Are we Making a Dent in Puppy Mills?

My last Saluki, Ch. Scenario Razzle Dazzle, JC.  His breeder  hung on to him, thinking he was not show quality, waiting for the right home to come along.

My last Saluki, Ch. Scenario Razzle Dazzle, JC. His breeder hung on to him, thinking he was not show quality, waiting for the right home to come along.

On Facebook, we recently learned that a couple of pet stores—puppy mill outlets—were planning a fundraiser at an area restaurant— so they could pay their legal bills!  for real.  They  claim that (we activists) are putting them out of a legitimate business…and puppy buyers will be forced to  go to the suburbs to buy pups. Really?

Or, maybe…just maybe…they will be forced to do some research and seek out hobby breeders.  Or check out the hundreds of dogs in area shelters and breed specific rescues.  It could happen.

I wrote  to the reporter who broke the story…that the fundraiser was cancelled when Cari Meyers from The Puppy Mill Project, ans several other activists  talked to the restaurant management about what the problem REALLY is.

I have no idea where to start on this…but let me try.
I am a dog groomer.  I have been working with dogs for  over 40 years.  I learned to groom from other  dog lovers:  people who bred and showed dogs.
What I learned is that no ethical  hobby breeder, who loves dogs, sells any dog to someone else to resell. Ethical hobby breeders  want to meet  possible buyers and determine if they understand  how to take care of the pup they want.
As a teenager, I worked for this eccentric named Fred Alderman.  He was a pretty well known Afghan Hound breeder.  Lots of people didn’t like him…but if you had never owned an Afghan Hound, you had to spend a day grooming with him if you wanted 1 of his dogs.  He didn’t want to hear that you  didn’t  know how much equipment you would need, how often it needed to be done, how long it would take.  If—at the end of the day—you  didn’t want an Afghan, no harm/no foul.

I worked for a Miniature Schnauzer breeder.  In the late 1970s,  the hobby breeders were noticing that a lot of the dog they bred were  going blind at age 2 or 3.  Clearly, it was a genetic issue, and they set up a test breeding program  with  veterinary ophthalmologists, and  virtually eliminated  congenital juvenile cataracts from the breed.  Unfortunately, this was just dogs bred by hobby breeders.  People breeding dogs as livestock, for resale, and people breeding their pets didn’t even think about this, because once their pups were sold,  they  weren’t involved with them.

We were making good progress  in making purebred dogs genetically more sound, then the recession hit, and another bad dynamic:  veterinarians who  really aren’t pet lovers not discouraging  people from breeding dogs with discoverable genetic defects…and even leading  pet owners to believe that mixing breeds  resulted in ‘hybrid vigor’ (they are the same species—not hybrids—these designer dogs).

So now we have a whole segment of  pet lovers who believe a designer dog is healthier than  a purebred (not  necessarily so).

I am not the ‘adopt—don’t shop’ type, but my last 4 purebred dogs  came to me as adults from  purebred dog breeders who   are breeding for the betterment of their breeds—and who took dogs back because buyers changed their minds.  That’s what hobby breeders do. They take back their dogs because they love them.  No excuses.

Do you understand the difference? That Amish  commercial dog breeders, and/or USDA licensed breeders are breeding pets as livestock?  And ripping people off?  Every week I get  dogs in for grooming who  bought from these types—- from pet store owners, who were not  screened, were not given proper grooming or training instructions, and believe me ultimately, that all breeders are the same.

The irony is that if these jerks  really loved animals, they could change their business models and not be adding to the many adult dogs abandoned or dumped by  dissatisfied  pet buyers.  & to justify this by saying that these buyers will go to puppy mill outlets in the suburbs? Really?  I bet within a decade we have a state-wide ban on commercial breeding of pets.

I will add that many of the  rescues  are just as bad:  adopting out dogs with questionable temperaments and not being honest about grooming and training needs…but at least they aren’t breeding dogs.

I wish we could hold the shelters and rescues accountable for adopting out dogs that look cute, but are actually a danger to public health, but that  is another issue.  The American Kennel Club is defending the very bad breeders.  We must hold them accountable, and out veterinarians accountable as well.

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