Who is a (pet)breeder

Sometimes, I don’t know how we’ll get through this ‘economic recovery’. America will  ever be the same, and the American Dream is torn up and shattered.  Yet—people still harbor a fantasy of  cute little baby animals, and having new owners taking them, making a bit of money, and living happily ever after.  Everyone.

I have a client who owns a 17-year-old  dog.  The dog almost died last summer when the father went on a business trip, & the other  3 members of the household FORGOT TO GIVE THE DOG WATER.   He told me this, that the dog was dehydrated.   And—when he brought the dog to me, poor thing  could barely walk—his toenails were totally curved around.  You have no idea how painful that is.  Inhumane?  Who am I going to report this family to?  The Police?  In Chicago, they  don’t come out unless you say ‘weapon’ and ‘blood’  in the same sentence, and it will take at least a half an hour at that.  The Illinois Department of Agriculture?  Over a pet dog?  How about the Anti-Cruelty Society?  They really have no jurisdiction and are up to their eyeballs in dog fighting and basement puppy mill inspections…

…which brings me to the topic of….how do you ‘define’ a breeder?

I am still  hassling the backyard breeders who post on Craigslist—-as none of them think they are breeders when their  dog or other pet has babies. They seem to think breeders have a special building or room, and make money.  Since they are not making money, they don’t think they are breeders.

Funny (not) that  veterinarians, departments of agriculture,  and registry organizations like the American Kennel Club define the breeder as the person who owns the mother animal at the time she whelps the babies.

Simple, isn’t it?  You own the  female breeding animal, you are the breeder.

A long time ago, in the last century, you’d put an ad in the paper, tell your friends, post notices at pet shops  or veterinarians offices—or even give them to the pet store guy  to sell for you (you knew the guy, and you knew he’d ask at least a few questions to make sure the buyers  understood what all was involved in caring for a pet).  Everyone lived happily ever after.  Of course, most dogs did not live to be  12 years old.  Pay for a distemper shot—for a dog?  Funny.  And pay for a spay operation?  Who did that?

Well, it seems that college educated people making money, and wanting specific types of dogs…people willing to pay a little bit more….would do that.  They would also pay for obedience classes (or even throw money at a ‘professional trainer’), and gradually…..urban Americans got into the mindset that the responsible behavior was to  neuter your pet—or at least not let it run at large (it could get hit by a car, poisoned, or stolen), get shots every year, and many even paid for grooming!

In fact, it was because of the Poodle breeders that the dog grooming industry emerged as an actual industry, and didn’t just stay a hobby.

Problem was….so many  ethical hobby breeders—who really meant well and wanted to breed good dogs, just assumed that  puppy buyers would  do the right thing and  have their pet neutered, and train the dog, and take care of it  properly.  We know making assumptions did not work, because of the number of pets abandoned every year.  Most make it to shelters…we think.  We really don’t have good statistics.

So, on one end, you have the Beagle , Pit Bull and German Shepherd Dog  breeders, who ask virtually nothing of pet buyers, just take their money and wish them luck , and at the other end we have the Portuguese Water Dog  and Scottish Deerhound breeders, who ask you a zillion questions and may turn you down if they don’t think you are a good fit for their breed—-and all the  breeders of the breeds in between.

I remember when you had to really search for a Papillon, You had to be on a waiting list.  Now, due to the internet, they are about as common as  Chihuahuas. What happened?  It took only a few breeders  to sell  unspayed bitches without a co-ownership or neutering contract, and the  irresponsible breeders got them.  Some are puppy mills, and some are just  people breeding their dogs int he house.  They are what  we commonly know as backyard breeders. They may not have a backyard, but what that have is—no integrity.

Does it really matter?  Hell, yes!  These people post on Craigslist (and, I am sure, on other websites) & claim they are offering dogs for adoption…because it is really cool and socially responsible to adopt a dog—but from a shelter or rescue!  The idiots (and remember—they vote and have children) don’t even stop to think, “Wait a minute!  How can I be adopting if I am buying a dog from a private individual?  This isn’t adopting, it is buying!  I am buying and they are selling!  If I was adopting, wouldn’t I have some sort of contract with a  not-for-profit organization ?

When these idiots buy a pet, and think they are adopting,  a pet in a shelter languishes.

I am not against buying a dog.  As I have stated many times, I  believe in planned breeding. I don’t want the thugs and the marketing guys deciding what kind of dog would best suit me.  That said, those of us with  integrity should not  allow the breeders  to get away with not being responsible. Again—if you own the mommy animal when it has the babies–YOU ARE the breeder. Own that.  Because the irony is, of course, that when you don’t take responsibility, too many pets die.  & had the breeder of the 17-year-old  dog that almost died of dehydration, and could not walk  because of curled around toenails, asked a few more questions, chances are this family might have rethought getting a dog.

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