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January 4, 2012

Three Reasons Responsible Breeders Should Oppose Puppy Mills

German shepherd dog

Mark Anderson/Stock.xchng

They call themselves hobby breeders, but the term diminishes the investment most responsible breeders make in the breeds they love. 

Responsible breeders scrutinize pedigrees, test for genetic disease, and breed with an eye toward improving the health and well-being of their lines. They keep their puppies and adults in quarters which allow for optimal exercise. They feed nutritious foods and pursue appropriate general and veterinary care. They interview prospective owners and sell puppies with contracts which promise to take back any dog if the new owner cannot continue care.

Responsible breeders do not keep their puppies and dogs in inhumane conditions and they never sell to pet stores or directly over the Internet.  

Responsible breeders do not appreciate being lumped in with puppy mills, which emphasize profit above the health and wellness of  dogs. In order to distinguish themselves from less reputable producers, responsible breeders can take a stand. Puppy mills impact the responsible dog breeding world in a number of ways.

1. Poor public image of the dog breeding world

Each report of animals rescued from inhumane conditions inevitably makes the public suspicious of anyone who raises puppies. Responsible breeders can work individually and collectively for reasonable policies which inhibit or block the activities of substandard producers.

2. Puppy mills take business away from responsible breeders

Puppy mills skimp on genetic screening, proper housing, and proper veterinary care, and they breed a large volume of puppies. They hide behind misleading websites and false promises and redirect the public away from responsible breeders.

3. Damage to bloodlines, registry integrity, and the genetic future of the breeds

The responsible breeding community has devoted itself to weeding inheritable disorders out of bloodlines in an attempt to produce healthier, longer-lived generations of dogs. But due to sloppy breeding practices at puppy mills, poor selection of breeding stock, and the ease of registering dogs by mail or email, unscrupulous breeders are unraveling those efforts. Generations of dogs suffer from the health impacts of careless and indiscriminate breeding. Registrations of poorly produced purebred dogs or dogs of dubious DNA make a mockery of the very standards the registries and their parent clubs purport to champion.

In the end, no one can deny that animal cruelty is a real problem deserving of sensible solutions. Taking a public stand, and engaging in policy discussions on ways to rein in cruelty and neglect is a demonstration of stewardship and caring. Purebred dogs are dying waiting for good people to champion their cause.

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