First of all, this is America. I really don't think we want the government telling us when we can and can't breed dogs, or cats or any other domestic animals for that matter. I'm not talking about the licensing and regulation of commercial breeding facilities. I'm talking about the flawed thinking that all breeding should be banned. There isn't enough money in the budget as it is; trying to enforce this type of law would make us all go broke. And what would the consequences be? Take the animals away? Put the people in prison? Oh good, more animals and people for the government to care for.
So let's file that in the pile of bad ideas.
But the other argument is the one that truly upsets me because it is a myth. It is the argument that all breeders are irresponsible and if they were responsible they wouldn't be breeding more dogs.
There are many good dog breeders out there who are breeding healthy, sane, socialized dogs for people to love and enjoy; whether they buy them as companions, sports or working dogs. These dogs are the opposite of puppy mill and pet store dogs. Below is an excerpt from my testimony from the public hearing that was held for the Commercial Dog Breeders Bill that was passed in 2009 in Wisconsin.
I am a long time participant in competitive dog sports, mainly flyball, which is a team relay race for dogs. I also have trained and shown in agility. I feel that most dogs are happiest when they have a job, often related to their breed, whether it be herding sheep, playing competitive sports with their owner, or chasing chipmunks in the yard.
Dogs from mass production facilities lack the qualities that enable them to perform their breed specific jobs. They are poorly bred with poor conformation and health, and are often under -socialized. These dogs rarely live up to their full potential in life and often end up in the animal control facilities and shelters when owners can no longer deal with their behavior problems or afford their veterinary costs. This is a burden on the taxpayer whose tax dollars go to fund animal control services.
Licensing and regulating these cruel and inhumane mass breeding facilities will help level the playing field for the responsible breeders who produce sound, healthy dogs - willing and capable to be fully functioning canine members of the family.
Good dog breeders are part of the solution. Let's not ostracize them. Besides, have you recently researched how hard it is to adopt a dog that would be suitable for somebody that needed or wanted a small, non-terrier or non-shedding breed? They fly out the doors at many shelters. Especially if they are reasonably well-socialized and suitable for families with children.
There are more of these dogs in rescues than shelters, but many rescues don't adopt to senior citizens; families with small children or grandchildren; or homes without fenced yards. This immediately eliminates many condo and apartment residents. I hope we all agree that we want people of all ages - the elderly and children included, to reap the benefits of pet ownership. Numerous studies have shown that there are significant physical and mental advantages to having a pet in your life. Here are a few taken from this Best Friends article:
• Blood pressure goes down when people interact with pets.
• Coronary heart-disease patients with pets have higher survival rates.
• Physical therapy patients with pets show improved balance, coordination, muscular strength, and language ability.
• Children with pets in the household have higher IQ scores.
• Preteens with pets show increased emotional reciprocity and sense of responsibility.
• Children with pets demonstrate increased ability to nurture and care for others.
• Young children with pets have an easier time interacting with their peers.
• Children exposed to two or more dogs or cats in infancy were half as likely to develop common allergies as children with no pets in the home.
So, if the small highly adoptable dogs aren't available from shelters or rescues, we really should be recommending a good breeder to discourage the trip to the pet store.
Well-known and respected animal behaviorist Patricia McConnell, PhD of Madison, Wisconsin wrote an excellent article for Bark magazine last summer entitled Well Bred that explained how dogs from good breeders rarely end up in the shelter.
Here is a quote from her article:
"Responsible breeders not only decrease the chance that a dog needs to be re-homed, they keep dogs out of shelters in the first place by following them throughout their lives and being willing to provide a home if one becomes necessary."
Saving Pets in Australia has also written some excellent blog posts on this subject.
And I loved this blog - "A breeder is a breeder is...well maybe not " from John Sibley when he said he was retiring his "Don't Breed or Buy While Homeless Pets Die" bumper sticker.
One last note: responsible breeders are on our side when it comes to breed specific legislation, mandatory spay neuter laws and pet limit laws. They see the misguided thinking that is behind these laws as clearly as No Kill advocates. Plus, responsible kennel clubs push for the construction of more dog parks and off-leash areas to provide proper socialization opportunities for dogs. So we really have a lot of similar principles.
It's time to join forces with responsible breeders, give them the pat on the back they deserve, and work towards our common goal of No More Homeless Pets.
Begin challenging your own assumptions.
Your assumptions are your windows on the world.
Scrub them off every once in awhile, or the light won't come in.