By now, most people have heard about PETA’s advertisement likening the American Kennel Club (AKC) to the Ku Klux Klan (KKK). It may be a shocking comparison, but it is an apt one—and it’s an effective way to stimulate discussion about the tragic consequences of breeding. Millions of dogs are euthanized in shelters every year, yet breeders continue to churn out dogs with pure bloodlines and “prized” characteristics.
In short, the AKC promotes “breedism.” It’s pushing the “master race” idea that pedigrees are better than mixed breeds, and it is contributing to animal overpopulation and to health problems in dogs. Because of incestuous inbreeding and genetic manipulation, purebreds commonly suffer from various diseases and disorders. For example, Labradors—America’s most popular dog—often suffer from bone disease, hemophilia, and retinal degeneration. Sussex spaniels like Stump, the winner of this year’s Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, are prone to heart and liver problems, hip dysplasia, ear infections, and other illnesses. German Shepherds and Golden Retrievers also often develop crippling hip dysplasia and other disorders.
The AKC promotes painful cosmetic practices such as tail docking and ear-cropping. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, “ear cropping and tail docking are not medically indicated nor of benefit to the patient. These procedures cause pain and distress, and, as with all surgical procedures, are accompanied by inherent risks of anesthesia, blood loss, and infection.” Because these procedures are cruel and dangerous, they have been banned in many European countries.
PETA is calling on the AKC to follow in the footsteps of its British counterpart, the Kennel Club, which is reviewing its standards for every pedigree dog breed in the region and implementing more humane guidelines. (Because purebred dogs face so many health issues, the BBC refused to air Crufts, Britain’s most prestigious dog show.) The Kennel Club has already informed Pekinese breeders that it is no longer acceptable to breed dogs with flat faces since these dogs have difficulty breathing.
Of course, the most humane option is not to breed dogs at all. If you’re ready to commit to an animal, please adopt one (or two) from a shelter or a reputable breed rescue group—never buy from a breeder. Dogs don’t care if they have “papers” or not, and neither should we.