What should be an exciting process

Adding an adorable new puppy or dog to a home should be a happy time and an exciting process. Visions of Lassie or 101 Dalmatians brings a smile to the faces of all ages along with fond memories of childhood pets. Years ago, Snoopy and the Daisy Hill Puppy Farm were part of a beloved cartoon and getting a sweet puppy from a farm was the cherished wish of many young children.  Unfortunately, today’s reality of searching for a puppy can be daunting and confusing. What exactly is the difference between a good breeder and a bad breeder? What exactly is a puppy mill? How can I avoid an online scam? Why should I feel guilty for wanting to purchase a purebred?

Effective lies in sales marketing

Animal Rescues and Shelters and the people that work and volunteer in them, in their mostly valiant attempt to help homeless pets but also in their endeavor to build their business, have become accomplished at stretching the truth to the point of obliteration in order to push their agenda. The campaign of “adopt don’t shop” has taken marketing to an entirely new level and if it continues on its current course, purebred dogs and the dedicated breeders that support them are in great danger of becoming extinct.

The history of shelters and rescues

Historically, animal shelters were publicly funded facilities operated by paid dog wardens and employees to keep stray animals off the streets. Animal Rescues originally came into existence as specific breed rescues organized and operated by volunteer dog breeders. Stop. Did you comprehend that last sentence? Rescues came into existence by dog breeders, helping their breed of choice and networking through breed clubs so that their beloved purebred dogs didn’t languish in shelters. Countless studies and statistics show that the overwhelming majority of dogs and puppies in shelters and rescues are actually mixed breeds and not purpose bred dogs from breeders. Add to that the fact that studies have shown that the more a person spends buying/adopting a dog the more likely they are to keep it in their home. Neither of these facts come into account when these groups are spewing hate towards ALL dog breeders. In their attempt to save homeless pets, these groups and their uninformed and uneducated followers are skewing information to make it seem that all purebred dogs are genetically inferior to mutts, generally unhealthy, and that anyone that breeds a dog is greedy and uncaring. The idea of owning dogs and breeding and selling puppies for money is considered abominable today.  No longer is the Daisy Hill puppy farm a place that brings about warm fuzzy feelings.

McCarthyism:

“A campaign or practice that endorses the use of unfair allegations”

Due to the relentless onslaught of media smear campaigns, today any breeder can easily fall victim and be defined and blacklisted as a bad breeder, even by their peers!  Any breeder that has over an arbitrarily number of dogs or litter of puppies, breeds more than one breed, keeps their dogs in a kennel building rather than sleeping in the house, ships their pups, along with a barrage of other loosely determined criteria is being criticized, condemned, and avoided, for fear of being labeled and judged. By contrast, some new puppy owners feel so guilty for choosing to purchase a purpose bred puppy that they lie and claim they rescued their pet instead of being honest, just to avoid being ridiculed for their choice of a purebred dog with a stable background. All this simply because nobody wants to be perceived as being on the wrong side of right. There is a lot of finger pointing of who is doing it wrong, who is better than, all so “they” can be spared from the spotlight and have the spotlight go somewhere else, anywhere else. And the results? Divide and Conquer, Destroy from Within, A House Divided shall not stand, these are all tactics devised and utilized by the Animal Rights Groups to push their agenda…and their agenda is flourishing. Similar to McCarthyism, the pet industry as a whole is being divided, and those within it are choosing sides to save themselves, blacklisting each other based upon rumor and innuendos or the perception of what is the right and wrong way to do things. Similar to cliques in high school, if you aren’t in the “popular” crowd, you are bullied and ostracized.

Canine Slavery

The claims from the “adopt don’t shop” groups are that the plight of homeless dogs is due to puppy mills, volume breeding by commercial breeders, unknowledgeable backyard breeders, show breeders that breed for looks rather than health, as well as “illegal” breeders. These groups claim that breeding dogs is akin to canine slavery and they make no bones about being against all breeding, regardless of how well a breeder cares for their dogs. Adding to that rhetoric are the power players of Animal Rights groups such as HSUS and PETA who spend millions and millions of donation dollars on commercials showing seemingly abused dogs behind bars, shivering in the cold. They tell the audience that they need more donations to help these dogs, and when the donations pour in, they take that money and pour it back into more commercials, repeating the process over and over again. As in the case of the pro vegan agenda of HSUS, with less than one penny of each donation dollar going directly to help animals but instead being spent on media campaigns, Washington D.C. lobbyists and campaign contributions, payroll, and offshore accounts, progressive minds would believe that the public would quickly see the truth. Alas, the public doesn’t see the truth, they see the slanted and narrow viewpoint that is pushed in front of them in daily onslaughts of misinformation. A recent incident occurred in Pennsylvania whereas an animal shelter director who already owned several shelter pets made the horrific mistake of choosing to obtain a new puppy from a caring breeder. The onslaught of venom and death threats against this poor woman and her family on social media and at her workplace was so unbearable that she was forced to leave her job, simply because she chose to obtain a purebred dog. Can you imagine if there was an onslaught of media coverage promoting the adoption of children and the reference of women that choose to have their own children as callous and uncaring? Can you imagine if women that work in child adoption agencies were treated similarly when they decided to start their own family and showed up at work pregnant instead of adopting a child?

Responsible pet owners

Compared to decades ago, pet owners today are more educated in pet health and welfare. Spay and neuter education and more responsible pet owners have gone a long way to lowering the homeless pet population in many parts of the country, so much so that there are areas where there is a severe shortage of adoptable dogs.  In addition, many animal shelters today are private enterprises. For the most part, long gone are the sad public shelters consisting of a barren concrete garage filled with barking dogs behind bars. Increasingly, many private shelters have lucrative contracts with municipalities in their region for animal control services. This has saved tax payers in individual towns from the burden of having to pay for the operation of a local shelter to support their town’s needs. This should all be good news. A shortage of homeless pets should be something to be celebrated, after all, a good shelter should be an empty shelter! But a full shelter is also big business that can bring in big dollars for private shelters. These shelters are run by people that rely on their oftentimes hefty paycheck to support their families and therefore they NEED homeless dogs to keep the doors to their shelter open and for their paycheck to continue. There is big money to be made from tax exempt and under regulated shelters and rescues, tax free money coming in from donation dollars, funds raised through federal and state grants, free services provided by volunteers and veterinarians, not to mention the emotion of feeling like a hero.

The adopt don’t shop hypocrisy

Before we even begin, we feel obliged to state that we are pro-choice, and you should be too if you believe in democracy, capitalism, and life in a free society. We aren’t talking about women’s issues here. We are referring to pro-choice for obtaining a pet. The public has the right to choose where they obtain a pet and whether they want a purebred or a mixed breed, puppy or adult. To that end, we support breeders AND shelters AND rescues. Regardless of this statement, we know that we will be considered anti-adoption and pro-breeder simply because we believe in choice. For animal activist extremists, there is no middle ground. To them this is a war, and to have an effective war there is no gray area, it is the right side and the wrong side, black and white. As mentioned previously, many breeders volunteer their time to rescue, and it’s commonplace for rescue volunteers that find themselves with pregnancy or puppy raising questions to reach out to breeders on a social media platform for their wealth of knowledge. So why is there such animosity? The answer is as simple as it is sinister, the blame game and competition.

Competition; retail rescue

Remember, whenever money exchanges hands, it’s a purchase. It doesn’t matter if the amount is $10 or $1000. It doesn’t matter if it’s called a purchase price or an adoption fee, you are paying money and getting something in return. Non-profit or for-profit, money must be received in order to operate a business, the only difference between the two is corporate structure. But if a breeder charges $1000.00 for a pup and a shelter or rescue charges $300 that must mean that the breeder is making a lot more money right? Wrong.  The only income that a breeder has is the sale of that puppy, maybe some stud fees, AND personal income from their other life, such as being a teacher or plumber, which oftentimes supports their “business” of breeding dogs. Only a very tiny portion of dog breeders make a living from breeding. Shelters and rescues on the other hand make very little money from adoption fees. Most of their income comes from donations, grants, taxpayers, and lots of fundraisers, and its all tax free.  In fact, municipal contracts, grants, and fundraisers can add millions of dollars per year to a shelter or rescue’s income. Volunteers to do the heavy lifting can keep overhead low (think free labor), and the ability to obtain free services and merchandise such as free advertising, free pet food, and free medical supplies donated by companies also saves lots of money that by comparison the breeder has to pay for. Add to that little or no regulatory requirements for shelters and rescues compared to breeders, this ensures that shelters and rescues don’t have to spend a lot of money on pesky things such as strict veterinarian oversight, proper vaccination protocols, health testing of the parents, costs for titling dogs, and health warrantees. This means that a shelter or rescue gets to keep a bulk of that income in the bank compared to a breeder who usually spends more than they make. Mike Arms, president of an animal Shelter in California said it best. “His shelter has gone from being in debt to having a $9-million endowment fund. He has raised $20 million from donations toward a $50-million expansion project and grown the business to 130 employees from 80. Every staff member gets a decent wage with regular increases and holiday bonuses, he said. “Shelters need to advertise their adoptable pets, and people will pay good money for them”, Arms said. “I have the highest prices in San Diego”. “This is a business” Arms said. And he said his biggest problem is getting enough inventory.”

Retail rescue

Even while shelters and rescues slander dog breeders for being evil, claiming higher health problems with purebred dogs, and demanding that all breeding should stop, they covet these same purebred dogs and puppies in the shelter and rescue system. Purebreds and puppies are golden tickets that warrant higher adoption fees and bring in dozens of adoption applications for a single dog and hundreds of applications for a single puppy. But in a system filled with older mixed breeds, how do shelters and rescues obtain these golden tickets? Routes to reach the end of the golden rainbow include importing purebreds and puppies from other countries, buying purebreds directly from breeders or auctions (including pregnant mothers), and most disturbing, breeding themselves. Yes, we said it, there are some unscrupulous breeders that breed rescue dogs will-nilly to fill the demand for puppies. Regardless of where these highly desirable dogs come from, they are needed to fill the shelves of the retail rescue market.

The Blame Game

Shelters and Rescues like to blame breeders for the homeless pet population and euthanasia rates, but is it true? Simply put, no. Studies have shown that less than 5% of homeless pets are purebreds. Additionally, studies have shown that in many areas of the country Pit Bull type mixes make up roughly 75% of all homeless dogs sitting in shelters. One thing is undisputable, mixed breeds make up the vast majority of the homeless pet population. So, if less than 5% of dogs in shelters and rescues are purebreds, how can Cocker Spaniel or Collie breeders be blamed for the homeless pet population? If Irish Setters or Clumber Spaniels are never available for adoption in a shelter or rescue, how can breeders be blamed for an “overpopulation”?  Well the answer goes back to the section on McCarthyism. By blaming breeders, the hope for the animal rights groups and the shelters and rescues is to “promote” their dogs and make their dogs sound more appealing. But why would John Q. Public choose to obtain a mixed breed with no background information on health or behavior over an adorable purebred puppy from a good home? That would be a hard sell, unless you can convince John Q. Public that the adorable purebred puppy he really wants is the result of “cruelty and greed and is filled with congenital and genetic defects from overbreeding and inbreeding”! Simply fling the words “puppy mill” into the air and wait for them to stick. After bashing breeders, add the alternative words of “rescue” and “saving a life” along with a sad story, and viola, shelters and rescues appear altruistic and heroic, above the fray. Even when a rescue or shelter is caught and charged with neglect or cruelty towards the animals in their care (and there are plenty), there will always be supporters that refuse to acknowledge it, using the excuse of being overburdened or overwhelmed to deflect their crimes because they refuse to accept the idea that they aren’t heroes wearing angel wings. In some cases, these “saviors” become so deeply embedded in rescue that they develop psychosis and delusional beliefs of grandiosity.  Unable to maintain reality, these once normal people become more and more difficult to deal with, sometimes resort to hoarding, believing that nobody is good enough to adopt from them and the animals are better off with them.

Dog Trafficking

According to statistics, shelter intake of homeless dogs has drastically dropped and the subsequent euthanasia rate for the United States has dropped to one-fifth of what it was only four decades ago. During the same timeframe, pet ownership has increased from 64 million to more than 160 million. Ironically, there are more pets in American households than there are children today. So why aren’t shelters and rescues closing up shop if there are less homeless dogs in need? Business 101, if business is good you don’t close up shop, you simply find more product to fill the shelves! In the last decade importing dogs from one state to another and importation from foreign countries has become BIG business for shelters and rescues. Desirable dogs are being imported into areas where there are not enough dogs available, or they replace the less desirable Pit Bulls or other harder to place dogs, who are then euthanized to make space for the new “inventory”.  All of this movement of dogs from one area to another also inflates the intake records for shelters since one dog that gets transferred to a second shelter would be counted twice, creating false statistics. Conservatively more than 600,000 dogs are imported into the United States each year, while other numbers claim that over a million yearly imports is more accurate. Regardless of what numbers you believe, there is no disputing the fact that there is a steady stream of dogs that come into the United States from foreign soil each year. Interestingly, the ASPCA statistics show that 670,000 dogs are euthanized in shelters yearly. If we simply stopped the mass importation of foreign homeless dogs, it is feasible to reach a close to zero euthanasia rate in this country! Rescues and shelters that import dogs are doing more harm than good for our domestic homeless population, not purebred dog breeders. For every homeless dog imported from another country or another state, a local dog dies due to lack of space, foster home, or adoptable home.

The end of the war

So how do we, as a nation, combat the homeless pet population, protect the public, and simultaneously provide the public with the types of dogs they want? The answer is simple and multifold. We come together. We stop the McCarthyism, the finger pointing. We stop feeling superior to others. As the saying goes; opinions are like a$$holes, and everyone has one. We should ALL come together as an industry to educate the public about responsible ownership. We should offer resources for families in times of need to be able to keep their pet rather than give it up. Rescues, shelters AND breeders should all work together to utilize ALL resources, to help any dog in need. Regulations should be passed to stop the importation of homeless pets from other countries until the need for animal shelters in this country is a distant memory and the few pets that do find themselves in need of a new home have no problem obtaining one. Regulations should be passed to provide more oversight, transparency, inspections, and quality health and housing care for the animals in shelter and rescues, as is already required of licensed breeders. We should require micro-chipping, so every pet can be traced to it’s source for better tracking. We should require that every homeless pet up for adoption in a shelter or rescue should be spayed or neutered. We should require that all pets up for adoption receive all vaccinations up to date, be examined by a licensed veterinarian, and have a state mandated health warranty, prior to adoption or sale.