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

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In what promises to become an Omnivore's Dilemma for dog lovers—breed devotees and adoption advocates alike—The Dog Merchants is the first book to explain the complex and often surprisingly similar business practices that extend from the American Kennel Club to local shelters, from Westminster champions to dog auctions. Without judging dog lovers of any stripe, The Dog Merc In what promises to become an Omnivore's Dilemma for dog lovers—breed devotees and adoption advocates alike—The Dog Merchants is the first book to explain the complex and often surprisingly similar business practices that extend from the American Kennel Club to local shelters, from Westminster champions to dog auctions. Without judging dog lovers of any stripe, The Dog Merchants makes it clear that money spent among these dog merchants has real-world effects on people and canines. Kavin reveals how dog merchants create markets for dogs, often in defiance of the usual rules of supply and demand. She takes an investigative approach and meets breeders and rescuers at all levels, shedding much-needed light on an industry that most people don't even realize is an industry. Kavin’s goal is to advance the conversation about how all dogs are treated, from puppy mills to high-kill shelters. She shows that a great deal can be improved by understanding the business practices behind selling dogs of all kinds. Instead of pitting rescue and purebred people against each other, The Dog Merchants shows how all dog lovers can come together with one voice as consumers, on behalf of all our beloved companions.


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In what promises to become an Omnivore's Dilemma for dog lovers—breed devotees and adoption advocates alike—The Dog Merchants is the first book to explain the complex and often surprisingly similar business practices that extend from the American Kennel Club to local shelters, from Westminster champions to dog auctions. Without judging dog lovers of any stripe, The Dog Merc In what promises to become an Omnivore's Dilemma for dog lovers—breed devotees and adoption advocates alike—The Dog Merchants is the first book to explain the complex and often surprisingly similar business practices that extend from the American Kennel Club to local shelters, from Westminster champions to dog auctions. Without judging dog lovers of any stripe, The Dog Merchants makes it clear that money spent among these dog merchants has real-world effects on people and canines. Kavin reveals how dog merchants create markets for dogs, often in defiance of the usual rules of supply and demand. She takes an investigative approach and meets breeders and rescuers at all levels, shedding much-needed light on an industry that most people don't even realize is an industry. Kavin’s goal is to advance the conversation about how all dogs are treated, from puppy mills to high-kill shelters. She shows that a great deal can be improved by understanding the business practices behind selling dogs of all kinds. Instead of pitting rescue and purebred people against each other, The Dog Merchants shows how all dog lovers can come together with one voice as consumers, on behalf of all our beloved companions.

30 review for The Dog Merchants: Inside the Big Business of Breeders, Pet Stores, and Rescuers

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jen

    Disclaimer: The author, Kim Kavin, came to my store to do a book signing. She was there for her first book "Little Boy Blue" as well. Both books are amazing and incredibly well researched. The following review is based off of the quality of the book and the writing and is not influenced by the fact that she is also a sweet, intelligent and vibrant dog lover. That doesn't hurt though. :) Ok, disclaimer over, lets sink our teeth into this book. First of all, she is amazingly balanced in her research Disclaimer: The author, Kim Kavin, came to my store to do a book signing. She was there for her first book "Little Boy Blue" as well. Both books are amazing and incredibly well researched. The following review is based off of the quality of the book and the writing and is not influenced by the fact that she is also a sweet, intelligent and vibrant dog lover. That doesn't hurt though. :) Ok, disclaimer over, lets sink our teeth into this book. First of all, she is amazingly balanced in her research. There are a few parts where you can tell she is struggling to remain unbiased in her relating of the facts, but she sticks to the facts. She is not defamatory or derogatory in any way. She presents the facts and lets the reader draw their own conclusions. My conclusions after reading this book? That humanity sucks and it is repugnant that laws and rules need to be written so animals, in this case dogs, are treated humanely and with respect and dignity. This book shows both sides of what I didn't realize was a two sided topic. Breeders versus rescue shelters/groups. Basically it boils down to there are awesome breeders that treat the dogs well, there are crappy breeders who treat the dogs worse than they would treat inanimate objects. There are also out of this world rescue shelters that go above and beyond to save the lives of countless dogs. There are also shelters that practically kill the dogs as they enter, collecting tax payer dollars without a thought or care to the lives they extinguish every day. There is no self-regulation on the breeder or rescue sides. The Government tries to step in, but the lobbyists on both sides throw such a fit and so much money to fight the attempted laws, that nothing really gets done. So who is going to step in and stop the abuse of the poor dogs? Who will be their advocate? Who has the power when the Government won't/can't step in? Us. The consumer. If we do our due diligence before we decide who gets our money, then WE have the power. If we give our money to those who respect the dogs and cherish their lives and health, whether a breeder or a rescue, then they will thrive. If we don't give our money to those who don't care about the dogs, who raise them in squaller, who kill those who don't look right or because there are "too many" dogs already, then they will not be able to sustain a business and they will go under. It took a lot of bravery to write and publish this book. No one likes it when their dirty laundry is aired, least of all the AKC and the Humane Society. Not all breeders and rescues are bad, but there are enough of them out there to make the skin crawl. And since the breeders and rescues won't police their own, then we, as consumers have to take a stand. As Kim pointed out in the book, cage-free chickens for egg production has increased and will continue to do so, because consumers are buying the cage free eggs. If there is a demand, you better believe someone will do their best to supply it. People want dogs, that's a given. Now we have to be more picky about how the dogs are raised and treated before they get to us. Kim focuses on just dogs in this book, but I am sure that the same thing is happening with cats too. I believe it's worse for cats. When she quoted a number of animals in a shelter, she gave the total and the number of them that were dogs. The rest were cats and it was about 4 times the number of dogs. I didn't note the page in the book, but I can do so if requested. I flew through this book so quickly, I didn't have time to take notes. It was fascinating and disheartening. But hopeful too. If we take a stand, if we realize there is a problem and that we can do something about it, then hopefully we can change the horror that can be a dog's life and death. I am pro-adoption. I have never had a dog, but my family and I have had many cats. All of them were rescues. I'm not into purebred, not because I am cheap, even though I am, but because purebreds have so many genetic diseases and die too young, all because the breeder is trying to create or foster a look that some human decided long ago was "ideal". Though I admit, I love the look of Rottweilers and Scottish terriers. But I don't have to have that type of dog to be happy with the dog. As long as it's happy, healthy and we love one another, how it looks doesn't matter. I beg you, read this book. It doesn't matter if you are dog person, a cat person, pro-purebred or pro-adoption, planning on getting a pet or never allowing one paw to cross the threshold. This book is exposing the wrong that is happening to living creatures. It needs to be read and discussed and shared. Not to start a fight, but to start a dialogue and to be part of the solution, rather than an ignorant part of the problem. If you ARE thinking about getting a dog or a cat, please, do you research. Don't give your money to a group, breeder or shelter, that isn't treating the animals they are dealing with in a way that you approve of. Kim provides a list of questions in the back of the book that you can ask to get some feedback from the person who has the animal you are thinking about obtaining. Be part of the solution, not the the problem. Five, huge, read-this-now stars. My thanks to NetGalley and Pegasus Books for an eARC copy of this book to read and review. My thanks to Kim for both coming to our store and for being brave enough to tell the truth so lives can be saved, while opening yourself up to a lot of negativity from those on both sides of the field. Keep up the good work!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Judy

    I believe this book should be required reading for anyone who owns or plans to own a dog. The book is meticulously researched and enjoyable. I'm a "dog person" and consider myself a responsible, informed dog owner. Yet, as I read this book, I learned so much about the market forces and the rescue movements that impact how we acquire the dogs that become important members of our families. Getting a dog is a very emotional experience, and I found this book made me reflect on my experience with the I believe this book should be required reading for anyone who owns or plans to own a dog. The book is meticulously researched and enjoyable. I'm a "dog person" and consider myself a responsible, informed dog owner. Yet, as I read this book, I learned so much about the market forces and the rescue movements that impact how we acquire the dogs that become important members of our families. Getting a dog is a very emotional experience, and I found this book made me reflect on my experience with the rescues and hobby breeders I've dealt with. The author clearly is "for the dogs". And her goal is to inform, advocate and empower. Her chapter that includes the open ended questions that one should ask when searching for a dog is essential. For me, a dog is a lifetime commitment, and this book literally opened my eyes to the fallacies of getting a purebred for the "security" of getting a known quantity (did that, and ended up with a dog with serious "treatable and "manageable" problems, for 14 years), and the worship of the dog shows where best in breed is best conformation. My dogs enrich my life and after reading this book, I feel immeasurably better informed and forearmed for when I search for another dog. A quick and important read.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Nancy

    Pets are a product. They are developed, marketed, and sold for profit says the author of The Dog Merchants, Kim Kavin. And too often buyers do not consider all the ramifications of what their dollars are supporting. Once we understand the business, what can we do about it? Kavin believes that smart shoppers can make a difference, even in the dog industry. I am a lifelong dog owner. I was about four years old when my father brought home a puppy, Pepper, a mutt I loved dearly. She would follow me t Pets are a product. They are developed, marketed, and sold for profit says the author of The Dog Merchants, Kim Kavin. And too often buyers do not consider all the ramifications of what their dollars are supporting. Once we understand the business, what can we do about it? Kavin believes that smart shoppers can make a difference, even in the dog industry. I am a lifelong dog owner. I was about four years old when my father brought home a puppy, Pepper, a mutt I loved dearly. She would follow me to school. One day appeared she at my classroom door and I had to walk her home again. When my little brother began walking my grandparents took Pepper in; she was getting crotchety and needed a quieter home. When she was old and in pain my family let her go, and it broke my heart. After we lost our house trained bunny my husband and I bought two dachshunds from a pet store, adopted a dog through a want ad, came home with a home breed pure breed Shiba Inu, and fostered one adopted two more Shibas who were puppy mill breeder rescues. Eight dogs, eight sources that illustrate the cycle of dog ownership over sixty years: from mutts to commercially bred dogs to home bred to rescued. Kim Kavin's fine book considers every aspect of the industry that provides us with our animal companions. She explains the impact of the AKC breed standardization on canine health and well being and how dog competitions fuel a desire for designer dogs. Kavin reveals that puppy farms are producing dogs in expectation that the rescue societies will buy them! That sends chills down my spine. I respect Kavin for telling the truth in an objective and informative way. She offers examples of canine abuse without being manipulative. I hate those commercials seeking funds that prey on one's feelings. Kavin never stoops to such tactics. I don't think I could stand 'the details' of puppy mill life any more than the details of combat. I saw the ramifications mill life had on my foster dog Kara and adopted girls Suki and Kara. Everyone who loves dogs, or who are considering adding a dog to their family, should read this book. It will help in making informed decisions on all the vital questions: are you prepared to take responsibility for a dog, what are you willing to invest, what you should ask before making your purchase. The book is published in conjunction with a website where pet owners can share knowledge through product-style reviews and ratings of breeders and rescues. Visit The Dog Merchants website http://www.dogmerchants.com. I received a free ebook through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Margie

    This is a book that really makes you think. It's an interesting read and covers puppy mills, breeding farms, rescues, shelters, etc. Of course, there are parts that are a little difficult to read ; that is, the cruel ways of some people towards dogs, how easy some pet owners abandon their dogs, and the treatment of dogs in other countries. Well researched. I now understand what happened to a relatives puppy that she purchased from a store-many years ago-but the heartbreak of it remains.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    At this very moment, there is a battle going on in Montreal over whether certain breeds of dogs ought to be "banned" from our society. Why did this happen? I think a big part of it is because unscrupulous breeders and distributors have failed us. They have emphasized profit to the detriment of the animals, and they have sidestepped common-sense screening practices in order to increase sales. The Dog Merchants follows the money through the big business of breeding and selling dogs. From backyard At this very moment, there is a battle going on in Montreal over whether certain breeds of dogs ought to be "banned" from our society. Why did this happen? I think a big part of it is because unscrupulous breeders and distributors have failed us. They have emphasized profit to the detriment of the animals, and they have sidestepped common-sense screening practices in order to increase sales. The Dog Merchants follows the money through the big business of breeding and selling dogs. From backyard breeders to industry giants, this book takes an unbiased, fair look at all the different paths a puppy can take from mom to home. No one is let off the hook--not the person who sells puppies on Craigslist, not supposedly altruistic animal shelters, not giant dog auctioneers, not puppy distribution centers, and not even the AKC. But Kavin does more than simply document the process. She suggests a solution: a database of dog breeders and sellers where we, the consumers (i.e., pet parents) can talk about the good and the bad in a neutral environment, giving support to the good guys and warning our fellow dog lovers away from the bad ones. If you're thinking of buying a dog, read this book. If you're thinking of becoming a breeder, read this book. If you're thinking of adopting from a shelter, read this book. In short, if you're thinking of acquiring a dog from any source OR if you're thinking of dabbling your toes in the big business of raising and selling puppies, read this book. It can be done well--and certainly show breeders shouldn't have a monopoly on breeding--but all too often it's the dogs who suffer. Well worth the read. A one-of-a-kind book.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Ginni

    People who are passionate about things tend to be bad about nuance, so I expected this book to be the equivalent of the vegan friend who posts inappropriate pictures of tortured animals on Facebook. Instead, this book looks at the dog business realistically and comprehensively, with all its ethical grays. Dog breeders aren't always evil, rescues sometimes get things wrong, and looking at dogs as products might be the key to changing the system for the better. I was intrigued and surprised. The b People who are passionate about things tend to be bad about nuance, so I expected this book to be the equivalent of the vegan friend who posts inappropriate pictures of tortured animals on Facebook. Instead, this book looks at the dog business realistically and comprehensively, with all its ethical grays. Dog breeders aren't always evil, rescues sometimes get things wrong, and looking at dogs as products might be the key to changing the system for the better. I was intrigued and surprised. The biggest turn-off, for me, was when the book essentially summed up with a plug for the author's website. (Really--dogmerchants.com is how we will fix things!) But that's a relatively minor thing in a book that's thorough, well-researched, clear, current, and challenging. If you own a dog, are considering getting a dog in the future, or just care about dogs, it's a must-read. (I received this book for free through a Goodreads giveaway.)

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Wow-a look into where we get our dogs-shelters, rescues, on-line, dog stores, small breeders and big. This is the most objective analysis I've read about the dog industry, with no sad or scary pictures and serious research translated into real world impact. If you care about the conditions that dogs are raised or housed in, want to know why one pup can be $1000 and a another $200 and why neither is a guarantee of good temperament or good health, this is the book for you. It includes some intrigui Wow-a look into where we get our dogs-shelters, rescues, on-line, dog stores, small breeders and big. This is the most objective analysis I've read about the dog industry, with no sad or scary pictures and serious research translated into real world impact. If you care about the conditions that dogs are raised or housed in, want to know why one pup can be $1000 and a another $200 and why neither is a guarantee of good temperament or good health, this is the book for you. It includes some intriguing information about laws regarding animal treatment and how they are evolving.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Sassafras Lowrey

    Interesting premise and has some strong arguments but FAR from unbiased favoring rescue/mixed breeds (though it claims journalistic balance). i think i'm probably one of the more balanced readers - long-term vegetarian & animal welfare advocate, grew up training/showing dogs, hobby dog trainer, and lover of both mixed breeds and purebreeds. The biggest red flag for me was the way in which the author used facts but didn't provide honest or accurate explanation for them. This stood out most to Interesting premise and has some strong arguments but FAR from unbiased favoring rescue/mixed breeds (though it claims journalistic balance). i think i'm probably one of the more balanced readers - long-term vegetarian & animal welfare advocate, grew up training/showing dogs, hobby dog trainer, and lover of both mixed breeds and purebreeds. The biggest red flag for me was the way in which the author used facts but didn't provide honest or accurate explanation for them. This stood out most to me in one of her MANY critiques of the AKC focusing on the 1st Westminster Agility Competition. She took issue with the limited number of mutts allowed in -- but see, I was there (as a member of the press) AND had friends competing. It was a lottery entry (meaning everyone who wanted to compete sent in a registration form, and dogs were drawn at random)-- far from the anti mutt conspiricy that was alluded to. That then made me much more skeptical of the framing for every other section of the book- and the inherrant bias. I think the premise was interesting, and the dialogue the book may inspire important BUT i would have liked to see a much more balanced perspective - all dogs are not "created" equal- talk to pure breed sport dog breeders, working dog breeders and handlers, get their perspective, experience and breeding philosophy of breeding dogs for specific types of work, otherwise you're just using a very limited pool of the pure breed dog world to prove a clearly pre-determined agenda and readers like me risk not trusting any of the book's arguments including those with merit.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Marcy Graybill

    Okay, I know that some rescues do a great job and get little reward, but when someone is making large amounts of money and importing dogs from overseas instead of rescuing dogs in need here in the US, how is that any different from puppy mills? I find that Kim spends a lot of time justifying just this, while dissing all breeders. She also really has no understanding of the point of Dog Conformation shows. I'm not saying the dog world is perfect, but making money off of dogs that are "rescues" is Okay, I know that some rescues do a great job and get little reward, but when someone is making large amounts of money and importing dogs from overseas instead of rescuing dogs in need here in the US, how is that any different from puppy mills? I find that Kim spends a lot of time justifying just this, while dissing all breeders. She also really has no understanding of the point of Dog Conformation shows. I'm not saying the dog world is perfect, but making money off of dogs that are "rescues" is no different from making money off of breeding dogs.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Alysa H.

    An incredibly informative, eye-opening, and surprisingly well-balanced book that has changed my perspective on dogs and dog ownership. I don't have a dog, but I had one as a child and have always loved them. But now, I see dogs around me -- out for walks, etc -- and cannot stop mentally questioning what I am seeing. A must-read for all dog lovers, dog owners, and aspiring dog owners. ** I received a Review Copy of this book via NetGalley **

  11. 4 out of 5

    Tina Grove

    Excellent book, so well done. highly recommend for any dog or animal lover or anyone considering adding a dog to their family in the future.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jenny

    Everyone who cares about dogs should read this book. Don't worry, it does not contain graphic descriptions about dogs in terrible conditions (maybe one somewhat graphic example, near the end of the book). This book describes the giant, convoluted business of buying and selling dogs and gives excellent information about how to make the whole system better for our beloved dogs.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    The Dog Merchants by Kim Kavin is a thought-provoking book that offers a unique perspective on dog buying and ownership. It is, however, bookended by its worst chapters. The first couple of chapters, which are just pointless descriptions of a dog auction and dog show, respectively, peppered with Kavin's rather holier-than-thou judgment of those who partake or enjoy them. The final chapter is an advertisement for her website and a pitch for a TV series, and is also skippable. It's the middle of t The Dog Merchants by Kim Kavin is a thought-provoking book that offers a unique perspective on dog buying and ownership. It is, however, bookended by its worst chapters. The first couple of chapters, which are just pointless descriptions of a dog auction and dog show, respectively, peppered with Kavin's rather holier-than-thou judgment of those who partake or enjoy them. The final chapter is an advertisement for her website and a pitch for a TV series, and is also skippable. It's the middle of the book that has the interesting story to tell. Kavin revealed aspects of the dog-buying industry that I did not know existed, and did so from a fairly even-keeled position. However, I would have preferred some direct citations for things like statistics or science-based fact. Instead, there is just a list of sources at the end of the book, disconnected from where they are used. (The print version may be different.) I would say that Kavin does seem to lean more towards the animal rights side of things, although she is critical of all camps throughout the book. The odd difference was near the end where she rather oddly started talking about chickens in an attempt to inspire the masses to change the dog industry with their dollars. Ignoring the part where this suggestion is rather naïve, the whole chicken digression was jarring in that it was totally devoid of nuance where the book had previously laid the nuance on pretty heavily. The chicken housing debate is much more complicated than she portrays it here, and it's clear that she didn't actually know much about it. I suppose I shouldn't expect much on topics related to the food industry by someone who admits to being inspired by Fast Food Nation and The Omnivore's Dilemma in the introduction, but the rest of the book is fairly solid (if a little thin on sources) and this extended, grossly oversimplified digression near the end of an otherwise nuanced book came off as bizarre.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Marina

    I don't know why I did this to myself. I listened to two (TWO!!!) of these "how dogs are treated by society/sellers/owners/rescue/etc." in a row. There was so much information in this book and it was given in a very straightforward and unbiased way. Kavin explained the good and the bad of the backyard, commercial and wholesale breeders. She also did the same for the variety of rescue organizations and humane society/shelter groups out there, as well. The last chapter offered a great list of ques I don't know why I did this to myself. I listened to two (TWO!!!) of these "how dogs are treated by society/sellers/owners/rescue/etc." in a row. There was so much information in this book and it was given in a very straightforward and unbiased way. Kavin explained the good and the bad of the backyard, commercial and wholesale breeders. She also did the same for the variety of rescue organizations and humane society/shelter groups out there, as well. The last chapter offered a great list of questions that people looking for dogs from any of the options should be asking to make sure they are working with a group that has more care for the animals than their own bottom line. She offered ideas on how the dog industry (and it is an industry for lack of a better term) can be modified by the consumer. She has even created a website for reviews of breeders, rescues, shelters, and pet stores: http://www.dogmerchants.com/. It made me pause to consider the process of a future dog adoption and how, when I'm on petfinder, I'm focusing more on image than personality but I know that I actually get in there I will have to focus on personality and compatibility with myself, my dog, my cats, my family and my lifestyle. It made me think. Which is what a book like that is supposed to do.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Cynthia

    This was an uncomfortable book for me to read. On the one hand, I am heavily involved in dog rescue so my conscience wasn't that wounded, but on the other hand there are breeds I do love, like German Shepherds and Pekingese, and if I had a chance to get a purebred and my life style allowed it I would. But to read how these dogs suffer - and not just in the puppy mills, but by the very traits they have been bred for. Like the ones whose brains are too big for their skulls, and who scream and seiz This was an uncomfortable book for me to read. On the one hand, I am heavily involved in dog rescue so my conscience wasn't that wounded, but on the other hand there are breeds I do love, like German Shepherds and Pekingese, and if I had a chance to get a purebred and my life style allowed it I would. But to read how these dogs suffer - and not just in the puppy mills, but by the very traits they have been bred for. Like the ones whose brains are too big for their skulls, and who scream and seize throughout most of their miserable lives, or those with the squishy faces I love so, who struggle and strain for every breath - just because we think they look cute that way. It's a stunning indictment of an industry in which these living, breathing, loving creatures are just product. It was a little more thinking than I wanted to do on my summer vacation.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Beckimoody Moody

    This was a very interesting book and I think a lot of my friends would find it informative. As a dog person, there is a lot of fighting among groups all claiming to have the best interests of animals at heart. I think Kim did a pretty good job of looking at different sides of the debate and pointing out ways that everyone gets it a little bit wrong. She discusses breeders (including large scale operations), rescue groups, dog shows, no-kill shelters, backyard breeders and more. It isn't quite as This was a very interesting book and I think a lot of my friends would find it informative. As a dog person, there is a lot of fighting among groups all claiming to have the best interests of animals at heart. I think Kim did a pretty good job of looking at different sides of the debate and pointing out ways that everyone gets it a little bit wrong. She discusses breeders (including large scale operations), rescue groups, dog shows, no-kill shelters, backyard breeders and more. It isn't quite as black and white as I had always assumed. (For example, she points out a dog auction where some rescue groups - with best intentions - purchase dogs creating more demand from breeders.)

  17. 5 out of 5

    Minna

    This is a book that will make you think, for long, loooooooooong after you're done reading. If you are a dog owner, a dog lover, a dog anything, this is a book you ought to read. Dogs are examined from every possible political, legal, economical and emotional angle. I learned a lot, reading this, and I know it will stay with me for a good long time. Please: do yourself a a favor and pick up this book, especially if you have, have had, or would like to have a dog. I received this book as an ARC fr This is a book that will make you think, for long, loooooooooong after you're done reading. If you are a dog owner, a dog lover, a dog anything, this is a book you ought to read. Dogs are examined from every possible political, legal, economical and emotional angle. I learned a lot, reading this, and I know it will stay with me for a good long time. Please: do yourself a a favor and pick up this book, especially if you have, have had, or would like to have a dog. I received this book as an ARC from NetGalley - thanks NetGalley!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Christie Bane

    This is a well-written, well-researched, contemporary book about the current state of dog buying and selling. Topics investigated include rescue groups both good and bad, top AKC breeders, hobby breeders, "middlemen" (dog brokers), and the ways in which value is assigned to products that we buy, including dogs. It's written in a neutral, investigative journalism tone. Overall, a good, informative if not terribly exciting read about the current state of dog buying and selling today.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jeri Waterloo

    Great book for to read before getting a pet Very interesting Informative education Read before getting a dog or any animal research on Google ask friends check references avoid hearts being broken. Remember this is the only member of your family you will have 100 percent say so.other than spouse

  20. 4 out of 5

    Kristen Lauderdale

    This book provided some answers to so many questions I've had about breeders and rescue groups over the years but couldn't find much non-biased information about. Very balanced and informative. A book I wish everyone would read.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Shelley

    Ironically, I ordered this from my local library system, and it arrived a few days after committing to be the northern Michigan representative for a rescue. Totally unrelated. LOL I learned a lot from this book. I stuck more bookmarks in this book than any I've read this year.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    I won this book through Goodreads. Gah... I really dislike people. Hopefully these inhumane practices can stop very soon.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Michael Delaware

    An overall good investigation on all aspects of the business of dog merchants. I liked the authors attention to detail on some of the main issues with the industry, from breeders to rescuers. What I did not like was the section of opinion from a university and their summations on the dog purchasing habits of liberals vs conservatives. To me that was a invalid study, as the ones conducting the study were clearly liberal and therefore proceeding with a bias into their research. The fact is I know p An overall good investigation on all aspects of the business of dog merchants. I liked the authors attention to detail on some of the main issues with the industry, from breeders to rescuers. What I did not like was the section of opinion from a university and their summations on the dog purchasing habits of liberals vs conservatives. To me that was a invalid study, as the ones conducting the study were clearly liberal and therefore proceeding with a bias into their research. The fact is I know people from both ideologies that adopt from rescue organizations, and the same with getting a dog from a breeder. To me, that entire section took the book down at least one star as it was not rooted in fact, but conjecture and fabricated opinion. I also would have liked her to expose more about the ASPCA and their false operating policies that condemn dogs to death because they deem them to be dangerous, especially when they deny requests from sanctuaries to take them in. When I saw this in action, I could no longer support this organization. I would have also liked to see her give more credit to the Best Friends Animal Society for their spearheading the 'no kill' shelter movement. She does not appear to have made the connection that it was this organization which was the one that coined the 'save them all' movement or that they took in over half of the dogs from the courts in the Michael Vick case. I also feel that she missed discussing one of the key problems with rescue organizations when they operate with too many opinions about the campatibility with animals and prospective owners. When I wanted to adopt my first dog, I walked away from two different shelters because they made adoption from them far too complicated. I finally found a rescue organization that was down to earth and helped to educate me as a new pet owner, which was all I needed. When I went to adopt my second dog, I was turned down by 5 other rescue organizations as they considered my current dog to be a problem for each prospective dog I wanted to adopt. Some drew this conclusion before they even met my dog. I ultimately went to a breeder and bought a puppy, even through I would have preferred to have adopted an older dog as my second dog. I went to a breeder out of frustration, not because it was my first choice. The result was my first dog became great friends with the second dog, and between them they established their own alpha-beta hierarchy, which all dogs will eventually do when paired because they are pack animals. Today they are still the best of friends, and I can leave them alone at home and they keep each other company when I am not there. The point I make in all this is that rescue organizations can get too caught up into opinions, and not really looking at the greater good. They will evaluate a dog in a stressful situation and for ideas and opinions about them, and then essentially brand the dog with this status which frightens off many prospective adopters. The author touches on this a little, with the fact that rescue organizations conduct poor marketing. However, when a dog gets labeled because some 'expert' in their group made a determination on them, it can really be an injustice. For example, the Humane Society and the ASPCA recommended the Michael Vick dogs be euthanized, stating they were too vicious. Thankfully other more compassionate groups fought this, and proved them wrong. All of the dogs who were sent to rescue organizations ceased being vicious and dangerous once they were given a chance to be treated humanely. I was a homeowner with a large fenced in backyard, good income and I wanted to adopt a dog, and too many hurdles were put in place which turned me away. It makes me wonder how many other potential adopters are discouraged because of a false idealology that can develop from people who consider themselves to be 'experts'. The author does nail some of this with her discussion about breeders, and the whole AKC dog show circuit. She also elaborates on some of this when covering the Michael Vick case. I would have just liked to have seen her call attention to these other issues within the industry as a whole, especially pointing out these flaws in the rescue industry. There are a lot of resources out there for dog owners today. There are books, shows, classes, pet supply stores with product knowledgeable people, veterinarians, instructors, etc. The industry just needs to spend more time on educating new and want-to-be pet owners, and make the process easier rather than an obstacle course. This book is a worthwhile read, but it is just the beginning of one's study of the industry.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    I remembered reading and liking Kim Kavin's previous book Little Boy Blue about her personal story with adopting a dog who was transported from a high-kill shelter in the South to her home state of New Jersey. In The Dog Merchants Kavin takes on breeders. Is there such a thing as a "responsible" breeder? Can legislation stop puppy mills? Why does the Westminster dog show have such an impact on breeding and dog popularity? These are just a few of the questions that Kavin tackles in this book. I w I remembered reading and liking Kim Kavin's previous book Little Boy Blue about her personal story with adopting a dog who was transported from a high-kill shelter in the South to her home state of New Jersey. In The Dog Merchants Kavin takes on breeders. Is there such a thing as a "responsible" breeder? Can legislation stop puppy mills? Why does the Westminster dog show have such an impact on breeding and dog popularity? These are just a few of the questions that Kavin tackles in this book. I was truly amazed at how many large and small scale dog breeders are out there, but I was even more shocked by how much movies and the winners of the Westminster dog show affect the public opinion of certain breeds and the demand for them. While Kavin definitely shows examples of good, responsible breeders, the overall theme of the book is that dog breeding today (especially in the US) is driven by the "breed standards" created by breed clubs hoping for wins at Westminster and other dog shows. Any breed can make a great pet, but often breeders attach personality traits to their breeds that can apply to any pet if you put the time into training. At the very end she talks about what questions to ask when adopting or purchasing a dog - questions to ask yourself about how much time and money you're willing to invest in your pet and also questions for the shelter and/or breeder you're adopting/buying from. Definitely an interesting look at the dog industry through the lens of breeding. Some quotes I really liked: "'To me, breeds are like a designer handbag,' Woods writes. 'People like the way they look and the hype behind them. They buy into the stereotypes (Border Collies are the smartest, Labs are the most faithful, etc.) and then they match up how they see themselves with the marketing behind the dog.'" (p. 49) "All dog lovers have come to know the terms 'puppy mill' and 'puppy farm' in recent years. They appear on the news and in fundraising letters from animal welfare groups showing horrific photographs and asking for donations to shut down the big-scale breeders who treat dogs badly...But what, exactly, is a puppy mill? There is no legal definition, even according to leading animal welfare groups." (p. 89) "The notion that America's homeless dogs face an 'overpopulation problem' does not match up against the available statistics. Supply is not exceeding demand. Americans want about eight million dogs a year as new pets, while only about four million dogs are entering the shelters. America kills about two million of those shelter dogs each year while US dog lovers get their new pets from other sources. If just half the Americans already getting a dog went the shelter route, then statistically speaking, every cage in US animal control facilities could be emptied. Right now. And the United States would still need another four million dogs each year to meet demand. Americans want more pups than any other nation on the planet. In the United States, there are no extra dogs in terms of quantity. There are instead millions of throwaway dogs in terms of perceived quality." (p.140-1) "'This is a very materialistic society. If you buy something and then you don't want it, you throw it out,' [Teri Goodman] says. 'I was walking on the street with Misty one day, and there was a woman who said a woman up the block wanted to get rid of her older dog. I said, 'What's the problem? Is the dog unhealthy? Is there a problem with finances?' And the woman said she was selling her house and moving to an apartment, and she had a garden and could let the dog out, but at the apartment, she'd have to walk her. The dog was fourteen. She'd had her from a puppy. Now that I've been in this senior dog world for a while, that's not an uncommon story. People think of a dog as a commodity, that you can get rid of it if it's inconvenient.'" (p. 203)

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kristin

    I won this book through a Goodreads FirstReads giveaway and didn't realize until about 1/4 of the way through the book that it was written by the same person who wrote 'Little Boy Blue', a book about her own dog adoption experience that opened my eyes to the reality of dog rescues and probably contributed to the adoption of my current dog. Ollie came from unknown circumstances in Tennessee and being an ordinary, pit bull-ish looking dog probably would have never found a home before being euthani I won this book through a Goodreads FirstReads giveaway and didn't realize until about 1/4 of the way through the book that it was written by the same person who wrote 'Little Boy Blue', a book about her own dog adoption experience that opened my eyes to the reality of dog rescues and probably contributed to the adoption of my current dog. Ollie came from unknown circumstances in Tennessee and being an ordinary, pit bull-ish looking dog probably would have never found a home before being euthanized due to no space at his shelter. Instead, he was brought to PA via a rescue van who, like outlined in 'Little Boy Blue', brings dogs from high-kill shelters in the South to rescues in the Northeast where demand often outpaces the availability of appropriate shelter dogs and puppies. In 'The Dog Merchants', Kavin looks at the entire industry of dogs because no matter what, unless you have a neighbor giving away free puppies from an unexpected litter or advertising the adult dog they can no longer care for as 'Free to a Good Home', you are purchasing the newest canine addition to your family, whether it comes from a pet store, rescue, or the local animal shelter. I, like most animal lovers out there, had the mindset of 'pet stores and commercial breeders are bad, small private breeders are probably OK, but no-kill shelters and rescues are best'. Kavin does her best though to explain the pros and cons of each source of dogs and seems very objective in not promoting one method of acquiring a dog over another, just telling things as they are. If anything, she is cruelest on the Westminster/Crufts dog show crowd, which both fuels the public's demand for the prettiest or trendiest purebred dog and causes undermines the integrity of the breeds it professes to be protecting by keeping only the 'best' dogs in the breeding lines. Specifically, she highlights the border collie, a breed that is widely believed to be the smartest and best herding dog. However, these same traits that make it great on a farm don't translate well to the show circuit, where there's not much herding to be done and would lead to boredom and behaviors not fitting of a show dog either. So the breeders that are looking for show quality border collies in their litters end up selecting the 'dumber' ones, that over time produce dogs that are well-equipped for the show ring but would be of little use around a flock of sheep. I enjoy the Westminster show every year, and am aware of the effect it has on promoting lesser known breeds, much like '101 Dalmatians' fueled a spike in purchase, and subsequent abandonment, of that breed, but I hadn't thought about the effects of show breeding on dogs that wouldn't ordinarily lend themselves well to that lifestyle. Overall, an excellent read, and definitely makes you think about where you get your dog and what its origins might be.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Danielle

    I started out really liking this book. It gave me a LOT to think about and I appreciated the research that went into it. I appreciated the division of commercial vs hobby breeders when those topics were discussed as well as a fair look at the issues with: breeders, shelters and rescues. As the book went on things started to become repetitive as well as random research or stories thrown in that seemed to stray from what I felt was the book's main focus. It almost seemed as though Kavin starts out I started out really liking this book. It gave me a LOT to think about and I appreciated the research that went into it. I appreciated the division of commercial vs hobby breeders when those topics were discussed as well as a fair look at the issues with: breeders, shelters and rescues. As the book went on things started to become repetitive as well as random research or stories thrown in that seemed to stray from what I felt was the book's main focus. It almost seemed as though Kavin starts out the first half of this book presenting interesting unbiased information and then unravels as the book goes on. The final 50-100 or so pages (I was listening to the audiobook so I am going to estimate.) were nearly unbearable and I kept thinking, "She doesn't know how to or does not want to end this book." And the final "half hour" of the audiobook seemed to reveal that Kavin thinks that conformation dog shows and the existence of purebreds are entirely to blame for all of the supply/demand issues that dogs face. (Explain the "doodle craze" then. There are no doodles in conformation shows yet that is THE desired family dog.) Okay. I am not going to get into my own opinions on dogs here :) If I could rate the beginning of this book only, it would have been 4-5 stars for me. But then I finished it. The ending was thoroughly embarrassing (get rid of conformation dog shows and have celebrities compete against dogs to catch frisbees! WHAT!?) and if I hear the word "pooch" instead of dog one more time I might just scream.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jill

    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 indu 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.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Cara Achterberg

    This is such an important book! I love Kim Kavin's engaging style. She is an excellent journalist and digs deep into the business of buying/selling/rescuing dogs. Her research is thorough and documented. While there is plenty in this book to break your heart, there is also great reason to hope. Kim offers solutions and inspiration for making the business of buying and selling and saving dogs one that is best for the dogs well-being and begins to solve the problem of unwanted dogs. She offers cre This is such an important book! I love Kim Kavin's engaging style. She is an excellent journalist and digs deep into the business of buying/selling/rescuing dogs. Her research is thorough and documented. While there is plenty in this book to break your heart, there is also great reason to hope. Kim offers solutions and inspiration for making the business of buying and selling and saving dogs one that is best for the dogs well-being and begins to solve the problem of unwanted dogs. She offers creative ideas and innovative solutions to change the tragic situation many of us witness in the world of dog rescue. Cannot recommend this book enough. If you love dogs, you should read this book.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Heather Buckley

    I was given the opportunity to read this book and then Skype with the author, along with fellow dog lovers. How could I pass that up? The book was a great read - I learned about many different aspects of the "dog business" that I never knew existed, like dog auctions. The book helped me understand that yes, there are good rescues, bad rescues, good breeders and bad breeders. It also outlined ways in which we could help educate the public, to realize they don't need a purebred from a breeder, tha I was given the opportunity to read this book and then Skype with the author, along with fellow dog lovers. How could I pass that up? The book was a great read - I learned about many different aspects of the "dog business" that I never knew existed, like dog auctions. The book helped me understand that yes, there are good rescues, bad rescues, good breeders and bad breeders. It also outlined ways in which we could help educate the public, to realize they don't need a purebred from a breeder, that dogs from shelters (whether purebred or not) are just as great. It was a pleasure to Skype with the author after we'd read the book and to hear about how she did her research. Every dog lover should read this book.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Robert

    A must-read for all dog lovers, even though it will piss off virtually every part of the dog-raising world. Kim Kavin meticulously researches every aspect of the issue, from breeders to dog show organizers to rescue groups to dog owners, in an even-handed way to show there are no easy answers to the issue of dog welfare. Ultimately, she concludes, the solution to the curse of dog overpopulation and abuse is the economic power of the dog-loving public. Bravo, Kim.

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