Over the past two weeks, we removed our discussions from animal health matters and concentrated on topics that could be of other interest to pet owners, if for no reason that the issues often impact directly on the well being of ourselves and wards.

We wrote about the iniquitous practice of dog fighting last week, and on the equally abominable dog ‘training’ exercises on July 25. We will keep in the same vein today, as we discuss this bit of chicanery that goes under the heading of dog breeding, since it seems that every Tom, Dick and Harrylall is getting involved in this lucrative undertaking. Most have no specialized experience or competence, they just let their dogs mate and then sell the offspring to an unsuspecting public (see also column of July 18).

Before going any further, we must understand a few things about breeding:

* Either your dog is a pure bred dog (eg, Doberman, Rottweiler, etc) or it is a mongrel (mixed breed; more a mixed-up breed). I am not advocating that your dog must have great lineage and pedigree. Actually, that would be nice, but unfortunately in Guyana, we don’t have any special (dog) breed societies through which one can trace an animal’s ancestors.

The message here is that if you take the most beautiful Doberman and mate him with a great looking Rottweiler bitch, the result is a mongrel.

A cheerful male dog waits expectantly at the GSPCA for a kind soul to come and adopt him. (He has been neutered.)

* Now please understand that not because an individual dog’s ancestry is not known, is it necessarily of inferior quality. All dogs must be loved and cared for, irrespective of their genetic background. What we are saying, however, is that you shouldn’t be paying many tens of thousands of dollars for a mongrel, just because its father and mother are from pure bred dogs. Of course, if you desire this special type of mongrel and are willing to pay a king’s ransom for it, who am I to tell you differently. The worth of a thing is best known by the want of it. On the other hand, it is my duty to tell those who think they are getting something special (breed-wise), that in fact they are being gypped, because they are really buying a mongrel – albeit from good parents (of different breeds).

* Also, it must be borne in mind that there are no breed standards for mongrels.

* Furthermore, do not believe that the outcome of the offspring can be known with surety by the ‘breeder’ when they mate the dog and the bitch to produce puppies. Genes work in mysterious ways. The mathematical computations and variations are innumerable. In other words, you can mate two show ring champions and the outcome can be a dud. Similarly, the ‘ugliest’ (relative to the standards of that breed) dogs can produce the finest offspring. (Breeding and animal genetics is a very complicated and unsure science.)

* Finally, what you can see as a puppy will not necessarily evolve into a champion. Too many external and extraneous factors can impact on the pup’s development.

Buyers of puppies are therefore warned about paying huge sums of money for dogs whose parents themselves might only have the colour of the breed desired. We have often seen ‘breeders’ pawning dogs off as pure Doberman, say, while the animal has a white tuft on the chest or a black paw or some such un-Doberman trait.

Then there is the issue of inbreeding, mothers mating with sons, brothers and sisters producing puppies. This is almost sinful, since the resultant pups may have severe physical defects associated with the incest. This is happening a lot in Guyana, where much ‘new blood’ has not arrived in this country in the longest while.

We veterinarians see the outcome of such incestuous mismating: bones are twisted, hernia are evident, susceptibility to disease is prevalent. In fact, if you can actually see the anatomical abnormalities on the exterior, you can imagine the possible problems with the organs inside the body. Yet the ‘breeders’ laugh at our concern.

There is a fool born every day whom the ‘breeders’ can exploit. Dear readers, just as how you would carry a mechanic to the dealer when buying a car, so you should take someone knowledgeable when spending a big buck for a dog.

Finally, if a dog was sold to you as a pure breed (that is, the breeder confirmed that the parents are pure) and later it shows physical (anatomical) characteristics that are not common to the breed, then that person should be challenged either on a one-to-one level or in the courts.

I hope I have made my point, without offending anyone.

Please implement disease preventative measures (vaccinations, routine dewormings, monthly anti-heartworm medication, etc) and adopt-a-pet from the GSPCA’s Animal Clinic and Shelter at Robb Street and Orange Walk, if you have the wherewithal to care well for the animals.  Do not stray your unwanted pets, take them to the GSPCA’s Clinic and Shelter instead. If you do not wish your pet to have puppies or kittens, you may exploit the GSPCA’s free spay and neutering programme. If you see anyone being cruel to an animal, or if you need any technical information, please get in touch with the Clinic and Shelter by calling 226-4237.