I mentioned breed-ism yesterday. The book that really made me think about it was The Lost Dogs. This was a gut-wrenching read. I cried through most of it, and images from that book still haunt me. In a movie you can avert your gaze, but with the book I had to keep reading.
The Lost Dogs follows the case of Michael Vick’s dog-fighting ring, Bad Newz Kennels, and the passionate fight to bring him to justice. The many beautiful dogs in the book are described with such clarity and warmth that you feel you know them. The journalists have thoroughly researched this book and I think they provided a balanced account. I love that it’s not too ‘schmaltzy’; the horrors described within are emotive enough that there is no need for purple prose. The impact is immediate.
This is the book that made me research ‘pit bulls’, puppy mills and ‘backyard breeders’. ‘Pit bull’ actually refers to a collection of dogs, including American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, and mixes of the two. I was surprised to learn that ‘pit bulls’ actually rated higher in temperament testing than golden retrievers (American Temperament Test Society 2010). The ‘vicious’ pitbulls we read about in the media are often the result of mistreatment rather than their innate temperament. Every time one of these stories comes up, it is sensationalised in the media; many people react to this type of fear-mongering by wanting stricter laws. But the evidence is that breed-specific legislation does not work. There are umpteen factors that can contribute to an aggressive dog – for instance, lack of early socialisation and training. It seems more prudent to start with educating people on good socialisation of their dogs and providing excellent dog training facilities.
Puppy mills and backyard breeders deserve an article of their own, but are just another example of rampant consumerism in modern-day society. Greed is what fuels these ‘organisations’; but I believe that most people are inherently kind and an educated public will wake up to the horrors of these practices.
There is a lot of information on the internet, but some websites I have personally found useful in learning about the above have been:
http://www.nopuppymillscanada.ca (covers backyard breeders, puppy mills and breed-specific legislation)
Have a read and make up your own mind about these issues.
Have you read this book? What did you think? Is there something else that has inspired you to learn about the plight of animals?