Puppy mills are in the news every day and the headline in our local paper today is about a large number of animals being confiscated in our area. I hate puppy mills and so do most others. However, I read another article today on a national Internet news source and I take offense when reputable breeders are lumped into the “puppy mill” category if they have a website and it was implied if they breed dogs at all.
Obviously, I do have a website, as do many of my mini and toy Aussie breeder friends, and obviously with only 3 dogs, one of which is neutered, I am not a puppy mill. I show my dogs with lots of folks who love their breed, try to better their breed, and have a website to promote their dogs and are not puppy mills. Sometimes one kind of ignorance is almost as bad as another.
In my pet sitting business, I care for a large number of pets that are rescue dogs and I also care for a large number of pets that are purebred with papers. Neither is better or worse and both can make wonderful companions. People who are searching to acquire a pet have different criteria just as those of us who walk into a bookstore have different views and preferences in our reading material. Some have no breed preference and are just looking for a cute little black dog or one with short hair or one that just has a “look” and are not particularly interested in knowing the personalities of the parents in-absentee.
On the other side of the coin, you would find me. I want to know about the parents of the dog I’m sharing my home with for the next 15 years. I want to talk with the breeder about the health issues I might encounter. I want to know the approximate size the puppy will be as an adult. I want to know if the breed will be a barker, a jumper or a couch potato based on it’s heritage.
Indeed, not every breeder’s website represents the truth about their breeding program. It’s fairly easy for a breeder to fabricate a persona, but not so easy to pull it off if the buyer asks the right questions and does a little Internet homework.
- Look for show photographs or Google the dog’s name if the breeder says the dogs have a title.
- Look at the dog’s pedigree.
- Ask to see the dog’s registration papers if you wish to register your puppy.
- Ask the name of the breeder’s veterinarian and call for a reference. Ask how often they see the breeder in their vet office for routine care.
- Check out Yahoo Local or Angie’s List for comments.
- Ask about membership in breed organizations and check it out.
- Google the person’s name and state.
- And if you can, make a personal connection with the breeder by visiting their adult dogs. That’s not always possible if you are making a purchase out of state, but just be careful and diligent.
Contrary to the belief of the general public and implications of the media, reputable hobby breeders do not net a large amount of money. Health testing, feeding quality food, routine health care, and showing and competition are expensive endeavors. Reputable breeders typically charge higher prices than those pumping out puppies in the barn to cover those costs and to guarantee a healthy animal. For most of us, we love our breed and breeding a few litters a year is just fun and we enjoy the extended relationships with the buyers of our puppies and watching the puppies mature to become loved companions.
Puppy mills should be stopped when the health and welfare of the animals are being sacrificed for profit. However, we have to be careful when being critical that we are not inclusive of all breeders.