My last post Please Stop Breeding Your Pet Dog seems to have struck a chord with some. I first want to say that I am grateful that none of the responses I’ve gotten (even the ones who disagreed with me) were nasty. I’m clapping for all of you who have been able to stay level headed about this! Click!
One follower (check her blog and her photography out here) made a comment that really stuck with me though. I’ll quote it off my last post just so I don’t mess it up.
I think that people who want to breed their pet dogs should first foster/volunteer for a shelter/rescue for a while.
It’s a simple thing, but very profound and honestly something that hadn’t occurred to me before. Her comment was the difference between being simply active about the situation (which, let’s face it, is what I was doing) and being proactive about the situation. I was being a bad positive reinforcement trainer and telling people what they shouldn’t do instead of what they should. That doesn’t negate what I said though and all of those things should be considered, I’ll add that as a caveat.
Volunteering in a local rescue or shelter opens eyes (I know it did mine). I think you’d find that some (if not all) of the reasons that you want to breed your pet dog fall by the wayside in the face of the reality of the homeless dog situation in the United States. It really gives you a little more perspective on some of the common myths.
Myth Number One – There Are No Puppies In Shelters
That’s just silly – there are tons of puppies in shelters, granted, sometimes the first shelter you call is not going to have the exact puppy you want and sometimes there are waiting lists so the pup isn’t as readily available as pet dog puppies, but the waiting really helps promote responsible pet ownership in a lot of cases. It makes the potential puppy owner think long and hard about the puppy, get excited about the puppy, prepare for the puppy and cherish the puppy all the more when it finally gets to its home!
Myth Number Two: All Dogs In Shelters are Bully Breeds
Wrong again! It does depend on the shelter. There are plenty of breed specific rescues you can find online if you’re looking for that special breed. Open access facilities (like the Chester County SPCA) take every animal that walks through their door, no matter breed, size, age, or temperament. A lot of the strays are bully breeds, that’s true, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t tons of other dogs available. Plus, a lot of shelters now have matchmaker lists where you can get email notifications when a dog of your desired breed comes in! (Here is the link to CCPSCA’s).
Myth Number Three: There Are No Small Dogs in Shelters
Not true. Small dogs are highly adoptable, in some places more than others (in cities, for example, small dogs are going to go quicker, because they fit in apartments). For that reason, a lot of them do get adopted quickly, but unfortunately, the kennels are always being filled right back up.
Myth Number Four: All Shelter Dogs Have “Issues”
Not all shelter and rescue dogs have issues. Some do. It’s just a fact of life. Shelby has issues and she’s a pup from a breeder. Most of the shelter dogs I’ve worked with just need some stability and obedience. Some need a little more. Some don’t need anything. Not all shelter and rescue dogs were abused or abandoned, at least not in the traditional sense. Peach here, her human dad died and no one in the family could take care of her. Other than that, she’s just like the dog sitting on your couch that you’re thinking about breeding right now (well, except she’s spayed). She’s not alone either, lots of dogs come into the shelter after being surrendered for various reasons and those dogs have little to no egregious behavior problems and are completely housebroken. Some dogs come in as strays but clearly belonged to someone at one point because they know all their basic obedience and go up for adoption after attempts to find their families have failed.
Myth Number Five: People Don’t Want Shelter Dogs
This one makes me sad when I hear it. But I do hear it. One of the reasons for people choosing to breed their pet dogs is because, “Well, the people I know don’t want a shelter dog for x reason.” It’s true that some people don’t want shelter dogs, and I won’t deny anyone his/her opinion or reasons for doing the things they do (case in point, Ted Kerasote in his new book Pukka’s Promise opts for a dog from a breeder but only after going above and beyond in his research). The thing that I find unacceptable is when someone’s reason for breeding their pet dog is because they failed to educate themselves or their potential customers on what is really going on in shelters/rescues. After all – one of the pet dog pups could easily end up in a shelter, just like many before it and then what is to be said except – no one wants my pup.
So back to the original comment – if you’re contemplating breeding your pet dog – before you do, spend 20 volunteer hours in your local shelter/rescue. That’s all. If you still believe that breeding your pet dog is the right thing to do and should be done and in fact, needs to be done, then you won’t hear a complaint out of me.