A new organization is forming to combat threats by animal rights and anti-hunting activists to sporting dog ownership, field trials, private and professional kennels, and hunting with dogs.
Make no mistake about it, we are in a fight to the death. Our opponents will not stop until they have destroyed the traditions we love, eliminate hunting and ban the private ownership of dogs. That is their real agenda. They know they cannot win honestly and thus their strategy is to chip away at our heritage one bite at a time. In several states, they are ripping into us with the savagery of a pack of hyenas. They want to destroy us. If our traditions are to survive, we have no alternative except to fight back with everything we can muster and not relent until we have won.
Animal rights groups are very well organized and well-funded, and they have learned how to sensationalize issues to attract support from well meaning but ill-informed people who love animals. Field trials are threatened because governmental agencies are trying to drive a wedge between hunters and trialers - while failing to serve either group. Many agencies that manage public lands have adopted the philosophy of biodiversity conservation, which translates into non-management and declining numbers of all but a few favored species of wildlife.
There are several good organizations that serve the interests of hunters and sporting dog owners, but their efforts have been fragmented and their support has been minimal, in comparison to the opposition.
We desperately need to unify and speak with one powerful voice. We must understand how potentially powerful we really are. We see ourselves as small groups of field trialers, hunters of a particular species, or enthusiasts of one breed or another. But, when you add us all together, we can be a truly dynamic political force that is far stronger than the combined weight of animal rights and anti-hunting activists.
"Make no mistake about it, we are in a fight to the death. Our opponents will not stop until they have destroyed the traditions we love, eliminate hunting and ban the private ownership of dogs."
Many of the sporting breeds (notably Brittanys, beagles and retrievers) are at or near the top of dog registrations numbers nationwide, and each year many thousands of people buy and register puppies of these breeds. If you also factor in pointers, setters, German shorthaired pointers, other Continental breeds, coon hounds, pack hounds, coursing hounds and hunting terriers, we have the potential to reach formidable numbers and strength.
Moreover, the sporting dog world includes many small business people and dedicated hobbyists, be they breeders, trainers, handlers, hunting guides, or plantation and landowners. They earn honest livings doing what they love to do and play an important role in the small business economy. In addition, the economic spin-offs of the sporting dog world are immense, and include substantial revenues to feed companies, veterinary medicine, tourism, equipment manufacturing, specialized clothing and footwear, the firearms industry and the sale of motor vehicles.
The ownership and use of sporting dogs may be an act of love, but it also is a billion-dollar industry, upon which thousands of jobs rely.
Then why are we being pushed around by a small group of vocal activists who contribute very little to either the quality of life or to the economy? The reason is simple: We have been too polite, restrained and trusting. We haven’t organized, unified and flexed our muscles.
I believe that our most potent weapon is the unvarnished truth. The sporting dog community consists of a large number of people who love their dogs, care for them well, spend countless hours training and conditioning them, work diligently to improve our breeds, earn honest livings, are excellent stewards of the land who pay for most conservation activities, and make a substantial contribution to both the local and the national economies. Those statements cannot be challenged. They are indisputably true.
"The ownership and use of sporting dogs may be an act of love, but it also is a billion-dollar industry, upon which thousands of jobs rely."
The goal of The American Sporting Dog Alliance (ASDA) is to unite many thousands of people in every state, and to mobilize that force for an effective no-compromise defense of our great traditions. Planned activities include challenging proposed laws and regulations, mounting court actions to block onerous laws, regulations and policies, and to make a dog owners’ and hunters’ "Bill of Rights" the law on both a federal level, and in each state. We also will call for formal investigations that include governmental agencies’ land use policies that do not serve wildlife, or that unfairly harm hunting and field trials. If necessary, intervention by the courts will be sought to block bad laws, policies and regulations, or stop attacks that wrongly defame us.
It takes numbers to be effective. We have to be able to show politicians, agency officials, the press and the general public that we represent a lot of people, and we also have to develop funding sources to pay for the cost of the battle we face. That will be ASDA’s first task.
ASDA also will begin immediately to confront existing challenges, such as policies aimed at banning field trials from public lands in Ohio and elsewhere, onerous new kennel regulations proposed in Pennsylvania and Oklahoma, unconstitutional restrictions on interstate trade contained in many state laws and regulations, California’s proposed mandatory spay and neuter law, and local zoning rules that aim to eradicate kennels in rural or agricultural areas.
A top priority will be to develop a team of attorneys to take legal action when needed, a committee of respected licensed veterinarians to set the record straight about illogical regulatory proposals, and active affiliate groups and contacts in many states to quickly and effectively respond to local, statewide and regional issues. We will work hard to build bridges with farmers, hunters and the general public, and to work with and give recognition to elected officials who support our traditions and goals.
Building an accurate database also is vital. We have to confront the issues with facts that are above challenge and are unquestionably true. The truth really is our most potent weapon.
ASDA is seeking new members now, and also people to serve on the board, committees and state advisory groups. I urge sporting dog owners to join and support the organization with your memberships, and also by volunteering to help. A pressing need is to assemble a large team of attorneys to begin to fight back in the courts, and a panel of veterinarians.