Why I Won’t Play Into the Rescue vs Breeder Debate
I’m not sure when the big divide began between rescues & breeders began, but if you’re part of the dog world it’s hard not to see it on a daily basis.
Why I Won’t Play Into the Rescue vs Breeder Debate
- It’s like comparing apples to oranges.
- Being judgmental is the worst way to make a point.
I believe good rescues & good breeders both hold a place in helping us make good decisions when it comes to choosing the right dog.
Rescuing Doesn’t Automatically Make You a Better Dog Owner
Of course rescuing animals is awesome, and it’s something I’ll always be involved with and promote on this site. But many times people who go through rescue talk about it as if it was the only option available — often to the point of making those who haven’t chosen that route feel uncomfortable and ashamed that their dog didn’t come from a rescue.
“What other option is there? Just look at all these homeless dogs.” I get it, and that’s why I’ve chosen to rescue — because it makes sense for me to do. I’m not looking for a certain breed and I’m not looking for a working dog — I’m looking for a companion. For others the choice is different.
Rescuing a dog doesn’t make me a better owner, nor does it give me the right to judge anyone who hasn’t rescued a pet.
Recently a popular dog site (rhymes with WifeWithPogs) took a rather bold stance against breeders stating that they all need to end, and a few years ago I might have been right on board with that sentiment. But I’ve learned a lot since this blog began, and I’ve learned not to immediately have a “that’s just wrong” reaction to the word breeder. Yes there are a lot of bad breeders out there, but there’s also a lot of breeders who do it out of love and dedication to a specific breed.
I’ve met so many wonderful people that have dogs from breeders, and they’re some of the most dedicated owners I know. They didn’t just pick a dog online because he was cute & have him shipped 500 miles — they did their research and found a reputable breeder.
There Are Good Breeders Out There
I’ve come to realize that there are good breeders out there, and even if they’re not the majority it doesn’t make it right to clump them together with the horrible people who operate puppy mills and the idiots trading their dogs on craigslist.
I’m not afraid to call those idiots out. You can check out my shortly lived series on the craigslist idiots here if you desire, but I must warn you my sarcastic tone didn’t go over well on such a horrible topic. And I’m not shy about calling out the fact that over 90% of the dogs in pet stores come from puppy mills.
But not all breeders are running puppy mills, yet somehow when we hear the term breeder that’s the first thing we think of.
I think part of the knee jerk reaction we have to the word breeder is that we don’t see the good ones often enough 0- we see the jerks that don’t health test their pups & just breed more pups every chance they get.
The good ones aren’t out there advertising, they’re not selling to pet stores, they’re not the ones on the news because their puppy mill got shut down, and they’re not the ones you see selling their puppies online.
They’re the ones that get word of mouth referrals, they’re the ones you meet at dog shows, and they’re the ones that are found after doing your research on a given breed. Are they a minority? Certainly, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist.
Good breeders do the proper health screenings, love their breed, screen their adopters & aren’t out to make a quick buck. They’re committed to the dogs they’ve fallen in love with, and what’s the problem with that? We’ve all had favorite dogs, and for many of us a certain breed will always hold a special place in our hearts.
Not Everyone Is Just Like Me, And That’s OK
I am so grateful for all of the wonderful people I’ve met through blogging, and how it’s made me realize that not every dog owner is just like me. It’s part of the knowledge that’s come with meeting new people from different walks of life.
I’m not so quick to judge anymore, and I’m much more apt to look at how a dog is being cared for, rather than just focusing on how they came into this world.
I don’t participate in dog sports, I didn’t need a good herding dog for my sheep, and my dog isn’t out there competing for titles. She’s my companion, so rescue made perfect sense.
The Choice to Go With a Purebred Puppy Isn’t Wrong
Farmers who use Border Collies, dogs who compete in agility or the show ring, and anyone whose got a soft spot for a particular breed can and should have the option to find the dog they’re looking for.
The dedication and research you put in before choosing your next dog is what makes a difference, not just the place of acquisition.
Someone whose willing to be put on a year long waiting list for a Retriever pup is dedicated, and chances are someone with that level of dedication will make an awesome owner.
If you are looking for a specific type of dog you might have to wait. For example, I wanted a brown male show Newfoundland from a specific line. I wasn’t the only one who wanted this so I had to wait my turn. The first litter that came available was a small litter with one brown male that was of show quality. I had to wait for the next litter. – So You Think You Want a Show Dog? Here’s 9 Things You Should Know, My Brown Newfies & Me
Dogs Get Returned/Surrendered, Regardless of Where They’re From
Some owners aren’t willing to wait for a new dog which is unfortunately why selling puppies online is big business. Not everyone has the patience to wait for the “right dog,” and that’s where a lot of problems come from. People who decide one day that they want a puppy often buy them online or in pet stores, not from breeders who have waiting lists.
Have I mentioned that Laika was gotten impulsively? After having my application rejected from a rescue on a certain dog I’d fell in love with because I worked full time I was depressed. So that weekend I went out to my local shelter & adopted Laika.
I picked the first young dog I came across and didn’t ask any questions. She bit me that first day when I tried to take away the stupid rawhide she was sent home with. Not the best first day ever, but we eventually for that guarding issue under control.
I don’t regret it for a moment, but if I had kids I don’t know if I’d be saying the same thing. I didn’t know how to manage resource guarding, but I had the luxury of working with her without putting anyone besides myself at risk. Do I blame the shelter? No. I’m the one who decided that I didn’t need to spend any time with her out in the shelter yard or introduce her to my friends & family as they suggested. I had already made up my mind.
The impulsiveness problem with getting a dog isn’t unique to people going through breeders. If I decided I wanted a dog today I could either buy one online, go to a pet store or go to my local shelter. We have a lot of options, and a big part of the problem is how easy they all are, not just where they’re coming from.
So yes where a dog comes from is important, but so is the commitment to that dog regardless of where they came from. Unfortunately just because someone chooses to get a dog from a shelter doesn’t guarantee they have a home forever. Many dogs get returned & surrendered, and it’s not a problem unique to dogs from breeders.
I’ve seen so many conversations go from ‘my dog has this issue, do you have any advice’ to ‘well what did you expect? he’s from a pet store.’ That attitude isn’t helping anyone. When owners are looking for help or advice don’t start playing the blame game. Sure they might be doing something incorrectly, and sure their dog may have come from a pet store, but there are things we can do to help them get decent advice. If the conversation just goes into meltdown mode because people can’t get over where a dog came from the original question gets lost. The owner is left with the same frustration that they came in with.
Dogs have a surprisingly high turnover rate, as in there’s a high percentage of dogs that end up getting returned or surrendered to a shelter. If you want to help with the issue of homeless pets consider being available to offer suggestions to concerned owners – even if you don’t approve of where they got their dog. It may not help keep every dog single in a forever home, but good advice can go a long way to help educate owners about the problems they’re facing.
Can We Please Just All Get Along?
I’d be lying if I said writing this post doesn’t make me a bit nervous. I might lose some readers that have chosen rescue or bad mouthed breeders, but I’m hoping they’ll read this post fully and start to understand my point. All that name calling towards anyone who hasn’t rescued? It’s aimed at a lot of decent people who love their dogs and have already made the commitment to give their dogs a loving home.
If we want more people to choose rescue we have to reach people that are on the fence about adopting, not just shame the ones who’ve already chosen otherwise.
I’m a dog owner and you’re a dog owner. I’d love to see puppy mills & pet stores put out of business just like you. While I know that the majority of breeders might be bad I refuse to say all breeding should stop. Some people need dogs to protect their livestock, while others of us just need a loving companion.
Bad breeders are much easier to find than the good ones (try googling “Corgi puppies for sale” to see my point), but good ones do exist and they’re doing a great service for their breed.
The amount of homeless dogs in shelters is huge, but good breeders aren’t adding to the problem.
Good breeders make sure their adopters are a good fit, and many have a policy in place where they will take back an animal if something unexpected happens. Reputable breeders have a lot in common with good rescues, and it’s a shame that we don’t acknowledge those similarities.
We Often Stick to What We Know
It’s not a perfect world, and as hard as I try I’m not a perfect person. And my dog, well she’s not perfect either even though she was rescued. I’ll keep promoting rescue because it’s what I know and what I’m familiar with.
But I’d be lying if I said all those snarky remarks about those who “don’t rescue” didn’t piss me off. I think of all the people I know who didn’t rescue and hate seeing them so easily dismissed. They’re some of the most dedicated dog owners I know, they don’t deserve to be clumped into some bad category.
Advocates want to get the word out that shelter dogs are some of the best canines around, and come in all shapes, sizes, temperaments, and ages. Guilt-tripping, shock-tactics, and wagging fingers is not the way to do it. Information about the great dogs and cats in shelters are. – If You Bought Your Dog I’m Not Judging You, Dogthusiast
How we acquire our pets is a personal choice. It’s my choice, it’s your choice, and it’s their choice. We might not always agree but so what? One choice doesn’t give us to the right to feel superior to those that did something different.
On this blog I talk a lot about rescue & adoption. It’s something I’ve been involved with for years and I’m comfortable talking about it and giving advice to any potential adopters. I’m always available to answer questions when it comes to the adoption/rescue process, and I love sharing sharing inspirational adoption tales. I know about it, it’s what I’ve chosen to do many times myself.
What I Recommend When Someone Wants a New Dog
In the beginning of this post I stated that comparing rescues to breeders is like comparing apples to oranges. What I didn’t mention was that while they are quite different they have one fundamental thing in common — good rescues and good breeders are both dedicated to matching their dogs with the right family. If we’re able to acknowledge this we can stop bickering about it and open up the breeder vs rescue debate into something meaningful.
If someone you know has a certain breed in mind help educate them on making a good decision rather than shaming them. Tell them about breed specific rescues, educate them about puppy mills, and show them how to go about finding a reputable breeder.
And remember that in the end it’s their decision — not yours. Don’t dismiss it just because it’s not what you’d choose.