Archive for August, 2007
In the previous three posts we have examined California, the major population areas, the overall population of people and dogs, the mandated animal (rabies) control organizations, and the general count of dogs being euthanized.
We have given a national overview of the dog population within the human population, as well as the source of the dogs. We have noted that for 150 centuries, dogs have formed an important part of human existence, assisting mankind in hundreds of jobs in thousands of instances.
As the uses of dogs has increased their value to man, the care of the dogs has increased to maximize both the effectiveness and term of that usefulness. Man has created many things for use by dogs, from special diets to equipment and medicines to aid in health and longevity of their prized canines. There are at least 27 Veterinary schools, thousands of veterinary clinics and offices, and veterinary associations for every state. The number of private companies manufacturing, distributing and selling goods for the care and benefit of dogs is practically uncountable, as are the businesses providing training, boarding and grooming services.
In addition to the commercial establishments providing goods and services to the dogs, there are many, many non-profit associations whose sole purpose is to provide specific breeds with guidance, nurture and protection to perpetuate the breed. Additional associations are for all dogs in general, but focus on all purebreds through competition shows as a means of raising funds to assist dogs in society. Still more groups focus on different areas of training, and activities, providing the public with educational support for the training of their own dogs and entertainment at events like agility and fly ball. And even more basic are the sporting dog groups, who do the hunting dog training, and actually perpetuate the skill of gathering food using the assistance of highly talented and well trained dogs. California has over four hundred of these dog clubs serving their communities.
As a matter of fact, I questioned the number in the last paragraph-over four hundred clubs. So, I went to the American Kennel Club web site ( www.akc.org ) and did an online series of inquiries and print outs. The results for California are mind boggling. By just using the detail indexes for AKC recognized club purposes I counted an even one thousand clubs operating for their members and communities. Let me explain: Clubs are organized to promote and perpetuate the proper use of their fancy of the purebred dog. Some breeds are naturally better for one series of purposes and some breeds are naturally better for other purposes. Many get their names from these purposes eg: Pointers-which point out game for the hunter, then find and retrieve it so the game may grace the table and not be wasted. All terriers are earth dogs, going to ground for their job of ridding the farm or domicile of varmints, rodents or other vermin. Retrievers are swimmers, going into the water to retrieve water fowl downed by their owners good shooting and providing sustenance by bringing back the game. Shepherds earn their living by moving livestock and alerting the human herdsman to possible dangers from predators, sometimes even fighting off attacking animals. Clubs called “Specialty Clubs” are organized around the protection, perpetuation and perfection of one breed. They are the largest in number of all clubs in California with three hundred listed.
But, because of the importance of properly socialized and manageable dogs, many of these clubs are listed again under the term “obedience” clubs. This is best recognized as a “club within a club”, or better, “purpose within a purpose”. Members have worked to fulfill requirements established by AKC to qualify the club for obedience competition in, or separate from, their regular conformation shows. In several of these instances, the clubs were also listed under “Clubs Providing Training” for anyone within their community who wants to participate. Usually, such clubs provide the training for a fee, which augments club treasuries as well as benefiting the community with both better behaved dogs and educated dog owners. The “Obedience Clubs” numbered 263. Clubs providing training numbered 29 and are positioned all over the state. Some of these clubs provide all phases of training from basic obedience, advanced obedience, agility, tracking, and conformation ring training. Some are simply training clubs, some are conformation clubs with a high degree of training substance.
I seemed to have mentioned “conformation clubs” without explaining that meaning. This is the largest number of type of club. The specialty clubs conformation clubs number 300, the “limited breed clubs”, those allowing only the breeds from within their group of similarly classed dog breeds, are counted at 13, and the all breed clubs for all the breeds recognized by AKC are 72 strong. This gives 385 clubs involved in conformation. And conformation is what keeps Brittanys being Brittanys and Collies being Collies.This is the animal husbandry that seek to produce the healthiest, most functional, most nearly perfect specimens of the particular breed possible. The dogs will conform to the written standard of the breed in every possible way. These clubs have periodic shows, where exhibitor’s dogs are judged in comparison to one another and the judge’s interpretation of the written standard, and awarded prizes accordingly. Examples of conformation shows are the Golden Gate Kennel Club show at the Cow Palace, and the Eukanuba Championship at Long Beach. Since the avowed purpose of these conformation shows is to find the best breeding stock, each dog must be intact and presumed fertile.
In addition to the Conformation and obedience clubs there are a number of traditional “performance” clubs. These include; 1.Field Trial Clubs (Sporting and hound breeds), 2. Hunting Test Clubs (Sporting and Hound Breeds), 3. Tracking Clubs (Hound and Working breeds, but open to all), 4. Herding Clubs (mostly herding breeds, but open to some others), 5. Lure coursing (Sight Hounds almost exclusively, due to speed requirements), 6. Earthdog trial clubs (exclusively Terrier Breeds), and 7. Agility Clubs, the new sport of the dog running an obstacle course against time. There are also some other activities such as Flyball, rally obedience, and weight pulling. Where the weather allows, there are sled dog clubs.
All these things are AKC type activities. AKC is a registry, an organization that certifies your dogs pedigree based upon available information. Registries also license clubs for championship shows and Give clubs sanction to have practice shows or matches. Registries formulate and enforce the rules applied at official activities bearing their seal of approval.
There are more registries than just AKC. United Kennel Club is almost as old as AKC, but recognizes more breeds. And there are specific breed registries as well. The Jack Russell Terrier Club of America maintains it’s own registry, separate of the American Kennel Club. The Border Collie Club of America and the Australian Shepherd Club of America also keep a separate domain of registries and activities. And there are other all breed registries, most not worthy of mention, except to say that these registries are all in response to public demand for additional worthiness of the dog in question.
Dogs and their people in California follow one more American tradition: the right to assemble peaceably for the common good.
Next: What will the effect of AB1634 do to the dog organization infrastructure? And how might that affect the state of California?
Now that we have identified the percentage of homes, and the gross number of people who have dogs, we should take a look at where those dogs originate. What is the source of supply of the dogs people keep?
The APPMA National Pet Owners Survey of 2005-2006 has some figures relating to where dogs were obtained in table 6. Like most studies, this is a great start and leaves many questions arising from the need for greater detail. No state or locality has done any other study of which this writer is aware.
Due to multiple response questions the following statistics may add up to over 100%. In 2004 the greatest percentage of dogs (32%) were obtained from a friend or relative. This does not exclude the source from being the actual breeder. Actual breeders provided a close 31%. Animal shelters/humane societies were the source of 16%. People going through newspaper ads and private parties found 13% of the dogs. Strays accounted for a whopping 9%. Gifts from others were 6% and pet store sales 5%. Included for the first time was the “rescue group category, at a strong 5%. This equaled “puppy of own dog” at 5%.
Some of the overlaps can be explained. The breeder is the owner of the dam of a litter when the pups are born (AKC definition). Therefore the breeder may also, and likely, be a friend or relative. It is the best guess of this writer that the combined categories of friend/relative, breeder, newspaper ad/private party, and puppy of own dog would yield mostly breeders in the strict definition as given above.
Within the definition of breeder there are a myriad of degrees. One way to describe breeders is “intentional” and “unintentional”. This may describe either purebred dog breeders or those who produce mixed breed dogs (mutts).
The intentional breeders, in reverse order of volume:
1. The avocation breeder, one who studies the attributes of the breed, is steeped in breed history, has an extensive knowledge of dog heredity including genetic problems, and exhibits their selections of breeding in dog shows. These are the medium priced dogs available to the public who seeks purebred dogs. They breed to keep their “line” of show dogs going.
2. The newspaper ads/private party sources may be the lower priced dogs, coming from occasional breeders who may have many reasons for puppy production, and may or may not repeat the process as time goes by. These folks go with the times and have a desire to sell quickly for the going rate within a scale of prices.
3. The Commercial breeder. The pet store sales may be the higher priced of the three categories, as costs of delivery to the store, personnel to care for the dogs, store facilities all add to the price necessary for profitable sale. Also financing by the store eases the sale, as well as having all the necessary food and equipment available at hand. Plus, the pet store has a number of commercial breeders available to supply whatever breed of dog is desired. The store may be the only source of the desired breed at the time of purchase. This is a direct function of supply, demand, and convenience.
For those folks who just want a dog, the animal shelters, humane societies and the appearance of an amiable stray may satisfy that need. Of course, strays may be either mixed breed (mutt) or purebred. The survey did not identify either in this category.
What the survey did identify was that the dog owners were long time owners of dogs. The average time of owning dogs was 19 years (table 7). The dog owners do seem to consistently own dogs.
Of the dogs owned, more than half are purebred. When the surveys were begun in 1996 the percentage of purebreds was 57%, rising to 58% and 64% in 1998 and 2000 respectively, falling to 63% in 2002 and 61% in 2004. Household income plays an important roll in choosing a purebred as 68% of the dogs in homes of $60,000 annual income were purebred. That purebreds are valued more highly is illustrated by the average amount paid for a purebred dog only of $489.00. Small purebreds commanded an average of $655.00, Medium size purebreds brought an average of$797.00 and large purebreds brought the average of $397.00. These averages are from all sources, including owners that paid no money for their dog.
With small dogs, purebreds occupied 70% of all small dogs. Purebreds tied with mixed breeds for the medium size dogs, but came in at 61% for the large breeds.
At this point, we see that more than half the dogs obtained came directly from the breeder or a friend or relative. Shelters, humane societies, and rescue groups provided about one third as many dogs. Pet stores may have provided from six to twelve percent, depending on where the gift dogs were obtained. These figures, being derived from multiple response questions, are probably as close as possible to get, but still leave a lot of questions unanswered. What is clear is that the breeders are the source of the dogs that consume the goods that are made for dogs. The expertise of the breeders, in the number of dogs produced, is not determined, nor is it addressed in the wording of AB1634. The only breeders not addressed in AB1634 are the commercial breeders supplying 6% to a possible 12% of the dogs provided as found by the APPMA survey.
Next –More economic analysis of AB1634.
 APPMA National Pet Owners Survey 2005-2006, Table 8
 APPMA National Pet Owners Survey 2005-2006, Table 8a
 APPMA National Pet Owners Survey 2005-2006, Table 9
 APPMA National Pet Owners Survey 2005-2006, Table 8b
In examining the economic impact of laws, one should identify both the primary and secondary persons affected by the legislation. One should also include the proponents of the legislation, as well as the opponents. It is assumed that whichever side is negatively affected the least will lose the battle to pass such a law. This is based on an assumption that laws should be passed to hurt the fewest people and, conversely, do the most good for the most people. This assumption is based on a rule that whenever one side “wins” the other side “loses” and is impaired in some negative manner.
Let us then take a look at AB1634 in the light of who would be impacted most, regarding the subject dogs.
Who has dogs?
There are about 73 million dogs owned by about 43.4 million households in the United States. This represents 39 percent of all American households.
We can pretty confidently say that close to 40% of all households contain dogs. Therefore that many households would be affected by legislation controlling dogs. It is not disputed that California conforms to the national survey.
So far we have just determined that a lot of families, 39% of the households comprising California’s 33 million people, have dogs. That computes to 12,870,000 people in California having some claim to a dog. It may be an adult single person household, or there may one child or many, along with their parent(s) owning and enjoying a dog or dogs. Lots of people have dogs as pets now.
But, as National Geographic just stated in a recent special on television, dogs have been closely associated with people for about 15,000 years. Man saw an opportunity to employ dogs in special capacities possessed by the dogs, and likewise, dogs saw in man an opportunity to exist in a better state of being. Man has employed dogs for; 1.Hunting, 2. War,3.Personal protection,4.Herding farm flocks,5.Guarding farm flocks,6.Police work, 7.search and rescue,8.tracking,,9.companionship, 10.drug detection,11. Bomb detection, 12. Cancer detection, 13.Draft, 14.Water rescue, 15.Guiding blind people and the list goes on and on. Dogs are being employed to benefit humans in all these occupations and more today. It should not be surprising then, that many human occupations are based around improving the lot of the dog and their owners, no matter what purpose the dog is serving.
The providers to the pet supply market in the United States of America have long concentrated on providing for the dogs in American families. Every need of the dog has been addressed. There are multiple dog food manufacturing companies which make several general diets and many specialty diets. They cater to general maintenance need as well as puppy growth diets, elder (geriatric) dog diets and some medically specific diets. Whatever phase of life your dog is in; there is a diet for it. And whatever your dog’s condition, there is a formulated diet to extend your dog’s life, as well as its quality of life. Whatever job the dog does, it nutritional needs are met by one or several companies working strictly for the needs of that group of dogs.
The major dog food brands of Breeders Choice, Nutro, Nature’s Recipe and Natural Balance as well as several more specialized labels of dog food have their foundation in California. Having a major customer base nearby is very important to manufacturers, to be able to keep market prices competitive and quality high.
What percentage of California’s present day dogs would cease to exist if all of California’s dog were spayed or neutered? That is the goal of the sponsors of AB1634, even though opposition has forced several amendments that provide expensive exceptions for those who can afford them. Loss of major customer base could actually drive some dog food companies out of business or out of California. This result would terribly hurt those dogs that might be left over and end up in the shelters. Of course, it would hurt cats too, as the dog food companies are also the manufacturers of feline diets.
More economic analysis next-until the subject is exhausted. It will be a long subject.
 American Pet Products Manufacturers Association Pet Owners Survey 2005-2006 Table 3, pg4.
 APPMA Pet Owners Survey Table 2.
In analyzing Assembly Bill 1634 as it was written and amended before being stalled in the California Senate Local Government Committee, we should examine all aspects of those to be affected by the bill. Since the bill is aimed at populations of dogs and cats, and their owners, we should first determine the source of dogs and cats, and who their owners are.
We should also examine the state of California, as it varies dramatically from area to area, with some locales differing drastically from others. As testimony from various areas indicated, problems affecting animals in one area were non-existent in others.
California is the most populous state in the United States of America. Most of the population can be considered to live in three major areas;1. the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area including Orange County, Los Angeles County, Riverside County and San Bernardino County, 2. San Diego County, and 3.the Bay Area, consisting of San Francisco County, San Mateo County, Santa Cruz County, Santa Clara County, Alameda County, Contra Costa County, Marin County, Sonoma County , Marin County, And Solano County. One might also include an area of Sacramento County, as that is where the capitol resides, but geography would make it seem to be more a part of the great San Joaquin Valley, a long stretch of contiguous agricultural communities stretching from Bakersfield in the south to north of Sacramento. Driving up Interstate 5 or Hwy 99 will provide one with the linkage to so refer to this area.
AB1634 originated in Orange County, with Judie Mancuso, chief architect of the legislation, and an assistant employed as a Riverside County Animal Control Officer enlisting the ready sponsorship of L.A. metro legislator Assemblyman Lloyd Levine to shepherd it through the legislative process. The spoken purpose of this bill was to reduce the numbers of animal euthanasia performed by the various public animal shelters in the state, thereby reducing the costs to the citizens of running the shelters.
The state of California mandates the creation of public shelters in every county, for the purpose of rabies control, dangerous domestic animal control and the public control of nuisances relating to health caused by domestic pets. Every county has such a department with some being naturally larger and busier than others. The more people, the more pets and, naturally, the busier the shelters in that area..
In addition to the mandated government shelters, many private shelters exist. Many of these are local humane societies, charitable institutions funded by donations and fee from the placement of animals with adopters.
In addition to the government facilities and humane societies, many breed specific rescue organizations sponsored by breed specific dog clubs. There are also all-breed rescues for specifically purebred dogs, and many private organizations for any dog in need of rescue. Most of these private organizations are done of conscience and do not qualify for tax deductible contributions, and must scratch for funds constantly, subsisting mostly on the earnings from regular jobs of the volunteers who compose them. Most all pet adoption organizations do get adoption fees that may or may not cover the expenses of that particular dog incurred by their rescue agency.
Dogs that have conditions that require more time or money than public agencies have to expend on them are generally rescued by a private agency, paying the public animal shelter some fee , or they are euthanized. These are some of the statistics needing to be eliminated.
Other euthanasia operations are comprised of very ill or very old dogs surrendered by their owners for the very purpose of being put to sleep (pts). In general, the public agency does it cheaper than the private veterinarian-and the owner need not be there to witness. This often occurs when an escaped pet is severely injured by an automobile or in other mishaps. Voluntary surrenders for euthanasia is a privilege of the citizens and a service provided by the agencies designated. There are no statistics kept on these voluntary surrenders, inflating the total figures.
With that overview of the state and the explanation of the structure of government animal control and the civilian infrastructure, we are ready to examine the sources of the animals and people that will be affected by the passage of AB1634.
The economic issues will be discussed tomorrow. Stay tuned.