Go Pitbull Forums banner

1 - 10 of 10 Posts

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
11,000 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
A blog Carrie found a few months ago and I lost it, so I am posting because I think its a great link to refer back to. I do not support Back yard Breeders. I understand everyone has a different definition but I refuse to buy into all breeders are bad the same way I refuse to buy into all pit bulls are bad.
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

It's become fashionable to hate dog breeders

In yet another example of an emotionally-charged solution completely missing the mark on the actual cause of an important problem, hating dog breeders has become the hottest social trend.

An example of a facebook MEME


Let's start with the legitimate problem: each year, somewhere between 6 and 8 million unwanted, stray or otherwise neglected animals are taken in by local animal shelters, and sadly, nearly half of them must be euthanized for lack of an appropriate home. As an animal lover in general and as a guy who lives with two amazing dogs, these shocking stats break my heart.

Since most of us can agree that euthanizing some 3.7 million companion animals each year is morally unacceptable, the question naturally becomes "what do we do about it." To answer that question, of course, we have to understand the root causes of pet "overpopulation." (For reference, unless otherwise cited, my stats are probably provided by the American Humane Association, though the more controversial animal rights group The Humane Society of the United States offers essentially the same sobering stats.)

For the purposes of our discussion, we'll focus on dogs for two reasons: one, because I'm a dog guy; and two, because I don't actually know a single cat breeder, nor do I know of anyone who has a pet cat - not a stray or barn-dweller, that is - that they've decided to breed recreationally. In other words, dog breeders (put another way, those who have dogs that get bred) are much more prevalent in my social strata.

The obvious answer to an overpopulation of dogs is that breeders breed too many dogs, right? And if so, then dog breeders are obviously the problem, and should be shunned by a responsible society.

Quoting Lee Corso: "Not so fast, pet lovers!" The above answer, though it apparently has become the rallying cry for the anti-puppy mill movement, misses the point on many levels.

Most issues of an imbalance in supply can be evaluated most completely by going back to basic economic principles… sometimes the most elegant solution is indeed the simplest. In this case, we have an imbalance in the supply/demand equation for dogs - too many dogs supplied, apparently, relative to the quantity demanded.

So where do these "extra" dogs come from? If you listen to the "I hate dog breeders" crowd, the oversupply problem is a simple factor of people wanting to buy dogs from breeders rather than simply adopting dogs from shelters.

"For every bred and sold puppy another one will suffer and die at the shelter," the Facebook page of the breeder-hate crowd proclaims. "We have to stop breeding more and more puppies until all homeless dogs have found a home."

Blogger Karen Friesecke takes apart the logic behind this sentiment in a fairly well-thought out post here. Her comments, in fact, got me thinking about the topic at all (oh, the wonders of Facebook - I have no idea which of my friends shared or posted Karen's article, but were it not for social media I'm guessing I'd never have heard of Karen or read her work).

Citing a study published in the Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, the blogger points out that one of the biggest problems with eschewing "bred" dogs entirely is the very issue of where shelter dogs come from in the first place. Remember what I said earlier, that the "oversupply" issue goes back to basic economics, as you read this next part (edited for clarity):

The study determined that 3.9% of surrendered [dogs] came from a pet shop; 10.6% of surrendered animals came from a breeder; 2.9% of surrendered animals were received as a gift; 9.3% of surrendered animals were found by the owner as a stray; 6.0% of surrendered animals were offspring of another pet in possession of the owner; 22.5% of surrendered animals were originally acquired from another shelter; and, 30.8% of surrendered animals were acquired from a friend.

In other words, in a survey of a dozen animal shelters in six states across four different regions of the country, only 2.9% of dogs surrendered to animal shelters came from pet shops and only 10.6% came from breeders… The vast majority came from much more logical sources, if you think about it (again, edited for clarity):

These are the statistics that cause more concern: 6% of dogs surrendered were from offspring of another pet in possession of the relinquisher, otherwise know as I-didn't-know-that-animals-can-have-babies-before-their-first-birthday-itis.

Some 30.8% of dogs surrendered were obtained from a friend, otherwise know as my-female-dog-got-knocked-up-by-the-male-dog-that-lives-next-door-and-can-you-take-a-puppy disease, but sometimes known as the I'm-moving/have-a new-baby/just-got-a-new-job-and-I-need-to-get-rid-of my-pet-can-you-take-it syndrome.

Another 22.5% of dogs were obtained from another shelter, also known as I-knew-this-pet-had-behavioral-problems-when-I-adopted-it-thought-I-could-handle-it-but now-I-can't disorder.

Dogs most at risk for relinquishment were of mixed breed heritage, intact, young, owned for less than a year and purchased for less than $100.


Apparently it's my fault these dogs will die because I bought a dog from a breeder instead of adopting from a shelter...


Now back to Econ 101: producers respond to incentives. If you think of puppies as livestock or widgets for a minute, it is easy to understand why some animal lovers get riled up about puppy mills and pet stores who sell cute little doggies to turn a profit. I've been to these pet stores - we often visit the puppies in these stores to give them some much-needed socialization… The last time we did so, I was stunned to see what I can only assume was an average- to poorly-bred Siberian Husky pup retailing for nearly $1,500.

The problem here, however, is not a question of supply, but rather of demand. Because the store in question obviously believes it can sell said pup at said price, there is, in theory, a demand out there for that pup. In other words, because some number of consumers has acquired a pup for a similar price, there is a demand that must be met.

Again, we seem to come back to the animal rights argument against pet shop puppies and the infamous puppy mill. People should just stop buying dogs from these outlets, and there will cease to be a demand for those pups, and the pet overpopulation problem will be miraculously solved (we'll get back to more about how I feel about pet store puppies in a minute).

So what did the data tell us? Less than 14% of dogs surrendered come from dog breeders and pet stores! By even the high end of that estimate, magically wiping away those dogs from the marketplace, we still see nearly 7 million unwanted pets surrendered at shelters, and still see nearly 3 million shelter animals euthanized each year.

The far bigger problem, even bigger than Bob Barker's rallying cry of everyone having their pets summarily spayed or neutered (a really good idea for a very high percentage of the companion animal population, I'll submit), is the basic reality that more than 85% of dogs surrendered to shelters find themselves up for adoption through what can largely - and bluntly - be described as the basic irresponsibility of their owners.

Let me admit up front that I have been one of these irresponsible owners. When I first moved to rural Logan County after college, I wanted a dog, badly. The problem was that I had given very little thought to why I wanted a dog, and how a dog really fit my lifestyle. For one thing, and this is a mistake I'll never make again, my ex and I had no interest in an "inside" dog. I was raised on the farm, and dogs lived outside, plain and simple. Further, the ex had a cat, and while it was a lovely creature, there was no question of kitty cohabitation with a canine.

So I did what all too many people do: I bought a puppy from the kid down the road. Yep, you guessed it: neighbor kid had a bitch that he probably got from somebody else's neighbor, and knew a guy who had a "stud" dog and… well, magically he had puppies for sale one day. Oh and boy were they cute! Hard to say no.

Our Labrador Tucker was (and is) a wonderful dog, and she lives happily on the farm out in Logan County to this day. I miss her, because she really was a good dog, although I had very little to do with that. Looking back on it now, though, I was compounding one dog owner's irresponsibility by providing an economic incentive to engage in bad behavior - by buying a puppy from someone who had ZERO clue what it means to be a "responsible breeder," I was saying to him "Hey, it's okay that you breed your bitch to whichever dog tickles your fancy, whenever you like, and idiots like me will gladly pay you $300 for the badly-bred offspring."

Then I added to that irresponsibility by not getting my puppy spayed right away, and that magical occurrence of nature happened: the other neighbor's intact male came a-callin' and did his thing… And then we were the irresponsible types trying to place puppies in good homes. Our one saving grace, I think, is that we really did put the effort into placing those puppies in homes where they were well-cared for, and to a one I can tell you where they are today, and they're all in good shape.

Sadly, you and I both know that's the exception rather than the rule.

More than 8 years have passed since my first adult dog ownership folly, and because I've been there myself, I can completely understand why people do dumb things with dogs, and why so many dogs end up in shelters. Furthermore, it is intuitively obvious why the overwhelming majority of dogs in shelters aren't "puppy mill" puppies or pet store dandies, but cast-offs from idiots like me or the neighbor kid who have no business in the world breeding doggies.

Educating both buyers and "breeders" is going to take quite an effort. Now that we've identified the problems - economic incentives and irresponsible owners - I want you to meet Amy. My wife Miranda is a helluva dog trainer. She and our Norwegian Elkhound Dash have competed very respectably in AKC Obedience Trials across the country, and they've earned both his CDX (Companion Dog Excellent) and RAE (Rally Advanced Excellent) titles.

Dash is an amazing dog, and it is precisely because when Miranda adopted him 8 years ago (long before we met), she did everything I didn't do when I was looking for a dog. She researched what breed fit her lifestyle, a process that she spent two years working through. Because she had a very specific set of needs, desires and circumstances, she read, she talked to breeders of many different breeds, she attended dog shows and above all she had a realistic expectation of what a dog meant to her life.

People most often overlook this last piece of the puzzle. One example is the holidays; for each of us, Columbus isn't "home," so we have to travel 2 hours in either direction to visit our families. What this means for Thanksgiving, for example, is that we either have to plan to take the dogs with us, including their crates, food, treats, toys, bedding, etc.; we have to board them; or, we have to be gone only as long as they can reasonably stay in the crate.

We never leave Dash, our 8-year-old, in the crate for longer than 10 hours; 8 hours is usually the max (because I work from home, he gets to spend most of his days in my office near my desk, which we both love). For Thanksgiving at my Dad's, that means we can spend no more than 6 hours with the family, allowing for 2 hours of transit coming and going. This year that wouldn't work, because a couple of weeks ago we adopted Roadie, who is now 12 weeks old. Roadie can't stay in the crate more than a few hours at a time, so the dogs went with us to Thanksgiving (which was perfect, because it was a great chance for socializing Roadie with lots of new people, including kids, which are in short supply in our neighborhood).

This is a pretty basic example, but most people who don't already have a dog simply don't do a good enough job of taking the lifestyle changes inherent to dog companionship seriously.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
11,000 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·
... continued from above

Back to Amy. Because my wife did such a great job researching, learning, socializing and training Dash 8 years ago, we live with - in my opinion - the perfect dog. He is truly amazing. So when we decided we were ready to double-up our doggie family, we went through a similar process: we discussed at length if we wanted to stay within the breed or look at other breeds, were we sure we wanted a puppy at all, especially since we were considering having a child (which is due in February, btw), what breeders would we talk to about getting on a waiting list, etc.

Ultimately we decided that the Norwegian Elkhound is the perfect dog for us, and AKC Breeder of Merit Amy was the perfect breeder. Miranda had gotten to know Amy through various online communities and email groups dedicated to the breed, and Amy's success in breeding and showing some of the best representatives of the breed speaks for itself (she's just been invited to show her amazing dog Sully at Westminster in early 2013 - WOW!).

Amy is an extremely brave soul - she speaks very openly and honestly about the misdeeds of extreme activists in the animal rights movement, and that obviously has risks. In spite of this, she speaks and writes from the heart because of her passion for her breed, for responsible breeding of dogs, and most importantly for helping would-be dog owners understand what it means to adopt a dog into one's family, and the commitment involved.

This week she wrote about the very issue we're discussing: where the "unwanted and neglected" puppies come from:

Earlier today, I was presented with a question about what to do about "marginal" breeders - those who breed without a thought nor care about the end result - the puppies. These are not "puppy mills." These are the breeders with a bitch, or 2, or 3, that don't do health testing (and sometimes don't even know what that is), who don't study pedigrees, who use "breeding pairs" (yikes) and produce litter after litter of puppies for whom they have no history, and who sometimes barely look like the breed.

Education is the key here and most breed clubs have a horrible track record! Parent club members tend to hide behind our show facades and that is not a good thing. IMO, every parent club member who has puppies SHOULD be advertising on the free puppy sites. If we do not, then how do people know we exist? We need to be outreaching more, to the general public, in "general" dog magazines like Dog Fancy - the magazines that the public is likely to pick up at the store. The general public isn't going to browse the dog show rags! Every breed club, AND THE AKC, needs to develop a Breeder Outreach program. Develop an electronic package that could be sent to these marginal breeders - not as a baseball bat over the head, but as an educational tool. What could it hurt? They could read it and maybe learn, or delete it. I think we also need to be self-policing…and not looking the other way.

As she is about many, many things, my friend is exactly right. There are plenty of good, reputable breeders out there, and most people have no clue in the world how to find them. Because these breeders likely only have one, or maybe two litters each year, you'll likely have to wait to get a puppy - Miranda and I waited almost 18 months, in fact, from the time we approached Amy with interest in adopting a puppy and the time we actually brought Roadie home. In today's "I want it now!" society, how many people are willing to wait 18 months for a dog?

My experience working with and getting to know Amy has been fascinating, enlightening and encouraging. The process was very involved, and we've talked, emailed and Facebook chatted dozens upon dozens of times throughout. We knew exactly what we were getting when we welcomed one of her puppies into our family, and likewise she knew exactly what type of situation she was sending one of her pups into when it left her pack. If anything ever changes in our situation and we couldn't continue caring for Roadie, I am contractually obligated to contact Amy and she'll see that the dog gets the right home - our dog will never find its way to a shelter.

Shelter dogs, by the way, are great - I have no qualms about adopting a dog from a shelter at all. The challenge for shelters, of course, is the same challenge I've outlined relative to dog breeders - with a very low financial barrier to entry ($117 for a shelter dog versus $800+ from a reputable breeder in many situations), shelter dogs are a low-cost alternative for those looking for the family pet.

Fortunately, I've been very, very impressed with the improvements made to many shelters in recent years, not only in terms of physical facilities but also in terms of the adoption process (the animal shelter in our county has gone through an amazing change in recent years). Shelters are doing a much better job of letting potential owners know as much as they can about their new dogs, and trying to ensure they're placing dogs in good situations so they don't end up with an adopted dog turning back up at the shelter a few months later.

To me, there are only two responsible places to get a dog: from a shelter, provided you do your due diligence and know fully what you're getting into when you adopt; or from a reputable breeder like Amy. The most important thing when deciding to add a dog to your family is to know what you're getting! READ, ASK QUESTIONS, and BE PATIENT. I can't stress this enough: a dog is not a possession, it is a member of the family. You don't adopt a child by going to the local shopping center and swiping your credit card; adopting a dog should be no less of a decision.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
490 Posts
Great article :) I totally agree. I made a mistake too and got Xena off of craigslist after my friend told me about her. One of the best dogs I've ever had but stubborn as all hell and sickly. A lot of people would have left her at the shelter she had been through 3 homes before 14 weeks old, people STILL tell me to take her to the pound. She's not going anywhere :)
 

·
Hitting the Trails Weekly
Joined
·
344 Posts
Good posting.
My first dog was a rescue from the local shelter, my current dog I got from a friend.
I will say there is definitely no shortage of bad BYBs out there but then again there are certainly issues with shelters as well.
I could rant about how much....trouble the local "Animal Control" has caused me in the past but that's another discussion for another time. I don't regret adopting my first dog but it didn't end well and I do hold myself personally responsible for that. In my experience the shelters don't always tell you the whole story, they with hold information for their own benefit.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
11,000 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Exactly how I feel as well. I wouldn't trade my pup for anything and have learned to accept his faults. With a lot of others he may have been on he news or dead by now. An I have also learned a lot to know how I will get my next pup.

Sent from Petguide.com App so please excuse the typos
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
1,612 Posts
Wow, that was an incredible read.

Thanks for sharing.

we are what we do repeatedly. excellence is then not an act, but a habit. - Aristotle
 

·
Diggin' Deep
Joined
·
5,194 Posts
Great read!!! Wish more people knew the truth
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
189 Posts
As she is about many, many things, my friend is exactly right. There are plenty of good, reputable breeders out there, and most people have no clue in the world how to find them. Because these breeders likely only have one, or maybe two litters each year, you'll likely have to wait to get a puppy - Miranda and I waited almost 18 months, in fact, from the time we approached Amy with interest in adopting a puppy and the time we actually brought Roadie home. In today's "I want it now!" society, how many people are willing to wait 18 months for a dog?
They won't.
There IS a demand out there for purebred dogs and it WILL be filled.

It's especially a conundrum with breeds like the Pit Bull and Am Staff. There IS a tremendous demand. BUT, most of that demand should not have the breed (at least from my experiences -- very few have the time and facilities which a responsible breeder would place a pup into). Many breeders therefore DO NOT breed or breed very little. So, the market opens up to those breeders that will fill that demand -- no matter the quality of the demand. And on and on it goes. I do not see a solution.

Honestly, I could sell 4 or more litters a year and be relatively wealthy if I sold to whoever gave me the cash...I haven't had a litter in 8 years...
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
11,000 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I hear you. There really isn't a solution that I see either other than trying to get people to understand. And totally agree with the instant gratification world hardly anyone is willing to wait 18 months for anything... (

Sent from Petguide.com App so please excuse the typos
 
1 - 10 of 10 Posts
Top