Back in 1988 my husband and I started looking for a Rottweiler puppy. A few years later we decided on one out of Danjo vom Schwaiger Wappen. We had no idea what to do with a hard dog so I started searching the web and found Jan. She had a website and a newsletter full of good information. And I soon knew where to go when I needed answers concerning my rights, and the rights of others with their pets.
So today, I am talking with Jan Cooper, noted for her long involvement in all things Rottweiler.
First question I would want to ask you is, which came first, the chicken or the egg? Did you have a
Rottweiler and then become involved in BSL?
JC: I have always had an interest in law due to my career in Federal law enforcement. I had Dobermans when the Doberman Gang movie came out and saw an upswing in poor attitudes regarding some breeds then, but when I got my first Rottweiler I really became aware that there were more unsavory owners/breeders than I was aware of. It was then that my interest in BSL really grew.
What do you feel is the main reason for the steep increase in breed specific types of legislation?
JC: I can say in three words: "Irresponsible owners/breeders!" Were it not for them, our local officials and adversaries would have no basis on which to target specific breeds.
What do you feel is the solution (a simple solution for a complex problem I realize is not possible)?
JC: It really boils down to 4 key issues. Education, control on breeders (if is has to been based on numbers, so be it), money, and unity.
The issue facing this country and others is now much bigger than breeds of dogs. If we want our future generations to be able to know the joy of owning a purebred dog, we must be willing to make the laws and not let our adversaries make them. In doing so, we must set parameters for breeders that we can live with or we will find our future generations living with parameters that we cannot live with.
Millions of dollars and decades have been spent to nurture and put people into key positions, positions that are powerful and provide leadership to the masses. Too many in the dog world have turned their heads for years, thinking that some of us were the real radicals. Now more are becoming aware and yet the majority of pet owners still have no idea what has been or is happening. (Ask your neighbor or your local grocery clerk if they know that their right to own a pet dog is being slowly chipped away. The likely response will be that that person will think you are some kind of 'nut'.) This is where money is the a primary key. We need money to be used for publications, radio, television, billboards and more. (People are unique in that they will oftentimes believe something in print long before they will take someone's word. That is where we are losing, our adversaries are out there with their misleading printed word, radio, television and billboards and they are being believed by the general public and officials.
If we could somehow convince the pet industry that their billion dollar a year industry is also being threatened with the various anti-canine laws, we could create strong allies.
Without the pet industry and the average pet owner waking up to the truth, the voices of those that are crying out from their podiums, meetings places, and roof-tops, will be slowly silenced as the dogs are led away from their homes. Then the 'silent and uneducated' majority will turn and
ask, "What happened?"
What can we do as Rottweiler owners to turn the tide?
JC: Get to know your city/county and state officials. I mean REALLY get to know them. Become a familiar face at local meetings, help stop anti-canine legislation at the local level. Many local officials later become county or even state officials. Invite officials at all levels to participate at Rottweiler events. Don't take no for an answer, make it so inviting that they will want to attend and bring their families. Stay aware and ever vigilant. Don't just sit in front of your computer and forward notes, that is not educating anyone.
The same newspaper articles are passed around on every known list. Many folks say they no longer read them, it takes too much time. Information needs to concise and to the point and can be done with a few words, this will get people to read and understand quickly. Be willing to speak before local groups, make it interesting but don't sound like a radical nut. These are just a few primary front line suggestions.
TRC: Glad to hear you say that Jan. I work with my state Senator and US Congressman, and have recently been invited to participate in local government on the Animal Welfare level.
What will getting Canine Good Citizen, and/or Therapy Dog certification do to help?
JC: It will help promote the individual dog when it is known, but in the totality of the issues, it really will not stop anti-canine legislation. The Canine Good Citizen was developed my Jim Dearman (sp?) way back in the 80's and took awhile for it to become really recognized. In Florida he saw this as a tool for homeowners to use in order to thwart insurance companies from denying homeowner's insurance. A State-wide resolution was adopted encouraging insurance companies to accept the CGC as proof that a dog was in fact a canine good citizen in its community.
As a breeder, what can I do to change how dogs I produce are seen?
JC: Breed and place your dogs very selectively. Educate your puppy buyers before and during their ownership of this breed. Get them involved with a canine activity that will enlarge their circle of dog friends so they too can become involved in combating anti-canine legislation.
What would you do as a dog owner locally?
JC: Find out when local officials meet and attend. Make friends with your officials, this is perhaps the most important thing you can do that will come in handy in the future. Let it be known that you are willing to volunteer, whether it is animal related or not. Become actively involved, our adversaries are already involved. Dog owners sort of like to sit and wait until an issue is about them and then it is often too late.
Does letter writing to municipalities help?
JC: Absolutely, but visiting with your local officials and attending meetings are much more effective. Be sure to go when issues 'other' than animal related are being presented and support your leaders/lawmakers, then when you are opposed to an issue they will be likely to give you credence.
What resources should the average person be using?
JC: The internet is our primary resource in today's society and then local newspapers to keep abreast of what is happening in your local community and then join a group or club to become more aware of dog related issues.
TRC: The future for our dogs.
JC: If I am to be very honest, my deep down gut feeling is that the day will come when only large volume breeders will be breeding dogs, those that are currently governed by the Federal Government. I don't think I will be alive when that happens, but my fear is that my Grandson's children might see the day when the purebred as we know it will be a species of the past.
TRC: Thank you Jan Cooper. I think many of us enjoy our dogs because of your efforts in keeping our rights intact. I thank you for all of us.
Jan Cooper: firstname.lastname@example.org
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