Originally published on May 3, 2016
I just finished writing a month-long series about dog breeds from A to Z, without voicing judgements. The X-Breed (crossbreed) chapter also talked about “Designer Dogs”, where two purebreds of different origins are mated to form a third one. Needless to say, the rescue community is down on that and dog breeding in general, since there are so many strays in the world. Here’s my take, as someone who looks after other people’s dogs for a living.
No question, dog breeding is big business, where appearance and profit are often the two most important concerns, with little regard for the dogs’ health and comfort. Also distasteful to me is the dog show ring, where the poor things are paraded around like circus animals, thin leashes wrapped around their necks and kept in cages between showings. Some even have their fur dyed or talcum powdered to make them look better. That’s the high end of the dog breeding scale and where most of my clients obtain their dogs. I keep my opinions to myself, otherwise, I’d be out of a job. The low end involves those dregs of society who operate “puppy mills”. You can read more about their horrendous activities here:
If you see puppies in a pet shop, chances are, this is where they came from. Please don’t ever buy a pet (there are kitten mills too) from such a place! Thankfully, more of them are getting away from this practice, due to the negative feedback. Thirty to forty years ago, there was no publicity about it and many people purchased pets from shops. We did too!
Our Cockapoo, Sheila and Terrier X, Lisa, bought from a local merchant in 1975, three months apart, cost $10.00 and $15.00 respectively. No purebreds, there. 🙂 We were told they were “accidental” births offered by local residents and had no reason to question this. Sadly, we lost Sheila to cancer in 1984, around the time of her ninth birthday, but Lisa lived to be almost 17.
Lisa died early in December of 1991 and as you can imagine, it was a sad holiday season that year. By then, the possible connection between pet shops and puppy mills had been mentioned, but it wasn’t at the forefront of our consciousness. Shortly after the New Year, and still grieving, I spotted (no pun intended) a gorgeous Dalmatian puppy through the window of a local store.
Since watching Disney’s “101 Dalmatians” cartoon as a child, this breed had intrigued me. My husband and I had also discussed the possibility of getting one after meeting a few around town. Unlike many people charmed by Disney, we did our research and concluded we could be good Dalmatian parents. Tasha went home with us at 8 weeks old and stayed for over 15 years.
She came with AKC papers that said there were some champions in her ancestry and cost a whopping (at that time) $500.00. This was much too steep, but we were hopelessly in love by then and had to have her. She was stunning and healthy, but skittish about loud noises. It all seemed legit. Was Tasha the product of a puppy mill? I’d like to think not but what are the odds?
Why didn’t we go to a shelter, you may ask? Actually, we did. Here’s the thing: Shelters have major restrictions and won’t let just anybody adopt. I applaud that but think there is room for some flexibility. Our shelter was and still is particularly myopic in that regard. Despite our many years of dog experience (and mine went even further back, to childhood), we were flatly turned down. Why? Because we lived in an apartment and had full-time jobs. Explaining that we worked different hours and walked our previous dogs diligently 3 to 4 times a day fell on deaf ears. So, our only choices were pet shops and breeders. Nowadays, a mixed breed “designer” dog costs around $1400.00, never mind a purebred.
We’ve had no dog since Tasha died. She’s a hard act to follow, but we would pass muster with the shelter now. Our house has a fenced yard, plus I’m semi-retired and work from home, with dogs. This and other rescue organizations is where I would look. Canada has a stellar reputation for taking in the world’s homeless dogs and most shelters here are “no-kill”. More info:
What’s your opinion?
Looking forward to your comments!
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