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· Official Loofah Tester
1,386 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I've posted this already in assorted places, including my blog here, but thought I'd post this again for my sweet friend James. Anyone feel free to comment or correct my musings.


Animals Mills from a Marketing POV

I'm about to pontificate at length, look out. Also, this is all my personal opinion based on personal experiences, not extensively researched gospel. So further beware. I'm also usually meticulous about editing my blogs for flow. I have not had or taken the time to do that here. Aw heck, just wear kevlar and you'll be safe. :)

I've been sitting here mulling this morning about the issues of mill breeding, and how to break the chain of mill breeding.

I thought it might be useful to write this with the pov of how businesses work. This will give my writing a cold and psudo-marketing feel, so read it with that in mind. I have edited this blog to say this because I had someone get very angry with me as the tone of this blog was so business cold and she thought that was how /I/ viewed animals and her choice of animal purchases--That I was personally calling her irrational among other things--which wasn't true at all. It's just that the marketers of which I'm going to talk about hope and count on all of us to be irrational in our choices. That's how they make money. If anything, my intent might be closer to pointing out how offensive marketing is by nature, especially when it comes to animals.

Animal Mills. We all dislike them, some from their first hand experience, and some in the vague abstract. I'm not a passionate crusader. My personal stance is more on supporting free choice, but making sure it's an /educated/ choice. In other words, if someone wants to buy a pet store animal, more power to them, but I feel they should know exactly what it is they are supporting to aid them in their decision making process. As it will become apparent, I'm clearly have never been a marketing major, but I'd like to say I try to pay attention.

It really does boil down to education doesn't it? Mill breeders are no different from any other product vendor. They thrive when the consumer possesses some combination of ignorance, indifference, and/or emotional irrationality-the three "i's".

In fact, I'd say that since they can't rely on name brand recognition or the reputation of a quality product to help them sell their merchandise, they are utterly dependent on their consumers relying on one or more of those three "i's" to guide their product choice. This is even true-- though more understandable-- in markets where pet stores hold the monopoly on pet product.

Let's look at the three "i's".

1) Ignorance-The less a consumer knows about their product from the production line to the store shelf, the easier it is to operate without quality control check and balances. Where does your rat come from? Really? How are they treated from birth to pet store? How are the production animals treated generationally?

This is one of the few areas where I give an institution like PETA any kind of respect. Though PETA has been shown to be often guilty of corrupt journalism practices-say, killing animals and staging a scene to magnify the 'offense level' of a place they are investigating- they are capable of getting in places and exposing things that need exposing. It has been through their efforts alone that some places have been exposed and either stopped, or held accountable for the quality of their animal processing.

It was once much more common place for cats and dogs to be sold widely through pet stores after having been provided by mills operating with impunity. While it's still a problem, we can't say that puppy and kitty mills haven't been exposed for what they are to the average consumer, and you see much fewer instances of this than you would have 15-20 years ago.

2: Indifference-Who cares where my [insert product here] comes from, I want what a want and I want it now. I'll be the first to say that while I'm guilty of all three 'i's', this one I'm particularly guilty of. In fact, I don't feel horribly guilty about it, so I'm perpetually part of the process. It was because if my desire for a 'higher quality product' with health and temperament that I researched hobby breeders for my first rat. Not because I was interested in relieving the plight of pet store animals, but because I didn't want to have to deal with the planned obsolescence/hazardous product of mill breeders.

Planned obsolescence. Huh. Okay, this is a random detour on the topic, but I never thought too hard before this morning how much that benefits mills and it really gets me thinking now that I've thought of it. Again, this is just me hypothesizing to myself randomly, and I'm not suggesting that there is anything concrete to back this up.

Planned obsolescence--the practice of deliberately designing a product to break after X amount of time, thus forcing a consumer to continually purchase a new version of that product, thereby creating a market for that product. Light bulbs are a perfect example. Early light bulbs worked very well. In fact, some of the original light bulbs created over 100 years ago are still burning somewhere to this day. But, with a little tinkering on the filament during production and suddenly bulbs started burning out after a few thousand hours of use. Oops, gotta go get another one.

Apply that to rats. It's not too far a stretch to think that creating a product to 'break' earlier and earlier, and conditioning the consumer to accept that as normal means that they make more money.

With rats, it doesn't hurt the reptile industry for the rat to be defective. As long as rats can achieve the size needed as a food product, then their needs are met. It benefits the business in the pet industry too, because they have a shorter and shorter life span between pets, which means more pets purchased over a consumer's life time.

Now with dogs and cats, this works less effectively, because owners are going to spend money on vet care more often than not and will be ticked if they have to spend too much on their pet over a 8-12+ year lifetime. They will more quickly yell foul. Add to that the six month average wait between litters to slow down the production process, and it's less cost effective to create the obsolescence.

But with rats? They are already considered 'disposable' even without the planned obsolescence of a light bulb to add to the mix. Then there is their mere two month litter turn around. Now add to the fact that the source of most rats are labs where they have already been bred for thousands of generations to have health issues that could be studied....?

It's not even that hard for a mill to perpetuate planned obsolescence. All they have to do is let the sickly rats loose with each other without a plan beyond "I like this color", and the rats create their own obsolescence. Things that make me go hmm.

Segueing back towards the topic of indifference here..How can the consumer stop planned obsolescence? By not being indifferent. By expecting quality and researching what it takes to get it personally, and then of course by not buying inferior product. The more education the better.

3: (Emotional) Irrationality- This is often the big one; the one that gets even the most passionate anti mill crusader. "But he needed me". "But she chose me." "Because I couldn't turn my back on suffering." "Because I would have had to travel 100 miles and wait 12 months to get a baby otherwise." Whatever the reasoning, the consumer chucks all logic aside and decides things with their heart alone. Don't mistake me, our heart is a wonderful thing. A soft heart is a gift to a worthy receptive soul. Because the sucker by it's brain bypassing nature is an irrational organ. All of the above irrational reasons are irrational because they defy the logical benefit of long term planning.

Mills love irrationality. All vendors do. They don't care why you obtain their product, just that you do and they get their cut. It's all about percentages. For every X amount of product that moved, then we will breed X number of times. We must be aware and accept the fact that for every 1 rat (unit) we purchase for any of our personal 'emotional irrational' reasons, we will will very well directly cause one breeding, which will result in 6-12 more units being produced. I've said this part elsewhere, and I speak to myself when I say it. Go with your heart, but know and own the fact that you have actively made a decision. Either through ignorance, or through active choice, you have decided that the needs of the one are more important and valuable than the needs of the twenty.

How to break the cycle of the three 'i's'? If you must buy your rat, then support only quality reputable hobby breeders, which directly supports the effort to breed the health and longevity back into our babies. Or, don't support breeding or the pet trade at all. Adopt all of your pets only for free, or from reputable rescues.

You have been a little more educated. Make your choice freely. :)

· Official Loofah Tester
1,386 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Aw thanks! Just me thinking.

I'm going to have to get a minute to rewrite the whole thing cohesively.
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