. But we still have drunk driving laws.

    Lastly, as to the claims that we'll run out of dogs: if the supply of dogs really does run low, we'll have no problem correcting that problem. It's easy to breed more dogs. I myself would prefer to see a breeding program run by the animal shelters, in which they breed dogs for health and demeanor, rather than these insane breeders who turn out genetic freaks.

    Froblyx   ·  May 3, 2007 12:54 AM

    this law would be like trying to prevent third world labor abuses by outlawing new, name brand clothing and decree that everyone henceforth must shop at Goodwill and thrift stores. Over time, the quality of "clothing" will spiral downward as the castoffs become lower and lower quality.

    Face it, what is in the pound is mostly the sort of dog that most people don't want. Large, untrained, aggressive, unattractive. Hobby breeders of show and other sorts of dogs mostly produce attractive, healthy, good dispositioned and tractable animals, the sort that is in high demand. Proof they are in high demand? Those "arm and a leg" prices they fetch. There is a saying, "you get what you pay for. Same goes for dogs, cars, real estate and education. If you think that high quality people will choose to adopt low quality dogs just because the price is lower, ain't gonna happen. They will buy from out of state, or out of country. This law fixes nothing.

    patty   ·  May 3, 2007 2:24 AM

    We have laws (in Michigan) that you can sell up to 9 cars per year without a license. If you sell 10 or more cars in a calendar year, you need to be licensed as a dealer, pay a fee, and follow the laws of a company in the state. If you don't you can be fined and/or jailed.

    In my opinion, a similar approach should be used for other personal possessions - including dogs.


    (Tangent: Froblyx - You've made quite a few posts on this, but you haven't repeated posts, you haven't insulted, and you haven't trolled. I offer you a tip-of-the-hat for having a good debate on a difficult subject. I disagree with many of your points, but it is a healthy disagreement.)

    _Jon   ·  May 3, 2007 9:07 AM

    Oh, one point I forgot.
    You made this point:
    "The state has every right to prevent the breeding of a huge excess of dogs."
    -- The "State" has no rights. It has powers delegated to it by the citizens to act on their behalf for the good of society.

    _Jon   ·  May 3, 2007 9:09 AM

    Froblyx, is there no aspect of personal behavior that is off limits to state control?
    Are we all just ants to be ordered about by control freaks?

    Can't you allow just a little disorder and try to persuade people with reason as to your belief, rather than use a club to enforce what YOU think other people should do?

    I still believe, perhaps naively, that my home and personal belongings which include my dog, are mine to control, not yours.

    Frank   ·  May 3, 2007 10:43 AM

    Face it, what is in the pound is mostly the sort of dog that most people don't want. Large, untrained, aggressive, unattractive.

    I disagree with the 'mostly' part of this statement. There are just as many small dogs as large dogs at shelters. The aggressive dogs are usually euthanized immediately because they are known to be unadoptable. And 'attractive' is a matter of taste. I personally don't place much emphasis on whether the color is in exactly the right spots.

    Hobby breeders of show and other sorts of dogs mostly produce attractive, healthy, good dispositioned and tractable animals

    I strongly disagree with the use of 'healthy' here; the concept being offered defies genetic principles. If you breed for one trait, you are necessarily breeding against other traits. Now, there's a lot of plasticity in the genome and you can breed for multiple traits -- but the more traits you select for, the harder the task is and the slower the overall process. Breeding standards have become long and complex, requiring a great many traits to be selected for, which makes the task especially difficult. What is really insidious is the fact that the overt traits are easily selected for, but health is not an overt trait -- many health problems arise late in life, long after the breeder has lost contact with the animals. This effect automatically distorts the breeding process to produce unhealthy animals.

    And indeed, this has been confirmed in the field. Most veterinarians are loth to criticize breeders because they are such big customers, but if you get a few beers into a vet after work, they'll tell you that breeder animals are great sources of income, because they're so loaded down with health problems. Ask a vet pointblank whether you should get a purebred animal instead of a shelter animal, and you'll get a delightfully evasive answer. But if you pin them down on the health issue, they'll eventually come out and say it: purebreds aren't as healthy as dogs with a healthy genetic mix. Yes, careful breeders can do a better job than sloppy breeders -- but they can't fool Mother Nature. Breeding for appearance inevitably sacrifices health.

    Proof they are in high demand? Those "arm and a leg" prices they fetch.

    Yes, this is a solid point. People like purebreds; why should the state deny the people their desires? (At this point, we are completely out of touch with the topic, because the law in question exempts breeders.)

    The defense here is, believe it or not, people's desires. Consider: suppose we have a gentleman who acquires a male and a female dog, breeds them, and then tortures the puppies to death in the most horrific way. Who are we to intrude into the gentleman's pleasures? What he does in the privacy of his home is nobody else's business. But there aren't many people who like to torture puppies, and there are a lot of people who find this behavior odious. The majority passes a law forbidding the minority from engaging in such behavior. Is this law wrong? There's no way of saying so in an absolute sense. There's just democracy, in which the people express those values they are most certain of in the form of laws. (Yes, we are a republic, not a democracy, and the Constitution places restrictions on the majority's treatment of the minority, but I don't think that the Constitution addresses animal abuse.)

    OK, so what's the difference between breeding puppies to be tortured and breeding puppies to be euthanized? Sure, there's a difference of degree, but there's no difference of kind. We could even go further and say that breeding puppies for poor health is qualitatively in the same league as breeding puppies for torture. This could be used as a basis for banning the breeding of dogs and cats. But it is a subjective decision that must be made by the people as a group.

    The "State" has no rights. It has powers delegated to it by the citizens to act on their behalf for the good of society.

    Oops, thanks for correcting my sloppy language. Absolutely right.

    Froblyx, is there no aspect of personal behavior that is off limits to state control?
    Are we all just ants to be ordered about by control freaks?

    Ah, the old battle between freedom and license. Yes, we all want freedom to do as we please. But we also want to live in a pleasant, safe, clean society. So we make laws in pursuit of that goal. There's no absolute answer here. There are just two factors: the Constitutional constraints on abuse of minorities, and the moral preferences of the people. Really, when you get down to it, would you want it any other way?

    I still believe, perhaps naively, that my home and personal belongings which include my dog, are mine to control, not yours.

    On this point, you've already lost, at least in those communities with animal cruelty laws.

    Froblyx   ·  May 3, 2007 11:23 AM

    Froblyx,
    I am sorry but you are so wrong on this that while I almost never comment any where, I am going for a persomal record here by posting twice in the same day!

    First off,purebred,pedigreed,"show" dogs are not exempt.

    By AKC regs you can not show a dog before it is 6 months old(your supposed to get them fixed by 16 weeks,remember?),and the rest of the rules to qualify a purebred "show" dog are also pretty impossible to meet.

    Up to and including a "breeder's license", which most breeders of show dogs will not qualify for as they will only have 2-3 litters a year. If they own 3-4 female dogs that might each have a max of 1 litter a year, this would be considered a large kennel. Most will only have 1 or 2 dogs,which generally will only have 3 litters in their lifetime as they are not bred until after they reach 2 years of age so as to get all genetic disease testing done,and not much after 5-6 years of age due to age related pregnancy problems,so they are not making any $$ from these litters,so they are considered a HOBBY,and can not qualify for a Breeders license. They do it for the good of their breed,not because they are making any money at it. So purebred show dogs are not exempt from this law or conversation.There are also breeds that not only do conformation shows,they also do field trials,and can not possibly do that as a 4 month old,as most responsible trainers would not take them on until they are well over 6 months of age.

    Second,purebreds are generally very healthy as breeders have their animals tested for genetic problems so that they will not knowningly pass on a health problem. Some folks with leading stud dogs have their animals tested every year they are at stud to make sure that a problem does not show up after the intial testing done at 2 years of age,and once again,the studs are also not used for more than a few years due to this and age-related genetic problems.But it is done to insure that their dogs help to keep the breed healthy.

    So "Breeding for appearance inevitably sacrifices health." is not a true statement because if breeders are not concerned with the health of their breed,the breed will suffer,and purebred show breeders want their breeds to be healthier with each litter.They do not "breed for one trait",they breed for the best traits of the breed.

    Also they do their very best to make sure that their puppies always have good homes, continue to stay healthy,and that only puppies with all of the right traits continue the breed.

    This is done at not inconsiderable expense.

    Showing a dog at one show will generally cost $100 in show fees alone(it usually takes 5-10 shows to get their championship),plus grooming,handling,travel expenses,as well as all the normal day to day costs associated with taking good care of your animals.

    Purebred show breeders do not do this to make money,they do it to improve the breed of dog that they love.

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with a mixed breed,but if you want knowable,consistant traits in your dog then you pick The Breed that has those traits. That is why there are purebred "show" dogs.

    Also if any of you had been in any animal shelters in California you would have seen very few puppies,most of the dogs there are at least a year old or more,and pet stores can not get enough puppies to keep their customers supplied now. This law will only cause even more pupppies to be brought in from out of the state or even the country, this is not a good way to assure healthy animals for pets in California.

    Shelters have no business breeding or importing animals. That is not why they are there,nor should it be. Selling or adopting animals that have to be brought in from elsewhere makes them a business that is incompatible with the purpose of having an animal shelter in the first place. Which should be to take care of homeless animals,not importing them from outside of the local area to make a profit.

    This is a bad law for many,many reasons.Not the least of which is the way it is written,and the number of ways it tramples the rights of California's citizens.

    flicka47   ·  May 4, 2007 2:02 AM

    First off,purebred,pedigreed,"show" dogs are not exempt.
    Sorry, I forgot to include the additional requirement that they be owned by people with business licenses. Thanks for correcting me.

    and the rest of the rules to qualify a purebred "show" dog are also pretty impossible to meet.

    Are you referring to the AKC rules or to the rules of the new law? Are you saying that the law is written in such a way that there are, in effect, no exemptions? I gather from your arguments that you are protesting the law's exclusion of hobbyist breeders. The problem here is that the hobbyist breeders are indistinguishable from the irresponsible breeders. Yes, there are plenty of responsible hobbyist breeders, but how do you write the law so that it exempts responsible hobbyist breeders and stops the idiots? If you have a formula to offer, by all means do so.

    You argue that breeders insure the health of their litters by frequent genetic testing. What you fail to appreciate is that genetic testing can only identify outright genetic disease, not poor health.

    There's some basic genetics here that I need to explain. Every creature has genes that control millions of traits. Sexual reproduction shuffles the deck of genetic cards to produce differing combinations of those traits. Next, selection effects go to work. There's natural selection, sexual selection, and artificial selection (what breeders do). Each form of selection emphasizes some traits over others. Thus, the peacock has a beautiful tail because of sexual selection -- even though that tail shortens the life expectancy of the peacock.

    Now, here's the problem: there are so many traits that you simply cannot anticipate the overall effect of selecting for a single trait. Some of these traits are connected in all manner of weird ways. For example, in humans, there's a gene that confers increased resistance to malaria. If one copy of the gene is present (remember, there are two copies of everything, one from the father and one from the mother), then that person enjoys increased immunity to malaria. But if there are TWO copies of that gene, then that person gets sickle-cell anemia. What does malaria have to do with sickle-cell anemia? Nothing. But it just so happens that selecting for resistance to malaria can end up with an effect in a completely different area.

    That's the problem with artificial selection: when you select for any specific trait, you have no way of knowing what effects this might have elsewhere. You need to run thousands and thousands of trials to figure out all the ramifications of any single selection. Nature does this all the time, and nature takes thousands of generations to successfully modify a species. In the process, nature brutally discards millions of individuals who just don't have the right genetic makeup. If breeders want to do what nature does, only a thousand times faster, then they have to be a thousand times more brutal.

    It takes a magnificent combination of hubris and ignorance to believe that one can pull this off with a handful of animals. There are millions of variables that have to be measured, many of which are not visible to the eye or show up in the simple genetic tests carried out to check for diseases.

    I have a suggestion for you. Go look at this web page on canine genetics:

    http://www.vgl.ucdavis.edu/research/canine/projects/linkage_map/data/

    Under the heading, "Browse the genome by linkage", there are a bunch of ovals. Each represents a single chromosome. Click on any chromosome. Examine the genes that have been mapped on that chromosome. Look at how many there are. Click on a single gene and get its specific information. Now, you tell me which of these genes you would modify to produce what effect, and how you can be certain that you would get exactly the effect you desire and no other effect. I think you'll find the experience a humbling one.

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with a mixed breed,but if you want knowable,consistant traits in your dog then you pick The Breed that has those traits.

    Knowable? Go back to that genetic map and tell me you know what it means.

    if any of you had been in any animal shelters in California you would have seen very few puppies,

    This is a subject where we need some reliable data. Anecdotal information means nothing here. Does anybody have some actual numbers on the supply of puppies in the state?

    Froblyx   ·  May 4, 2007 11:56 AM

    Froblyx is wrong on many counts. First, the number of dogs destroyed in shelters has been exagerated ten or twenty fold. Of those, many are sick, njured, or so vicious as to be unadoptable. Published data for both Riverside County indicates that NO adoptable dogs have been euthanized in the past year. That's zero, nada, nary a one. Kern County indicates that the only limit on the number of dogs adopted is the number they can get spayed or neutered, since state law mandates that all shelter dogs must be spayed or neutered before adoption.
    Next, Froblyx, you do indicate that many of the writers are concentrating on human needs and desires, not the animals. Well, do you really think all these little guys would volunteer to be sterilized if given the choice?
    And by the way, if you have your dog in performance based competitions such as agility or herding, the expenses go way up, You not only have to pay entry fees and travel all over, you also have many thousands of dollars in training, too. The dogs do love it, though. On class days they are ecstatic.

    la femme   ·  May 31, 2007 8:03 PM

    Froblyx is wrong on many counts. First, the number of dogs destroyed in shelters has been exagerated ten or twenty fold. Of those, many are sick, njured, or so vicious as to be unadoptable. Published data for both Riverside County indicates that NO adoptable dogs have been euthanized in the past year. That's zero, nada, nary a one. Kern County indicates that the only limit on the number of dogs adopted is the number they can get spayed or neutered, since state law mandates that all shelter dogs must be spayed or neutered before adoption.
    Next, Froblyx, you do indicate that many of the writers are concentrating on human needs and desires, not the animals. Well, do you really think all these little guys would volunteer to be sterilized if given the choice?
    And by the way, if you have your dog in performance based competitions such as agility or herding, the expenses go way up, You not only have to pay entry fees and travel all over, you also have many thousands of dollars in training, too. The dogs do love it, though. On class days they are ecstatic.

    la femme   ·  May 31, 2007 8:03 PM

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