Published in Dogs In Review

My Dogs In Review magazine arrived today and I am SO excited. I had submitted an "opinion piece" to them, and they published it.
This is the article as I sent it to DR: they did edit it a little (but really, not much at all or I wouldn't be putting this here.

AKC and the Mixed Breed
Catherine “CadiePruss, Acadia Shelties

As a breeder of AKC registered Shetland Sheepdogs who personally participates in multiple AKC sanctioned competitions, I have no problem with the idea that mixed breed dogs could compete in agility, obedience and rally. I own a 14 year old German Shepherd / Rottweiler mix who I love dearly and if this had been an option for him, he would have titles too. I do have a problem with the timing of this decision by the AKC given the current social and political climate.
My concern is that AKC is more than just looking for ways to increase revenue, but rather, they see the “writing on the wall” and recognize that currently proposed and passed legislation will make hobby breeders a thing of the past. We hobby breeders like to claim to be “the backbone” of the AKC, but in reality we just don’t breed enough dogs to sustain the organization. The United Kennel Club has long allowed mixed breed dogs to compete in obedience and agility. I used to think it was great to see “anyone” develop a personal relationship with their dog through training and competing, now I wonder if the new “backbone” of the AKC will be the “shelter adoptee”.
Hobby breeders understand that registrations are down. I don’t think it is because the demand for purebred dogs has decreased. I serve as the Pennsylvania breeder referral person for the American Shetland Sheepdog Association and I receive far more inquiries from people looking for puppies than breeders telling me they have puppies to sell. Many breeders don’t contact me because they get enough inquiries themselves to sell their own puppies. I think that most of us hobby breeders would acknowledge that the there are not enough “well bred” dogs for the demand. If that premise is true, and I think it is, then in theory it would be easy to breed more litters and sell more puppies.
In today’s society, it is not socially acceptable to breed more litters and sell more puppies. Even amongst us dog show enthusiasts and participants we degrade our competition by claiming, “so and so is a puppy mill”. The social pressures not to breed has even permeated our culture of purebred dogs and those who are “breeding with a purpose”. Hobby breeders are also facing increased regulations, inspections, penalties, fines, if they exceed a certain dog number/ litter number threshold- which is different for each inspecting organization, state, county, township, etc. Many people have decided that it is not worth it. Those who continue to breed dogs will most likely face increased paperwork documenting the care (feeding, watering, pen cleaning, sanitizing, breeding schedules), wellbeing (vaccination records, wormings, treatments, proof that certain practices were performed by a licensed veterinarian), and socializing (how long, what age, what surface, what experience) of those dogs- not to mention the inspection of your legality to breed including breeding permits and licenses.
Hobby Breeders are being regulated right out of breeding, while businesses (read: high volume, for-profit breeding facilities) will make the changes required by law and become our Nations’ primary source of purebreds. The AKC has taken a lot of criticism in the past for registering dogs from “puppy mills”. I see the decision to add mixed breed dogs to the ranks as a way of deflecting the inevitable. It is hard to claim “We’re more than champion dogs, we’re the dog’s champion.” if your organization is only supporting the “factory farming” of dogs. Timing is Everything. The timing of this decision by the AKC could not have been worse. I understand that the AKC is working to oppose poorly proposed legislation that would limit breeding, I just don’t want them covering all of their bases for the “worst case scenario” and that is what I feel is happening in 2008. I ask, “AKC- are you also the hobby breeder’s champion?” Please, I urge you, don’t make this decision now, demonstrate to your loyal supporters that you are our Champion too. When we have a healthy handle on our politicians, then issue numbers to mixed breeds.

© AKC and Mixed Breed Dogs, by Catherine “CadiePruss Dogs In Review Annual Issue, January 2009 p. 278

SquirrelGurl  – (January 7, 2009 at 1:02:00 PM PST)  

Excellent post, I just found you blog today and have found it very informative.

Esme Shelties  – (January 7, 2009 at 8:49:00 PM PST)  

Congratulations on the published article, Cadie. Very well written.

Luanne

Morganne  – (January 8, 2009 at 12:36:00 PM PST)  

Great article! You make some excellent points. Hopefully the AKC will listen.

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