by Arnie Davis
The "Adopt Don't Shop" movement, while well-intentioned, often overlooks the complexities of dog ownership and the importance of finding the right fit for each individual or family. While adopting a rescue dog is a wonderful and life-saving option for many, it's not the only responsible choice. This article argues that "Adopt AND Shop Responsibly" is a more inclusive and effective approach, promoting responsible dog ownership and addressing the root causes of shelter overpopulation.
Adopting a dog from a shelter or rescue organization is a wonderful way to provide a loving home to an animal in need. However, it is not the only responsible option for those looking to add a dog to their family. For some individuals, purchasing a dog from a responsible, ethical breeder is a more suitable choice based on their specific needs and circumstances.
Although adoption is a commendable choice, it may not be suitable for everyone. There are specific reasons why some people cannot or will not adopt a rescue dog, including:
Responsible, ethical breeders have a deep love and respect for the dogs they breed and take great care to ensure the health and well-being of their animals. They invest time and resources into health testing their breeding dogs for genetic conditions and breed-specific issues, selecting the best pairings to produce healthy, well-adjusted puppies.
Ethical breeders also prioritize temperament, ensuring that their dogs are well-socialized and able to adapt to various situations. They often have waiting lists for their puppies and carefully screen potential buyers to ensure that their dogs are going to responsible, loving homes. Furthermore, responsible breeders often offer ongoing support and advice to their puppy buyers, as well as a willingness to take back a dog if the buyer is no longer able to care for it.
In contrast, backyard breeders and puppy mills are primarily motivated by profit and often lack the knowledge, resources, or commitment to ensure the health and well-being of their dogs. They may not perform health testing, resulting in puppies that are more likely to have genetic issues or poor temperaments. These breeders may also neglect proper socialization, leading to puppies that are fearful or aggressive, increasing the likelihood that they will end up in shelters.
The primary issue contributing to shelter overpopulation is not responsible breeders, but rather, irresponsible backyard breeders and puppy mills. These individuals breed dogs for profit without regard for the animals' well-being, often resulting in poor health and temperament, leading to a higher likelihood of surrender to shelters. To address the root cause of shelter overpopulation, efforts should focus on cracking down on these unethical breeders through education, awareness, and stronger regulation and enforcement.
One of the most effective ways to combat backyard breeding is to support and promote responsible, ethical breeders. By educating the public about the differences between responsible breeders and backyard breeders, we can help potential dog owners make informed decisions and avoid supporting unethical practices. Encouraging potential dog owners to research breeders thoroughly, ask the right questions, and visit the breeder's premises can go a long way in promoting responsible breeding.
Blaming people who purchase a dog from a responsible breeder for shelter overpopulation is as senseless as blaming those who do not own a dog at all. Everyone's circumstances are different, and it is essential to respect each individual's choice when it comes to dog ownership. We should celebrate those who adopt dogs from shelters, but we should also recognize the importance of responsible breeders and their contribution to preserving the health and well-being of specific breeds.
There are several factors to consider when evaluating whether a breeder is ethical and responsible:
1. Health testing: Reputable breeders will perform health tests on their breeding dogs to screen for genetic conditions and breed-specific health issues. They should be willing to provide test results and explain the importance of these tests.
2. Registration: Responsible breeders will typically register their dogs with a recognized breed organization, such as the American Kennel Club (AKC) or the United Kennel Club (UKC). While registration alone does not guarantee ethical breeding practices, it demonstrates a commitment to maintaining breed standards.
3. Puppy care: Ethical breeders will ensure that their puppies are well cared for, properly socialized, and receive appropriate vaccinations and veterinary care. They should be able to provide documentation of veterinary visits and treatments.
4. Environment: A responsible breeder's premises should be clean, safe, and appropriate for raising dogs. Puppies should be raised in a home environment, not in crowded or unsanitary conditions.
5. Commitment to buyers: Reputable breeders will carefully screen potential buyers, ask questions about their living situation, and offer ongoing support and advice to their puppy buyers.
6. Contracts and guarantees: Responsible breeders are passionate about their chosen breed, actively working to maintain and improve its health, temperament, and conformation. They are also committed to the lifetime well-being of the dogs they produce, often requiring new owners to sign contracts including health guarantees, spay/neuter stipulations, and stating that they will return the dog to the breeder if they can no longer care for it. This helps to reduce the number of dogs surrendered to shelters. For example, at , we offer a 5-year genetic health guarantee, limited AKC registration which means that the dog cannot be used for breeding and must be spayed/neutered at the appropriate age, a stipulation that if the owners can no longer properly care for the dog that they will reach out to us for assistance in rehoming or that we will take the dog back into our home, as well as a lifetime of support. Our pup owners truly become family members.
The "Adopt Don't Shop" movement has undoubtedly raised awareness about the plight of dogs in shelters, and adoption should always be considered as a viable option for those looking to add a dog to their family. However, it is essential to acknowledge that responsible, ethical breeding plays a crucial role in maintaining the health and welfare of specific breeds and that purchasing a dog from a reputable breeder can be a responsible choice for many individuals.
By promoting "Adopt AND Shop Responsibly," we can create a more inclusive and supportive community that prioritizes the well-being of all dogs, whether they come from shelters or reputable breeders. In doing so, we can work together to reduce shelter overpopulation and create a better future for all dogs and their owners.