Posts tagged The Dog Merchants

The Dog Merchants: New and Improved

As I write this blog post, the new version of DogMerchants.com is about to come online. It’s been quite a saga getting to this point, and I want to explain why I’ve decided to focus the site the way it is now being reborn.

I originally launched the site in 2016, timed to coincide with publication of my book The Dog Merchants: Inside the Big Business of Breeders, Pet Stores, and Rescuers. As I wrote in the book, my idea was to create a site where consumers could post ratings and reviews of breeders, rescuers, pet stores, shelters—basically, anybody who takes money in exchange for a pet dog.

The site did OK for a couple of years and then got the attention of a social-impact investment firm, which gave me a grant to upgrade and relaunch it. I handed every nickel of that money to a developer, and we spent months rebuilding the site with all the latest technological bells and whistles. We also came up with the groovy new logo that you see on this page, giving The Dog Merchants brand an identity beyond the original book.

But when we did the private soft launch of the new and improved website, something disturbing happened: Countless dog breeders and rescuers threatened to file lawsuits if the site went live and the general public were allowed to write reviews. One dog breeder doxxed me, publishing my personal address and other information online. I also received a call from the police in Connecticut after a breeder there sought to have me arrested for including her name on the site at all.

While all of that intense pushback was occurring, my phone was ringing off the hook with people who’d gotten word that I was working on a major investigative article about “puppy mill rescue” for HuffPost. With that story—just as with my major investigation last year about rescuers and dog auctions for The Washington Post—sources were giving me more information than I could ever possibly publish about all kinds of breeders and rescuers.

It dawned on me that, instead of trying to battle on legal fronts against dozens of breeders and rescuers who would fight to maintain the secrecy that shrouds the entire dog industry, I would instead do better to spend my time battling to get the truth out to consumers through my primary skill set, as a national award-winning journalist.

Thus, the new DogMerchants.com was born, focusing on books, articles and an occasionally updated blog. Plans are in the works for a podcast that should launch in the coming months, with an eye toward digging even deeper into the topics that my work has covered to date. And, I’ve started work on what I hope will become my next book about the dog industry.

Thanks for dropping by the new site and taking a look around. If you have information that might help me with articles and books going forward, please feel free to reach out. You can find me (including a snail mail address for documents) by pressing the Contact button at the top of this page.

Winner–Again! And Again!

Today, the American Society of Journalists and Authors announced the winners of its 2019 Writing Awards. I am truly beyond grateful and humbled to share the news that I won two of the specialty awards, both of which are open to competition from every freelance writer in the United States.

I’m told that it’s the first time any writer has won these two awards in the same year, in the 71-year history of ASJA’s existence.

My 2016 book The Dog Merchants won the The Arlene Eisenberg Award for a Book That Made a Difference. Given every three years, the award is not just for reporting and writing, but also for documented impact. In my book’s case, the book has spurred new and updated legislation in several states, and is being taught on several college campuses.

About The Dog Merchants, the Arlene Award judges said: “Man’s best friend couldn’t have a better advocate than Kim Kavin. The Dog Merchants is a disturbing, definitive exploration of mass production dog breeding and selling, and Kavin braved death threats to produce it. Her book has inspired revisions in both state and federal laws, plus a host of other changes.”

(I appreciate the judges’ enthusiasm; for the record, the book inspired state-level legislation and legislative revisions; it also inspired work that led to an investigation by the federal Department of Agriculture.)

What’s most interesting is that Chapter One of The Dog Merchants is what led an industry insider to come forward and provide me with documents that became the basis for my article “Dog Fight” in The Washington Post, which won the ASJA’s Donald Robinson Prize for Investigative Journalism. The award honors outstanding writing and organization, plus previously unrevealed research.

About “Dog Fight,” the Donald Robinson Prize judges said: “This exhaustively researched article turned a powerful light on what everyone assumed was a good deed — until Kavin showed us that it isn’t. The story is an example of the very best investigative journalism.”

Many thanks to the judges for their kind words, and congratulations to all of the other winners in ASJA’s various categories.

‘The Dog Merchants’ Book Leads to Washington Post Expose

This morning, The Washington Post published an article that I wrote about rescuers who buy dogs at auctions.

It is a story that came my way after an industry insider read The Dog Merchants book, particularly Chapter One, which is about rescuers attending dog auctions. The chapter discussed the practice, but not the amounts of money changing hands, because I didn’t know the amount of money changing hands. Nobody really did.

The insider began sending me copies of invoices, checks and more that showed $2.68 million in spending. For about 18 months, I did additional research and dozens of interviews to put together the story that ran today.

It’s the first time that anybody has documented, in dollars and cents, the amount of rescue money that is flowing to breeders by way of U.S. dog auctions. All because the insider read The Dog Merchants book, thought it was fair and honest, and trusted me to tell more of the story.

Amazing.

I would like to give a seriously big tip of the hat to the entire team at The Washington Post for helping me bring this story to light. A lot of people worked really hard on this editorial package and helped to make it great. My public thanks to them all. It was an honor to work with them on this piece.

Tip from ‘The Dog Merchants’ Reader Leads to Story Exposing Breeder’s Conviction

About two weeks ago, I received an email from a reader of The Dog Merchants book. The reader is involved in the breeding community and explained that there was something going on with a Miniature Schnauzer breeder named Joan Huber. Little information was online, but what I was able to find suggested that a major-award-winning breeder of AKC championship dogs—more than 850 of them over the years—had been convicted of animal cruelty.

I looked into the details and wrote this story that ran today in The Washington Post.

My thanks to the reader who tipped me to this breeder’s tale. It’s an important story, and it’s amazing to me that it was somehow kept out of the public eye for as long as it was.

‘The Dog Merchants’ Author in The New York Times

The New York Times recently published this article about New Jersey beach communities that are wrestling with dog lovers and non-dog lovers, and the desire that both have to enjoy the sun and surf.

Kim Kavin, author of “The Dog Merchants” book, is quoted several times, discussing how such arguments are part of a bigger-picture societal shift that pits people’s love of their canine companions against age-old laws that define dogs as property.

“It’s history banging up against current culture,” Kim told the Times. “It’s law banging up against our feelings for our dogs today.”

DogMerchants.com Wins Best Independent Blog Award

The New Jersey chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists announced the winners of its annual writing competition today (for work done in 2016). I’m thrilled and honored to share the news that I earned three prizes in this year’s competition in my home state, all for articles about dog industry.

Each of the three awards is for second place in its respective category:

A full list of the winners is here—and there is some really great journalism in the links by all of my colleagues in the industry. Congratulations to all the winners!

Forbes Video about Dog Auctions with ‘The Dog Merchants’ Author

Forbes just posted this really cool video and Q&A about the topic of chapter one in “The Dog Merchants” book: breeders and rescuers sitting side-by-side in legal dog auctions, trying to outbid each other for the same exact pups.

Watching this video come together was really fun. The producer asked me to talk into my iPhone, and then her team edited my voiceover into the video animation to illustrate the topic.

It’s a very good way to talk about an issue as controversial as dog auctions, with the animation likely to keep people interested instead of having them turn away (like those sad dogs-in-cages commercials always do). I really appreciate that Forbes took that tack, which is true to the tone I used when writing the whole of “The Dog Merchants” book.

 

 

Want to learn more about the business of dog auctions and a whole lot more? Get your copy of “The Dog Merchants” book today.

DWAA Names ‘The Dog Merchants’ A Best Book of 2016

The Dog Writers Association of America, at its banquet today in Manhattan, named The Dog Merchants a best book for 2016.

The Dog Merchants tied for the top spot in our category with Reporting for Duty: True Stories of Wounded Veterans and Their Service Dogs by Tracy Libby.

I’m both honored and humbled to win this DWAA award for The Dog Merchants. My 2012 dog book, Little Boy Blue, was a finalist for this top award but ended up being a runner-up, instead winning the DWAA Merial Human-Animal Bond Award. The Dog Merchants is my first time winning a best book of the year award from DWAA.

Thank you to all of the judges, and congratulations to my co-winner Tracy Libby and all the other dog writers who took home awards today. Kudos all around!

 

DogMerchants.com Blog Post is a Finalist for DWAA Best Article of the Year

I’m honored to share the news that the Dog Writers Association of America has announced its finalists for Best Article or Blog. My article posted on this website, “Hydra: New Jersey’s Just Pups and the Puppy Mill Monster,” has been named one of four finalists for the award.

Congratulations also go out to the three other finalists in this category:

Bud Buccone, whose story “How the Briard Won Over Thomas Jefferson” was published by the American Kennel Club;

Laura Teresa Coffey, whose story “ASPCA ‘safety net’ keeps pets out of shelters (and hearts from breaking)” appeared on Today.com;

Nancy Tanner, whose story “Herding Lightening-Rhumb off Leash” was published at nancytanner.com.

Congratulations to all my fellow finalists! The winner will be announced in mid-February.

‘The Dog Merchants’ is a Finalist for DWAA Best Reference Book of 2016

The Dog Merchants-3DI’m both honored and humbled to share the news that The Dog Merchants has been named one of four finalists in the category of Best Reference Book for 2016 by the Dog Writers Association of America.

My book is in excellent company. The other finalists in the category are Laurren Darr’s Pet Business Planning Almanack 2016; Janice Koler-Matznick’s Dawn of the Dog; and Tracy Libby’s Reporting for Duty.

The winner will be announced in mid-February. Congratulations to all of my fellow nominees, and thanks so much to DWAA for this wonderful honor.