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« Sit. Stay. Heel. Come. (No pedigree required) | Main | No Kill Conference 2009: Liveblogging the Legislating No-Kill Seminar »

29 April 2009


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I wanted to go to DC for the No Kill Conference but it was sold out - but that's OK by me - I am grateful so many will attend - good luck and thanks for the information on how to hear about the conference -

Original Lori

So you'll be on my coast this weekend! You just missed the heatwave, last weekend the average temp was 93.

Looking forward to your notes from the field. Hopefully you'll leave with a feeling that something was accomplished.

Mary Mary


You write, "I think there is still a great deal of ego and propaganda on all sides of this debate ..."

What is an example of propaganda used by the no kill faction?


I'll be following in all formats!

Christie Keith

Mary, the lumping together of extreme anti-no-kill groups with those that are, let's say, stumbling towards enlightenment is, in some cases, propaganda rather than a genuine expression of how they see things.

I suppose to an extent that's a judgment call on my part. We'll see if I'm right.

Mary Mary

I write marketing stuff for a living. I have felt for a long time that what the Winograd-esque members of the no kill movement need is better sound bullets.

(And he is not the guy to develop them! He writes like the ex-attorney that he is. Not that there's anything wrong with that ... but it doesn't make for a good bumper sticker.)

One of the things PETA does very well is the soundbite. "Fur is Dead." Bam.

"Buy one, kill one free." Bam.

That Buy One Kill One ad (on youtube) is VERY compelling. It makes the math very simple -- if you choose a breeder dog, you cannot choose a shelter dog, therefore the one you did not choose dies. Is it accurate? Well -- it is accurate enough for the masses. It is short and sweet and provocative enough to influence behavior.

Yet when I read arguments from the other side -- what seems to be an extremely small group of people: breeders who limit their litters, who health screen, etc. -- what defines a "responsible breeder," I see no sound bites. I see lengthy essays. I suppose that is driven by being put on the defense all the time, being lumped in with all types of breeders.

Is there a way to clearly position what "responsible breeding" is in, say, five words? Has someone done this already and I just haven't seen it?

"We fully screen our dogs -- and our buyers."


How's that to start?

I once had a local breeder describe herself to me as "responsible" when she had a barnful of litters. Argh!

Maybe this issue will come up at the convention?

Gina Spadafori

Mary Mary ... your point is so spot-on it sizzles. And it's something Christie and I have talked about many times. The sound bites and the framing haven't been there for no-kill ... but they will be. They're just getting rolling, and the kill-kill folks at PETA have long had an outstanding bunch of spinners at their disposal.

Interesting your points about breeders, too.

The misconceptions about my curent (first, and perhaps only) litter being eye-opening. I've had people at work ask if I were putting a note on the bulletin board to sell them, and readers accuse me of using the blog to do the same.

In fact, these puppies were more than taken before they were conceived. And the people who are getting them wouldn't have gotten a shelter dog instead: They are people who have had flat-coats before, and want a dog who can be companion hunter, a competitive hunter, a family companion and, perhaps, a show dog or an agility dog ... or all of the above.

These are purpose-bred dogs of a rare heritage breed. I'm proud to be helping to keep these traits alive and put these dogs into forever homes.

Mary Mary

Gina, you write:

"The sound bites and the framing haven’t been there for no-kill … but they will be. They’re just getting rolling, and the kill-kill folks at PETA have long had an outstanding bunch of spinners at their disposal ..."

Well! The gauntlet has been thrown. I can spin.

And re: note on the bulletin board? Tell them you're using Craigslist.

And for "And the people who are getting them wouldn’t have gotten a shelter dog instead ..."

I believe you, but I always wonder about the thousands (millions?) of other people ... those who really COULD go either way. Who maybe don't really "NEED" a 100% Maltese or Golden or German Shepherd, my favorite breed BTW, who could be convinced to "settle" for one with 25% something else mixed in, or 15% (is that possible? I was an English major).

I know a lot of dog owners. Maybe one in 10 went to a breeder for a puppy and, of those that did, most tell me "we had to go to a breeder for a predictable dog ... because we have children."

Yet, I know even more families who took the risk and (gasp!) adopted from shelters.

I am so curious about this demographic thing. OK so maybe 25% of dog owners got them from breeders. Could 10% of them be convinced to adopt from a shelter/rescue ... and not feel deprived?

I always buy used cars. I really don't care what color the car or the seats are. My pets sort of floated down the river to me. I just can't imagine placing an order for my pet. I'm in the market now for a new wife for my widower rabbit (and new best friend for me), and we will just see what happens. I'm not all that "planny" about things. But I recognize that some people are very planny (myers-briggs "J" types).

Anyway, this is what I think about it the car with the radio off.

Gina Spadafori

That's the core of no-kill: If you can shift (through marketing and outreach) a small percentage of people from one choice to another, you close the gap. And it's not even a very big gap. Even smaller when you take spay-neuter to the people who want it but can't get it, and discount or incentive the procedure.

Anyway ... I'm looking forward to Kim and Christie reporting from D.C. I'm sure glad I'm not going, though: I am getting to the point where I really don't much like traveling.

Susan Fox

"I just can’t imagine placing an order for my pet...I’m not all that “planny” about things. But I recognize that some people are very planny (myers-briggs “J” types)."

Mary Mary, you have a lot of very good ideas, having worked in advertising myself, but the previous quote reveals your unexamined assumptions and biases about the "right way" to get a companion animal.

Not being able to have pets due to allergies for a good chunk of my life, finally getting to (currently four cats and a collie dog) has not been a casual, trivia exercise. I reject the idea that choosing new animal family members mindfully and with planning consigns me to some Myers-Briggs "planny" pigeonhole.

I did a lot of research for the dog, both to pick the right breed and to find a responsible breeder.

I did, in fact, as you somewhat dismissively mention, need a "predictable" dog since I had never had a dog, lived with a dog or, as a child, spent much time with dogs. But I'd always wanted one.

And, once we had one cat, the additional cats were chosen for gender and temperment to try and insure that everyone would get along or at least tolerate each other.

I could animadvert about how inconsiderate I think it is for some people to just get any dog or cat they want without regard to the animals they already have, who then just have to take potluck. But I won't. Because I'M NOT THEM.

Susan Fox

That would be "trivial". Oh, well, Giants up 9-3 in the 8th.


Oooh, sound bites!

Here are some ideas although they aren't really "bites" - not without a lot of tweaking - and if anyone out there wants to use or adapt any of these, please do so!

For buying from a reputable breeder:

(This one references the Presidential election last year)

"A responsible breeder will answer the phone at 3 AM."

"Puppy breath lasts a few weeks - the support of a good breeder lasts a lifetime."

For adopting a dog:

"LOVE is... an adopted pet".

"Adoption is a second chance at love".

Christie Keith

It's not just market SHARE for shelters that is growing and needs to grow a bit more... the market itself is growing. More people are getting pets than ever before. And we're SO CLOSE... just a very small uptick in how many people adopt from shelters, just a couple of percentage points... and we're there. Doesn't necessarily "take away" from the numbers who get pets from other sources including responsible breeders... as long as you can grow the market itself.


"OK so maybe 25% of dog owners got them from breeders. Could 10% of them be convinced to adopt from a shelter/rescue … and not feel deprived?"

That's the basic strategy behind making No-Kill work... as we here all know, it's not about warehousing but rather about marketing and reaching out to just a FEW more of those people who are seeking out new pets - either to replace one that has died or to add to their family.

But a LOT more than 25% of dog owners get them from breeders (overall - this is not necessarily true of your friends and family). Basically, EVERYONE who got their dog as a puppy got it from a breeder - unless they got the puppy from a shelter or a LEGITIMATE rescue - and it's relatively rare to find puppies to adopt.

Of course, MOST of these puppies don't come from reputable breeders - they come from commercial breeders, backyard breeders, "oops" litters etc. Some of these people have good reasons to buy puppies - or they think they do - but at least some of them could be persuaded to adopt a dog from a rescue or shelter instead pretty easily. The message just has to reach them.

And it won't deprive the reputable breeders at all - people who are willing to go to the trouble to A) find a reputable breeder, and B) convince said breeder to sell them a puppy almost always have very specific needs or preferences that would be difficult or impossible to meet otherwise.

Mind you, nearly EVERYONE has preferences... even those who can't imagine "placing an order" for a pet have preferences or requirements as to size, coat type, activity level etc etc. The analogy of buying a car is a good one - some people have very specific needs or wants and have to order a car to get what they want. Others are much more flexible and can always find something suitable on the lot. But even the most flexible buyer - who don't care about the color or interior - will still care a lot about some things. Such as, whether you get a subcompact, or a bigger car or a truck or a minivan or an SUV.


How about: Purebred? Did it come with a lifetime warranty?

Susan Fox

Best Friends has a "sound bite" slogan-

"No More Homeless Pets", which completely sidesteps the whole breeder vs. shelter dog thing, which should be left to personal choice anyway.

The dogs don't know whether they are purebreds or mutts but, judging from what I see in our shelter, some of them are very aware of not being in a home.

I wonder if this whole breeder/purebred vs. shelter/rescue/mutt debate is really a distraction from the real issue: dogs being killed in shelters because the people running them don't want to be bothered with the extra "work" involved in finding them homes.

And I agree with Christie, the answer it to put our efforts into making the pie bigger, not squabbling over who gets the most pieces.

Mary Mary

Wow, Christie, that is really cool. I can't wait!

I like this one:

Re-dog. Re-cat. Re-bunny.


Christie Keith

Remember that the Ad Council -- you know, the Smokey Bear, "A mind is a terrible thing to waste," "Friends don't let friends drive drunk" folks? -- is about to launch a three year, tens of millions of dollars in donated media, print, web, radio, TV, and billboard ad campaign aimed exclusively at promoting shelter adoptions, and "re-branding" shelter pets as desirable.

This program is being sponsored by Maddie's Fund (disclaimer: I do some editorial consulting for them) and HSUS.

I would expect to see some sound bites emerging from the masters before the summer is out. ;)


thanks Susan Fox - I agree tomato tomaato - let's call the whole debate off - let's get animal control to be animal shelters or animal sanctuarys - take the control out of animal care - and put in a heart where control used to be.....the animals have paid the ultimate price and taxpayers are demanding it....change the control methods or ease on down the road.


yup words are powerful -

Susan Fox

Yeah, Francis, and what if it was called "Animal Welfare" instead of "Animal Control"? Similar to a "Fish and Wildlife Service" vs. a "Fish and Game Department".

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