Canine Legislation Basics

In discussing canine legislation basics, it can be hard to separate out the good guys from the bad.

Each group seems to have the same goal in mind -- improving the lives of our dogs. No one can argue with that. But the various groups look for solutions in very different ways. How can you tell which one really makes sense?

It can be very hard to pick out the facts from the noise. And the noise, from horrendous exposes of puppy mills to throwing blood at people in fur coats, can be very alarming indeed.

You can sometimes think of all of this as an exclusively big dog issue -- after all, the great majority of dogs in shelters are over 25 pounds. But legislation that denies your breeder the right to breed, however well-meaning in it's intent, will definitely have an impact on you the next time you try to add another small dog into your family.

You need to know the canine legislation basics behind the hype.

The American Kennel Club puts out a fact sheet intended for US Congressmen that sets out in a simple clear eyed fashion the current canine legislation situation. I highly recommend it.

Here is the link: AKC Government Relations -- Leglative Alerts

As we look at heart rending pictures of animals in dire need, it's important step back and realize analytically that all animal welfare organizations are not created equal. Here are some points, when thinking about canine legislation basics, to look for:

* If the group represents or implies that it is a rescue organization, does it actually have animal shelters that they administer? Groups such as the HSUS -- Humane Society of the United States -- are purely lobbying organizations and do not actually work with any homeless pets at all.

There is nothing wrong with lobbying organizations, but they should be clearly visible as lobbying organizations. 

* If they do administer shelters, what is their rate of euthanasia? People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, does administer shelters but their rate of euthanasia is extraordinarily high.

* Does the organization refer to pets as "furbabies" or use any other odd euphemism for dogs? It may be a clue that they are interested in legislation that would put animal rights on a par with human rights. We love our dogs but they are not people with extra hair.

* Does the group support specific breed legislation? These are bans against specific breeds, usually of the bully (pit bull, bull terrier) type. There is a lot of information coming in from countries such as Germany who have implemented such bans, showing that these are not a workable alternative.

* Does the group support Mandatory Spay/Neuter legislation? These laws make it essentially impossible for responsible breeders to produce the carefully thought out and well socialized puppies that will form the backbone of that breed's future generations.

* Does the group vigorously pursue responsible dog ownership and education? The Calgary model (click here for a thoughtful summary of the Calgary approach) reduced euthanasia rates remarkably with an active responsible dog ownership program.

The following are some organizations that may be worthy. But please be an informed consumer and do your own homework.

Above all, don't allow heart pulling pictures to sway you into donating to groups that may not be worthy of your support. 

American Humane Association
American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
American Kennel Club, Legislative Division
National Animal Interest Alliance

I am very interested in what you have to say about this. Please let me know!

Best, Sandy

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