Ignorance is Bliss, or Maybe it’s Just Ignorant

Sometimes, you read something that is just so ridiculous that you can’t leave it alone.

Let me add a bit of full disclosure here. I firmly believe in the cause of animal rescue. All three of my dogs are rescues and 5 of the 6 dogs I have owned in the last 15 years, were rescues. I donate to my local animal shelters on a regular basis and I also believe that puppy millers are the scum of the earth. But… enough about me.

Let’s get started.

“Dog show promote [sic] unhealthy business.”

Do they? Really? How so?

“Because of breeders we still have too many puppies/dogs in shelters who need to be adopted to good homes. This includes purebred dogs.”

Yes, there are plenty of puppies and dogs that are in shelters that need to be adopted. Plenty. Do you know how they get there? It’s not just puppy millers that put these dogs in shelters, it’s ignorant dog owners that put them there. For example, one of my dogs was dumped in animal shelters several times before her 4th birthday. We’re talking a minimum of 5 previous dog owners before I adopted her. Only one of those was the person that sold her out of the back of a pickup truck at Walmart. The rest of that, is on the ignorance of the general public about the basic responsibilities of dog ownership.

“Dog shows promote horrible puppy mills because selling purebred puppies is a very lucrative business.”

I’m curious. How many “breeders” do you actually know? The breeders I know don’t make a dime off of the puppies they sell. For them, breeding is a hobby that is about a love of the dogs you are breeding and the study of the genetics of dogs. They provide veterinary care for the mother while she is pregnant, which is not cheap, particularly if something goes wrong during whelping. They vaccinate their puppies and microchip them, before they ever meet their new owners and they have applications for potential owners to fill out, before they will even consider selling them a puppy. For them, the money they charge for the puppies is just enough to break even on the cost of breeding a litter of puppies. How many hobbies have you had that actually turned into a lucrative business?

I’m thinking you should look in that closet with all those crafting supplies and tools that you never use before you answer.

Ah… now we understand each other.

“Furthermore, purebred dogs often have health problems caused by overbreeding. Mutts are much healthier.”

And what evidence do you provide to back up that assertion? Are you a veterinarian? Even then, I’m not sure we should trust the word of your average veterinarian, because they don’t seem to believe that diet has an impact on a dog’s health and I cannot understand why they wouldn’t believe it. Human doctors complain at us every year, that people are too fat, we eat too much junk and it will cause cancer and kill us. Why wouldn’t the same be true for dogs?

I digress.

What qualifications do you have to make that argument? I have anecdotal evidence to the contrary and I think my anecdotal evidence amounts to quite a bit more than, “I read it on the internet, therefore it must be true.” I’ve owned six purebred dogs. Yes, six. Of the six purebred dogs I have owned, one came from a breeder. Just the one. Of the six purebred dogs I’ve owned, only one came home without allergies, cancer, serious behavioral problems, a need for immediate surgery, or a need to be on medication for the rest of his life. That one dog was the only dog I did not adopt secondhand. That dog came from a reputable breeder.

But, if my anecdotal evidence isn’t good enough for you, let me ask you this:

Did your mutt’s parents have their hips and elbows x-rayed and cleared by OFA? Did your mutt’s parents have their eyes checked for disease before their litter was bred? Do you know what EIC is and do you know if your mutt’s parents are carriers or not? Did your mutt and his littermates even get vaccinated before they got dumped in a shelter, where they were likely to pick up mange, parvo and a million other things that could kill them?

You don’t know, do you?

Didn’t think so.

“It is time to ban or at least boycott these canine shows where purebred dogs rule for all the wrong reasons.”

The “wrong reasons”. What reasons would those be? You mean these reasons, as stated by the AKC?

“We love purebred dogs. We protect the health and well-being of all dogs. We cherish dogs as companions. We are committed to the interests of dog owners.”

These are the wrong reasons?

I’m curious now. How many puppy millers do you think actually turned up to attend the Seattle Kennel Club dog show this year? Just a ballpark figure.


The answer is zip, zilch, nada. The entry fee for the show this year was 22$ for the first dog and 12$ for each additional dog after the first, but that’s not including the hours upon hours spent training these dogs and socializing them in preparation for these events, grooming. Do you think for that a puppy miller spent a penny of the money he made off of his caged dogs’ babies to bathe them, groom them, socialize them and all so he can pay to have someone else tell him that his dogs meet a standard that he doesn’t care about? A guy that didn’t keep his dogs in healthy, working condition, that showed up to a show like that would get laughed out of the ring.

Have you ever even seen a puppy mill outside of a commercial starring Sarah McLachlan? You should go visit one sometime, or talk to someone who has adopted a dog after she spent the first eight years of life in a cage, being bred until her uterus practically fell out, only to get dumped in a high kill shelter, where she was almost certain to suffer in overcrowded conditions before she died. Those people have stories for you. But people who show their dogs in conformation? Not so much.

Potential puppy owners can meet reputable breeders at these shows. They can meet a couple of dogs and get some information about the temperament and the behavior that they can expect from a puppy of that breed. This is more information than most people have before purchasing a puppy and is a better foundation to begin that relationship from than just feeling sorry for the poor puppy.

Look, I know that puppy mills are horrible. I have talked to people who have rescued dogs from cages and their stories are horrifying. One of my dearest friends adopted an 8 year old dog from just such a situation. Her dog’s story was heart-wrenching. I suspect that all of my rescues came from back yard breeders and were unloaded on the first unsuspecting soul with money burning a hole in their pocket, who felt sad for the puppy in the truck and took it home with no clue that Labrador Retriever puppies do stuff like eat your entire house, before they turn a year old. All of my rescues were either surrendered before their first birthday, or adopted by me as seniors. That should tell you something.

Puppy milling and Joe Schmoe getting a couple of dogs when he can’t even afford to get them spayed or neutered is what’s irresponsible here. We’re talking about those guys who just want the next litter in the back of their pickup truck so they can make some quick cash. They don’t care about the health of the dogs they breed, or what happens to the puppies after money has changed hands. The folks at the Seattle Kennel Club dog show, do, or at least they care more than the idiot standing in a parking lot with ten puppies in a laundry basket under a towel.

“Animals are not ours to use or abuse in any way.”

That is something I think everyone can agree on. The thing is, outlandish statements like this letter tend to put the wrong idea in the minds of the general public. Many people now seem to be of the view that all breeding of companion animals is bad because it makes more sick, unhealthy dogs and that’s not true. Some breeders, granted, it is a small number of them, are actually breeding healthy dogs and remain involved in the lives of the puppies they breed even after they go to their new homes. They make sure that their puppies do not end up in animal shelters. These breeders breed one, maybe two litters of puppies per year, at most and they usually have waiting lists for their puppies that are a year or more long, so they are never an impulse buy. Not every breeder is bad. Some are amazing champions for the animals, many even participate in rescue for their chosen breed and act as coordinators, or foster homes.

You can’t ignore that people do get in over their heads with dogs. People who have never had a puppy before and don’t even bother to read a book about how to raise one before deciding to get one, are most likely to dump their dogs in an animal shelter before they are one year of age. Then there are the people who fail to take into account the fact that dogs are expensive. Veterinary care for my 3 dogs runs into the thousands each year and I could not feed them out of the grocery store without having to spend more money at the vet, because of their poor breeding. The ones that really tick me off though, are the people that dump their elderly dogs because they don’t have the guts to hold them in their arms while they die, which is what your pet always deserves.

The cruelty of human beings when it comes to companion animals does not discriminate based on a dog’s pedigree. There are as many, if not more, mutts in shelters as there are purebred dogs.

And statements like yours, just exacerbate the situation because they give people permission to continue being ignorant and blame someone else for the problem that they, themselves are creating.

If everyone who ever thought about getting a dog read one book on what it takes to be a dog owner, I doubt that our shelters would be overflowing with unwanted animals and I’d bet that puppy mills would be out of business. Most people can’t hack a 15 year commitment to an animal that they know will end in tears, they just think puppies are cute.