The Case for All Dogs From a Rescuer’s Perspective

Hey all! It’s been quite a while since we’ve posted anything other than our usual series but I recently read a post over at BlogPaws that prompted a writing spree. I started trying to write a comment but quickly realized I had a lot to say! I feel it would help to at least skim the post to see where I’m coming from.

I’ll start by saying I understand the very basic point the post is trying to make but it seems to be stretching to prove that point. We here at ILRA are certainly advocates for rescue but we have always recognized that there are some good breeders out there. On our site we say “We advocate always choosing adoption over buying an animal. (Note: We do not condemn responsible breeders but still feel you should consider adoption first.) We have no preferences for mixed breed or purebred animals as both can be found in shelters and rescues.” I once read an article about how truly responsible breeders practically lose money on it what with all the genetic testing, vet care, vaccines and hours of work they put into making sure each and every puppy is properly socialized. I wish I could find that post again because that was the one that finally cemented in my mind how I feel about responsible breeding. The problem is, responsible breeders as I define it probably only optimistically account for about 10% of the breeders out there, and probably something as ridiculously low as 1% of the dogs.

RufusI will never understand why a responsible breeder would fight legislation regulating the breeding of dogs. If, as the post suggests, breeders love a dog so much because of its history and how much it meant to a nation or a people, or even if it’s based simply on the characteristics of the dog, then they should care that breed standards are kept up to par. Regulation should in NO WAY affect a responsible breeder because they would A. Be taking proper care of their dogs and thus B. Not be breeding a huge number of dogs at once. Regulation is almost always based on the number of breeding bitches or total number of breeding dogs a breeder can have at one point in time and set a minimum standard of care for the animals. If this regulation comes anywhere near affecting a breeding operation then I can’t help but posit that that operation may not be as responsible as they would like people to believe. In order for there to be proper time, care, and attention given to selecting the right animals to breed, to ensuring that their temperaments are taken into consideration, and that every puppy is properly raised and sold to the right people, there HAS to be a limit on the number of dogs any given breeder can have at one point in time. Anyone needing more animals to make more money is not in it for the breed but for profit. Dogs become a commodity at that point, not a beloved breed representing tradition and heritage. That is what a puppy mill is. If you are truly in it for the breed, then you should ALWAYS be against puppy mills and should support legislation meant to bring them to an end. You should want there to be licenses required for breeding dogs so there aren’t backyard breeders out there diluting the breed standards and having no regard for temperament – one of the MAJOR reasons pit bulls have such a bad rap right now.

I was particularly taken aback by the author’s nonchalant way of throwing out what is actually a very reprehensible attack. “I’ve always known what we as individual dog owners stand to lose if animal rights groups have their way…” Excuse me? You want us as animal rescuers to look at breeders individually and recognize that there are responsible ones but you just lump every single one of us together? Yes, that is what I rescue animals for and why I support animal rights. Because I want to take away everyone else’s rights. That is my ultimate goal. It’s about screwing people over, not helping animals in need. Come on now. If you want to be taken seriously, leave the insults at home. As I’ve said, I believe there really are good, respectable breeders out there who LOVE the breed and want to preserve what is good about it. They are animal lovers as well and I can’t see them being so brazenly hateful towards other animal lovers. Many truly responsible breeders set up or at least volunteer for breed rescues. They care about the dogs first and foremost, and they appreciate that animal rescuers are doing the same thing. If you want people to respect you, you first have to extend them respect. We may not always see eye to eye on everything but if we attack each other, we’ll get nowhere.

SnarfAssuming that slant was not thrown in there, the author has some valid points about why SOME people like purebred dogs. I, myself, am fascinated by the histories of different breeds. I certainly have my favorites and would love, at some point in my life, to share my life with some of them. But I’m not adamant about HAVING to have a purebred “just because” and I will only ever get those breeds if I happen upon them in a shelter or rescue. And that’s the real issue here. Most people don’t care about a breed’s history or even their characteristics. People get a purebred dog because they just saw the latest cool movie or some celebrity toting around their newest fashion accessory dog. It happened with Lady & the Tramp, 101 Dalmations, the Obama’s getting Bo, Paris Hilton carrying a chihuahua around in her purse. Most people do whatever is popular at the time and don’t even bother to look into what the breed is like. They just have to have a certain breed of dog but never even realize the special characteristics that dog has that might make them a bad match for their lifestyles. Most dogs do not have jobs anymore but, yes, they still have it in them to perform those jobs! Responsible breeders make sure that people have the correct lifestyle to let that breed be what they are meant to be.

The problem is there are too many irresponsible breeders and puppy mills out there, flooding the market with ill-bred dogs that people then dump at shelters because they didn’t know what they were getting into in the first place. And none of this is the dogs’ fault. I don’t think you could find an animal rescuer anywhere who would say they hated a purebred dog. Did the dog have any choice in that? No. So it’s ludicrous to suggest that anyone thinks the only animals worth saving are mixed breed. Again, sounds like author has a chip on their shoulder for one reason or another. Any responsible breeder, i.e. actual animal lover, should be glad that animal rights groups want to be rid of puppy mills. That would mean less dogs would die unnecessarily. See that? DOGS. Less mutts AND less purebreds. And THAT is what matters. And let’s be really, truly honest here: ALL dogs are mixed breed dogs. How do you think breeds are made? Ah yes, that’s right, by crossing different dogs together until you reach the desired outcome. All dogs are mutts, and ALL DOGS deserve to be saved.

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8 Responses to “The Case for All Dogs From a Rescuer’s Perspective”

  1. Ashley –
    Yes it is true a Responsible Breeder does not breed for any sort of profit at all. All responsible breeders have other sources of income whether that be a career of their own or live in a household where they can stay home and be a puppy mommy (or daddy) full time because their partner creates enough income. Between health testing to ensure their dogs will not pass on any early health issues (to the best of their ability) lets face it as we age our bodies begin to shut down same with dogs do disease will happen.

    I know that the part in her article about “animal rights” groups was not aimed at people who rescue and love animals and just want to see that they are well cared for. That was for the radicals who show up at dog shows and open crates so dogs run free and get injured, lost, or die. The ones that say they don’t think there should be domesticated animals period. Purebred dog people as a whole are against BSL because we see it as a slippery slope from no PB’s to no larger dogs of any kind in cities to any dogs at all. That is what she was referring to not to people who advocate for the health and well-being of animals who want every animals to have a loving caring home to go to sleep with a full tummy and be free of pain and neglect.

    Of course people who really love purebred dogs want to see Puppy Mills closed down. No question about it. Reputable breeders HATE millers as much as a rescue person. They aren’t against the laws because they don’t comply in their own kennels they go above and beyond what the laws say. The problem is the wording in some of the laws or the price of the license in order to breed even one dog. First the breeder has to purchase the rabies license. We just renewed and for a 3 year license I spent $160 per dog because they are intact. If I ever wanted to breed them I need to get another license that allows me to breed them. Neither of these costs did anything to help ensure the health of my dogs because I would have vaccinated anyway it just made it more costly. The breeders license is just a piece of paper as no one does an inspection on the dogs or the facilities to ensure my dogs are healthy and well taken care of. In some places these laws make it illegal to stack crates one on top of each other because of what millers do. Some breeders put their crates on tables so the dogs are off the floor or do stack them to save room when the dogs go to sleep at night or are put away for their own safety when they are not home. Even if the crates are line with satin beds and the dog is only in there from 10pm to 7am it is still illegal. The law would make it illegal and they could have their dogs taken away because they do so. There are other particular clauses within the different laws that I just can’t think of right now that are ridiculous like not allowing a breeder to treat something as simple as an upset stomach in a dog at home and would need to by law go to the vet and have the dog seen. Obviously if the dog is really sick and didn’t just get into the cat food or something else simple that will take care of itself they go to the vet and pay whatever it is to make sure the dog gets the help it needs.

    All the Reputable breeders homes that I have ever visited were spotless the dogs were healthy and happy running around playing even when I was there basically unannounced. The kennel area is cleaned at least once daily and the dogs all get to play outside for hours during the summer or in a specific room like the basement in the middle of the winter when it is too cold for them to spend hours outside running and playing.

    It is the laws that are overly broad the even effect regular pet parents like ones that say no crating your dog for any reason (those are usually changed before they go for a vote). Or the laws that limit the number of dog you can own to 3 or 4 over the age of 4 months. It is impossible to have a functioning breeding program with so few dogs.

    Opps I guess this could have been a post on its own as well.

  2. Ashley says:

    Felissa – Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I will admit that it was that one sentence that really irked me about the post. And, you’re right, it probably was just poorly worded and overly generalized. Still, even if she means the radical groups, well, I feel they have their place too. I don’t always agree with the tactics of radical groups and certainly they have done horrible, idiotic things that are absolutely wrong (such as letting dogs go as you mentioned). They may take it too far and they may give us all a bad name at times but I don’t like thinking in black and white. Just as I know there are reputable breeders out there, I also know that radical groups have made positive changes for animals as well. It takes different kinds to reach different people. We may see them as completely crazy at times, but certainly their outlandish tactics have brought awareness to people who otherwise would not have noticed. It would be great if everyone could just sit down and be civilized but that’s unfortunately not the world we live in.

    As for the laws meant for governing puppy mills, if they are affecting good breeders and good pet parents, then that is something that must be changed. Surely the language is not meant to be catching those people and so it needs to be made more clear. Unfortunately, as with most laws, this probably has to take periods of trial and error. Hopefully the government would not waste its time and money on taking a pet parent to court simply due to keeping crates on top of one another. I truly feel that the root behind these laws is good and if we all keep working together, we will find a way to create the right balance.

    Thank you again for your comment.

  3. Oh I completely agree that we all need to work together to make the changes happen. We need to figure out how to make it happen in such a way as to not be damaging to good people. Because overly rigid animal laws hurt rescuers as much as responsible breeders. Learning to work together and communicating with each other is the KEY to success.

  4. Kyla says:

    Ashley, that same sentence really bothered me, but it’s easy for me to transfer my frustration to the groups the author is most likely referring to (PETA?). I don’t share your view that radical groups have their place, as I believe they make the job of more rational rescuers much more difficult. I’m with you on all the rest, sista.

    Felissa – you say reputable breeders hate puppy mills but I have NEVER seen one stand up against them. Are there any are out there trying to do something about puppy mills that you could refer me to? I posted this in my comment on the Blogpaws post, but it bear repeating: Reputable breeders, where are you in this fight? You should be the ones at the protests, standing in front of the pet stores, out collecting signatures to get measures on the ballots to move towards shutting these a**holes down. Where are you?

    Obviously this frustrates me. I know there are good breeders out there, and I know there will always be people with an affinity toward a certain breed (me!), but we need to do something about this overpopulation problem now. If reputable breeder stood unified with rescuers, everyone would appear much more credible, and we’d get a lot more done.

    In closing, it seems that rescuers and reputable breeder often lose sight of the fact that we are in this because we LOVE DOGS! I hope those reading this will take a hard look at what they’re doing and ask themselves, “Do my actions truly benefit the dogs I love?” If the answer is no, it’s time to refocus.

    Oh, one more thing. On the BSL topic – I’ve yet to meet any dog-lover who thinks BSL is a good idea. I’ve yet to see any animal welfare organization or rescue organization lobby for BSL. Where the heck did those comments come from?

    • Ashley says:

      Hey Kyla. I guess it’s a matter of degrees. Certainly there are absolutely psycho people out there and I do understand why so many rescuers are against PETA. They do give opposition a scapegoat to point at and say that all rescuers are crazy. But I HAVE to believe that at least some of the people in radical groups are in it for the right reason, even if they are misguided. What I really mean is that every individual is different and just as we don’t all like being lumped together, well, there have to be good people even in the radical groups. And some of what they do, I think, does help animals. Thank you very much for your thoughts on this issue!

  5. Chelsea says:

    This is such a great post. I have to say, I agree with you on every point – even the bit about groups like PETA, who may generate some bad press, but at least they’re doing something instead of pretending the problems don’t exist.

    Anyway. I was having basically this same discussion with Nick a few weeks ago while we were on a dog transport. I think it’s important to maintain a smallish population of each of the very different and wonderful dog breeds out there. Responsible, caring breeders should be the only people with the right to breed these dogs, however, and there need to be very clear, strict rules set down. Puppy mills exist partly because there is almost no real regulation regarding the welfare of animals in breeding facilities. As you and Kyla said, responsible breeders should be on the front lines of the issue, working to make sure their integrity and the integrity of the breed standards is maintained.

    • Ashley says:

      Thanks, Chelsea! I’m glad you understand my “shades of gray” stance when it comes to radical groups. If it raises awareness, through whatever crazy means it may be, it’s still getting people to think about a subject they might otherwise avoid.

      And I wish there didn’t have to be strict laws. I wish people could just be sensible and do what’s right and end the senseless killing. But we’re humans and that means we are far from perfect. Maybe someday. . .

  6. Susi says:

    Our breed club was on track to hold its National Specialty in California last year. For anyone who might not know, a national specialty is an annual event open to one breed only that draws people from all over the country, and sometimes from all over the world. It’s part dog show, but also includes educational seminars,health clinics and performance events such as agility, herding and obedience. Of the latter, dogs are asked to demonstrate their abilities in a contained environment while off leash.

    In the month preceding our specialty, California State Senator, Dean Florez,introduced Senate Bill 250, a measure that purported to reduce shelter population. No one I know would ever object to a well written measure that would actually reduce shelter numbers. But the wording of this bill was so flawed that it compelled my club (among others) to write a letter to every California state legislator expressing our intent to postpone or cancel our event in their state if the bill passed.

    Among the bill’s problems, for example, was Section 1 (g) that required anyone selling an intact animal to post the animal’s license number. Most counties don’t require a license for a dog under four months old, but most puppies and kittens are sold before they reach that age.

    Of most concern to us, however, was a clause penalizing a dog owner by requiring sterilization of their dog for a single offense. A dog off lead and not wearing a license (such as any dog in an obedience or agility trial) was an offense in that state. From one perspective, visitors from all over the country were about to enter a state with valuable show dogs of a rare breed. To a man, however, our greater concern was that our beloved pets and companions (who happened to be show dogs of a rare breed) would be at risk of confiscation and a sterilization surgery simply because they were in the state of California and caught at a dog show event not wearing a license or collar. You might well think I exaggerate. You might well think that reasonable individuals would understand the difference between the spirit of the law versus the letter of the law. You would be advised to think again.

    Had it passed, SB 250 would have punished dog owners with intact animals without addressing the fundamental reasons that animals are surrendered. The bill was a shining example of a well intentioned bill that was fatally flawed in its language. It was also, you might say, Exhibit A for why dog fanciers have grown weary and leery of dog legislation. There are unintended consequences of laws written to target puppy mills and backyard breeders, but it’s the responsible dog breeder who feels the effects of a badly written law: the person who runs health tests on their dogs, screens owners, works with a contract, takes their dog back at any age for any reason and is genuinely involved in the well being of their dogs – it’s that kind of breeder who is the proverbial canary in the mine that suffers if the air is bad – or, in this case, if the legislation stinks. Don’t focus on SB 250. It’s just one bill in one state.

    It’s true that some people get a purebred dog because of a movie or a starlet makes a dog her latest fashion accessory. I would ask that you carefully examine who it is that sells a dog to such a person. I venture to guess it’s the same breeder who thinks it’s a good idea to breed a Labrador with a Poodle. The responsible breeder, usually someone involved in their breed club and attends their functions, spends countless man hours studying pedigrees to find a sound and complimentary match to their dog. To this person, breeding to an unsound dog, let alone a dog of ANOTHER BREED is unfathomable. This means that the only people breeding two different breeds together are likely people who don’t give a whit about health clearances, type, soundness, structure – all those things that make a dog PREDICTABLE. Logic says this leaves only unsound dogs from two different breeds being used in to create designer breeds and being unable to duplicate that exact same look in subsequent breedings. Your objection to being lumped into the same category as animal rights zealots is understandable. But in suggesting that the only reason to want a purebred dog is to meet a fashion trend, haven’t you done the same thing to breeders?

    It is clear that there are misconceptions on both sides of this debate.

    It’s been said that England and America are two countries divided by a common language. I’m struck this debate isn’t so different from that quip. Put another way, rescuers and breeders are two groups divided by a common devotion to cats and dogs. As in most things, education is key. Let’s keep the dialogue going.

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