Rights and Privileges of Pet Ownership

The odds are pretty good that you are a dog lover; even better that you have either a dog or a cat, or perhaps another animal pet. So, I know that I am talking to most of you this month. Many of you know that I am called “Mr. GSD” in magazines and websites, although I judge all breeds, not only German Shepherd Dogs. I have judged shows in about 30 countries and have lectured in many of them.

There is no place on earth where dogs and dog lovers have complete liberty to enjoy life and each other. At one end of the scale would be the Hawaiians of sixty or more years ago. One of those, our neighbor in 1958, told us that many natives loved dogs so much, that they nearly worshipped them.

At the other end of the tolerance spectrum are the more repressive Islamic countries, in which dogs have been considered “unclean” —untouchable. If you accidentally or through necessity touch one, you must physically and ceremonially wash your hands and pray for forgiveness. But even where Muslims make up 97% of the population (such as in Pakistan), there are some younger or more modern persons who participate in Western-style dog breeding, and do not follow tradition. I have met such people whose parents (living on the same property) do not touch the dogs that their sons rear and exhibit. In other countries, such as in the stricter, repressive Middle East, almost all dogs are feral strays that eat garbage and carrion. In those areas, you would not find dogs in any amiable relationship with humans.

In very few places, such as parts of rural Saudi Arabia or remote Sahara realms of the Tuareg Berbers (these tribes have been in the news of late), certain coursing breeds such as Greyhounds and Salukis are used in hunting, and they are as cherished as the fleet Arabian horses or the camels that they depend on. When they wish to, people find exceptions to the strictest religious rules. This gives credence to the assertion that religion is a human invention, for the most part. By that word “religion”, I refer to practices, not relationship.

Most of us are somewhere toward the middle of that spectrum. Many of us grieve as deeply over the death of a faithful furry friend as we do over a near-relative, close friend, or lover. Others are less affected but at least partly understand or tolerate the human-animal bond. But then, there are the wolves in sheep’s clothing. The empire-builders who are dead-set on taking away the rights and privileges of people who would exercise that bond. The two worst are the Humane Society of the US (HSUS) and the terrorist group called People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). Both follow the tried-and-true subterfuge of choosing high-sounding names that evoke images of friendship, service, ethics, humanity, and other virtues. But some of the most deadly serpents are the most subtle and attractive, and it is known by philosophers and clerics that Satan comes disguised as an angel of light and love, not a tail- and horn- endowed obvious enemy.

For the enlightenment of the deceived, it must be said here that HSUS is not the same as your local Humane Society (although some of the latter have been snookered into affiliation). The local groups generally are your sympathetic, animal-loving neighbors, but the HSUS is strictly a money operation that spends an extremely small percentage of its incoming millions to feather the beds of the scam’s owners. The latter has successfully recruited air-headed movie stars (people whom the masses foolishly adore, thinking fame equals truth and trust) and uses fund-raising organizations to rake in your dough.

On the other side of the battleground are fragmented groups of the poor and moderate-income, the loving families that open their hearts and homes to furry friends. Some of these will graduate (or already have) to hobbyists and competitive sports enthusiasts, and some become active breeders who seek to create that elusive perfect combination of bloodlines. They want to create beauty and gain acclaim for doing so. The big problem is that this competitive spirit is not easy to mate with the cooperative spirit needed to resist the organized power of a well-funded for-profit HSUS. A hundred determined but separate bands of wild Celts, Gaels, or Picts were no match, in the end, for the oligarchic organization of the Roman Empire or even the later Romano-British or Anglo-Saxon cultures. Getting individual dog owners to band together for their mutual interests is as hard as keeping Southern Baptist churches from splitting, or getting Protestants to agree on almost anything.

Once in a great while, hobby breeders have partial, local, or temporary victories but they are few and almost insignificant in the larger picture. Early this year, a Miami-Dade judge ruled in favor of Purebred Breeders, a family-owned Florida business dedicated to wedding loving families to well-raised puppies. HSUS was found to be in violation of the RICO Act when they attempted to influence the public against purchasing pets. (More detail is found in http://www.thedogpress.com/SideEffects/HSUS-Sues-Dog-Breeders_Staff-131.asp and http://www.thedogplace.org/LEGISLATION/HSUS-2013_Losey-131.asp ). The former Deputy Chief of Staff for the House Committee on Agriculture Brent Gattis has said, “The HSUS raises funds for its lawsuits and lobbying activities while leading the public to believe that the donations are supporting local shelters.” (They aren’t! Most local societies have no connection at all with that fraudulent “national” group.) Less than one percent of HSUS incoming monies goes to sheltering activities, making that organization one of the top scams in the country.

TheDogPress.com reports that HSUS is being investigated by IRS for tax fraud. Half a dozen Congressmen have called for an IRS investigation after finding that HSUS uses the misleading and incorrect assumption that there is a connection with your local animal-welfare groups with similar names to raise billions of dollars. The IRS is getting involved because of a missing half-billion on tax returns (See www.memoryofchaucer.com/calltoaction.htm for more). Investigator Frank Losey (see the www reference in the previous paragraph) proves that HSUS deliberately misleads you to believe that aid to animals is their raison d’être and that they are in bed with your local shelter. Not at all true.

Any reader who is tempted (by a combination of a soft heart and an uninformed mind) to contribute to or defend HSUS should think twice. As goes the old warning that I learned in high-school Latin, Caveat emptor! Translation: Buyer, beware! or, Don’t get snookered! Don’t buy into any scheme that you haven’t investigated from more than one aspect (point of view).

Fred Lanting

Fred Lanting is an internationally respected show judge, approved by many registries as an all-breed judge, has judged numerous countries’ Sieger Shows and Landesgruppen events, and has many years experience as one of only two SV breed judges in the US. He presents seminars and consults worldwide on such topics as Gait-&-Structure, HD and Other Orthopedic Disorders, and The GSD. He conducts annual non-profit sightseeing tours of Europe, centered on the Sieger Show (biggest breed show in the world) and BSP.

Books by Fred Lanting