Before It's Too Late!!!
by: Lenna S. Hanna-O'Neill
message from the Web Master:
In the time honored tradition begun by my friend Julie, I will give fair warning before I begin--some of what I am about to suggest will no doubt set off a screaming match. Good! Because, if we don't get some genuine fire in our bellies, we are going to LOSE all that we hold dear.
Here I sit, rolling thru warning after warning, alert after alert, and what is running thru my mind? Dear God, we are in trouble, and no one seems to be able to rouse up out of their lethargy to do more than say "Ho, hum, another alert; wotta shame!" Heaven knows that I, of all people, am fully aware of how easy it is for the day-to-day grind of life to take you out of the battle; that the need to earn a living and keep the kids in shoes forces you to turn a deaf ear to the cries for help. As warning after alert after plea scrolls past the email window, it is all too easy to become anaesthetized, and then numb; all too easy to delete them unread, aside from noting which city THIS time, and is it close to me? All too easy to admit that, despite your very real devotion to this breed, there is only so much you can do, and you can't take off work to appear at every hearing; the best you can do is write yet another letter and forward it to umpty dozen legislators, hoping to hold the line against yet another attempt to curtail our freedom to own and love the dogs we choose.....too depressing; too familiar; too overwhelming is the task. Let's not think about it right now; we can only stand so much bad news, after all. Here, I know; let's fill out some show entries and try to put all this unpleasantness behind us....
No, I didn't just come to this conclusion. Like most of you, I have known we were in deep caca for some time. And, like most of you, I have commiserated with others and kicked around this idea or that, wondering what I could do to make a real difference; feeling impotent in the face of so many adversaries, unsure which was the worst threat, which needed the first and most telling response....
My friends, I submit to you that this kind of thinking will just get all our dogs dead.
Oh, it won't be today, of course; and it won't be tomorrow. But it WILL happen, and it will be in our lifetimes. The forces that hold us at bay are well-funded, and their tentacles are everywhere. And as they rally more and more people to their cause, by lying, and dissembling, and telling half-truths that sound good to the gullible, they fill their war chests with more money from all the little old ladies who want to 'save the animals.'
And now, we have people who stand in their ranks who have no clue that the cause they support is not interested in helping animals except in one way--removing ALL animals from human 'contamination.' Do they know the score? most of them, no, not really, because our Enemy tells them what they want to hear, soothing platitudes about 'helping' the dear lil' doggies.
And in time, they trot out enough horrific pictures of dogs (or other animals) being horribly treated by people, in shelters, in 'pupppy mills,' in research facilities, that they can make even normally rational people begin to believe that we are a horrid blight on the planet, and that we need to remove ALL dogs (animals) from the care of ALL humans everywhere, because we are just not trustworthy enough, we are just too unreliable and greedy and careless to be entrusted with the care of any other living creature.
They can manage to make these fools overlook all the millions of animals who are NOT suffering, and whose lifespans and quality of life is many times enhanced by their association with humans, by focusing on only the evil that men do, and not the great good.
This is a long-standing brainwashing technique, and it works. Hitler called it The Big Lie, and it is so very successful that we see Germany right now, falling prey to its seductive spell once again...the very country one would expect to be most on its guard against such tactics, is instead once again engaging in mass hysteria borne of inflammatory and one-sided media attacks.
It is saddening to realize just how dependent we all are on the media, and how quickly we fall under their spell, even when we know better, even when we are forewarned.....do you really think it could not happen here? If so, then go back and look at all the BSL that is popping up faster than weeds all over the country; look at the ridiculous charges being leveled at nearly every aspect of dog ownership; and now the whackos have taken on the Iditarod, for pity's sake! Claiming it is 'dangerous' and some of the poor doggies get hurt every year in its performance...how long before this logic is levied against agility, or weight pulls, or herding? For, of course, some dogs (and handlers) are injured in this fashion every year...how long before we are prevented from using our dogs to assist us at all, becase it is 'inhumane' to 'force' them to pull a wheelchair, or 'demeaning to their dignity' to ask them to help the deaf or the blind?
How many of your doggie friends, people in the show scene, who should damn well KNOW better; how many of THEM really believe that Staffs (and Pits) aren't 'different' in some way?
Are you paying attention, as you move toward the ring, to how many handlers immediately start snatching up their dogs when one of 'them' goes cruising by? And this from our so-called "allies..."
It is no wonder we are in a leaky boat with no caulk and no bucket. Our own sport is reluctant to get involved in throwing us a life preserver...and so, now that the Enemy has become powerful enough to start chipping away at THIER precious rights, they come whining to US to teach them what we have learned about the Enemy at such great cost and with no help from them....and even if we help them (and we must) it is all too likely to be too little too late.
The bad news is, it is very very bad. Most people do not understand what 'animal rights' means. They have some idea that it is this warm-fuzzy, touchy-feely Save the Whales kind of thing; a movement to better the lives of animals everywhere, and who could not approve of that? It has been packaged so slickly that it has now become a Social Movement; one that it is Politically Incorrect to refuse to adopt. Many of these folks have been schooled to believe that all breeders are Neanderthals who prostitute their pets for profit, at best simply misguided and stupid, and adding to the overwhelming pet overpopulation, at worst the proprieters of puppy mills, scum of the earth. Never considering us to be stewards of valuable bloodlines; only profit hungry racketeers who claim to 'love' our pets, but subject them to misery and squalor as we enslave them for our own nefarious purposes.
And how prevalent is this mentality? Well, just think back to how many conversations we have had on THIS LIST alluding to the concept that we 'ought to have a law' to prevent folks from having 'too many litters?' That we need to divorce ourselves from 'those people' who are ruining the breed, etc etc yada yada? And we claim to be the Enlightened Ones.....how many of us are True Believers in the One True Faith who would rather go down the tubes and all the dogs with us rather than reach out a hamd to 'Those People?' Whichever Flavor of the Month your One True Faith is; the Puppy Mill Patrol; the Rescue Squadron; the Auction Brigade; all the many varieties of philosophy which can only agree on one thing: all those who do not adopt their personal belief systems about breeding animals are Philistines and Heretics and Spawn of Satan; whose actions are so base that they cannot fathom sharing a trench with them. They would rather refuse their help on the grounds that accepting these Infidels for participation in the conflict would make them guilty by association.....
How many of you understand that this is exactly the sort of mentality that plays into the hands of the Enemy? Do you REALLY understand the concept of Divide and Conquer? Worse yet, how many of you can be clear enough on the real issues to understand that a great deal of your philosophy actually plays right into the game plan of the Enemy? That in fact, these enmities and conflicts are often based on THEIR propoganda, which you have unwittingly swallowed wholesale?
'Cause, you see, while we have been entertaining ourselves showing our dogs, and squandering our energies and our money adopting this Heroic Cause or that, the Enemy has been systematically chipping away at our support base, turning us all against the very ones in the best position to help us, and turning them against US as well. It started with the shelters; and I began to believe there was a BIG problem way back when, as Shelter Mentality made enemies of the very folks who should be our partners in educating the public about responsible breeding practices....no, according to SHELTER philosophy, 'responsible breeding practices' is an oxymoron; if you are breeding AT ALL, you are The Problem. This bit of propoganda is particularly successful; so much so that even our own people are made apologists when they produce a litter, and seek to expiate their guilt for having become 'part of the problem' by rationalizing that THEIR pups are OK, because they are Important to the Future of the Breed, but Breeder X should never be permitted to have so many litters, since their dogs are all trash anyway and they are just grist for the rescue mill.....and so it goes, and we snipe away even at our own folks, much less those who have other breeds, while the PETA contingent looks on and laughs in delight.
Oh, there are so very MANY ways we can be diverted from the real war; we have to manage rescue, and fight BSL, and harass the 'puppy mills,' and address 'animal welfare' cloaked as a Good Idea for the Welfare of the Populace; and a thousand and one little fires that sap our collective strength and divert our paltry funds...and Animal Rights just keeps on throwing us curves. And because these truly are worthy causes, we are forced to at least containment actions, but even that sucks away time and resources from the real issues. So here we are, ten years late and may thousands of dollars short, forever in the act of responding and reacting to this crisis and that.....
And the Wicked Witch roars: ENOUGH!!!!!!!!!'
'K; listen up. Time to rally the troops. And in order to do that, we are going to have to give up a lot of Highsounding Principles, because believe it or not, the Enemy is at the gate, and we are caught with our pants down, and we CANNOT AFFORD to be too choosy about our allies at a time like this. We are going to have to make some hard choices, if we intend to be able to continue to own and love these dogs. And we are going to have to mend some fences, and swallow a lot of bluster, and stop shutting out people who could help because we do not see eye to eye on matters of personal philosophy. It is enough to concentrate on those aspects we hold in common; leave those other wars for another day. We cannot spare the manpower or the funds to fight this many wars on this many fronts any longer. Time to get lean and mean, and set our priorities where they belong: on those who would force us to give up our dogs because THEY believe it is somehow 'wrong' or 'immoral' to talk of 'owning' animals. This is the real arena folks; the rest can stand aside for now.
There is no more TIME for piffle. There is no more ENERGY that can be wasted in beating our breasts and proclaiming ourselves Loftier Than the Common Herd. We must ALL realize that we are in a fight for our very lives, if you want to consider the right to own and love animals of your choosing as an important part of that life. We are going to have to swallow our collective egos and reach out to the folks who can make a difference in this fight; to those who can be made to see that our interests are conjoined; to those whose pockets are deep enough to actually do something PROACTIVE for a change instead of forever running along behind PETA trying to repair their vandalism of our way of life. And this means...
(...everybody take a DEEP breath and count to ten...)
...we need to be reaching out to the Agricultural Community. Folks who can be counted on to go the distance and spend whatever it takes to stamp this crap out for good; because their livelihoods depend on it. That means: folks who breed animals for profit, not fun or sport. You know; like cows, and pigs, and chickens, and rabbits...and dogs....yes I said that, and I meant it.
Before you explode collectively, think about what I said. There has been much discussion on this list about 'ethics' and what it means to different folks; about how much recompense is 'proper' for the hard work we do of selectively improving bloodlines year after year; but the cold hard facts are, as a group, dog show folks are mostly too damned poor to be able to mount any kind of real opposition to the PETA propoganda machine. We dump too much of our spendable income into maintaining our dogs in the very best vetting, in testing for every possible malady, in show entries and motel fees and etc etc etc. Our time is too constrained because we have jobs; we are NOT doing this for a living; it is a hobby and one that, let's be honest, we can walk away from if it gets between us and milk for Baby.
But: What about those who buy milk for Baby by engaging in those very nefarious practices of breeding animals? Farmers are beginning to see their livlihoods threatened by this new 'guardianship' thing. If legislators can extrapolate that ANY animal has a 'right' to not be 'enslaved' by an owner, but must instead be maintained by a 'guardian' (and indeed, a 'guardian' who can be held accountable for the suffering of little Boopsie should he fail in his mission to keep Boopsie perfectly comfortable and happy at all times in all circumstances...) then how long before Bossy can sue the farmer for breeding her against her will, or Henny Penny for the destruction of her family when he collects the eggs and sells them? Folks, the Ag community provides the food for this nation, and indeed for much of the world...they are a powerful lobby, and have very deep pockets indeed. But in order to come on board with them, we are going to have to come to grips with the idea that farmers see nothing wrong with breeding animals for profit; it is what they do. And they are not going to take us very seriously if we say we only want to be associated with SOME farmers, but THOSE farmers over there, who run a commercial dog breeding establishment, are pariahs we cannot be associated with. Sorry, but they will fail to see the difference (as well they should) and they will lump you into the 'collective nutcases and cranks' category with the PETA whackos.
All of us who own, or breed, animals, need to get our priorities straight, identify the real Enemy, and go for the jugular. We need to focus on proactive advertising that belittles the stance of PETA and other animal rights fanatics and exposes them for what they are. We need to make thier agenda clear to those who have been bamboozled into believing that PETA means anything good for dog owners. We need to be spending money, not on promoting our Special of the Week, but on protecting his grandkids. Because if we do not act NOW, and decisively, he and his kind will vanish forever.
That is the STATED OBJECTIVE of the Enemy. How much clearer do we have to be?
I have a number of ideas that we could explore. How about getting the long arm of AKC involved in this? For instance, adding a single $1 to entry fees for the express purpose of going to a fund for anti-animal rights advertisements? Or adding $1-5 to annual National or Regional Club dues, for the same purpose? How about getting together with the people that manufacture pet foods, and see if we can convince them that it is in their best interests to help protect their client base? Maybe ask them for $.05 per bag of feed, etc to go into such a fund? They make BILLIONS per year at this; they can afford to get on it, but if no one rattles their cage about it it is unlikely that they will see the real danger until too late (like most of us.) Their focus has not been on this issue. It is time that we made them see it. This is a creative bunch of people; I am sure you could also come up with ways to raise the necessary cash. Make no mistake; this is going to be costly, and sending heated e-letters back and forth preaching to the choir is not going to do it. We need to be on billboards, and radio, and TV nationwide, making sure people understand that their rights are being threatened by these folks. We need to fund lobbyists to sit up in Washington to bend the ears of legislators where we can make a real difference. We need to make 'PETA' and "animal rights" synonymous with 'whackos' in the minds of the general public. All of these things take money, and most will be bitterly contested by PETA and its ilk, who are already firmly entrenched in those venues.
But bottom line, our best bet is the animal production industry. They have the most to lose, and the most compelling reason to want to join forces with us. They already have lobbyists; they already have more money to spend in a year than we could raise in a decade. All we have to do is make them see that we are working toward a mutual goal; and that our Enemy is also theirs. Farmers are imminently practical folks; if you show them the wolf at the fence, they will not need any prodding to go get the shotgun. Politics, as they say, makes strange bedfellows. It is time we stopped thinking like parochial elitists, and started getting in bed with those who can help us get through this.
If we don't, we can kiss this sport, and our breed, goodbye. Forever.
As always, the foregoing is my personal opinion; but in this case, I will stand all comers.
The Wicked Witch, starting a pot of coffee in the Bunker.
***You have no power here....Begone! Before somebody drops a house on YOU, too!***