More than a
hundred years ago--in 1868--George Angell, founder of the
Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
started the movement for humane education. His basic ideas taught us
that education fostered a sense of responsibility on the part of
people to act with compassion. Angell believed that people educated
to be kind to animals are more likely to be compassionate to their
fellow human beings. His vision was of humane education as a
lifestyle that detested all cruelty, exploitation, and needless
suffering on the part of animals and humans. So you see the
foundation of our present animal welfare movement was inexorably
linked to compassion and kindness for both animals and humans. To
work well, these two precepts cannot be separated. People with real
compassion cannot reserve those feelings for animals and feel
nothing for abused and abandoned children.
an extension of animal welfare and humane education with a long-term
goal of controlling pet overpopulation and ending animal abuse. In a
democracy we cannot command responsible breeding and responsible
ownership, they are an ethical code of behavior. Yes, they can be
taught, but the most successful educational programs in our country
began with strong role models. Rescue volunteers have a unique
opportunity to advance the well being of their chosen breed. By
acting responsibly, we teach responsibility. When our actions are
consistently ethical in all of our dog-related activities we become
a role model not just for other rescuers but for breeders as well.
Rescue cannot succeed if it separates from the breed it serves.
Excuse my use of cliches but you can't build a strong foundation on
lies, innuendoes and slander.
learned that in many countries in Scandinavia and Europe, there is
no pet overpopulation problem and most owners prefer not to
sterilize their dogs. Can you imagine if we didn't sterilize our
dogs in the United States? There would be more dogs than cars on
freeways, more cats then kids in sandboxes! Impossible! How?
their breeding programs, females in heat are separated from males,
and dogs are part of a family not part of a business. It takes more
effort to accomplish but the result is more effective than our
current pattern of rescues acting as janitors to clean up after
breeders. I offer this fact as an example of yet another reason why
breed rescue cannot be ignored but cannot succeed without the
participation of breeders. Solutions require unity.
As a now
retired voice for rescue based on 19 agonizing years of shelter
work, I can stand back and see the problems in a more objective
manner. We can all point fingers--it's the most effortless physical
activity known to man. It doesn't accomplish anything but it makes
us feel as if we’re involved in a positive way. We can all sit here
and list what's wrong with the breeders in our breed. Follow that up
with a list of irritating faults you see in your rescue colleagues.
Now what? You stand alone as a breed rescuer whose sole contribution
is saving a few dogs while alienating thousands of potential
rescuers. You're not a role model, you're not salvation for those
abandoned dogs and now you are part of the problem.
something different. A great deal has been written to describe the
attributes of a responsible breeder but little or nothing has been
written to describe the qualifications of a responsible rescuer.
First let's look at the basic characteristics of a responsible
responsible breeder always puts the best interests of the dog above
ego and profit.
dogs are well socialized, adequately exercised, fed the best food
and live in a clean,
pest-free, well managed environment.
dogs interact with people and receive hands-on personal attention
Immediate veterinary care is available and preventative veterinary
care is always
responsible breeder NEVER has more dogs than he/she can tend without
help from an employee or family member.
Responsible breeders grab every opportunity to educate; they are
diligent in screening
puppy buyers, and will unselfishly mentor anyone to help
their breed or an individual dog.
recognize the importance of good sportsmanship and an ethical code
they know their behavior reflects on everyone in their breed.
They are honest
and constantly pursue excellence in health and temperament.
Go over the
list again but this time replace the word "breeder" with "rescuer."
We must meet the same high standard we demand from breeders if we
are to be role models for the future.
responsible rescuer always puts the best interests of all Akitas
above personal ambition,
ego and profit. Rescue is not a road to fame and there is no glory
to be gained by standing
on the backs of abandoned Akitas. Your decision to rescue does not
make you better than
responsible rescuer makes certain their dogs are well socialized,
fed the best food and live in a clean, pest-free, well managed
environment. Unlike breeders
who know their dogs you have a constantly changing group of young
and older adult dogs
whose past experiences may cause erratic or dangerous behavior. The
reputation of your
breed depends on your ability to evaluate the dog and assess the
Responsible rescuers know the importance of each dog's daily
interaction with people.
Without daily hands-on personal attention it's not possible to
properly evaluate a rescued
dog. Many abandoned dogs are untrained. That's easy to fix when you
spend time with
them. The act of training provides an excellent opportunity for
from shelters very often are victims of neglect, rarely receiving
care. Your job is not simple maintenance; often it's complete
physical rehabilitation. Spay
and neuter of each dog must be done before a dog leaves your hands.
It can never be
entrusted to a new owner.
responsible rescuer NEVER has more dogs than he/she can tend without
from an employee or family member. Responsible rescuers understand
that not all dogs can
be saved. People, who function as collectors, merely hold Akitas
ransom to use as
icons for fund raising. There are some things that are worse than
death! Living in a
crowded, substandard environment, existing on poor quality or
generic dog food minus
any cookies or treats is not humane treatment. Living without human
no different than a puppy mill environment. Rescuers are by virtue
of their title,
people who improve upon the conditions these dogs have known.
Responsible rescuers grab every opportunity to educate; they are
diligent in screening
potential homes, and will unselfishly mentor anyone to help their
breed or an individual
dog. Their goal is not to alienate but to unify because unity as a
breed, and/or a club
is the only way to save Akitas.
Responsible rescuers recognize the importance of ethical behavior
behind the scenes
and in the public eye. They know their conduct reflects on everyone
in their breed.
They are honest, open, and constantly pursue excellence in
education and placement.
As you can
see there are important similarities between breeders and
rescuers--they have a lot in common, primarily a love for the same
breed. To work against each other is absurd when you consider how
much more can be accomplished if they work together. Breeders are
not the enemy and not all rescuers are heroes. So please folks,
let's get off our high horses, pedestals, or whatever name you
customarily give to people who hold themselves in higher esteem than
their peers. The enemy is ignorance and Akita fanciers can only
succeed in conquering the enemy if we work with each other instead
of at opposite ends.