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"How Much is That Doggie..." by Russell & Spalding, Part 2

Designer Mutts

The legitimization of "purebred mutts" (an oxymoron if there ever was one) reached new heights with the advent of a new trademarked and "patent pending" "ra re purebred" called the "Toy Munchkin." Its breed description omits both a history (where did this dog come from?) and an adequate description of biological characteristics. The price of these new designer doggies? As much as $6,500 each.

This public acceptance of "non-traditional" non-breeds has not gone unnoticed by the pet exploitation business. New "puppy shops," some superstore-sized, are appearing in discount outlets and malls throughout America. So, our curiosity was piqued when we saw hybr id pups with papers at a pet shop in a mall near us. They sat in their tiny, darkened, blue-green fiberglass cages, staring soulfully out at shoppers. One pup per cage. Emblazoned above each one: a card touting their "breed," their "Continental Kennel Club" Registration, their price, and "their veterinarian's name." Housed next to them, were supposedly purebred AKC dogs, with AKC papers.

The Economics of Bastardization

Our investigation of the trade in crossbred puppies at our local mall pet shop revealed that the profits in selling designer mutts can be enormous. Hybrid dogs offered for sale at this pet shop range in price from $145 to $399.99. The AKC registered purebreds on sale next to the crossbreds, brought $399.99 to $499.99--all pups were offered at allegedly huge discounts.

Local MALL PET SHOP PRICES... (observed, 2/22/97)

Continental Kennel Club Regis tered Cross Breeds

Shepherd-Terrier Mix, $165

Shepherd-Rottweiler Mix, $145

Shepherd-Golden Mix, $185

Shih-Tzu-Poodle Mix, $399

Pomeranian-Shih-Tzu Mix, $399.99

Continental Kennel Club Registered Pure Breeds

Samoyed, $399.99

AKC Registered Pure Breeds

Pekinese, white, $499.99

Shetland Sheep Dog, $499.99

Given the similarity in retail prices between crossbreds and purebreds, why would a pet shop even bother t o sell "registered crossbreds"? The answer is simple: crossbreds can be obtained locally for prices far below what even the most productive puppymills charge for cage-born, AKC purebreds. The crossbred puppies advertised by the mall pet store were purchas ed locally for between $5 and $50.

WE BUY CROSS BREED PUPPIES 6-8 weeks ol d. $5 to $50 each. Pet XXXX, XXX Mall 641-XXX.

(from the Atlantic City Press, 2/22/97)

This particular pet store has a ready supply available from a nearby ghetto in Atlantic City and from neighboring farms. Indeed, now that the word is out, it is likely that some people, desperate for a buck an d with no feelings whatsoever, will encourage stray dogs to bed down in their abandoned cars so they can scoop up a litter of crossbreds. The mall pet store provided the pups with shots (we hope) valued at perhaps $7.00; a vet supposedly looked at the pup (estimated cost to the Pet Shack, $15.00), and a "Continetal Kennel Club" registration was filled out, $15.00. The dog is fed, a schoolkid cleans the kennel for a month or two, and some buyer, perhaps taking pity on the cute dog in the cage, shells out $ 400. Ka-ching! An estimated profit to the pet store of a whopping $328 (550%).

Okay, So What's Really Wrong with this Picture?

This is America. If your local pet shop wants to sell cross breeds, it is the store's right to do so. Even mor e: dogs are chattel goods in the eyes of the law. They are no more protected from exploitation than a 13-inch color TV on Special at K-Mart.

We see the practice of putting a registration on a mutt as both deceptive and harmful. First, encouraging people to breed and then sell any combination of street dogs (or even purebreds) must greatly increase suffering. The pup of such an alliance has no genetic history, no club to support its health and genetics, no information about its probable health problems that a veterinarian could use to diagnose and treat it. The buyer of such a crossbred cannot turn to a breeder or a club for help or advice. Such a crossbred is no more certain an acquisition than a pound rescue, but it costs hundreds of times more.

Ultimately, we justify breeding purebreeds because we have a history of the breed -- information about its health history and its probable behavior. The poor crossbred is always a great unknown. For the most part it is an orphan created without care to make a fast buck. Instead of going to a rescue shelter to pick up a needy and deserving crossbred (or even an abandoned purebred), thousands of buyers are opting for a crossbred with Continental Kennel Club papers. Unethical registries, unscrupulous pet store owners, and an unwitting public is, in our opinion, fueling the new traffic in designer mutts.

-- End --

Click here to return to PART 1

This article modified after an article by the same title that appeared in the Coton de Tulear Club of America's Summer, 1997, Coton de Tulear News. Please direct correspondence to cotonnews@aol.com.

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