“Try to be the god on earth, the all-powerful and all-mighty your dog thinks you are. Never let him learn his mistake.”

Will Judy, Founder of the National Dog Week Movement

On Valentine’s Day last week, two very different scenarios in the Dog World played out on a local and national level.

While a special Hearing regarding “Puppies Galore,” took place in Brick Township, NJ, some of the nation’s’ Top Dogs, representing the finest of their breeds and groups, pranced at Madison Square Garden in New York City, just over an hour’s drive from Brick, vying for the title of Best-In-Show.

At the former, the Township Council responded to multi counts of animal abuse leveled at the owners of the recently closed, “Puppies Galore,” Nat Sladkin and Maria DeSantis. (please see previous post for details). Much to the satisfaction of those who had brought about the closing and those attending the hearing, the shop’s business license was permanently revoked and it was announced that the Council would now seriously consider the banning of all retail pet shops in Brick Township, like an establishment called, “Puppies,” located just miles from the Sladkin/DeSantis operation.

According to many, you didn’t have to be a health inspector or an officer of the law to know something was amiss at, “Puppies Galore.” Some said it literally didn’t smell right, and when a puppy was seen roaming freely in the store after business hours, a well-orchestrated investigation brought about its ultimate closing. I’ve had people say to me, “At least Puppies (the other shop) is clean and pleasant.” But this is merely a sanitized facade that hides the very dirty and unpleasant behind-the-scenes business of dog retailing at the commercial level.

This small battle won, over at Madison Square Garden, another one was heating up as the AKC (American Kennel Club) was dropping its sponsor, Pedigree, and their Shelter Dog Campaign for this year’s Westminster event, saying it wanted to focus on the more uplifting topic of pure-bred dogs. http://www.examiner.com/animal-welfare-in-cleveland/dogs-without-tiaras

On many levels, the AKC has done a lot of good for dogs for several generations. It educates humans about the purposes for which dogs have been bred, which in turn can create better canine-human bonds, it creates jobs and promotes a dog-centric community of like-minded individuals. I personally know people who are actively involved in breeding and showing dogs as well as covering AKC events, from the big show at The Garden, to helping to promote the role of Service Dogs.  Some of them do a lot of good work on the behalf of homeless dogs, too. But the AKC needs to do more on behalf of ALL dogs to be viewed as a truly dog-positive institution or risk losing the respect of many dog-loving Americans. I fear much damage has been done.

Many purebred pups, pumped out by greedy uncaring Commercial Breeders come with AKC papers.  Why? Because all the AKC requires of these breeders is the stipulation that the parent’s of their pups are Purebreds.  According to Janice Fisher, an organizer of Peaceful Protests outside dog retail shops, each time these transactions take place, the AKC makes a profit.  You don’t need a calculator to see that huge sums of money can be made.

American puppy shops are now filled with registered purebreds, many that will end up in shelters because of health and temperament issues and because it is just so darn easy to plunk down one’s money  to get the dog you want, when you want, without much thought.  Even those who may not like the Pedigree dog food brand, have to admire the corporation’s effort to encourage adoption in their Westminster Ad Campaigns, but until the AKC helps to curb the flood of these sick and neglected pups, it is a vicious cycle. Think about it.

I am not against hardworking and devoted breeders. Although my pets have come to me in many different ways, I am currently the proud Human to a Portuguese water dog who was brought into this world by one such individual. Hooper is ten, but looks like she is three, and has actually been fed Pedigree for a number of years. Although I could have, I never got around to officially registering her with the AKC, it really wasn’t important to me. I hope to be able to adopt another dog when the time is right.

I think we’ve made some great strides in the housing of homeless Companion Animals, but most agree we need shelter reform, if not a revolution to truly make things better for them. In our shaky economy, there are many heartless scammers turning the adoption process into a money-making business, too, in some areas of the nation. (More on that in a later post). Puppy Mill awarenss and is an area where the AKC can help by using its clout to become a positive force.

There was a final twist in the Westminster saga. After winning his title of Best-In-Show, Malachy the Pekingese was told that he could not have the longstanding traditional winner’s dinner at Sardi’s Restaurant due to a ruling of the NCY Health Department. It looked like Malachy would have to settle for dare we say a bowl of Pedigree, until the ruling was reversed by Mayor Bloomberg.  Malachy had his day and gourmet meal after all.

But I would love to think, that if this Top Dog could talk, he might just ask his humans, and the Sardi’s staff, to wrap up a few million meals to go to share with his friends that, well, just aren’t such lucky dogs.

I know this is a complex issue, so your comments and questions are welcome.  For more reading: http://terriermandotcom.blogspot.com/2008/02/akc-loves-puppy-mills-and-naive.html