Each of the following articles is by Kim Kavin, author of The Dog Merchants book and creator of The Dog Merchants:
“Thinking About How Dogs Think,” The Washington Post, August 12, 2021. This story is part of a special print-edition section about dogs. It focuses on the field of dog cognition, where researchers try to understand how dogs think (including the mental processes that go into tasks such as learning, problem-solving and communication).
“Pandemic puppies turn into problem pooches for many inexperienced owners,” The Washington Post, May 24, 2021. This story is about how our behavior during the Covid-19 pandemic (staying home more, keeping to ourselves) is the opposite of what puppies need to be properly socialized. The result? A flood of dog owners calling trainers for help with unruly, adolescent dogs about a year after the pandemic began.
“Anxious pet owners face delays getting veterinarian appointments, even for sick animals,” The Washington Post, December 8, 2020. This article talks about how Covid-19 has been a perfect storm of problems at veterinary clinics nationwide, with a crush of new-puppy owners needing routine visits for shots, staff having to figure out how to manage curbside drop-offs and mask protocols, and longtime dog owners seeking appointments for things they never noticed when they weren’t at home all day with their dogs.
“Overfed and underexercised, some dogs are putting on pandemic pounds,” The Washington Post, September 5, 2020. This article talks about how Covid-19 shutdowns are creating weight problems for some dogs whose owners are feeding them more than usual and walking them less than usual.
“America’s Latest Must-Have Home Accessory? A Dog,” The Washington Post, August 12, 2020. This article talks about the surprisingly sustained consumer demand for dogs and puppies during the Covid-19 pandemic. Experts cannot recall any other time when demand has been so strong, for so long, to the point that the supply chain of pups running through pet stores and shelters is depleted.
“So-Called ‘Puppy Mills’ Are Not All As Bad As We Think, Pioneering Research Shows,” Leapsmag, August 23, 2019. This article is the first mainstream profile of Dr. Candace Croney, who is leading a team at Purdue University to do unprecedented research inside commercial dog-breeding kennels. Her work has resulted in the creation of a program called Canine Care Certified, which aims to be a type of Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval for commercial dog breeders.
“When ‘Puppy Mill Rescue’ Blurs The Line Between Saving And Selling Dogs,” HuffPost, July 14, 2019. This news article is the first-ever deep dive investigative piece into the business model known across the United States as “puppy mill rescue.” It took six months to produce and is based on interviews with nearly 40 people, including more than a dozen current and former staffers, volunteers and directors at the multimillion-dollar nonprofit National Mill Dog Rescue; National Mill’s inspection reports in Colorado going back to early 2017; a slew of documents, photos and videos from inside the nonprofit; and more than 7,500 documents received through open-records requests in seven states where the nonprofit sources dogs and puppies.
“Dog Fight,” The Washington Post, April 11, 2018 (online) and April 15, 2018 (Sunday print front page). This news article about rescuers buying dogs from breeders at auctions is the first time that anyone ever documented—in dollars and cents—the multimillion-dollar river of cash that is flowing from rescue nonprofits, shelters and dog-advocacy groups through auctions into the pockets of the very dog breeders often decried as running “puppy mills.” The story took 18 months to produce and is based on hundreds of documents provided by an industry insider as well as additional open-records documents from numerous states, along with more than 60 interviews with rescuers, breeders, animal advocates and auctioneers. “Dog Fight” won the Donald Robinson Prize for Investigative Journalism from the American Society of Journalists and Authors, and the Best Newspaper Article-Any Topic award from the Dog Writers Association of America.
“Dog auctioneers say their business is a healthy and humane way to acquire pets,” The Washington Post, April 11, 2018. This Q&A ran as a sidebar to the article “Dog Fight” (see above). It is the first time anyone has ever gotten the owners of America’s legally operating dog auctions on the record for extensive interviews about how their businesses are run, and how breeders and rescuers alike do business there.
“Want your dog to win at Westminster? You might need to cut off its ears or tail,” The Washington Post, February 11, 2019. This article is the first to document in a mainstream news publication how cropping and docking dogs affects their chances of winning at major events like the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show—thus affecting which dogs are celebrated as champions and go on to breed puppies that get sold as pets.
“It’s a war: Dog breeders rally behind an 81-year-old convicted of animal cruelty,” The Washington Post, December 18, 2017. This article is about an American Kennel Club Terrier Group Breeder of the Year who produced more than 850 AKC champions before being charged with animal cruelty. The case provided a window into the deepening cultural battle between breeders and animal-protection groups whose “adopt, don’t shop” message is winning growing support from politicians, authorities and the public. The case, at its core, is about how longtime practices in the dog-breeding business compare to evolving laws with different requirements, and how animal-protection groups want practices to change in the future. (This followup article is about how the breeder was later charged with felony torture.)
“Don’t use dog DNA tests to make life-or-death decisions for your pet, experts warn,” The Washington Post, July 30, 2018. This article is about dog DNA testing and a paper in the journal Nature that called for standards and guidelines to be established in the field.
“Does America have enough dogs for all the people who want one?” The Washington Post, February 8, 2017. This article is the first to report on research from the Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine showing that the number of dogs euthanized in American animal shelters had dropped to fewer than 780,000 per year.
“How our political vitriol harms dogs,” The Washington Post, November 21, 2016. This analysis piece looks at the fact that, while close to half of American households have dogs — Republican and Democratic homes alike — the nation’s political vitriol has reached such a flashpoint that respectful, fact-based conversations about animal welfare have become all but impossible.
“Puppy-mill ban proposal weakens consumer protections,” The Bergen Record, April 19, 2016. This op-ed about New Jersey’s efforts to ban the retail sale of puppies is one of two written during the promotional campaign for The Dog Merchants book. The other, directly below, was published in the Albany Times-Union.
“Dog show plays big role in puppy mill cruelty,” Albany Times-Union, May 2, 2016. This op-ed about the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show is one of two written during the promotional campaign for The Dog Merchants book. The other, directly above, was published in The Bergen Record.
“The big money behind best in show,” Salon.com, February 16, 2016. This article is based on the half of The Dog Merchants book about breeding, and was published during the promotional campaign for the book.
“I Can Buy Whatever Dog I Want!” The New Republic, July 8, 2016. This excerpt from The Dog Merchants book was published as part of the book’s promotional campaign.
“Underhound Railroad smuggles dogs from shelters to the northeast,” The New York Post, May 1, 2016. This excerpt from the half of The Dog Merchants book about rescue was published as part of the book’s promotional campaign.
“The Good, the Bad and the Biters,” The Boston Globe, May 12, 2013. This op-ed is about Massachusetts’ efforts to regulate dog rescues.