Lori leads off this episode exploring the issue of genetic defects in purebred dogs. There are over 500 known genetic defects in purebred dogs, causing health problems, many severe, at a much greater rate than in mixed breed dogs. These genetic defects go along with selective breeding to a “standard” and these standards are established and judged by the American Kennel Club, the AKC. A stated core value of the AKC is to “protect the health and well-being of all dogs,” but Lori points out the absurdity of such a claim, in that the AKC promotes the creation of dogs many of whom are destined to suffer from genetic diseases. And, of course, positioned as central to the breeding industry, the AKC contributes to dog overpopulation, and hence shelter overcrowding and “euthanasia” of adoptable animals.
Yet, the AKC generally is viewed favorably by the public. Lori provides numerous instances to begin countering this notion that the AKC is deserving of praise and admiration. A prime example of this is the French Bulldog, recently named by the AKC as “America’s favorite dog,” which almost always requires birthing by C-section. The heads of the puppies cannot pass through the mothers’ narrow birth canal! Listen in and see if you agree with Lori, and remember, adopt don’t buy!
Then, Peter welcomes author Michelle Nijhuis to learn about her extraordinary book, Beloved Beasts: Fighting for Life in an Age of Extinction. Garnering multiple awards, including the 2021 Rachel Carson Award from the Sierra Club, Nijhuis traces the history of the modern conservation movement, emphasizing the big ideas and big personalities who drove it forward. Peter found it rich with wonderful stories and detail, portraying the complexities, contradictions, frustrations, and victories as the thinking about and the practice of conservation matured. Anyone who cares about animals or the environment, as well as those who enjoy history, should take a good look at this one!