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The Dog Merchants: Inside the Big Business…
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The Dog Merchants: Inside the Big Business of Breeders, Pet Stores, and…

by Kim Kavin

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232712,244 (3.75)None
"Reveals the complex network behind the $11 billion-a-year business of selling dogs; discusses how all dogs are treated, from puppy mills to high-kill shelters; and shows how all dog lovers can come together, with one voice as consumers, on behalf of canines everywhere,"--NoveList.

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This is not a “How Much is That Doggie in the Window?” feel good tale but is about behind the scene activities that occur before the cute little face appears for public consumption. There will be no doubts left in readers’ minds that puppies are big business and for some big money. As the author found, as in any business, greed will result in cut corners, indecent conditions, overcrowding, and a disregard for limited regulations. The author does a good job illustrating problems with the pet industry and strong case for consumers to be more aware. The proposed smart shopping increased consumer intelligence, and spray/neuter provide minimal guidance for improvement. The book lacks a clear call for action one would expect in an expose. A bibliography, extensive notes, and index support this expose of the dog selling business. ( )
  bemislibrary | Sep 24, 2017 |
Dog Merchants is different. Dog lover Kim Kavin looks at dogs as a business, from mostly business angles, so you can get a feel for the industry itself. Beyond the headline horror stories, there is structure, regulation, enforcement, and exemplary businesses from the hobby breeder up to the aggregators. Kavin puts everything in perspective without falling too far into the emotional trap, though there’s lots of that as well.

The big idea in The Dog Merchants is that there is no oversupply of dogs. The real problem is attitude. Rescuers and shelters have trouble placing dogs, while dog shows constantly create and reinforce fashion fads, distorting the market and making it difficult for other breeds. (Starting with German Shepherds and Rin Tin Tin, think collies after Lassie, Dalmations after 101 Dalmations, and the current lock that terriers have on Frasier and the Westminster Dog Shows). Most of all, people have the absurd attitude that certified purebreds make better pets than other dogs. The opposite is true. Purebreds are manmade inventions, complete with the genetic defects of customization: propensities to cancer, hip dysplasia, breathing problems from flattened snouts and a host of other inbreeding defects. She says Dobermans have a life expectancy of six. Mixed breed dogs are more balanced and normal. It’s the difference between designer dogs and agile, intelligent dogs.

People are fashion slaves to the detriment of both the dogs and themselves: “The public believes the pets in pet facilities are there because there is something wrong with them. We have to teach them that the pet is there because there is something wrong with the person who had the pet.” Breeders and owners of highly skilled border collies had to go to court to prevent the likes of Westminster from specifying a pure breed (for looks only) and ruining the centuries of achievement. They lost.

So the problem is ultimately with dog owners, not dogs. Kavin shows in a number of ways there is a home for every dog, if we stop ignoring the normal dogs in favor of the problematic purebreds. There is demand for dogs to the tune of eight million a year. But we devalue non purebreds so much most won’t even consider them. She even examines the psychology, finding Conservatives demand the status symbol purebreds, while Liberals are fine with anti-status mixed breeds.

The Dog Merchants gives everyone the advance knowledge to ask the right questions, find the right seller, and make the best choice. That’s a major accomplishment and a valuable service in an otherwise opaque sector.

David Wineberg ( )
  DavidWineberg | Feb 1, 2016 |
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