In Defense of Dog Breeders

IMG_20141016_174342272Dog breeders: it is a tug of war that brings up less than nice images and thoughts from those of us that support rescues. I do not buy from breeders; I have three fosters from two different rescues and two personal dogs. Our personal dogs have always been those that we foster failed with and came from rescues that I work with.There is an unending supply of dogs that need homes and many more that get euthanized each day. People are quick to blame breeders; the breeders are breeding too much and if they just stopped, all would be well in the world. Not necessarily.

Lets talk about the responsible breeders first. They are invested in breeding as a passion and love of the breed that they are producing. They scan potential puppy homes as well as have a buy back policy in case then new owners run into problems down the line, some go a step further and want a spay-neuter contract for all puppies that are not breeding quality. They are invested in making sure that the breed maintains certain standards, like good hips, eyes etc. They get their initial vetting done. They invest their own life blood into this whole process. And what they charge for their puppies over the long run, from the added health benefits plus the unsaid insurance policy of being able to return the dogs to the breeder at a later time due to unforeseen circumstances, makes the price they charge more of a bargain than what you would initially think. These responsible breeder folks may have a big facility with many dogs or they may be a small breeder with only a litter a year or less. The thing that they have in common is a love for specific dog and those traits it carries and are educated and relentless in producing quality vs quantity. All their dogs are cared for and the old retired breeding dogs are either still with them or they have been adopted out to families to live out their senior years. Either way, they see each dog through to the end.

And then there are puppy mills. Commercial puppy factories spitting out as many puppies as they can with no regard for the parents. We have all seen the horrid pictures of the parents living in sub-standard little enclosures stacked on top of each other, dirty and fed only enough for them to breed and stay alive. No vet care, and as soon as the dog is sick or too old to produce, they are discarded at auction or worse. The puppy mills goal is a financial one, not for the love of the dog; they do not burden themselves with a conscience. They do not care that the dogs are inbred or are producing undesirable traits; everyone loves a puppy and will buy it and will not see the health problems associated with unhealthy parents or bad genes until it is older, then the new owners being in love with the dog will have to deal with the problems. Or, not having the finances or resources to deal with the problems, they will end up dumping the dog at the local shelter or worse. Either way, the puppy mill has no consequence to its bad practices.

Our German Shepherd who spent his first year of life in a puppy mill has to have acupuncture regularly to help with his chronic pain of bad hips and neck problems from bad breeding and being locked in a small kennel for the first year of his life. At five, four years removed from the kennel that had housed him, he still has some behavioral issues that can surface but they are so much better now; down inside he is a sweet, loving dog and he wears that face more and more each day.

And then there is this other group; one that you do not hear about as much, but they belong in the ‘irresponsible’ group. Sure they do not seem as overtly horrifying as the commercial puppy mills, but they produce an overwhelming amount of irresponsible bad habits, so they need to be called out as well. We all know at least one. The one that lets their uncut male run rampant, jump the neighbors fence and impregnate their female dog. The person with the female dog that gets loose when in heat and a couple of months later bears many furry gifts to you. The peopled that end up buying the cute little puppy but then realize that they do not have the time or patience that it takes to grow it into a good citizen and dump it wherever it is most convenient. The people hooked on a certain breed, until they see it is way bigger than the picture was or that the typical breed temperament was not suitable for an apartment or couch potato. The people that do not ask their landlord; the people that decide to move and cannot possibly take their dog; the people that are having a baby and do not consider that the dog would love a kid to play with; the people that just tie their dog outside, alone, indefinitely; the people that starve, neglect, or torture. These people contribute more than their fair share to the homeless dog situation. This is a problem of society, not a problem made by the responsible breeder. As a society we are conditioned to throw away what is not convenient, and to too many, it is just a dog. We lull ourselves into thinking ‘someone else will help it, or maybe not, it is not our problem. I guess it should not surprise me as we, as a society, we can turn a blind eye to homeless people~what real chance do homeless dogs have within that type of society? We, as people, need to be accountable for our own actions, quit pointing the finger elsewhere. Rescue groups are full of dogs that have come from breeders, and puppy mills, but most come from our throwaway society; unwanted, through no fault of the dog. I would say that it is time for us to call a spade a spade and fix our priorities in relationship to the animals in our lives. Be the responsible ones that make a difference, not add to the problem, whether we buy from a breeder or adopt from a rescue. As for me, I am a sucker for a dog in need, however, I do enjoy seeing those well bred dogs of so many breeds that have been bred by the responsible breeders.  I hope that they can continue to breed responsibly and that the rest of us are able to do the right thing in regards to whatever dog we choose.

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