There is nothing, and I mean nothing, that makes me jump out of my seat and on to my soap box faster than ignorance regarding the pet overpopulation problem we have in this country. One comment on how I, as a breeder, am single handedly responsible for the overpopulation problem, and soap box time it is.
Before I became a breeder, I did rescue, for many, many years. Paws Pet Rescue was our 501c3 non profit rescue organization and over the years we have saved countless dogs and cats from death row at the shelters and found them new homes. Every Tuesday morning, or “put down day” as they called it, I would go to the shelter, knowing in the back of my mind how many spots I would have to take animals home. As I would walk into the shelter the eerie silence would give me goose bumps. They knew that I, and some other rescue workers would be their last chance and if we’d pass their cage it would be the end of the road for them within a matter of 2 hours. They know what is happening, they feel it, and let me tell you, walking into a shelter with 90+ dogs in absolute silence is downright heartbreaking.
Most rescuers took “the adoptable ones”, that would find a home quickly, so they would make some money and be able to take in more dogs. I was a sucker for the under dogs, no pun intended. I took the ones that never stood a chance. The black ones, the heartworm positive ones and the older ones.
I remember one of them really well; Molly, a black 11 year old retriever mix. Her owners dumped her at the shelter after 11 years of happiness because they got a new kitten. Molly didn’t like the kitten and was deemed “aggressive”, so after 11 years of loyalty, they dumped her at the shelter. I was told the family came in, dropped her off and left laughing, excited to go home and play with their new kitten. They didn’t even say goodbye to her. They handed over the envelop with vet paperwork and handed them the leash and walked out, leaving Molly with a broken heart.
I remember passing her cage. She was sitting in the corner, shaking, absolutely terrified. Her head was hanging down and her soft grey muzzle and gentle brown eyes showed she had given up on life. That Tuesday morning, all the other rescuers had passed her cage and I was the last one in the row looking for one more dog to save. Molly was the one, and she came home with me that day.
Molly was damaged by what happened to her. She was a super sweet dog, grateful for every bowl of food and every bit of loving she got from us. But her soul never recovered from the heartbreak of missing her family who so easily traded her in for a kitten. She would wag her tail on occasion and give us kisses, but her eyes, always the window of the soul, told another story.
Molly was only with us for 4 weeks when an older couple emailed me that they saw her picture on petfinder and her story absolutely broke their hearts. They wanted to come and see her and see if she’d like to go home with them. Two days later they arrived, and as they sat on our couch, I went to get Molly. We saw a miracle unfold in front of our eyes. Molly started wagging her tail like crazy, jumped on the couch with them and her dull eyes suddenly sparkled with glitter, almost like she had tears in her eyes. And that was that. A match made in heaven. Molly went home with them, was the best dog they ever had and happily lived to be a whopping 15 years old.
What is the moral of this story?
Responsible breeders are not the problem, irresponsible pet owners and producers are.
We constantly get thrown in our face “Don’t shop, adopt!” and the general public thinks that breeders are the problem of our pet overpopulation and they are not. We get a bad reputation for something we are not responsible for.
I am sure you have all at some point seen the cat pyramid, of how one un-spayed female in 8 years can multiply to a total of 2,072,514 cats. If you have not seen it, I will post it in the comments. This is absolutely true and terrifying because there will never be enough homes for the animals that need one.
So, let’s talk about what the real cause is that we have so many homeless animals dying in shelters at no fault of their own. There are two main reasons why this is happening.
#1: RESPONSIBLE PET OWNERSHIP!
When you get a pet, it is not a toy you throw in the closet when you’re done playing with it. Treat your pet as a much loved family member. Take proper care of your pet, keep them up to date on their vaccinations and have them spayed and neutered. Most important, teach your children how to be a responsible pet owner! We live in a throw away society where everything seems to be replaceable . In the olden days we used to fix things when they were broken, in these modern days we just throw it away and get a new one, including marriages and pets. Being a responsible pet owner will solve half of the pet overpopulation problem.
#2: GOVERNMENT REGULATIONS
If the government would simply ban the sale of cats and dogs in pet stores and auction, it would create a huge imbalance of supply and demand, which consequently will shut down all the kitten and puppy mills we have around the country. Those are not breeders, those are producers. They breed their animals to death, they usually live in horrible circumstances and their animals are not well cared for. Their only objective is to produce as many puppies as possible to be sold at auctions to pet dealers and pet shops. If you shut that down and make that illegal (like it is in many countries) that would solve the other half of the pet overpopulation problem.
Are breeders really the problem? NO! Irresponsible pet owners and producers are!
Did a breeder drop Molly off at the shelter? NO! Her irresponsible owners did!
Do responsible breeders sell unaltered cats that cause 2,072,514 cats offspring in 8 years? NO! Responsible breeders spay and neuter their animals before placement or choose to place them with a spay neuter contract before registration is given and they follow up on it with the new owner’s veterinarian.
Do you see a lot of pedigreed animals in the shelters? NO! Because responsible breeders either take their animals back or help an owner rehome the animal when needed. And not only that, we also help other breeders rehome animals if needed as we all network with each other and help each other out when necessary.
I am sick and tired of being held responsible for something that I have nothing to do with. I am sick and tired of having to hear from pedigreed pet owners that they get chastised for having gone to a breeder for their pet rather than getting one from the shelter.
To all you wonderful pedigreed pet owners: the pet overpopulation problem is NOT your fault and does NOT take away your right to own and enjoy a purebred animal. Don’t you ever apologize for making that choice!
To all your animal rights activists out there: stop trying to win this war by feeding the public false information. The key is in education and all your commercials about animals in sad situations, implying that it is the breeder’s fault are misinforming the public. Don’t fall for scams like the ASPCA, PETA and HSUS. Simply google “the truth about [insert organization name] and hundreds of pages will show up why these organizations are scams and do NOTHING for animals in need.
These organizations spend a great deal of money advertising on television and sending mail throughout the nation asking for charitable funds. Neither the ASPCA, PETA nor HSUS, however, are YOUR local animal welfare organization. They do not operate the shelter for homeless animals in your community. They are not “parent” organizations and the local humane societies and SPCA’s are not their chapters. Sadly these organizations also actually oppose non kill legislation and more humane treatment in animal euthanasia. These organizations are run by ex shelter directors and it’s all about money. NONE of the millions and millions they raise actually goes to saving animal lives.
So, to make a long story short, yes you are entitled to enjoy a purebred animal, no responsible breeders are not the cause of the pet overpopulation problem in this country and no, you should never donate to organizations such as the ASPCA, HSUS or PETA, please spend your money wisely and donate to your local rescues or animal shelters directly, where you money will be put to good use to actually save lives.
I think my soap box is broken... I’ll stay off it for a while.