There is a common myth out there, that breeders kill shelter dogs. That one leads to the other: that people should adopt not shop. I’m going to bust them both!
Myth #1: Breeders Kill Shelter Dogs
Let’s look at the US figures to test the idea that breeders kill shelter dogs.
To maintain the current level of dog ownership (which is actually growing slightly), and replace dogs that die, 7.5 million “new” dogs a year are required by owners.
But there are only 2.2 million adoptable dogs in US shelters each year. This doesn’t include the additional 680,000 that are euthanized because of the risk they will bite someone. So there’s a gap of 5.9 million dogs that have to come from somewhere other than a shelter.
Where is the BEST source? Why professional dog breeders of course. Who else can give the important job of breeding and rearing fabulous canine companions the attention it deserves?
Did you realise that about half the dogs in shelters are there for behavioural reasons? The biggies are aggression, inappropriate soiling, damaging property, separation anxiety and barking.
Great breeders can and do help prevent all of those issues. For a start, they screen their buyers and educate them to ensure they are ready to take a dog into their lives, and that the breed they’ve chosen is a good match for their lifestyle. Buyers from great breeders understand their dog needs training and positive stuff to do so that damage to property and other problem behaviors can be avoided.
Great breeders also have their puppies’ potty training education underway before they leave. They support their owners to make a success of not only potty training, but also early socialization – which is so important to preventing aggression and barking. They explain to owners that if you want prevent separation anxiety developing in your puppy, you have to show leadership, and exactly how to achieve that. And of course they offer lifelong support and to take back any puppy that needs rehoming.
People shopping for a dog won’t get all that from any other source. More than half of all dogs in shelters were either originally sourced from a shelter or adopted from a friend.
Great breeders help ensure happy ever afters for all their pups and owners.
Myth #2: People should adopt not shop
People who opt to adopt a shelter dog are absolute heroes in my book. But it’s not an option that suits everyone. And most shelters and rescue groups seem to agree. In fact, they turn away about twice as many would-be adopters as they accept. People with children under 7 years old, those who are renting, folks who live in an apartment, and anyone who works full time don’t get a look in.
President and CEO of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Matthew Bershadker, was quite famously rejected twice while looking to adopt. And this was despite having a fenced yard and positive references.
Some people think their standards are a bit too exacting. But the reality is that many shelter dogs have had a rough start (after all, most of them didn’t get the wonderful beginning a great breeder provides them and their owners). And as a result they can be quite damaged and in need of considerable rehabilitation and training. That is a job only the most well situated and experienced dog owner should attempt. The fact is, not everyone can or should go the adoption route.
So before you malign another dog breeder, remember that dogs provide incredibly positive benefits to humans – emotional and physical. People deserve great dogs that have been given a wonderful start. And so society will always need great dog breeders.