From Dr. Marty Greer – Please read!

Start reading and stop the madness:

I spent the weekend with my “peeps” – the veterinarians who practice Theriogenology – yup that is really a word. These are the veterinarians who bring your frozen semen back to life, who create the litter of your dreams, who safely and competently bring new life into the world. That is what we do, what we live to do professionally. Oh and most of us do this for fun, as our hobby, our passion as well. As if there are enough hours in the day.

So what is the madness? The spaying and neutering of all of our beloved pet dogs BEFORE they are sexually mature. 

One of our presenters today was the famous Emeritus Professor Dr. Benjamin Hart and his wife and fellow researcher and author, Dr. Lynn Hart. The Drs. Hart have been retrospectively collecting and analyzing data on the incidence of diseases in the dog and how they correlate with the dog’s reproductive status – in other words, is there a link between being spayed or neutered and their orthopedic and behavioral health as well as their incidence of cancer. They, along with our friend Dr. David Waters are showing the evidence that spaying or neutering particularly at an age before puberty, is an unhealthy life choice for our dogs. The same is not universally true for cats. 

The general and hopefully obvious consensus is that veterinarians went to veterinary school and into their careers because they love animals and to improve their health. What has happened is that the well-meaning plan of spaying and neutering our pets has not proven to be in the best interests of the same pets. None of us entered this career, after a minimum of 8 years of post-high school education and deeply in debt, to cause harm to our patients and their owners. But in reality, that is what has happened. 

I believe as a group, the Theriogenologists, both board-certified and those with a special interest in Theriogenology, are uniquely positioned to lead our non-Theriogenology colleagues back to the new truth, the new normal. 

Veterinarians are now seeing published research that shows the following – that pets spayed or neutered young, sometimes before puberty and sometimes before middle age are at increased risk of
1. Orthopedic problems
2. Behavior problems
3. Cancer
4. Obesity
5. Urinary incontinence
We will discuss each of these in more detail.

Veterinarians didn’t go to school to spay and neuter dogs so they could 
1. sell clients on repairing torn cruciates, pain medications, and joint protectants. 
2. Spend their days counseling clients on how to manage their fearful dogs.
3. Create new treatments for the assorted forms of cancer we see in these gonadectomized pets.
4. Counsel clients on increasing their pet’s exercise and managing their diet to manage their weight.
5. Help clients control their pet’s urinary accidents. 

Spaying and neutering our dogs became a “thing” in the 1970s. Before that, anesthesia was dangerous. Owners didn’t have much money to spend on pets. Pets were still just dogs and cats, many of whom lived in the backyard or roamed the neighborhood. Population control was not a concern. 

In the 40 plus years that have elapsed since the 1970s, pets have moved into the bedroom and in many cases, into the bed. They have become companions, family members and in many cases substitute children. The Millennials are using them as trial-run kids – if they can keep a plant and a pet alive, they may dabble in having children of their own. The Boomers like them to keep their home buzzing after they become empty nesters or widows and widowers. Children are learning responsible pet care and about the loss of a loved one when cultivating pet care skills. Society is concerned about the pet population issues and humane care of animals. Euthanasia is no longer an option when there is a population problem. 

However, some of the changes in how society views euthanasia of homeless pets has lead to a lower standard of acceptable pet behavior. In past years, pets with behavior problems including aggression toward humans was not tolerated. If a dog or cat showed aggression toward humans of any age, they were not placed in homes, foster or forever homes. Now, we are making excuses for badly behaved dogs and cats – biting, scratching, and other forms of aggression are not only tolerated but embraced. We assume it is the result of poor socialization, stress, transport, or genetics. Additionally, we are seeing increasing numbers of dogs and in some cases cats, that suffer fearfulness, home destructive patterns, separation anxiety, noise sensitivity, and other previously poorly tolerated activities and behavior. Until this tide is stopped, the single best field for newly minted debt-ridden new veterinary graduates is clearly behavior medicine. Not only is there a surplus of animals in serious need of behavior modification and behavior-modifying drugs, the explosion of opportunities to practice tele-veterinary medicine will allow this group to practice from the comfort of their own homes and offices. They will be able to earn a handsome and well-deserved living while avoiding the costs and tribulations of managing their familial duties. 

Unfortunately, despite mounting evidence in the peer-reviewed veterinary literature that spaying and neutering is causing harmful medical and behavioral conditions, many veterinarians are continuing to promote spaying and neutering every dog in their sites, at younger and younger ages. Yes, spaying and neutering young animals is an easier procedure. Yes, this helps with population control. Yes, our clients have become accustomed to having no responsibility for managing their pet’s sexual behaviors and activities. 

I went to vet school to save lives. To create new and eagerly anticipated lives. 

Many of my colleagues are slow to adapt to and adopt the new thoughts illustrated by the work of Dr. Benjamin and Lynn Hart, Iris Reichler, and Dr. David Waters among others. They don’t want to critically evaluate the literature. They don’t want to believe what it being published. They don’t want to learn to spay and neuter later in life or learn to do ovary-sparing spays and vasectomies, allowing our pets to remain hormonally intact while rendering them incapable of reproduction. 

I can and will tell you we know the newly published information is true. We have seen this reality for the 38 years we have been in practice working with many clients who don’t wish to spay or neuter their dogs for the many reasons they put forth. These clients who want to retain their pets hormones should not be brow-beaten and belittled by the veterinary industry and their families who have been led astray by the animal rights extremists. 

We have watched 3 generations of pet owners and many more generations of pets pass through our doors. We have seen fewer than 10 dogs who have died OF mammary cancer, ovarian and uterine, and testicular cancer. We have seen untold numbers die acutely of spleen cancer (hemangiosarcoma). We have seen many die of painful and debilitating bone cancer. We have seen far too many die lingering deaths from lymph node cancer. All of these are hard to diagnose and impossible to cure. On the other hand, breast cancer is easily diagnosed, even by clients with their bare hands. Treatment is straight-forward surgical excision of the affected tissues. 

In addition to behavior issues, dogs and cats with serious medical problems, some short-term and other long-term, are not only accepted and corrected but used as fund-raising opportunities for themselves as well as a number of other pets processed by the same organization. Bleeding-heart stories are common – not only pets that are already owned by an individual but pets that are homeless and transient. 

In some cases, the pets are left to suffer through long-standing and serious, painful and/or debilitating diseases only to be held out as a poster-child for fund-raising organization masquerading as a “rescue” group. Organizations such as HSUS and ASPCA share heart-wrenching photos, pretending the conditions shown are the norm, not the exception. This literally robs kind-hearted souls of their hard-earned money. Tragically, most of the funds from these organizations is funneled back into fund-raising efforts leaving only a tiny percentage going to the local hard-working organizations who genuinely do great work for abandoned and stray pets. 

The following links to publications that are important and available to read on our website are:
https://www.smallanimalclinic.com/…/spay-and-neuter-controv…

Summary: Read and educate yourself on this life-changing and important procedure BEFORE you spay or neuter your dog or cat. Don’t rely only on your veterinarian as they may have a bias to spaying or neutering early as it is easier on them. Do what is the right thing to improve your pet’s longevity and quality of life. We can arrange a telemedicine consultation if that helps with your decision, based on your pet’s breed and lifestyle. 

Contact us at vv@k9stork.com for more information.

AKC CH Title – what does it mean today?

I used to love showing my dogs in conformation. In the beginning I went to the dog show just for fun and to spend time with my pet. I attended handling classes every week for many years. I went to handling seminars. I watched professional handlers and picked up tips. I went to UK and AU and watched how people there presented their Staffords I helped friends in other breeds to gain more experience. I showed to any judge without caring what they normally preferred because I was working on honing my own skills. My first show win I was told by other exhibitors that I won because I simply out handled them. It’s true. My dog was a pet. That is the point of this blog entry.

As time went on I became a lot pickier what I would walk into the ring with. I first stopped showing other peoples dogs if I didn’t think it could win BOB. Then I decided not to show dogs I had bred unless I felt they were worthy of a Specialty win under a Stafford breeder judge. I know where my dogs meet or fall from meeting our breed standard. I see all the nuances. I feel no need to ‘hide’ or ‘cover up’ faults I am not keen on just to win a ribbon or fake congratulations from other fanciers. It’s not important.

I feel strongly that unless you can dissect and see these faults and virtues in minute detail in your own dogs then you honestly have no business breeding. The exception is if you are working with mentors and you are learning still and if this is the case then you MUST have an open mind. You must be willing to see the issues pointed out to you, research those for yourself, determine whether or not they do exist and then work to change these faults in the future. None of that is done in a show ring.

In the show ring the best you can do is to understand how to present your exhibit to a judge who hopefully knows and understands the breed and how it relates to the written standard – and is willing to actually JUDGE to that standard. Most of the time the judge has 2 minutes to do that and many of them aren’t willing or able too. It seems it is easier for them to go with what they think is ‘safe’ and assume the professional handlers must have the best ones – right? That was in sarcasm font by the way.

There are times when a handler has a good dog. Sometimes it could be the best dog in the show ring. Many times it is not. There are other breeders like myself who only present their very best. Its not often these dogs are rewarded on a consistent basis. Oftentimes they are overlooked for handlers dogs. Handlers have a lot of skills. They get to practice 4-5 days a week all year long. They are skilled at showing statues and generic movement and flashy handling – ever see them hold the end of a long lead by two fingers while the dog stands perfectly still at the end of it? Looks so pretty doesn’t it. But…..how does that meet that dogs standard? Maybe it does. Maybe not. Maybe it’s just pretty.

Many of us serious Stafford breeders are growing weary of wasting our time, energy, education, and money on bringing good dogs into the ring. I personally have attended shows and looked around seeing a couple very competitive dogs and (wrongly as it turns out) thinking – that’s my competition – and more than that – that’s a dog to follow and he could be a good prospect to keep up my high standards in my breeding plans…..but most judges won’t find these superior dogs. They seem blinded by flash.

Why are entries down? Why are breeds going downhill? Why are poor temperaments rewarded? Why is fat and soft rewarded over fitness and strength? Lazy judges and political games. Thats why. Never mind the general lack of knowledge of canine structure. never mind the serious disinterest in learning breed type. Never mind not understanding good powerful effortless movement. What is the point of showing our best dogs? We already know what we have. We don’t need a stranger who lacks this knowledge to know what we already know.

I show because I am expected to show. Puppy buyers expect me to only breed from Champions. Champion titles in America mean nothing. NOW in sharp contrast – making a champion from ONLY showing in HUGE classes under only other breeder judges means a LOT and this is what we do. HUGE difference to beat 100 dogs under breeder judges and a handler dragging a dog show to show to show barely beating 5 dogs a weekend to title. Think about that.

AKC is a joke. There I said it. Most of us understand why I would say this too. What will it take for AKC to also see this and GREATLY improve their judge education and requirements? I suggest ongoing requirements of judges to continue to meet breeders and visit kennels and talk with breeders and find out the nuances. Most judges simply do not care and I have even been told condescending opinions by judges such as – “You don’t get where I am without knowing the breed” when I look at the dogs they selected and shake my head….walking away wondering what on earth they DO know.

Worse than that recently I overheard judges talking about how Stafford specialties bring over judges from UK and AU and how in their opinions this makes the Stafford breeders snobby. Worse than being called snobby (who cares, more sarcasm font) they went on to then say how these overseas judges don’t know anything at all and how they are terrible at judging. Why do they pick up feet? What are they doing with the coat? What are they doing with their hands on the head and muzzle and shoulders and rears? Why would they kneel down to watch movement? Why do they need to watch the entire down and back? Why are they making funny noises or dangling keys or dropping a ball? OH do you mean why do they ACTUALLY judge the dogs to the written breed standard? Is this the question?

I heard one judge say how breeder judges don’t even know movement or structure and only award heads and friends. 😂 Okay, so to you all breed judges who only award friends and handlers (don’t forget many judges were also once handlers) that’s different why??? Soo you mean for me to believe that a breeder judge from UK who has lived with Staffords for their entire lives, many of their parents also lived with Staffords, they see Staffords daily in the street, at ringcraft and at shows where the entries can get into the 100’s at times – you mean to tell me those people don’t know this breed? Seriously? Sorry – I simply cannot stop laughing except its not funny.

Are we truly preserving this breed?

We do not breed often. We do not show in conformation as often as we used to. We mainly travel to the bigger specialty shows to show to breeder judges and breed specialists when possible. We also never require a puppy we sell to be shown. If we sell a show prospect, we may encourage the dog to be shown after full review between 10 months and 2 years. We always offer to show the dog ourselves and we offer to pay the expenses as well as mentor and teach ring procedures and handling skills. We help find classes and shows if the owner is interested. It’s not in our contract as mandatory.

That all being said the rings today are filled with pet quality Staffords. Yes, I said it. Many are thinking it but nobody speaks out. We must be choosier if we wish to truly be preserving the breed as we like to say we are. An American CH title means much less than it once did. It means so much more if the title is earned mainly from the large specialty shows. It means even more if ALL points earned are from breeder judges and specialists. And it means even more than that to me personally if the title is also earned from the BBE class at specialties, against a lot of competition.

So often today breeders require new owners to show their new puppy to its title under contract. This means some owners have the added expenses of paying handlers if they are not interested (or lack confidence) in doing it themselves. Staffords are paraded around rings 2-4 days a week for months on end in order to fulfill these contracts. This also means that oftentimes these dogs lack the temperaments, structure and type which makes a true Stafford champion. Once the title has been earned….well awarded….as earned means its deserving…then these contracts require the dogs to be bred and puppies often going back to (or names added as breeder/owner) the breeders. And the cycle begins again . . .

How on earth do people NOT see how this is damaging the breed, not helping it?! How can they get on FB and watch a live video each week and see all the out of balance, soft toplines, low on leg, overweight, out of condition, roach, no breed type, terrified, timid, sad or out of control dogs being strung up and sculpted into position to win that ribbon? Seriously? How can you not see this is a farce? And now AKC judges see so many of this type they think it’s correct. You cant even have a conversation with many of them these days to help them see the error of their ways. You cant even offer them a copy of the SBTCA Illustrated Breed Standard or the TSK Illustrated Breed Standard because they think they know all there is to know about this breed! How insulting!

Many of us have worked hard over many years to educate, learn, teach, read, study about the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. We live with them. We get hands on 100’s of them. We travel great distances to see as many as we can. We study pedigrees, we do rescue, we understand correct temperament, we own libraries filled with books on the breed. We live and breathe Staffordshire Bull Terriers . . . and yet the arrogance of some judges (and handlers) sadly now shapes the future of this breed.

Sad. Pathetic. Shameful.