Wednesday, April 18, 2012

We Are NOT All The Same!

There was an article in our paper last night about a woman referred to as a "dog breeder" who has been charged with animal cruelty for an assortment of horrific incidents.  Although she is referred to as a breeder, she is not "one of us" but rather "one of them".  You could refer to all of us as "breeders", but we are NOT all the same.

The woman who was arrested is a commercial breeder and her dogs are a "product".  She raises many popular breeds and she breeds them simply for money.  She is not a dog lover, and her breeding animals are not pets, companions, or show dogs.  They are unfortunate animals, often very poor examples of their breed, who live in sub-standard conditions as they produce litter after litter, until their usefulness ends.  Then they are destroyed.  Her puppies are raised as inexpensively as possible, and given the least amount of care and attention she can get by with.  We've all seen the pictures of puppymill dogs living in horrible conditions, or read of the dogs who are rescued from "those places".

Rather than being referred to as "breeders", these people should simply be called "animal producers".  Their puppies are a cash crop, no more than that.  There are many versions of animal producers, some of them taking better care of their stock, while others are even worse.  The common denominator is that these animals are simply a product, raised for market, to be sold to uneducated buyers who don't take the time to educate themselves about the differences.

Responsible breeders "us" are not all created equal, but the common denominator is that we love our dogs and raise our chosen breed because we are trying to produce ever better dogs.  Better looking, healthier, more trainable, possibly smarter, with better dispositions.  Quality dogs bred to a standard with the ultimate goal being the best possible representatives of their breed.  If we are fortunate, some will be show dogs, or at least "show potential",  others will perhaps go to performance homes to pursue careers in agility, obedience competition, herding, tracking, coursing or any of the many things we can do with dogs.  The majority of these puppies will go to homes as companions, but these pups will be raised with the same care as their littermates.

Pups from responsible breeders come from top quality parents - healthy, good tempered, good looking representatives of their breed.  Most (but not all) will be champions, but champion show dogs don't automatically produce show dog offspring.  Each breeding is done with the idea of producing pups that have even more potential than their quality parents, but most pups will just be good looking representatives of their breed.

Responsible breeders take advantage of the available health testing - it reduces the chance of producing pups with health issues.  It gives us more tools to produce ever better dogs.   As in all animals, many things can be inherited, including health and temperament issues.  We can't guarantee that our pups will not inherit any health issues, but we can test for many of them now and reduce their incidence.  An NO, mixed breed dogs are NOT healthier.  Many health issues in dogs occur in all breeds, and mixed breed dogs (or Designer Dogs) can inherit them from both parents even if they are different breeds - and you'd better believe that the producers are these animals are NOT testing - they are animal producers, not breeders.

Out of time and I did not even get a chance to address socialization and temperament, perhaps the most important of all.  Maybe tomorrow.

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