A Breeder’s Purpose Raelin N. Swillum 1st Place 2019 FFA Speaking Contest Winner

Anthony McReynolds contacted my father two years ago inquiring about a German Shepherd we had for sale. We had one puppy left in the litter and he agreed to come down and look at him. When he got to our house, we began talking and he started telling us a little about his life. Anthony was a veteran of the Marine Special Forces, in a unit known as the Raiders. He dealt with close quarter, hand-to-hand combat. He honestly looked like the kind of guy who could run five miles and then beat someone up without even getting winded. However, Sargent McReynolds came home with injuries that could not be seen, he was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and was medically retired. He decided that he needed to try dog therapy, so he purchased our puppy and named him Raider. Since then, he has given us many updates on how his life has changed. He talks about how protective Raider is of his children, how he is always with him, and how he is his best friend. McReynolds said that even though the dog had been the last puppy left, he felt like he had the pick of the litter. My family has been raising dogs for years, and it’s those kinds of stories that remind me that we are more than just dog breeders, but these animals can actually help change peoples’ lives. It has been made clear to me that pet breeders are essential to the well being of humans. A study conducted by George Mason University showed that “the pet industry supported over 1.3 million U.S. jobs in 2015 that paid more than $60 billion in salaries, wages and benefits” (“Economic Powerhouse”, 2017). Dr. Terry L. Clower, the man who headed the study stated that “not only does the pet industry contribute more than $221 billion to the economy, but that also includes an impressive $23 billion in federal, state, and local taxes” (“Economic Powerhouse”, 2017). You see, this is encouraging because it means that the pet industry is growing and its impacts on our country are positive, providing both benefits to us and to our animals. Pets provide us with companionship, joy, fun, love, and health, as well as helping our country’s economic vitality (“Economic Powerhouse”, 2017). “Over 71 million American households, that’s 62%, have a pet, and most people consider their pets as members of the family. Some research studies have found that people who have a pet have healthier hearts, stay home sick less often, make fewer visits to the doctor, get more exercise, and are less depressed. Pets may also have a significant impact on allergies, asthma, social support, and social interactions with other people” (Casciotti, 2017). Unbelievable to many, however, is that there are groups that do not believe that pets should be used for any reason. In fact, there are groups that want the public to believe that they are saving all of the starving pets, but in all reality, that’s

just a front for organizations with hidden agendas. Many non-governmental organizations do nothing to actually protect the animals; instead, they harm American families, taxpayers, and businesses, as well as our valued wildlife (“Environmental NGO’s”). “These groups supposedly want to see species protected, but the results show that they are backlogging the system, and the money shows that they are getting paid to do so” (“Environmental NGO’s”). They use words like “horrific”, “perverted”, “torture”, and “barbaric” to intentionally mislead and trigger uninformed supporters to hit the “donate” button; but in all reality, the thesarus is the only source they use in their “research”. This honestly isn’t anything new, because animal rights groups “always rely on histrionics, misinformation, and outright falsehoods to garner donations” (“Group Creates Drama”). “Their fundraising activities fool the public into believing that their donation dollars are going to provide care for animals in their area, [however] their deceptive practices [actually harm] local shelters. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, otherwise known as the ASPCA, tries to associate itself with saving animal lives when, in fact, its highest priority is fundraising and pushing legislation to limit the rights of animal owners” (“Trickery In Fundraising”). Groups like these do not believe that animals should be used by humans or be in human care at all (“Group Creates Drama”). Animal rights organizations “seek to put an end to animal ownership” (“Threats”). Protect the Harvest stated that “pet breeding is facing some serious threats from animal rights groups. In an effort to disguise their true intentions of outlawing animal ownership, animal rights groups have been seeking to both regulate pet breeders out of business and to restrict choices for citizens when it comes to selecting a pet. In doing so, they are not only attacking the breeder’s ability to provide for themselves and their families, but they are also targeting your right to raise and care for your family’s pets. These groups continue to spread false information that distorts consumer perception of how pet breeders operate in hopes of forcing the issue” (“Threats”). “In 2017, California passed Assembly Bill 485 into law. This new law mandates that all dogs, cats, and rabbits sold in pet stores must come from rescues or shelters, rather than federally licensed’ and regulated breeders. Pet stores will also face a $500 fine if found to be selling animals from federally licensed breeders” (“Threats”). Now, since this law has passed in California, it has set a precedent and has given animal rights groups a foot in the door that allows them to push similar legislation in other states. In fact, there is legislation being proposed that would actually outlaw 22

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