Today, I'll attempt to explain the differences between different types of breeders... in an effort to reach those who insist on buying their next pet from a breeder.
|Save a life! ADOPT!|
But before I go there... let me just say this:
I'm clearly NOT a fan of breeding, in any way. I'm actually very against it. In my personal opinion, it's insanely reckless and irresponsible for anyone to intentionally (or unintentionally) bring even more pets into this world, when MILLIONS of beautiful, deserving, healthy pets are needlessly dying in shelters each year.
I just can't understand how anyone could disagree with me on that...
Further, I personally believe that EVERYONE who is looking for a new pet should always ADOPT a pet from an animal shelter or rescue group. Or... at the very least, adoption should always be their first consideration (before even thinking about going to a breeder).
But... that being said... I do realize that some people disagree with my personal feelings on this subject... or maybe... they just aren't willing to hear me out. Either way, no matter what I say, those people aren't going to change their opinions or behaviors regarding their pet decisions. Meaning: they're not going to adopt their next (or any) pet from a rescue or shelter; they're going to buy from a breeder. Period.
So... knowing that I'll never convince them otherwise... maybe --at the very least-- I can educate them on the differences amongst breeders, and explain how to identify (what we'll call--for lack of a better term) a "responsible" breeder, versus an "irresponsible" breeder.
Okay, so, if you INSIST on buying a pet from a breeder, please try to make the most "responsible" purchase decision possible. If you don't know how to go about doing that, then READ THIS FIRST:
Within the highly-unregulated breeding industry, there are many different types of breeders. There are "backyard" breeders, "accidental" breeders, puppy millers, "hobby" breeders, etc.
Since many people classify the smaller, hobby-type breeders as the most "responsible" and/or "reputable" group within this industry, I'll aim to compare and contrast the "irresponsible" breeders (backyard, accidental, puppy millers) against the "hobby/responsible" breeders.
First, let's start with a general overview of the different types of breeders:
Backyard Breeders- This group represents the vast majority of pet breeders. In short, a backyard breeder a person who intentionally breeds their animals in order to produce offspring, which can later be sold for profit. The backyard breeder may have one or more motives for their breeding decisions, such as: generating a profit, making their "money back" from their initial purebred dog purchase(s), allowing their children to experience the "miracle of birth," etc. However, this person often has little --if any-- understanding or concern for aspects such as breed history, breed standards, genetics, and so on. When it comes to backyard breeders, breeding ethics are poor at best, often engaging in dangerous practices such as inbreeding, over-breeding, breeding genetic defects, etc. In addition, living conditions for the breeder dogs and offspring may be substandard (or even deplorable), and the health of the animals isn't always a priority, which leads to many current and future medical issues. Further, these types of breeders tend to have little consideration for the long-term welfare of the purchased offspring. Meaning: the puppies/kittens are sold to anyone who can pay the asking price, with no screening of new homes, no refusal of sale to unsuitable candidates, no contracts, no follow-ups after the sale, etc. (often resulting in irresponsible pet ownership, animal neglect, and animal cruelty). Backyard breeders often advertise "puppies for sale" in newspasper classifieds, online ads and/or websites. Or... you can see them selling puppies on the side of the road, in Walmart parking lots, and so forth. They may also sell to pet shops. In general, backyard breeders tend to be smaller-in-scale than puppy mills, but equally as unethical in their practices.
"Accidental" Breeders- An "accidental" breeder is a person who doesn't attempt to prevent unplanned pet pregnancies through spay/neuter. Thus, their unaltered (meaning un-spayed or un-neutered) pet inevitably becomes pregnant, or impregates another dog/cat, resulting in unwanted offspring... which are often dumped in animal shelters, sold, or given-away "free to a good home." While this form of breeding may be classified as "accidental," it's fully preventable through spay/neuter. Plus, it's every-bit as irresponsible as intentional breeding. SPAY AND NEUTER YOUR PETS!!!
Puppy millers- A puppy mill is a large-scale breeding operation, with a primary focus on profitability over animal welfare. Puppy millers will often house hundreds of dogs in horrific conditions, by utilizing tiny, overcrowded crates, stacked one on top of the other... in order to get the maximum use out of the limited, inadequate space that's available for housing of pets. For the puppy miller, the value of the animals lies in the profitability that can be generated from the offspring... instead of in the value of each precious life itself. Meaning: these are not "lives" to them; they're "products." Therefore, puppy millers focus on producing as many offspring as possible, from as many breeds as possible, as often as possible, to make as much money as possible. The true welfare of the animals is of little importance to the puppy miller, because it's all about the numbers, and the money. As a result, these dogs are subjected to insane-levels of neglect and cruelty, receiving inadequate food, water, space to live, socialization, and vet care. This leads to immense physical and emotional suffering for these dogs, in the short-term, and long after.
"Hobby/Responsible" Breeders- "Hobby/responsible" breeders represent a very small portion of the breeding industry. A "hobby/responsible" breeder is a person who breeds a particular breed of dog, due to their love of that specific breed. This breeder is focused on the animals and their well-being, instead of on the potential revenue that can be generated from those animals. A "responsible" breeder is knowledgeable about the breed, genetics, animal health, etc, and they strive to be ethical in their breeding practices (only breeding dogs that meet the breed standard, limited number of breedings, genetic testing, etc.). Animals and their offspring are housed in sanitary, adequate living conditions, with exercise, socialization, and comprehensive vet care being provided. Further, a "responsible" breeder will screen potential buyers to ensure the quality of homes, refusing to sell to unsuitable candidates. Lastly, some breeders within this group will attempt to work with reputable rescues/shelters, in order to find homes for some of the remaining offspring. Again... this group is the MINORITY; very few breeders actually qualify for the "responsible" category. (PS- Many irresponsible breeders will use descriptions like "small, hobby breeder" in their ads, in an attempt to fool you. Most "hobby" breeders don't actually use the term "hobby" to describe themselves.)
Okay... now that you have a general understanding of the different types of breeders, let's talk a little more about that "irresponsible" group of breeders... and why you should NEVER purchase a pet from them.
Irresponsible breeding operations utilize unethical, inhumane, and illegal practices. For starters, an irresponsible breeder will likely have several different breeds available for sale (This is a RED FLAG: they clearly have too many animals to properly care for each). In addition, many of these breeders "market" the majority of their animals as "purebred." However, this often means inbred. In other words, the breeding of those who are closely genetically related. Inbreeding and over-breeding (excessive breeding of the same female) lead to a massive list of genetic defects and medical problems for the offspring.
Further, irresponsible breeders often house their animals in horrific conditions... forced to live in tiny, over-crowded cages, or small outdoor kennels with insufficient space, bedding, and shelter. Animals often receive inadequate food, water, space to thrive, socialization, and vet care. This causes immense physical and psychological issues for both the breeder dogs, and their offspring (thus, the puppies/kittens they sell to you).
You may wonder: Why would any breeder do such a thing?
As I've said, when it comes to irresponsible breeders, the value of their animals lies in the profit generated by the offspring... not in the welfare of the animals. Producing more offspring... means making more profit.
BUT... producing more offspring also means having an increased number of animals in their care... each needing food, water, medical attention, etc. In addition, having more animals in their care also requires more SPACE to house those animals. At least... it should...
Yet... it costs money to provide adequate space, staffing, food, and so on to care for the very-large number of animals they're breeding and housing. Therefore, many irresponsible breeders cut their costs by stacking crates, crowding cages, and limiting food, water, vet care, and the number of caregivers. Cages are rarely cleaned, which forces the dogs to live in massive piles of urine and feces.
Due to the poor living conditions, most buyers are never allowed to view the kennel areas where the irresponsible breeder keeps their dogs (RED FLAG). Sure... that breeder will meet you somewhere else, or take you to their "showing area," or sell their dogs to you on the side of the road, but they'll rarely let you see the reality of their operation... because it's heartbreaking, inhumane, and illegal.
Okay... so WHY should this matter to YOU?
Well, if you plan to purchase from a breeder, then you MUST do so "responsibly." Here's why:
1) When you purchase from backyard breeders and puppy millers, you provide them with the monetary incentive and support they need to continue their operations. Therefore, you directly contribute to the neglect and cruelty forced upon hundreds of other existing and future puppy mill dogs, as well as the deaths of millions of shelter dogs. While you may feel like you "saved" this particular dog from the breeder/puppy mill... you've actually just ensured that many, many more like him/her will be born into that same horrific environment. While I'm not saying that was the intention of your decision, I AM saying it was the outcome of your decision.
Let me explain. While I hate to discuss animals like they're products, it's the only way I can describe how the mind of an irresponsible breeder works. So, you must look at your purchase decision in terms of demand and supply. If you cut the demand for the irresponsible breeder's offspring (Meaning: you --and others-- don't buy from them), then there will be no profit incentive for that breeder to continue breeding. Thus, they'll cut the supply (number of breeder dogs/offspring). Eventually, with a goal of profit and no resulting revenue, they'll stop breeding altogether.
Even if it doesn't seem like your individual purchase matters... IT DOES! Because they'll NEVER stop breeding... if YOU keep buying from them. Trust me on that.
2) If you're looking to pay a premium price for what you consider a "premium" dog, then you should never, ever, EVER purchase from an irresponsible breeder. Irresponsible breeding practices lead to a massive list of ongoing, lifelong health problems for the offspring, which means insanely-high vet bills for you, and an extremely poor quality of life for your dog (and likely, a shorter lifespan). In truth, these "premium" dogs are actually the lowest-quality dogs you could find (in terms of health). Further, due to the emotional stress these dogs are forced to endure during their time with the irresponsible breeder, the dog will likely exhibit some extreme mental and behavioral issues, even after you bring them into your loving home. Some of these issues will take years of training and positive reinforcement to correct; some issues may last a lifetime...
Obviously, there's so much more to this issue... more than I'd ever have time to write about here. But here are the main points I hope to get across:
-Adoption is a life-saving decision, and it should always be the first (and hopefully-- ONLY!) consideration when looking for a new family pet.
-If you INSIST on buying a pet from a breeder, PLEASE do so "responsibly." Meaning: do your research on the individual breeder, ask questions, and make sure you SEE things for yourself. Don't just take their word for it!
-A "responsible" breeder will also have important questions for YOU (requirements may include an application, interview, home visit, vet references, contract, spay/neuter, etc.), which is a critical distinction.
Therefore, if a breeder has nothing to say to you, other than: "I'll take your money; here's the dog" ... then, that person is an irresponsible breeder. DO NOT purchase from them!
If they won't let you view the living conditions of the puppies, see the parents, etc., DO NOT purchase from them! If any of their dogs look unhealthy, DO NOT purchase from them! If they have many different breeds available for sale, DO NOT purchase from them!
-PLEASE DO NOT support irresponsible breeders by paying them money to continue their cruelty!
-Lastly, if you run across someone you believe to be an irresponsible breeder, please report them to Animal Control, the local police, or another animal welfare agency. Please.
And above all else, if and when you do bring a new pet into your home, PLEASE be a responsible pet guardian... by loving, caring, and providing for that pet for his or her entire life, no matter what.