When I launched Keep the Tail Wagging, I wanted to work to educate people about finding reputable breeders. This became important to me after being attacked by passionate animal rights activists on LinkedIn and Facebook. Although I appreciate their passion, I don’t believe that you change someone’s mind by calling them names and attacking their character.
But as the months have gone by and the more I learn about dog rescue, the more difficult it is for me to get on board with dog breeding. I’m starting to wonder if breeding dogs is wrong. I don’t believe that dog breeders are evil or that they’re only in it for the money as so many do, but I do believe that we have a serious problem that is keeping the rescue community busy and I want to see more people adopting dogs instead of buying puppies.
What Changed My Mind?
It’s been a combination 4 things…
- The wonderful people in the rescue community that I’ve met (Motley Zoo and FurKidz 911 Connection Rocks!!!).
- Images of abused and neglected animals.
- People selling puppies on the side of the road.
The Rescue Community
I’ve made some great friends in the rescue community and they’ve taught me that they have a lot of work to do, but they do it, because they love animals and they want to make a difference. I used to think rescue workers had a strong stomach, but now I know that they don’t like being exposed to the reality of abused and neglected animals any more than I do. This fact makes them angels in my book.
Images of Abused and Neglected Animals
As I began connecting with more people and groups who love animals, I became more exposed to stories and images of abused and neglected animals. I had to start un-friending and un-following people/pages, to keep my Facebook and Twitter feed positive. I know that there are plenty of non profit groups who believe that showing these images inspires people to do more. I feel like I’ve been slapped in the face and it just inspires me to click “delete.”
Personally, I understand that sharing stories and images of abused and neglected animals is important, but I think you need to know your audience. What I love about social networking sites is that we have the choice to unfollow. I very much resent people who either add me to their mailing list or email list and proceed to clutter my world without permission.
But what this overload of images and stories has done is turned me off of dog breeders. I’ve reached a point where I don’t understand how anyone can bring more dogs into the world when there is still so much rescue work to do. This isn’t an attack against dog breeders, just an explanation of why I’m starting to believe that breeding dogs may be wrong.
This (and the next point) really drove it home for me. When I saw Mastiff puppies one week and Australian Shepherds the next week, being sold out of a truck on a corner in Smokey Point, Washington, I wanted to scream.
The parents (if those were the parents) looked healthy. The puppies looked healthy. But it was 80+ degrees outside and getting hotter. Strangers were touching the puppies and with what I’ve learned about Canine Parvovirus, I know that’s not safe! And I wonder if the people selling the puppies were going to check out these potential dog families before turning over their puppies in exchange for cash.
Do these people know that Mastiff puppies don’t stay small? Do they know about the crazy amount of drool that collects? Do they understand that Australian Shepherds can have a strong herding drive and require loads of exercise? Are they prepared for daily walks, ball throwing, and keeping their brain engaged?
I was furious and I was judging harshly.
And Then There’s Craigslist
OMG! Have you been on Craigslist lately? If you anger easily and tend to shoot of mean emails – stay away from the pets section of Craigslist. Here are examples of the ads I saw on one visit…
- Puppy Wanted: I don’t want to pay a rehoming fee
- Puppy Wanted: Need tonight, free, it’s a gift for my little sister
- Puppy Wanted: Can only pay $25
- Dogs Need Home Fast: Adopted dogs, can’t keep them, needs new home tonight; not vaccinated, not fixed
And it gets worse and goes on and on. I just wanted to email people letting them know that if you can’t afford a dog, then don’t get a dog!!!
What I Want to See
I still believe that there are reputable breeders out there (I know several of them) and it sucks that the examples I’ve shared are making the good breeders look bad, because we unintentionally lump them into the same bucket. More needs to be done to stamp out the bad breeders and to support and uplift the rescue community and spotlight reputable breeders. I still don’t know if dog breeding is wrong, but it’s getting more and more difficult for me to believe that dog breeding is right.
I may not be 100% behind dog breeding, but I am behind supporting dog rescue through positive actions. I won’t bash reputable breeders, because I don’t believe that they do it for the money – the breeders I know are not getting rich on puppies. I believe they breed dogs for the love of the breed and I celebrate that. But for the horrible ones, I want to see them shut down and prosecuted for animal cruelty. I would like more education so potential dog parents can quickly identify a reputable breeder. I want to see fewer dogs (and cats) in shelters!
What are your thoughts on dog breeding?