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What's the Problem? by David Fritsche

This coming year I shall mark an anniversary: 55 years with the German shepherd dog. I cannot imagine life without my ever present dog and the love shared through the years. Yet, increasingly my image in the world is changing. I used to be the country boy with the ever present dog, but these days I think I am supposed to hide the fact that I breed dogs and that I keep multiple dogs at my house. Somehow, what started out to be a fun hobby and the fulfillment of a passion has become evil. I have dogs, I breed dogs and I sell dogs. I am, or so I am told, a major contributor to animal over-population and animal cruelty.

There is a gathering cloud in our land that is sweeping through city councils, county commissions and state legislatures. It is the assumption that someone has to put a stop to the evils of over-population and stop those evil sorts who breed and sell dogs. Certainly there is something demented in these people, we are told, who ignore the dogs already born and in need of homes to contribute to the problem by producing more.

Before I react too much, let me tell you about the ‘animal cruelty’ at our house. Each animal lover is different and has different facilities and needs, so I don’t propose that our situation is the standard that everyone should use. Far be it from me to follow the dictates of those who propose they know best for my hobby and dogs by telling others that I am the standard. But let me tell you none-the-less about our poor mistreated dogs.

All of our puppies go to a home that I have personally inspected to determine the general atmosphere and safety of the setting. More than once I have returned from my inspection trip and sent a kind “thank you for applying but no thank you!” note to the prospective owner. No, I am quite selective in placing our dogs. When we do, there is a written note telling them that, as the breeder, I am responsible for this animal for life. If for any reason, throughout its lifetime, they need to part with it, they must agree to return the dog to me.

Ariel was a fine puppy, not quite what we would show in the ring, but of great temperament and brains. A lady came by who was in the early stages of Multiple Sclerosis and her doctor had recommended that she get a dog for companionship and to walk daily. She loved Ariel and Ariel loved her, so she went off to be a companion/therapy dog. I checked on her periodically and at first everything was fine, then as the disease become worse so did the depression that tormented this lady. One day the owner of the apartment complex where the lady and Ariel lived called to say there was a problem. She found Ariel in her yard without food or water.

I arrived shortly after the call and fed and watered Ariel who appeared to be better off than her owner, then took her on home. I called her family and they agreed that it was time for the lady to come live with them. Ariel had done her job. She had kept the lady as active as she could and helped her fight the depression as long as she could and in one final act of getting the attention her master needed, she had saved her life.

Ariel received a hero’s reception when she came home and she remains with us until this day. She will remain with us as the grey hair covers her chin and time shortens her stride and slows her pace. She deserves to rest now and relax in the sun and sleep on the bed. She has done her duty to human kind.All of our dogs are spoiled.

We are fortunate to have enough acreage that each pack has a fenced yard of an acre of so to run and each has a doggy door into a section of the house. Each is fed the best food, gets a Meaty Bone before bed and goes for a long walk with us each day. None of our friends think there is any abuse here, and many want to believe in reincarnation, hoping to come back as one of our dogs.

Most of the breeders and show exhibitors that we associate with have a similar stance. Their dogs go to forever homes and if something happens, they take responsibility for the dog and either keep it or find it another home with the same arrangement. All of the exhibitors and show enthusiasts that we associate with spoil their dogs. Now! What is wrong with this picture?

What is wrong, we are told, is that we produce more dogs when there are already too many abandon dogs in the shelters that need homes. So, there needs to be legislation to stop the breeders so we eliminate the problem of over-population. Now understand, I have taken several dogs back over the years and none of them have ended up in a shelter. In fact, I do not know of any of my dogs who have been abandoned or ended up in a shelter. Yes, we have lost contact with some of the owners, so I have not been able to track every dog, but to my knowledge none have been abandoned without our taking them back home to live out their life with love and lots of spoiling.

So, where is the problem? I do know that dogs get abandoned. I do know that we have a local shelter. I have been around our city enough to know those pockets of the city that have unconfined dogs running loose and breeding randomly. I’ve seen the people standing in front of the supermarket with the box of puppies who have not had their shots or been wormed, going out to random owners who may or may not know how to care for this unfortunate product of irresponsibility.

So let me get this straight… The well meaning and well financed animal rights people want to create legislation to stop me, which will have little or no effect on those who are the most irresponsible and simple do not care enough to learn how to take care of their pets. I don’t understand. Statistical evidence is already coming in showing the failure of these well meaning heart wrenching legislative ‘solutions.’ They don’t work. They don’t work because they are not targeting the problem, they are targeting the answer. If everyone were responsible for their animals then no legislation would be needed.
I do have a solution, but it is politically incorrect to advance it. I mean, rounding up the strays is admirable and sterilizing them is fine, but shouldn’t we round up the irresponsible owners and sterilize… Oh forget it. I can’t say that on TV.

Now there is a new challenge. The animal rights people have decided that breeders are ruining the dog by creating and breeding specific breeds as opposed to allowing them to randomly breed. Let’s see if I understand! The vast majority of dogs in the shelters are mixed breeds so the pure bred dog is not the real issue, but, we shouldn’t breed them anyway because we create health issues? In other words, we should not breed and should not have pure bred sports and what – we should not have companion animals at all? Seem like that is the point doesn’t it?

I have a friend who heads up the state Department of Wildlife here in Nevada. Their studies show that the Coyote here lives roughly an average of three years. Their life in the wild is limited by food supply, weather, disease and genetic problems passed on randomly. It certainly does not make sense that breeders who track the genetics of their breed and breed to improve health are doing a worse job than nature. That same argument applies to the random health issues of the mixed breed. Sure it is possible to advance a ‘proof text’ case of “my mixed breed lived to be 15 years old.” But in general, nature does not necessarily take care of genetic predictions, studies and breeding decisions. Want more proof? Look at the human race.

I think it is time for us to unite our efforts with the agricultural communities and other interests who are being affected by this rush to legislate and that we push back with fund raising and legislative proposals of our own. On second though let’s just stop trying to solve the problems of human irresponsibility by legislating against the responsible. That makes sense to me.