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Three “R”s

Rights, rongs, and rescue. Them’s the three "R"s. Well, they are if you can’t spell :)

But I don’t mean "right" as in the opposite of "wrong"; I mean as "human rights" or "constitutional rights". "Wrongs" is just what you think they are. And I’m going to talk about how they affect rescue.

You know from some of my earlier posts that I’ve been thinking about the on-going battle between the animal rights people and the rest of humanity. Some of my readers might think that there are better ways of breaking down the categories, but I hope you’ll allow me to do this my way without getting terminally upset with me.

So, I’m going to talk about "rights" first, but not for nearly as long as I’ve done on other occassions . Few people (except, of course, you guys) are acutely aware of the animal rights agenda. Wayne Purcell, president of the (badly misnamed!) Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is on record as having said "One generation and out. We have no problems with the extinction of domestic animals. They are creations of human selective breeding." Let there be no mistake about this. HSUS and its BFF PETA are deadly serious — they want to eliminate all human use of animals. ALL. That means no steaks, no leather shoes, no milk, no eggs, no dog shows, no cats to keep the mice down, and no pets . They have no demonstrable interest in animal welfare, although the HSUS at least maintains the pretense of caring about it on the front page of their web site. Instead, they typically kill (rarely without even the slightest effort to do so humanely) all animals that come into their posession.

Their favorite tactic these days is to push legislation at every imaginable level: Congress, state legislatures, county boards, city councils, et seq ad nauseum . The American Shetland Sheepdog Association (ASSA) has a legislative liaison that is kept extremely busy just notifying us of upcoming bills and ordinances that will progress the animal rights agenda. Right now, their focus seems to be on legislation to limit the various rights of dog/cat owners.

For example, there’s the infamous lists of dangerous breeds, and the more infamous numeric limits. But there are also the prohibitions against debarking, declawing, tail docking, and (believe it or not) ceasarian section births! And they’re promoting the fallacy that all of the ills of society that happen to somehow involve animals (dog bites, smelly backyards, noisy barkers, animal cruelty, organized dog fights as a sport, etc.) will be solved by these various prohibitions.

Not surprisingly, this has a lot of people becoming very paranoid, with good reason. If evidence can be found to demonstrate that company X ever donated a penny to some program supported by HSUS, these people call for boycotts, for massive letter-writing campaigns, even for pickets outside the businesses. Doesn’t matter in the least what else the company does that might be for the greater good, even when that’s directly related to pet ownership and the like. Reminds me of a rumored saying by the military at some point in human history: Kill ‘em all and let God sort ‘em out.

Which brings me to wrongs.

I’ve given a couple of presentations recently on the threat to our rights by the animal rights people. In those presentations, I’ve observed that some people seem willing to defend at all costs entities (people, corporations, etc.) that provably abuse animals horribly just in the name of "proving" that our ownership rights trump every other consideration. And I’ve pointed out that taking that sort of stand will go a very long way towards convincing John Q Public that we are the radical extremists and that the ARistas are just being reasonable about protecting animals from harm.

That’s Wrong. With a capital "W". That is the quickest way I can imagine to give away the entire store. If JQP becomes convinced that the dog breeders, the cat fanciers, the llama farmers, et al are willing to countenance horrible abuses just because "we own the animals and can do anything we want to them", then JQP is going to write their congressperson, senator, legislator, or council representative to demand that "something be done"…about us ! And we’re royally screwed.

Lately, though, I’ve begun to tease out of some of the discussions something a lot more insidious, and I think it’s WRONG . A small, but extremely vocal, minority of dog fanciers have started expressing opinions against companies such as PetCo (a major chain of pet stores in the USA) because they dare to have on some brochure available at their stores and/or their websites that says "If you want a pet for your family, consider adopting one from a shelter or a rescue group."

These people claim at great length (and volume) that those companies are anti-breeder and are firmly in the HSUS/PETA camp, determined to destroy all human rights associated with animals.

Now, I mentioned above that a lot of people are getting very paranoid, and I said clearly that they have good reason to be. But this seems to me to be over the top. It feels like they’re willing to use any argument, any weapon, any tactic to recruit believers…not entirely unlike the mechanisms used byb HSUS/PETA, et al . Now, I’m a very cynical guy, but I think I’m also inclined by nature to give everybody the benefit of the doubt. I tend to believe that people might express themselves poorly and should be given a chance to clarify what they mean.

But I am having a difficult time in this case. Why? Well, the thoughts and phrases that have started appearing in email from this group of people have started saying things that make me believe that they are far less interested in "our" rights than they in their financial gain! Some of them have stated pretty clearly, with a serious attitude , that the very existence of dog breed rescue organizations should be discouraged, even abolished, because they are prima facie anti-breeder. And they’re working hard to stir up sentiment against terms like "adopt" and even "rescue" on the grounds that they imply that animals have the same rights as humans and are therefore at least playing into the hands of the AR groups, if not actively supporting them.

Mere paranoia? I’d be willing to give them the benefit of the doubt here, except that these people also say, sometimes in the same email messages, their their livelihoods are at risk if people go to shelters or rescue groups to get their pets instead of purchasing them from "me"! And, now, it couldn’t be more clear what their agenda really is. It has nothing to do with my rights or yours. It has only to do with their rights.

And, there. That’s what this whole thing has to do with rescue. "Our side" is, in some cases, actively working against our rights because they perceive that it threatens their income. (Of course, that’s not unusual in an open society. But it’s very sad when we are, in theory, all interested in the well-being of our dogs, cats, llamas, snakes, whatever.)

On this day..

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7 comments to Three “R”s

  • I wanted to adopt from the sheltie rescue here, but they won’t adopt out to anyone without a fenced yard. I get the importance of a fence and wish I could have one, but I can’t. So I purchased my sheltie from a small breeder. She never goes outside without being on a leash tethered to one of us. I wish she could run in a back yard, but we settle for long walks in the park, obedience classes, agility classes and other activities. I think I’m a responsible sheltie owner, but though I love Katie with all my heart, I wish I could have rescued a sheltie instead.

  • Jim, the quote of the day on my start up page popped into my head when I read your post today. Just had to share it.

    “The most perfidious way of harming a cause consists of defending it deliberately with faulty arguments.”
    – Friedrich Nietzsche

  • After I left that comment last night, I got to thinking that it could have been taken the wrong way. Maybe I should clarify why that quote popped into my head last night. LOL

    It seems to me that the majority of responsible breeders that I know personally and people that are involved in rescue have a common goal. They would be like to see responsible pet ownership. However, I have also seen the articles circulating that you spoke about in your post. They frustrate me because I think that in attempting to defend their “rights” they have become bogged down in terms and are alienating people who possibly have the same long term goal in mind.

  • Dawn, there are definitely rescue groups that have a hard and fast rule, never violated, that adopters must have a fully-fenced yard. That eliminates potential adopter who live in apartments, condos, and the like. I understand why those rescues have and enforce that policy — after all, it’s their job to be the advocate for the job, not to cater to people who want to adopt.

    Sheltie Rescue of Utah also has the “fully-fenced yard” rule, but we consider every request to adopt even without a yard. If (and only if) we think that the potential adopter will provide the best home for a specific dog AND we are convinced that the potential adopter understands the issue of rescue dogs and their having been traumatized and thus the possibility of them taking off. We have adopted a number of dogs to homes without fenced yards (but only, I believe, for reasons that prevent them from putting up a fence, such as being in an apartment or in a neighborhood that has covenants prohibiting fences).

    Clearly, you are the type of potential adopter whose request we would take very seriously, even in the absence of a fenced yard.

  • Marie, I’d forgotten about the Nietzche quotation, although I’d heard it before. Thanks for putting it into a comment! And I took it in precisely the spirit you meant it. Thanks!

  • My first time to visit your blog here and I enjoyed reading this post about the 3 R’s. Will be coming back for more later. Nice blog! :)

  • The reason that organizations like HSUS would be happy to see no domestic animals is because of what they see on a daily basis. That is the extreme suffering of domestic animals, due to neglect, dog fighting, puppy mills and many other forms of abuse. I think they know that it will never be the case that we will have no domestic animals, but they may reason that it would be better for those animals who suffer extreme cruelty on a daily basis never to have been born. I am sure they would support compassionate pet owners like you and me, who advocate adoption, as we provide truly great lives for the animals we live with.

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