Thursday, February 25, 2010

Amazon Vine review

I received the product below gratis in exchange for a review via Amazon's Vine program. I do not tailor my reviews for the program, but remain objective. I have given the book below 4 out of 5 stars.

Saving Gracie: How One Dog Escaped the Shadowy World of American Puppy Mills
Saving Gracie: How One Dog Escaped the Shadowy World of American Puppy Mills
by Carol Bradley

4.0 out of 5 stars Blows the lid off the puppy mill scandal...,
Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)

"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated." - Mohandas K. Gandhi

Saving Gracie tells three stories. It begins with a raid on a puppy mill operation run by the ironically named Michael Wolf. Once famous in the world of show dogs, Wolf became notorious when, in 2004, 337 dogs were seized from his Mike-Mar "kennel" in 2004. Both the puppies and their parents lived in squalid conditions that would turn the stomach of any right-thinking person: 24/7 confinement in small wire cages, which were stacked 4-high - the feces from the dogs in the higher cages literally dropping on other dogs and getting caught in the mesh flooring; no ventilation in the room, leading to unbearable odors; dogs forced to breed non-stop until they were spent. Some 2.5 million dogs are pumped out of puppy mills every year, and 4 million shelter dogs are euthanized each year. Do the math.

The book also details the ongoing problem of puppy mills, most obvious in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, a location with a high number of Amish and Menonite breeders who regard the dogs as nothing more than a crop, comparable to an ear of corn. The standard Amish practice of shooting a dog which has reached the end of its pup-bearing life blows the lid off their bucolic image. While Pennsylvania, where reform legislation has been enacted, is the focus of this book, other states with similar issues - Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and I'm ashamed to say Ohio - are also discussed. The American Kennel Club, which lobbied against reform until the publicity damaged its public image, is also briefly mentioned. If there is one weakness in the book, it is the lack of writing on the way the AKC exploits the "snob factor" in pet ownership to the detriment of both canines and their owners - all for the sake of profit. Ultimately, pet owners have to confront their own priorities when acquiring a companion animal (a genetically "pure" breed which may have defects from inbreeding, diseases stemming from unsanitary conditions and lack of socialization versus a healthy mixed breed pup who may have been a "happy accident"). I would have liked to have seen the book discuss this issue in more detail.

Of course, the book is also about Gracie, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and the 132nd dog rescued from Wolf's operation. Gracie's story runs from tragic, to heartwarming, but is ultimately cautionary.

The author, Carol Bradley, is a former newspaper reporter, which shows in her organized and highly readable writing style. This is a must read for all who care about dogs or are contemplating getting one.
Beyond the scope of this book, here are some facts you should know about the American Kennel Club:
The AKC makes money from puppy mills, which comprise 80% of the AKC’s business. In 2003, the AKC registered 917,247 puppies at the cost of approximately $25.00 per puppy. Thus, it's no surprise that the AKC has lobbied extensively against reform legislation.
The AKC does not inspect kennels, and a certificate from the AKC is not a guarantee of health or quality. AKC registered simply means the puppy had two parents of the same breed. The AKC registers dogs and gives them papers which help to sell them in pet shops or at breeders kennels.
The AKC is driven by one motivator: money. Ironically, they are listed as a non-profit, which points out the need for reform legislation dealing with the definition of "for profit" and "non-profit."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Are these people the ones that also run those fancy dig shows on TV? Wow we are lucky we found our little happy accident and that he has being such a good and healthy dog.... These people are worst that the way they treat strays in PR.