Saturday, November 24, 2012

A little misinformation goes a looooong way

This blog is in response to a young lady who has some major misconceptions about dog breeding and ethical breeders in general. I feel it is my job-nay, my DUTY to educate her.  Here is her blog post:

Now as a breeder I am seriously offended. As a dog owner I am relatively offended.  As an educated member of the canine community I am saddened. As an outspoken, intelligent, (usually) reasonable human being I am challenged.

So as my kids would say


I am going to refute and/or provide additional information to each of her points. I don't propose to tell you WHAT to think-I only ask that you DO think. And use all the information-not just a snippet provided by a biased point of view that obviously (as you will see) does not have the whole story.

1. Each breed is designed for a purpose. Just as I would not want your rescued Boston Terrier mix looking for my child lost in the wilderness, I would not want to put a Great Dane mix in a 25th floor 1 bedroom studio apartment. And I agree-many times you can find breed specific rescues. Of a mix of the breed you prefer-but there are no guarantees with a mixed breed. I will cite 2 examples.
     a. We have a rescued Dalmatian mix. Let me start with YES-we love him. He is a member of our family and has been for almost 10 years. However, he has issues. When I say issues I don't mean run of the mill variety like jumping on people or pulling on the lead. As an behaviorist and trainer those are easy to fix. Our boy has temperament and health issues. He is fear aggressive-which although I have made GREAT strides with him socially, he still can be a problem. The uncontrollable barking whenever someone comes over is the least of it. He tries-but his issues push him beyond his threshold so the barks escape. Sporadically, not incessantly-which is what tells me he is trying but mentally cannot do it. He also has gone after people unwarranted. We have been fortunate-he hasn't hurt anyone. But we have to watch him at home, as he doesn't have self-control. His health has been an issue for some time-severe allergies that manifest as skin problems. We call it Zombie face. Yes, it is that bad. So between vet bills, maintenance care, special food and cleaning products he has cost us more than all of our breeder obtained dogs combined.
     b.  My husband has allergies. He can't even be around cats, and our shorthair dogs aggravate them as well. However with my poodles he is fine. Although we can do a pretty good job of guessing breeds from the shelter, it really is only a guess. I will not guess with the health of my family. And when talking doodle mixes, it is a crap shoot as far as the traits you may get. With my poodles I can GUARANTEE they will have hair-not fur, which is drastically more likely to cause an allergic reaction.

2. I agree that you can get a pup from the shelter. Maybe. If they have them at that time-and they are healthy, and they are a breed that will fit your family/lifestyle. And we are back to what it may be-I personally know of a family that adopted a "lab mix", which is a common generalization in the rescue world (almost every medium to large dog is a lab mix apparently). Then this pup grew up and displayed a look which very closely resembled an American Pit Bull Terrier. Since they lived in a place with BSL (which is a WHOLE nother post in itself!!) they had to get rid of their family member. Can you imagine telling little Suzy and Johnny that Buster has to go live somewhere else because we didn't know what he was when we brought the cute little furball home 9 months ago? How heartbreaking that was for the kids....I can't even explain it!  I also know of a lady that was just getting a "medium" sized mutt. Surprise!!!! It was a Great Dane mix. It barely fits in her Ford Focus!

3. Um, wrong. Just flat out wrong. ANY breeder of quality has one goal for the pups not staying there, and that is to make sure they are staying with the family that buys them. So as a canine professional, we spend years learning personalities and place our pups accordingly. Not to mention when the family is happy with Fido, word of mouth is very positive. When Granny is looking for a couch buddy and someone who doesn't mind the speed of her walker, but gets the most obnoxious, dominant pup in the litter chances are she is NOT going to be very happy. Not at all.  We watch these pups from day one. We spend time with them, socialize them, evaluate which would be good show or working prospects and many times the ones that don't fit the bill are too laid back or quiet. Feisty is good in a working dog-not as good in a house dog. Most rescues get pups in and adopt them out very quickly. With adult dogs it takes about 2 weeks for them to show their true colors-now take a baby who doesn't even know what to think yet, and it is very difficult to know what their temperament is.  Also, breeders have/know the parents. Genetics, folks!! It works!

4. I have 2 small children. I brought home a coonhound on a trial basis. This dog engaged with my older male shepherd mix (rescue) every day we had it, and with little to no warning. The last time the 2 of them ended up right outside my 4 yr olds bedroom door. Had he walked out just then it could have had devastating consequences. Then I couldn't get the rescue to take him back. I will be the first to tell you that rescue sucked and should never have been in business. But I will also tell you that if one of my puppy buyers called tonight and said I don't want this dog anymore for reason a, b or c-first thing in the morning I would be heading out to meet them and pick it up. But as far as her point-I need to know the dogs coming into my house are not going to be a danger. And many times without knowing the background of the dog, we have NO idea what will set it off. What if its the clarinet. And my daughter happens to play. Until that dog takes her face off-and how were we to know it was beaten daily with a clarinet?

5. Breed for money? BAAAHAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAHAAAHAAAHAHAHAHA....oh...wait...let breath...BAAAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!   Oh that's rich!!! LEGITIMATE BREEDERS DON'T BREED FOR MONEY!!!!  They breed to have somewhere to spend their money. Lots of it. More than we even keep track of-because then we may not breed!!!  People that "breed for money" are creeps. And dirtbags. And puppy millers. Here is just a taste of a dollar comparison:
Money made on pups a year:   most breeders have 1-2 litters a years. Depending on the breed there could be 1 to 15 pups. Smaller breeds tend to have much smaller litters. So for my breed, average is about 9 pups. Selling price is say $1400. I sell my whole litter, and "make" $12,600. AWESOME!!! Thats a lot of money!!

Now, what did I spend this year?
- food $1820.00
- maintenance vet visits $750
- show entries approx $1500
- grooming supplies $300
- genetic testing $1000
- travel for shows $600
- stud fee $1400
- vet bills for normal pregnancy $300
- prenatal vitamins $75
- whelping supplies $200
- vet bills for emergency/problem pregnancy $400 and up
- advertising litter $100
- registering litter $75
- shots for pups $75
- extra supplies for caring for pups $150
- pup food $40
Now I am quite sure I forgot some costs, but for the sake of argument I will stop here. So the grand total is $8785....hmmmm? So did I make money? Yeah-almost $4000!! Woo hoo!  Except one of the pups doesn't make it. So that is minus $1400. And I kept 2 for myself as the next generation (I don't breed unless I want something from the breeding, you see) so that brings the profit margin to a negative $385. Oh-did I mention the litter was only 7 pups, not 9? Let's see, now I am negative $3185.

You can see very quickly how proper care and maintenance for our dogs, special care for our pregnant dogs, and then care for the pups eats away that big old sum of profit quite fast. Ethical, legitimate breeders know darn well they aren't going to make any money. We do it because we truly love our breed. Our goal is to continue the breed we find to ba amazing, and strive to make it better.

I want to tell you I am NOT against rescuing. I have rescued dogs in the past and they have been wonderful. And for the general population a rescue is great! But breeders are pretty great too. Ethical breeders are not the reason for overpopulation of shelters. It the dirtbags that DON'T do it for love. And don't have a passion for the well-being of their pets.

Not to mention if you get rid of breeders, don't you think we are going to run out of these amazing animals? If everyone with a rescue pays and neuters, and we find homes for all the homeless dogs and kitties.....where are the new ones going to come from?