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B: Did you gain any insights into why the AKC pushes back so vigorously on spay/neuter laws and puppy-mill legislation?
KK: I didn’t interview anyone from the AKC for Little Boy Blue, and I don’t want to speak for them or distort their position in any way. But what I can say from my personal perspective is that it appears to be a simple matter of business. If you force spay/neuter by law, or try to define a puppy mill versus what the AKC calls “responsible breeders,” you’re impinging on America’s very successful purebred-puppy industry.
The AKC has long been at the forefront of promoting that industry. So if the AKC is in fact pushing back against spay/neuter laws, to me that’s no different than big banks pushing back against credit protection for consumers, or health insurers pushing back against laws that force them to care for people with pre-existing conditions. It is to be expected as a matter of business. Spay/neuter laws would make it difficult for the AKC and breeders to do business as usual.

My suggestion to people who find this situation untenable is to adopt rescue dogs and mixed-breeds like Blue instead of buying purebreds. Encourage everyone you know to do the same. There will then be a point at which demand slows for the product that the purebred industry has marketed and sold for such a long time. Without customers, breeders will go out of business. We don’t need to pass laws to effect this change. We just need to educate more people about what they are buying into when they acquire a purebred dog from a breeder.

B: What are the most important things people can do to help their local shelters (along with adopting from them, of course)?
KK: Donate. And it doesn’t have to be money. Donate time. Go down there and take a dog out for a walk in the sunshine. Give a dog a bath so he will look better for his adoption photo. Volunteer to help write dog bios on Petfinder.com. Clean up your old leashes and dog bowls and give them to the shelter. None of these things will cost you in terms of dollars but they will help the shelter greatly.

B: What do you hope to achieve with your book?
KK: I hope that more people will adopt. I hope that more people will foster. I hope that more people will spay and neuter their dogs. I hope that more people will spread the message of what all the very hardworking volunteers in the rescue community are trying to achieve every single day.
And I hope that people will actually enjoy reading the book. That’s been one of the problems for rescue as a movement, in my opinion; the message of what these dogs face can be so depressing that people tune out. I intentionally wrote Little Boy Blue in a non-depressing way. A few parts are shocking, yes, but it’s not like those television commercials with the sad music and the sad faces that make you want to change the channel. One of the early reviewers said Little Boy Blue read like a mystery unfolding. My editor, after reading the first draft, said, “I laughed, I cried and I wanted to punch some people in the face.” I hope I have written a book that people will read all the way to the end, and that moves them to take action—not because they feel sorry for dogs like Blue, but because they learn how important it is to stand up and champion them.

 

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This article first appeared in The Bark,
Issue 71: Sep/Oct 2012
Claudia Kawczynska is The Bark's co-founder and editor in chief. thebark.com
CommentsPost a Comment
Please note comments are moderated. After being approved your comment will appear below.
Submitted by Anonymous | August 20 2012 |

"Numbers and expiration dates." That is disgusting. Communicating just this bit of information to people about shelter dogs could be enough to change hearts and minds.

Submitted by Lyn deMarrin | September 16 2012 |

As a long time weekly volunteer at an animal shelter I support Kavin's recommentations. However, I must strongly assert that getting an animal adopted must not be an end that justifies any means. Prospective adopters must be interviewed (and perhaps other strategies employed as well) to determins, as much as humanly possible, if they will be good owners. After years of witnessing the results of heinous behavior of bad owners, I have come to believe that there are much worse things for animal than euthanasia. Let's follow Kavin's recommendations while remembering that adoptions should not be about adoption numbers or about reduction of kill numbers, but about successful pairing with a loving home.

Submitted by Kim Kavin | September 21 2012 |

Hi Lyn,

I couldn't agree more. That's why "Little Boy Blue" talks about the five-page adoption application and home visit that Lulu's Rescue required before I was allowed to adopt Blue.

Hopefully you will read the book and see how it supports the very thing you are suggesting.

Best,
Kim Kavin

Submitted by Mary DiBlasi | September 17 2012 |

I read and enjoyed the book for the most part. But early in the book there was a comment about the price of rescue dogs and rescues making money. I volunteer with a rescue and have contacts with several others. Believe me, no one in a genuine rescue makes money. The adoption fees charged barely cover the cost of the care put into each dog and if it more than covers the care of one dog, it goes toward the care of another whose medical care or training expenses were exorbitant. Some of the puppies come in with parvovirus which is very expensive to treat, some of the older ones come in with heartworm, which is also very expensive to treat. Even just the basic round of shots and testing for parasites, etc. is expensive "up north" and microchipping is routine and not inexpensive. Now that you are more familiar with rescue I hope you see that the fees are not out of line, but I wish you had not exclaimed over paying $450 for a "shelter dog" who has since brought you so much joy and affection. Would a $1,000 purebred have brought you more?

Submitted by Kim Kavin | September 21 2012 |

Hi Mary,

I'm glad you enjoyed "Little Boy Blue." I'm guessing you skipped the chapter later in the book where I do indeed delve into the costs that rescues pay, and make clear to the reader that most rescues actually lose money on most dogs.

Most people who adopt do in fact question why a "free dog from a shelter" costs $400 or so when it gets to a rescue. "Little Boy Blue" makes very clear that I was just like these people, and then I educated myself to find out it's because reputable rescues are providing medical care and more.

Best,
Kim Kavin

Submitted by Mary Shepherd-Ennis | January 17 2013 |

Little Boy Blue is wonderful. It is well written and moves along so well. Hated reading about the gas chambers but since I have done cat rescue for over 40 years along with some dogs and varied wildlife, I read that early.

I ask this of you. Please research Dr. Melanie Joy. Please read her book Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs and Wear Cows. Your rather casual comments about not being vegan loving and eating summer bbq's tells me that you are missing some very important emotional intelligence and emotional understanding of animals. In SKorea at a notorious market you can pick your live kitten, cat or dog and have it prepared any way you like...while it lives through being boiled fried or roasted....your choice. Pigs are known to be the 5th smartest animal, way above dogs. So how would you feel about someone taking Blue to cook alive? Those SK dogs are the same as Blue and when the cats and dogs are rescued they make the same wonderful pets as Blue.

It is actually more cruel to kill animals loving life, cared for and eating well than those who would love to die to end their suffering. Please read the above.

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