Thursday, March 12, 2009

Purebred Dogs and Yellow Journalism

Last night, March 11, 2009, ABC-TV's Nightline proved that they are willing and able to stoop to biased reporting, totally slanted journalism. What they did has, traditionally, been called Yellow Journalism. What did they do, you're asking yourself, aren't you? They aired a completely biased and far from factual report on purebred dogs and the dog fancy. It was appalling in its bias.

Pretty much a rip-off of the equally unbalanced BBC program, "Pedigreed Dogs Exposed," whose producer had an obvious bias, not just visible in the resulting program but in the approach the producer took with a breeder on this side of the pond who didn't hesitate to let others know. The breeder in this country is also a journalist and wasn't about to participate in such predetermined "news" programming.

Let me say right up front that the responsible breeders I know, and there are many, the ones whose dogs are shown, are responsible for every puppy they produce. The breed standard of every breed points to moderation in all things, not extremes. Responsible breeders do all possible tests on dam and sire to screen for possible health problems before breeding. They remove from their breeding programs any dogs that might carry a health issue. Those are spayed or neutered and placed as pets or kept in their own homes as beloved pets. The pups that aren't pet quality in each litter receive the same stellar screening, early socialization, are kept in clean conditions where they're treated as family members and learn early on the basics of housetraining and often to sit, lie down and walk on a leash. They also stay long enough with their mother and littermates to learn the all-important bite inhibition.

Dog shows are not beauty contests as some might have you believe. The reason for dogs shows is to get an independent opinion of several knowledgeable judges as to how their potential breeding stock meets the Standard for the breed. They are judged against the Standard for their own breed. You will see the judges going over the dogs, feeling for structure. Underneath that beautifully groomed exterior is what the judge is looking for: a structurally sound dog. The dogs are gaited around the ring so the judge can see if the dog moves correctly. It's very easy to see a luxating patella or hip dysplasia when a dog moves. Bad structure is further determined by watching the dog move from the front, side and back. That's why the dog is moved up, down and around so the judge gets every possible view.

This reporting smacks of the animal rights agenda that would ensure that no one will own a pet. Not a dog, not a cat, not a horse, etc. Read the website of such organizations and you will see their agenda. They do tremendous fundraising and with their wealth they work to ensure that the human-animal bond will be forever broken, will entirely disappear.

They tried to paint the AKC as having something to hide by not appearing on camera but issuing a statement. The AKC educates pet owners, helps with fighting bad legislation (another Animal Rights move to deny us pets in the future) and through their Canine Health Foundation they fund important research. Most of what the AKC's Canine Health Foundation funds helps people as well as dogs. This is a real win/win. A visit to their website,, will show you how much this organization has helped people and dogs. Their work on cancer research, mapping the canine genome, and breakthroughs in various illness that also appear in people is exemplary. The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, the one Nightline tried to malign (an all-champions show, the best of the best competing each year), donated $50,000. this year alone to the AKC's Canine Health Foundation.

As a journalist, I do my research. When I wanted to do something in my mother's memory I started The Marcia Polimer Abrams Fund for Canine Behavior Studies at AKC's Canine Health Foundation because I know that they have an excellent charitable rating and that their funded research also benefits people.

I wish the people at Nightline had done their research. They should be ashamed of themselves for what they aired last night.There was nothing fair and balanced in their reporting; there was just an agenda that they were obviously determined to push. That kind of "journalism" makes me ashamed to call myself a journalist. They should be ashamed of themselves. It's my hope that those who viewed the program will do their own research. Knowing how this was reported I will no longer watch Nightline because I obviously no longer have confidence in their reporting. And that is very sad indeed.