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December 16, 2011 / fishmobabywhirlamagig

Well, since my …

Well, since my dog food rant was so popular, I figure I should document at least a few more of my rants. Unfortunately for this blog, I don’t have many rants to publicize. Dog nutrition is one. Dog training is another. Maybe breed specific legislation, and my thoughts on Breeders vs. Rescue. Past that, it’s just little fleeting thoughts. I’m actually not a very opinionated person in reality, there’s just those few things that drive me nuts. Today, I think I’ll go with…


Breeders, pet stores, no kill shelters, and kill shelters; Who is evil, who isn’t?


Most dog lovers have this view set in stone, and I’d say at least 75% of them have this few: They’re all even, except the no kill shelters.


My view is: Pet stores shouldn’t sell pets, but beyond that, none of them are EVIL; Just depends on how they’re run and why they’re running.


One thing that makes ‘Dog Lovers’ so irritating to ‘Dog Likers’ is their generalized banter on how ‘If you didn’t get your dog from the shelter, you’ve done something wrong!’ I’ve heard it over and over. Online, from friends, from strangers, from fellow volunteers.


Do you know what happens when someone wants to go buy a puppy and you just completely shun them? I’ll tell you one thing, it sure as hell doesn’t stop them from buying a puppy; It just makes it impossible for them to get good information, and makes them not want to listed to a damned thing you say. If someone walked up to me and said “I want to get a Yorkie, where do I get one?” and I said “You wait until a Yorkie shows up in a shelter. It probably won’t be a puppy, and will probably have some issues, but with enough time and patience you’ll find it twice as rewarding!” they’ll say “… Ok, thanks.” and then walk over to Puppy World and buy themselves a damned puppy, and they will not ask you advice again. And that average dog lover will say “Nothing I said would have changed them, they’re ignorant and they just don’t get it or they just don’t care.”


Let’s try it again. Let’s say I’m a bit nicer and not so bitter, but still believe that only shelter dogs should be adopted. This is a little more common.


“Well, you can get a Yorkie a lot of places; However, Yorkies in stores and most from ‘breeders’ are bred very poorly and normally have a lot of health problems. You’ll be paying a lot of money for a dog that is going to cost you a lot of money in health bills and probably not have the best temperament. They are a pretty common dog though, and a lot of them end up in shelters; I’m sure there’s a Yorkie rescue close by, and lots of shelter in the area, you should call around! That way you’re not giving money to bad breeders.”


Well, ok, you probably didn’t completely alienate or insult the person. Good job! They aren’t going to hate you, and they might even take what you say with a grain of salt. But unfortunately, the average person’s desire to get exactly what they want generally overrules great logic like that above. They probably want a puppy. A cute little 8 week old puppy. They don’t want a dog that someone else has already ‘owned’ or influenced. They probably want the prestige of being able to say ‘Yes, this is a PURE BRED YORKSHIRE TERRIER!” Maybe they’ll glance at rescues for a moment, but they could much more easily and quickly (and not even that much more expensively; I know rescue people hate to admit it, but for toy breeds the total adoption cost is often similar or more than the cost of buying a puppy mill puppy.) go to that pet store on the corner and get their dog.


One more round. Round three would start off the same as the one before; I do always try very hard to promote the benefits of rescue. But truthfully, a lot of people just aren’t interested. If you can’t provide an option for that fresh new puppy, they probably aren’t listening to you. So this is what I made sure to provide if I get the vibe that they want nothing to do with a rescue.


“There are some great breeders around, with beautiful Yorkies with great temperaments and a clean bill of health. These are people who know the breed, and have been doing extensive health testing on all their dogs for generations; If you want a Yorkie from a breeder, those pet store dogs are only going to save you a little money, and you might end up with a dog that looks nothing like a Yorkie and costs you thousands, not to mention the damage a bad temperament can cause! If you look for a good breeder, you can meet the parents, talk to them, and really know what you’re getting in to!” This normally peaks their interest if they had no interest in your rescue ideas. But it’s also a lot of work.


But considering how much effort people go through to help all those rescue dogs, a little bit of work to keep from supporting a puppy mill should be worth it, right? If you’re in a situation where you have access to a computer, do a quick search; Show them what kind of things a good breeder can offer, and give a few that might be great candidates. If this is words in passing and you know you won’t get to have a very long conversation, say “Just make sure that the breeder can show you detailed information for specific tests done, because if they just say “they’ve been vetted’ they’re normally not paying any attention to health.”


No, to us rescue folk (and I am one,) this is a hell of a lot less satisfying than turning someone on to rescue. But you HAVE TO START SOMEWHERE. With family members or friends online, you (an experienced dog enthusiast) should be able to pull up a few really reputable looking breeders in an hour. If that’s not worth your time, then you’re in it for the wrong reasons. Sure, pull up a few petfinder pages for some beautiful yorkies and rescues while you’re at it. You never know where you’ll get unless you try!


Now, so far, I sound like I only think good breeders are worthwhile compared to the alternative of puppy mill dogs. That’s not what I’m getting at at all.


Most people, if not all, have preferences to the kinds of dogs they like. Sure, they may love, respect, and want to save all dogs. But they like some more than others. Certain dogs fit a home better than others. If my parents had a Border Collie, they’d probably end up shooting themselves in a few days. I can’t stand hounds; I want an active, smart, servile dog. Little old ladies with Cane Corsos probably wouldn’t go over too well.


Now, time for Imagination land. Lets say, breeding dogs wasn’t allowed anymore. Period. No more puppy mills, no more breeders, and no more backyard breeders. There was a serious crackdown, and in Imagination Land they have all the police force they need to enforce it. Sure, there will always be strays producing puppies; That’s ok. Of course, you can’t sell them and all dogs in shelters are spayed and neutered before going out, but there still won’t be any shortage of strays for a very, VERY long time.


Let’s say Imagination Land is the size and population of Ohio. How long do you think it would take before there were no defines breeds? Not even HINTS of breeds? Before all dogs in existence are some strange new breed that is a mix of mostly lab, shepherd, and pit and beagle with a few other little roots way back? Tell ya what, I don’t think it would be very long at all. Maybe 2 decades, tops. Those few stray pure breds aren’t gonna go find each other and make puppies. Doesn’t work that way.


And do you know who doesn’t want a lab/pit/beagle mix? Like, 70% of people who want a dog. At least. I don’t. I like my servile herding dogs. My parents like their low energy couch potatoes. I have a lot of friends who really love sled dogs. Do I want all dogs to have a great life? ABSOLUTELY. Do I want to own a lab/pit/beagle. NOPE. Ever seen a lab/pit/beagle mutt pull a sled? … Well, I have, and I’ll tell you what; Leave it to the Nordic breeds.


I have no problem with reputable breeders. I think it’s important to maintain breed standards for breeds that have a real, useful purpose. Honestly, I don’t so much care if the breed standards for the Chinese Crested dogs or the Pomeranian slip a bit. (I mean, hell, modern Pomeranian look nothing like they used to as it is.) All dogs have different temperaments that suit different people, and I am ok with trying to preserve that. And if a breeders goal is to BETTER the BREED they’re passionate for, GO FOR IT! If you love a breed and think their roots have strayed too far from their original purposes and want to fight to bring back your dog to what they’re supposed to be, GREAT! Good for you! Do you have the money, time and devotion to spend breeding the worlds best service dogs? A NOBLE GOAL!


But if you’re breeding for any reason other than to better the breed, screw you. That’s basically what it comes down to for me. True story, and I am 99% sure any REAL breeder will agree; There is NO PROFIT in breeding. Proper breeding costs a shit ton of money. It costs THOUSANDS and THOUSANDS to do the kinds of testing that are important for potential litter dams and dogs. Extreme genetic testing, hip xrays, expensive bloodwork, eye and ear exams, not to mention showing dogs to show the rest of the world you’re adhering to breed standards. It aint cheap. Isn’t “Oh, don’t worry, I took him to the vet and the vet says they’re all healthy!” THAT IS NOT A BREEDER. That’s an in home puppy mill. That’s a “If I spend more than $100 on a dogs medical needs, I can’t make money with them.”


Most REAL breeders only have a few litters a year; It’s healthier for their dogs, and ensures that each puppy gets extremely individualized care and socialization. Some breeders only have one litter a year, with months or YEARS of planning going in to every litter. That, to me, is an acceptable breeder.


If I had the money, I’d love to breed dogs. There are a few breeds that I have a great passion for that I would love to try and improve. I adore my cattle dogs, but since they are primarily working dogs and I’m not a farm gal, I wouldn’t do that.


… Which reminds me; Working dogs are a whole different thing. ‘responsible breeding’ with working dogs, I’ve heard, is a COMPLETELY different culture that I am not very aware of. I will not form any opinions or assumptions on it since I don’t understand it quite, but I know people looking for a real farm hand cattle dog or a real sled dog don’t operate quite the same way.


There are a lot of breeds that I feel have been bred for all the long reasons; For instance, any of the stout dogs who are taking a tendency towards CAVED IN NOSES. I really don’t understand this. You are producing dogs almost seemingly FOR health issues. I don’t get it. Any time I have considered for a brief moment the concept of becoming a breeder, it’s after seeing some poor bow-legged snorting panting miserable pug or English Bulldog who would probably be better off not existing. I don’t get it. I REALLY don’t. It makes my brain hurt just thinking about it. Same thing with Poms; I don’t the idea of any dog being bred for looks, it should always be about function. That’s the big reason I feel like the puppy mill industry is doing so well; Without those morals, they don’t give a shit about breathing problems. They say “This is the cutest puppy, keep it and make it make babies.”


Ok guys and gals, I have to go to work. I will leave you with a few highly unsettling links to ‘breeders’ who I think should be condemned in to the deepest realms of hell.


Is this NATURAL?


This just doesn’t look healthy to me.


I don’t know, I don’t think being that stout adds much to the breed…

Since I ran out of time to re-write my opinion on kill shelters (stupid job,) here is a previous post on a different blog that I wrote that sums up my feelings:

All animal lovers want a world where no animal has to die due to overpopulation. If they don’t want that, they aren’t an animal lover, and they probably have no business owning a pet. This isn’t in question.

I hear a lot of people critisize kill shelters. Some people prefer to just give their business (in the form of adoptions or donations) to no-kill shelters because they believe these places are more deserving. I don’t think the people who think this way are wrong necessarily, but I do think it’s not likely that they’ve really looked in to how most kill shelters operate.
This is not about the exceptions; The truly evil places; Places where dogs practically go to die. This is about the kill shelters full of animal lovers; People who want the best for every pet out there.

I want to run you through how my shelter works.

I volunteer at a kill shelter. My shelter is full of animal lovers; It’s a non profit, it is not affiliated with any parent organizations, and does not receive state funding. We do things how we choose to. And yes, pets; Pets who would make wonderful companions, sometimes die at our shelter.

This is how we handle who lives and who dies;

A dog comes in. Who cares where; From an owner surrender, from a cruelty case, from the dog warden. This dog gets a brief evaluation. If this dog has any extremely dangerous behaviors or problems; Extremely vicious, illness or injury where recovery chance is extremely low, etc,; the dog will likely be euthanized. Dogs with less severe issues get basically 3 chances.

Chance 1.) Is there a kennel free? Is there ANYWHERE in this damned shelter we can put this dog and save this dog? If the answer is yet (and that includes cages in the hallway, temporary pens in the lobby, etc,) then this dog is safe. This dog is safe for as long as it needs to be. That kennel can be his until he finds his home, whether it be days or years.

Chance 2.) Is there anyone else who can take this dog if we don’t have room? For injuries, we contact other rescues and we contact all foster homes. We’ll pay for care, we just want this dog to have a chance. For dogs heavy in one breed, we’ll contact breed-specific rescues. Sometimes even in those first cases were a dog has extreme dangerous behavior or illness/injury, we’ll still try to find some rescue or foster who can safely take the dog. We don’t want any dog to have to die.

Chance 3.) Is there ANY chance this dog can go back where it came from? For owner surrenders, we’ll offer options; We’ll let them know we can contact them if a spot in the shelter opens up. We tell them about training classes, we offer free behavior coaching, we offer training classes, we have miles and miles of recommendations. We will tell someone “We have no place for your dog. If you leave your dog here, we have to euthanize him.” We make things clear. We hope we can convince these people to give the dog another chance.

… Ok, now let’s get fictional now instead of the real options. Lets say my shelter has a no-kill policy. We do not kill any animal. What happens now?

1.) We take the dog. We take every dog. The shelter becomes unsafe and unsanitary. We can’t give animals individualized care. As a result, animals get neglected and get more antisocial the longer they are here. They all get less adoptable. People don’t want to adopt from us because of our messy and unkemp conditions. We eventually run out of finances. We run ourselves in to the ground.

2.) We turn away the dog. “Sorry, we can’t keep him. You can’t leave him here.” The owner a.) Just abandons him outside or ties him to the fence, forcing us either in to scenario 1, or in to calling animal control. Or they just take him to a kill shelter who doesn’t turn down any animals.

Neither of these options are doing a damned thing to end overpopulation.

I’m sure you’ve all read about (unless you live in a dream world) the severe cases of animal hoarding, both in households and in shelters. Would you call those happy stories? Dozens, HUNDREDS of dogs in unsanitary and unsafe conditions, living in their own filth? I never want my shelter to be that. I feel much better about a dog being taken away from a terrible situation and giving a dignified end. We are a loving shelter. We don’t throw dogs on a table and cut their throats or whatever mortifying idea some people like to get in their heads. Yes, I won’t sugar coat it. We kill animals. They die. They die coddled tightly in the loving hands of people who know every life is precious, and dream of a day where it doesn’t have to happen. They know the feeling of being directly responsible for the loss of a life, no matter how humane. And I guarantee you nobody dreams of a no kill nation more desperately than these people.

No kill shelters and a no kill nation do not go hand in hand. I love them both. And I have absolutely no qualm with no kill shelters, NONE AT ALL. I respect them and love them. But the fact of the matter is that a no kill shelter has to turn down dogs. What happens to those dogs? Do they live miserable lives in a home where they are unwanted? Do they get turned loose on society to help propagate the stray population and add to the issue tenfold? Or do they just end up in a shelter like mine?

It just breaks my heart when someone gets the wrong idea about a shelter like mine. Yes, there are miserable death traps of shelters out there. They do not represent the majority.


One Comment

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  1. Carli / May 9 2017 12:11 am

    Normally I’m against killing but this article slruehtgaed my ignorance.

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