Alice and I are in Los Angeles at the National Animal Interest Alliance (NAIA) annual conference. The really wonderful thing about this conference is that it brings together people from all venues of animal involvement: farmers, dog and cat breeders and rescuers, circus and rodeo people. In addition to providing broad background for those of us interested in animal issues, many of the presentations can be extrapolated to dogs.
The first speaker this morning was Andy Vance from Feedstuffs magazine whose talk underscored the necessity of providing transparency by “YouTube-proofing” farms. He maintains that if a farmer would not want a webcam on his practices 24/7, he needs to change what he’s doing.
Same goes for dog breeders. It’s a good test for yourself to think how your handling of your animals would appear to the general public if it were on webcam. Think about whether that would change the way you do things for a minute.
If it wouldn’t change a thing, you are probably doing everything right. If it would, perhaps you should rethink your ways of interacting with your dogs. Why? If you know the things you are doing are okay, why should you care whether it would “look okay” to a member of the public watching a webcam?
It’s all about perception. At a time when we are fighting a war against the animal rightists to preserve our right to breed and even own purebred dogs, we need the public on our side. When HSUS puts out a video of a substandard kennel, the implied message being that dog breeders are cruel, greedy people who consider their animals to be moneymaking machines, we need the viewers of these videos to shake their heads and think, “This just doesn’t square with the breeders I know. They love their dogs and treat them extremely well!”
The second speaker was Dr. Lance Baumgard, who showed us scientific studies concluding that animal products neither improve nor reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease. Fascinating presentation on how the current misinformation has been spread, convincing the public that a vegetarian or vegan diet is healthier than a diet that includes animal products. Good news for those of us who love steak and bacon!
Gary Taubes continued the nutritional theme with a fascinating talk about the impact of dietary misinformation on Western obesity…including the real effects of a vegan lifestyle. If you’re interested in why we diet and continue to gain weight, check out his new book, Why We Get Fat: Adiposity 101,
More on NAIA to come!