The Breeding Business: Can It Be Responsible?
(At OMD News, we strongly suggest that you adopt a dog and not buy. There are plenty of amazing dogs that need homes. We believe if you look at responsible adoption agencies you’ll find a dog you’ll fall in love with.)
As a fur parent, you’re probably familiar with the slogan “adopt, don’t shop.” It’s a message circulated by rescues and shelters in recent years.
As more and more people become aware of the ethical implications of buying animals from breeders, the plight of dog overpopulation and shelters running out of room. Oftentimes, these organizations are left to pick up the slack for non-responsible breeders (often called Backyard Breeders) and puppy mills.
This is the reason why in the U.S. and Canada we have over 3,000 commercial puppy mills. Similarly, an estimated 1.2 million pups are born in these facilities each year. Often, these puppies are sick or have behaviour problems and are euthanized or placed into the rescue/shelter system.
In other words, the breeding business is likewise a main contributor to the overpopulation problem. They don’t require, like rescues and shelters do, that animals be spayed or neutered before being adopted out. There are already an estimated 6-8 million homeless dogs in the U.S., and only about 20% of them will find homes leading to 1.5 million shelter animals being euthanized every year.
Because of this, it’s easy to see why many people advocate against buying animals from breeders. But what we’ve set out above are the actions of irresponsible breeders. If you’re set on getting a specific breed of dog and are willing to pay the premium price that comes with it, it is possible to find a responsible breeder – but they are few and far between.
What’s In a Responsible Breeding Business?
A responsible breeder is someone who puts the health and welfare of their animals above all else. They’ll only breed dogs free from genetic disorders, and they will take measures to ensure that their puppies are healthy and well-adjusted. They will do their vaccinations, have them vet checked and be willing to take them back into their care should the family adopting the dog change their mind.
A responsible breeder must be intimately familiar with the breed they’re working with, and provide you with a detailed history of the dogs family line, allowing the breeder to answer any questions you have about the dog’s temperaments and needs, and also helping determine if the breed is a good fit for your family.
Furthermore, a responsible breeder has a thorough understanding of dog behaviour and socialization and practices raising their puppies in a home environment. Creating a home environment for dogs is crucial since puppies raised in kennels or mill-like conditions are more likely to be fearful or aggressive, and have behavioral issues
Irresponsible Dog Breeding
Irresponsible dog breeding is not a stereotype. Back in the day, anyone could set up a breeding business without regulations which resulted in the business of Backyard Breeding. Backyard Breeders are known for substandard practices that do not put the welfare of the animals first.
As dogs became more popular companion animals, the irresponsible dog breeding business took a turn for the worse. Backyard breeders and puppy mills began popping up all over the place as people saw the puppies as a quick and easy way to make money. These breeders churnout puppies with little regard for their health or well-being.
Animal welfare and ethical treatment of their dogs has little to no bearing on their operations and they h often cut corners, at the expense of the animals, to save on costs. They don’t socialize their puppies properly or even screen their breeding stock for genetic disorders.
The parents are kept in substandard conditions, often without medical care. As a result, the puppies they produce are often sickly or have behaviour problems.
Overproduction is another key issue here. As demand for certain breeds of dogs increase, these irresponsible breeders will often overbreed their females to maximize profits. Moreover, this puts a tremendous amount of strain on the mother dogs, increasing the likelihood of genetic disorders being passed down to the puppies. Again, they do not provide medical care to their animals.
Curbing The Problem
So, what can be done to stop the overproduction of puppies and improve the conditions of commercial breeding facilities?
Do your research
As long as there’s a market for these puppies, the irresponsible breeding business will thrive. In other words, many people are willing to pay top dollar for a purebred puppy without doing their research first. They’ll see a cute face in a pet store window and hand over their hard-earned cash without knowing anything about the breeder or the conditions the puppies were raised in.
Refuse to buy a puppy from a pet store or online retailer. This sends a message that you’re not willing to support the puppy mill industry and that dealing direction with breeders, to ensure they are responsible, is non-negotiable.
Then, if you’re set on getting a purebred dog, do your research and find a responsible breeder. Ask for references. Be prepared to ask many questions and maybe even pay a bit more money..
Some things to consider before buying a puppy from a breeder:
– Conditions of the breeding facility
Are the animals kept in clean, spacious quarters? Do they have access to fresh food and water?
– The health of the parents
A responsible breeder acknowledges the importance of providing you with health clearances for the parents of the puppy.
– The temperament of the parents
A good breeder provides details on the personalities of the puppies’ parents and how that might influence the temperament.
The Importance of Advocacy
Animals don’t have a voice so we must use ours for them. Contact your local government representatives and let them know that you support stricter regulations on commercial breeding facilities. The more people who speak out, the more likely it is that something will be done to improve the conditions of these places.
There are so many wonderful organizations working tirelessly to rescue dogs from puppy mills and backyard breeders. Consider supporting them by volunteering, fostering, adopting, donation or spreading the word about the work they do.
Dogs everywhere will be all the better for it.