25 April 2010

On Christie Keith and HSUS

If you haven’t seen it yet, the PetConnection.com blog has a bizarro post this week that asks the question Which do you hate more: HSUS, or puppy mills? http://www.petconnection.com/blog/2010/04/26/which-do-you-hate-more-hsus-or-puppy-mills/.  The post is by Christie Keith, a very good writer and someone whom I often enjoy reading when she’s not writing about HSUS.  Unfortunately, this post and this subject seem to fall squarely in one of her blind spots:  commercial dog breeding and the Humane Society of the United States.

(I should mention that Keith has already revised the post once because of criticism so it’s possible that it may exist in some new form by the time you read it.  Be warned that if you try to post on the PetConnection.com site they will kick you off if they don’t agree with your messages.  They will also mock you and belittle you.  They’re not nice folks.)

In the post Keith bemoans the fact that there are those of us who defend commercial dog breeders and wonders why we can’t get on board with HSUS to stamp out “puppy mills” — the derogatory term for anyone who breeds dogs in a way that’s different than they approve of.

It’s some kind of misguided fear of the slippery slope, that if anyone ever suggests we should advocate against people cranking out puppies like they were washing machine parts then all of us who keep, breed, or simply value dog breeds will instantly and utterly lose our rights to continue doing so.

She goes on to tell us about poor Stephanie Shain, who heads the HSUS campaign to stop “puppy mills” and how practically no dog fanciers will speak to her.  That really breaks my heart, let me tell you.  According to Keith, Shain has repeatedly stated that she supports good dog breeding and good breeders and that good dog breeders are “the first line of defense against puppy mills.”

Keith proceeds to recount what is supposed to be a heart-rending story about meeting a dog that had been used for commercial breeding and how, when she looked into the dog’s eyes, “there was nothing there.  She was dead inside.  And that’s why it doesn’t matter to me how sanitary or well-lit or well-ventilated a high volume puppy farm is, or how many vets or vet techs work there, it will never be acceptable to me. It can never be okay.”

At this point she really gets into her big pitch:

Now, maybe your antipathy to HSUS goes so deep that even reading that doesn’t change your view. Fine.

So if you still think HSUS sucks so badly you can’t even get behind them raising and spending money to support things you believe in, then get off your asses and form your own group to stop the mass production of family pets in barns and warehouses.

Stop hiding in the shadows and letting your enemies define what dog breeders and fanciers are.

Stop hoping no one will notice your little breeding program and wall of trophies and ribbons and just letting the big puppy brokers and retailers do the lobbying for you.

You get the point.

What I take away from this little diatribe is the fact that Christie Keith is doing all she can to try to further divide dog breeders — hobby breeders, show breeders, commercial breeders (big and small), and anyone else who’s ever bred a litter of puppies.

Dog people have come so far in the last few years.  We work side by side together in nearly every state now to combat HSUS bills that would make owning and breeding dogs more difficult and more expensive for all of us.  The fact that people in the dog fancy won’t speak to someone like Stephanie Shain is a great sign that all dog breeders are getting the message that HSUS is not a friend to people with animals.  Christie Keith wouldn’t need to write a post like this one if HSUS had more friends among dog breeders.

And, contrary to what Keith believes (in one version of the post), this isn’t just about hating HSUS.  If you’re able to read the bills that HSUS writes and hands off to legislators to sponsor for yourself (just pick a state — any state!), you can easily see how these bills will affect you and your own animals.  Most people don’t start out hating HSUS.  They are usually quite surprised when they actually find out what’s in one of these bills and how they will be affected.  Maybe they discover that if they own five bitches they will be considered a commercial breeder in their state.  Maybe they find out that HSUS is pushing for warrantless searches and inspections at any time.  That’s when they start doing a little checking and discover that, lo and behold, HSUS pushes the same kind of legislation that would be harmful to pet owners and breeders all over the country.

That’s why dog people won’t talk to Stephanie Shain.  That’s one reason why people are opposed to HSUS.  And that’s one reason why dog breeders of all kinds are uniting against HSUS and the legislation that they sponsor.

It’s too bad that Christie Keith doesn’t understand why dog people are opposed to HSUS.  It’s too bad that she has let her hatred of respectable, legal commercial dog breeding blind her to the fact that HSUS is the real enemy of all dog owners and breeders.

Carlotta