By Linda D. Witouski
At a recent show, I couldn’t help but notice the availability of space. Not only was the parking prime, but the space around the rings inside the building was incredible. There were dozens of empty chairs ringside - a commodity generally not so available. It was at that moment that I looked around the building and a queasy feeling crept over me. Not only was this building bare, but the people in attendance were mostly my age. That age where you hope you can begin your downward decent into living in peace and quiet after having been involved in this sport since the crib, and looking forward to those “twilight” years or a dirt nap, whichever. I reached for the judging schedule to see how many Juniors were entered. Nine. Only nine. I realize that the economy could very well have a definite impact on our sport, however, there are other factions that have a hand in it.’ It hit me like a brick! When Wayne Pacelle of the Humane Society of the United States said, (1993), “One generation and out. We have no problems with the extinction of domestic animals. They are creations of human selective breeding,” it dawned on me that he wasn’t only referring to the animals - he was talking about US.
ONE GENERATION AND OUT IS CLOSER THAN YOU
The animal rights movement pressed into school systems and devised an educational program for every animal venue. Farming, exhibits, zoos, wildlife, environment, veterinarians, companion animals - no stone was left unturned. It doesn’t matter what we do, it’s surely not in accordance with the animal rights activist groups. Looking around at the very few young people at dog shows,and the lack of newcomers of any age, it’s become quite clear that the meaning of “one generation and out” wasn’t only meant for the dogs. The animal rights activist movement has taken over the media, veterinarian, public & private schools, animal control & training of those animal control officers as well as lobbyists and legislators. They’ve infiltrated every thread of what we hold dear. Working together, they have managed to convince everybody and anybody that they are “THE” experts and anything that we do is wrong and a disservice to animals. Young people that we should have taken under our wings have turned to assisting the movement and most unfortunately, will never know the joy of our sport. They will never learn what animal husbandry truly is nor will they ever understand the pride of having bred, loved, cared for and promoted something that upholds the standards that reputable breeders honor. They’ll never know that special bond that develops nor will they learn to distinguish between the joy of victory and the agony of defeat. Worse, they may never learn that people are supposed to be able to make choices that best suit them - before it’s too late. It’s up to all of us to take back what has been stolen from us and to learn, quickly, to work together as one. If we don’t take the time to reach out and touch someone now, our sport, our animals and our rights are doomed. If we don’t make every effort to bring new people into our fold, who will take over for you when you hang up your leads? Who will preserve and continue to improve your breed and your standards? What difference will all of the health research mean when the results are returned - too late - because you are no longer permitted to have animals or the ones you do have must be spayed & neutered? How will all of that research help when breeding is no longer permitted or the monetary expense to breed far outweighs logic? Are you content to see it all fall by the wayside knowing the only animals the future will see will be in museums or books? The animal rights movement is taking away our future, and we, the majority of the showing populace, are dangerously & extremely close to being - One generation and out.
ENTICING NEWCOMERS OR SHOOING - THEM AWAY?
A great majority of the showing populace has always had an attitude, particularly when a new person would approach them at a show inquiring about their breed or the dogs being shown. This anomaly existed way back when and it still exists today. Looking back, it’s clear that this attitude that some still carry with them, is a great part of the problems today. We actually shooed people away, thinking that our world would never come to an end and there would be plenty more opportunities to advance our ‘lines.’ The showing fancy wasn’t thinking about the future and judging by some still existing attitudes, still aren’t realizing the bleak future of our sport confronting us. We live in America and we can do what we want, can’t we? Dog shows will always exist...won’t they? Worse yet, there are still those individuals that just cannot seem to get along with their own club members and those within their own breeds, insisting on making life difficult for others by continuing to add fuel to whatever fire some disgruntled person started for no apparent reason other than their own agenda. Come would suggest that those reasons include selfishness, jealousy and just plain hatred for anybody that might be doing better in the sport than others or those really dangerous persons that think that “they know it all” without having the experience of those before them whom they should be learning from. All of these factors are nothing more than additions to the animal rights movement. If you are one of these, you might as well join forces with the opposition and stop hiding behind your animals. If you believe that your actions against others will keep you safe, be forewarned that you are not exempt from that knock on the door. Every person within your club or breed that you destroy, demean or otherwise terrorize, adds another nail to the coffin we are all facing. What kind of message are you sending to younger people or any other persons that might have an interest in our sport when they discover that those who have been in the sport ‘forever’ seem to be hell bent on destroying each other and that they are incapable of working together or helping each other? How in the world can you educate or assist a NEW person interested in the sport or your breed when you can’t seem to find the time to stop fighting amongst your peers and become that helpful educator?
IT DOESN'T AFFECT ME - WHAT CAN I DO ABOUT IT
I actually have grown fond of this ridic ridiculous comment because it gives me the opportunity to explain what it actually means and why those who use this lame excuse are definitely closer to being one generation and out than those who understand the circumstances. Let me set the record straight using a few of the popular “reasons” I have been given over the years. Everything that goes on in the animal world, especially legislatively, affects everybody. Cropping and docking. You don’t crop or dock, either by choice (while still available) or because you don’t have a breed that requires or prefers it. That doesn’t mean that you should sit back ignoring that ban, law or ordinance and not assist those breeds that DO, for rest assured, along with that cropping/docking issue, another issue will follow that WILL affect you and your breed. By not assisting, you are allowing for your own loss of freedom of choice. Mandatory spay/neuter laws. You don’t live there so it doesn’t affect you, but if you don’t assist that area, it surely WILL affect you in short order for it will continue to spread like a California wildfire if everybody continues to believe that ‘it doesn’t affect me’. Maybe not today, but what will tomorrow bring to your neighborhood, state, city, town or county? BSL, breed specific legislation. You don’t have “one of those breeds”. Are you sure? It wouldn’t take more than an animal hating neighbor, mail person, meter reader, delivery person or some unruly kid from up the street to report your five pound, barking, snarling, fence running ‘potentially dangerous dog’ even if the dog wasn’t lucky enough to get a bite in! The next thing you know, officials are at your house and you are subjected to defending yourself and trying to get your dog out of protective custody all at great expense. It IS important for everybody to work together for make no mistake, it will come to you just like it came to the other guy. You remember him - the one that kept saying that it didn’t affect him? So, those of you that use the old ‘it doesn’t affect me’ excuse, think about it before you say it or come up with something better.
Of all the emails I receive, the most common is “What can I do about it? It’s just the way it is.” This is not true and you are only deceiving yourself if you believe that. You, we, are the only ones that CAN do something about it. We are the ones that are losing our integrity, pride and reputations and the irony is that it’s being taken from us by those who don’t have near the ‘expertise’ that we have. What they do have is talent in “marketing, promoting and fund raising”. It’s up to all of us to become astute in these same areas, reverse the current trend and take back what is ours. Need a few common suggestions? Here, let me help you out ...Advertise for new club members, start a kennel club/breed club blog, hold fun events for the public, stop by that place that you are ‘sure’ is a puppy mill, visit that commercial kennel - get to know them before you make any comments, offer tips and suggestions, help them, listen to them, befriend them, educate them and be educated in return - go over to Farmer Bob’s, step over those cow paddies and talk to him, ask him if he knows his right to farm or raise livestock is endangered, go to schools and ask to speak to the children, make arrangements to take dogs with you, get media attention by working with children - sponsoring adoption days (purebred or otherwise) or turning your club classes into a class to teach responsible animal ownership and safety around dogs and invite parents as well as senior citizens, get them to help with fundraising, stop by your town hall and ask for the meeting agenda, check for any agenda subject animal related and attend the meeting, talk to churches, hunters, any sportsmen, call a special kennel club or breed club meeting of those members that are still active (before they hang up their leads or take that dirt nap)and discuss ideas, research your towns and participate in events offered, check with girl scouts, boy scouts, invite them to your shows or public events, attend council meetings, introduce yourself, (invite them to your events & shows,too), and get involved with rescue work in your breed. Pure breed rescue is one of the biggest problems that we have - every time one shows up in some shelter, every breeder is accused of putting it there - the fingers don’t only point to the irresponsible breeders. We are all affected and the time has now come to be effective rather than affected.
USE THAT TOOL THAT'S ON YOUR SHOULDERS
The AKC has many informative brochures flyers and pamphlets that can be placed in assorted locations and they have educational programs that can be used in school systems. They can provide you with CD’s, DVD’s, classroom workbooks for teachers and a large assortment of other publications that can be used for just about any venue, including legislators. Take advantage of them. Utilize the tools that are available to you, especially that one that sits on your shoulders... and get creative. We are losing everything that we’ve worked so hard to achieve. We’re losing our ‘expert’ title, our rights, our freedom of choice, our animals - and it just keeps coming with no end in sight, except our demise. There are many other organizations, pet law lists, and breed legislation lists that are jam packed with good information that you can use. All you need to do is ... DO IT - before it’s too late to do, and my friends, that time is quick approaching. The plane is circling the airport for a landing and we need more people standing on the runway....!
The dog fancy is generally not very laid back and those that I know will fight to the bitter end about any subject We’ve always had the spit ‘n’ fire to strike back. Where is that aggressiveness now? For those that have told me that they fear some sort of retaliation, know that the more visible you are, the less likely you are to be targeted. With that said, how many of you will step up and start working toward reversing the travesty befalling us? How many of you will make an effort to stop using derogatory terms or take the time to educate? How many will prove that they are part of the dedicated fancy and work together to make a difference? And, last, but not least, I don’t want to forget about those in the sport that I mentioned earlier who are still intent on being vicious towards their comrades. Those who can’t seem to get past making their own breed and club members miserable and those who can’t stop complaining about or accusing their peers of some heinous crime, hi volume breeders or commercial facilities. You have a “special gift” and it’s time for you to put it to better use against those who would see you dog-less, or just let us all know when you fall off the fence into the AR pit so we can start working on a “potentially dangerous animal owner” law.
Reprinted with author’s permission: originally published in Toy Notch Toys, December 2008. Visit the Monthly National Legislation Report link: http://mnlreport.typepad.com
Linda Witouski's Credentials: AKC Judge & Delegate; AKC SC Legislation Representative; Legislation Chair, Sec., BOD & Delegate - Myrtle Beach Kennel Club, Inc.; Legislation Chair - Miniature Pinscher Club of America, Inc.; Legislation Chair - Yankee Miniature Pinscher Club, Inc.; SC Camo Coalition Steering Committee; SC Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucuses Legislation Editor & Investigative Reporter - National Pet Press/The Dog Press; Co-Author - Monthly National Legislation Report; Owner: DogLegislation@yahoogroups.com; Owner: MinPinInReview@yahoogroups.com; Owner: SC Animal, Sportsmen & Wildlife Voting Coalition.