Sunday, August 3, 2008
Would you trust this dog?
Seems dogs have issues that can be sorted out with a DNA test. For a price-- $55 to $200-- pet owners can get their mixed breeds tested to find out exactly what their genetic makeup is.
My first thought when I read the story in The Boston Globe was why would you care? I mean, apart from curiosity, why spend the money? I just wouldn't be curious enough. People often times know less about the babies they adopt. And we're talking dogs.
An aside here: I know a man, a South African black who is as white as I am, who paid $300 dollars to find out his genetic mix. This man has a fascinating story of growing up in South Africa. When he came to the US and applied for a professorship at a state college, he overheard a conversation through the door as he waited for his interview. Whoever the South African was, the blacker the better, someone said. I guess racial quotas were at stake. But he got the job, pale as he was.
Anyway, just as knowing a child's family history is useful to doctors, so it is with dogs and vets. The tests are marketed as a way to promote awareness of health issues that might arise in a dog. Some breeds are prone to hip displasia, some to breathing problems, for example.
And then, there's the issue of breed profiling, a close cousin to racial profiling, or judging a book by its cover. The dog of suspicion in today's world is the pit bull. Apparently if a dog even has a hint of pit bull-- the shape of the head, a barrel chest-- the MSPCA has to label it as being part pit bull.
And so what?
Well, for one thing, dog owners don't want their dogs associating with such rabble, and for another, doggie day care centers and landlords can discriminate against any dog perceived to be part pit bull. And in Boston these dogs must be muzzled on public property.
There is no, "don't ask, don't tell" in the canine world, and no canine equal rights amendment. No Doggy Liberties Union. And lots and lots of dogs have features that just might be pit bull.
Interestingly though, a vet who has been classifying dogs for ten years was amazed how wrong she was when test results came back. "I realized, I didn't know squat, " she said.
Makes me think. You can't judge a dog by its looks. Nor a human. It what's inside that counts, and I don't mean the DNA. I mean the heart.
A dog is not "almost human" and I know of no greater insult to the canine race than to describe it as such. ~John Holmes