On Puppy Mills and Pet
DOG BREEDERS, TERMINOLOGY
AND DESCRIPTION OF THE DIFFERENT CATEGORIES
A large-scale commercial breeding facility with many different breeds
of dogs. Sells primarily to retail pet shops (usually via a broker), but
occasionally sells directly to individual consumers. Dogs are bred solely
for profit, with no concern for their physical health or psychological
well-being - most are disease-ridden; all are force-bred continuously.
Often uses "Kennels" or "Farms" in its business
name. Dogs' and puppies' squalid living conditions are off-limits to
the public. There are more than 4,000 puppy mills in the United
States producing more than half a million puppies a year. See the
literature for a detailed description.
A scaled-down version of commercial puppy mills, operating on
residential property, with fewer (usually no more than three) different
breeds of dogs. Living conditions are as squalid as puppy mills. Sells to
pet shops and to individual consumers (from a "clean room" on
the premises), relying on newspaper
advertising for the latter. May pass itself off as a benign little
"mom & pop" home-based enterprise, but just like its puppy
mill counterpart, breeds not for quality but strictly for the money. Note:
Because of growing public awareness of the horrors of puppy mills, many
pet shops now claim their puppies come from "loving & caring
private breeders." These are the for-profit backyard breeders.
Reputable breeders never use pet shops as a middleman. For the most part
unlicensed, unregulated, and likely to be operating in secrecy (for-profit
breeding on residential-zoned property is illegal in most localities), it
can only be estimated that there are tens of thousands of backyard
breeders in the U.S.
An individual or family who breeds the family pet from time to time,
not necessarily or primarily for money but presumably for love of the
breed or love of their particular dog. Puppies are given away or sold to
friends and acquaintances, or to strangers via ads in local newspapers.
When homes can't be found for the entire litter, the remaining puppies may
end up at a pet shop, either taken on consignment or purchased outright
from the hobby breeder. Once in possession of such "quality"
home-bred animals, the pet shop (or the stranger) may in turn sell them to
puppy mills or backyard breeders for use as future breeding stock (Some of
the puppies may actually be mixed-breed.).
Just that. Failure to spay/neuter the family pet. Education and/or
access to affordable spay/neuter services usually "fixes" the
problem. The majority of mixed-breed dogs are the result of
"accidental" breeding. [This category also includes
"collectors," who, for pathological reasons, never spay/neuter
proper care of their pets.]
Puppy mill operators and backyard breeders routinely purchase
quantities of Pedigree Puppy Certificates from the AKC. In April 2000, it
was revealed in a nationally televised exposé of the puppy mill/pet shop
industry that the AKC unquestioningly registered (for its $20 fee) the
birth of a non-existent litter of eight puppies ("born" to a
spayed female and a long-dead male), and issued with
no hesitation its highly prized Pedigree Puppy Certificates ($27
apiece) to two 13-year-old cats - proving once and for all, beyond any
doubt, the absolute worthlessness of that "prized" piece of AKC
REPUTABLE or RESPONSIBLE BREEDER
An individual who breeds one or two specific breeds for "quality
of the breed" ("quality" according to breeding-industry
standards, which in the United States most often means AKC standards. See
Warning on reverse). Puppies are either (a) "show quality" (a
relatively infrequent occurrence, with characteristics that generally
aren't discernable to the breeder until the puppy is several months to a
year old), or (b) "pet quality." The reputable breeder sells
puppies directly to the individual consumer - never sells or consigns to
pet shops. Buyers are invited - indeed required - to visit the breeder's
premises, to see where the puppies were born and how they're being raised.
Buyers are likely to see the mother dog, and sometimes the sire, living on
the premises, where they're treated as beloved family pets. The reputable
breeder demands of buyers that puppies not of "show quality"
will be spayed/neutered and kept as house pets. Remember:
A REPUTABLE BREEDER NEVER USES PET SHOPS AS A MIDDLEMAN.
Many so-called reputable breeders on the dog-show circuit (a very
expensive way of life) will sell off their dogs' pet-quality puppies to
just about any visitor flashing the cash, with no questions asked about
where these puppies might end up. All too often, the puppies, when mature,
become the breeding stock of puppy mills and backyard breeders.
There are many purebred websites on the Internet, but only puppy mills
and back-yard breeders sell puppies from theirs. Reputable breeders never
sell puppies over the Internet.
HOW TO TELL IF A BREEDER IS REPUTABLE
In 1993, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) called for a
voluntary one-year breeding moratorium by all breeders of purebred dogs
and cats, in order to get a handle on America's pet over-population
ü Did the breeder honor HSUS's voluntary
Since about 1995, "breed specific" rescuers, many of them
breeders themselves, have sprung up in response to the growing numbers of
purebred dogs and cats that are dumped in shelters and abandoned to the
streets (About one-third of America's throw-away pet dogs are purebred.).
ü Does the breeder participate in the
rescue of abandoned and owner-relinquished purebreds?
ü Does the breeder require you to visit
the premises where the mother dog and the litter of puppies reside, so
that you can see how they're raised and cared for?
ü Does the breeder insist that all
non-show-quality puppies for sale be spayed/neutered at the appropriate
age and not be allowed to produce puppies of their own?
ü Does the breeder insist that, should
you or your immediate family at any time for any reason become unable to
keep the puppy (or grown dog), you must return her to the breeder?
If you can answer "yes" to at least four of these five
questions, you have found a rare breed indeed – a reputable dog breeder!
Prepared by The Caring Corps, Inc., Box 319 Gracie Sta., New York, NY