The reason I started writing Keep the Tail Wagging was to promote dog rescue and responsible breeding. I’m learning that there are many people who are very black and white on these issues. Either you’re for breeders (all of them, good and bad) or you’re against them. In their attempt to promote dog rescue, some people become abusive, not realizing that their words redirect the focus from an important cause to their behavior.
The Definition of a Reputable Breeder
My definition of a responsible breeder is someone who breeds for the love a breed and dogs. A person who respects their own dogs, treats them as family members and not as a savings account. They put the value of their dogs’ happiness and health over the money. They interview prospective families, making sure that they understand the breed, that they’re a good fit for a puppy, and that they understand the responsibilities of dog ownership. A reputable breeder has a relationship with a vet to care for their dogs, the puppies, and any emergencies that arise. If I saw an ad on Craigslist for a breeder, I wouldn’t believe that they’re reputable; they may be legit, but based on everything I’ve seen on Craigslist, it’s difficult for me to believe that a reputable breeder would use the site.
I’ve always believed in dog rescue…
I’ve always believed in dog rescue. I was rescuing dogs as a kid, lecturing adults on how to properly take care of their pets before I really understood what I was saying. Today, we have two rescue, litter mates. Sydney is sleeping on my feet and Rodrigo is curled into a ball on his chair. We’re working with a local rescue group to add a fourth (our Riley will always be our third) rescue dog to our family. I’m proud of the life that we can give a dog who might otherwise face abuse and/or euthanasia.
I didn’t understand buying from a breeder…
I didn’t really understand buying from a breeder, but I try not to judge people until I get all the facts. I started asking dog owners I met at the park about their choice to buy from a breeder. Some were looking for a particular breed, some wanted a show quality dog, and some happened to know someone who knew someone and purchased a puppy. Each person I spoke with did a lot of research, asked a lot of questions, and met their reputable breeder through friends, their vet, or at dog shows.
Not all breeders run puppy mills…
In my search to understand, I also spoke with several local breeders and was stunned by (1) their love of their dogs and the breed and (2) their stringent criteria to purchase one of their puppies. These breeders didn’t know each other, but they maintained the same practices of meeting with families multiple times and/or insisting that people spend hours with a puppy. The point was for everyone to get to know each other and for the new owners to understand what they were getting used to.
These breeders have solid relationships with veterinarians and their puppies get the best care. The breeders make new owners sign a contract that covers veterinarian care, training requirements, and makes the owners financially liable should they turn their dog into a shelter. They won’t sell a puppy to someone who wants a guard dog, who doesn’t understand the breed, or who is buying a puppy as a gift.
And they only breed their dogs once a year or every other year. They’re not trying to get rich off of their puppies. None of the breeders I’ve met are bad people. And meeting them gave me such comfort that the term “reputable breeder” is valid.
In a world of so many dogs in need…
Despite these fantastic breeders that I met, I still can’t help but wonder why we’re breeding dogs in a world where so many dogs need a home. Instead of attacking reputable breeders, I think it’s important to educate potential dog owners on how to spot someone from a puppy mill. A puppy mill in Washington State was recently taken down. They were breeding mini Australian Shepherds. We’re on the list to adopt one of the dogs. I met a few of the dogs yesterday and was stunned by how frightened they were; what did these people do to these puppies to make them so afraid?
I wanted to bring one of the dogs home, but was terrified by what a long drive and the introduction to our rambunctious duo would do to the dog, so I left without him and it broke my heart. Another family took him home and he’s getting the love and patience he deserves. Rescuing a puppy from a puppy mill is going to take a team effort and we’re now working with the group to find a good fit for our home and a dog that my family can work together with to make happy.
Although I try not to judge people for going to a breeder, I will always encourage people to opt for dog rescue. It may take longer to find the perfect dog for your family, but it’ll be worth it. If you still choose to go to a breeder, become as educated as possible by the process and if you meet someone who is shady – walk way and call the police and report what you see. I would rather offend a breeder than walk away after seeing a frightened or injured dog.
If your going to deal with a breeder please make sure they practice Responsible Breeding
Kimberly Gauthier, a perpetually happy person, lives with her amazing guy, their spoiled dogs and cats, and loves dog rescue, photography, reading, and laughing. She’s the author of Keep the Tail Wagging, where she shares tips on raising happy, healthy dogs and promotes dog rescue and reputable breeding. You can also find her at Girl Power Hour as The Fur Mom.