Before I say anything else, I want to point out that Pit Bulls Against Misinformation absolutely, 100% supports rescue and adoption. As we have mentioned before, every single one our admins owns, fosters, donates to, works with, or otherwise supports rescued animals and will continue to do so as long as our assistance is needed.
That being said, we also support responsible breeding and breeders.
Before I can adequately express to you just WHY responsible breeders are required in today’s society I believe that it is imperative to first identify what a responsible breeder is. The following criteria NEED to be met in order for a breeder to be considered responsible. If any one of these components are missing, so too is the corresponding title.
- Why is the breeder breeding?
- Has the breeder titled the dog in working or conformation events in order to obtain an unbiased opinion that the dog is of exemplary quality?
- Does the dog’s temperament correspond to the breed registry or parent club standard?
- Does the breeder have necessary health tests performed on dogs intended for breeding? Can the breeder provide written documentation of these health tests?
- Does the breeder provide a contract that protects the breeder, puppy, and purchaser?
- Does the breeder provide any kind of health guarantee as part of a contract?
- Does the breeder offer continued support for the lifetime of the puppy, including accepting the puppy back from its new family at any time and for any reason?
First of all, we need to examine WHY the breeder is breeding. The only acceptable answer to this question is to preserve or improve upon a specific breed in terms of health, function, and form so that future generations may benefit from the breed’s continued existence. What does that mean? Well, it means that two dogs should not be paired together with the intent of producing puppies unless both of those dogs are extraordinary examples of their breed. It means that common “reasons” such as, “I wanted my children to see the miracle of life”, “I just wanted to have a puppy from him/her because she’s such a great pet!”, and “I needed the money”, absolutley do not fly. It also means that the breeder must be an expert on their chosen breed(s) of dogs in order to be able to make a pairing that is going to be able to maintain or improve upon that breed. And what, exactly, makes an extraordinary example of a breed? It is my opinion that a dog is not extraordinary unless it excels in all three areas of the “Breeding Triad”; temperament, health, and conformation.
A responsible breeder will have completed titles with the dog in either a working or conformation (or, ideally, both) venue in order to determine the dog’s temperamental and conformational superiority. For example, prior to being selected as a candidate for breeding, a dog of working heritage (ex// German shepherd, American Staffordshire terrier, Rottweiler, Golden Retriever, etc., etc.) should have completed at least basic obedience titles and be possessing of the structure and form that would allow the dog to perform the duties the breed was originally created for. This means that, for example, a Labrador Retriever should not be shy or aggressive and should be physically capable of retrieving game birds over mixed terrain.
A responsible breeder will also have completed health tests that are relevant to the genetic tendencies of their breed and be able to provide documentation pertaining to the results. And, just as importantly, a responsible breeder will be able to openly and thoroughly educate prospective puppy purchasers as to the hereditary disorders that are prevalent in their chosen breed(s) when they produce the documentation for the dogs they intend to breed. Beware of any breeder who tries to tell you that their bloodlines or the bloodlines they work with are completely without genetic maladies; some problems are more prevalent in some breeds than others but there are basic health tests for each breed that should be performed on any dogs that are deemed to be otherwise worthy of reproduction.
If the breeder in question has cleared all of the hurdles presented thus far and has proven that the two dogs they intend on breeding are, in fact, exemplary members of the breed we then turn to the contract and health guarantee provided by the breeder at the time of the puppy’s purchase. A responsible breeder will have in place a contract that protects the puppy to the best of the breeder’s ability. It may stipulate certain activities that are or are not recommended for the puppy and will almost certainly stipulate spay/neuter or reproductive requirements. A responsible breeder will have a health guarantee included in their contract that specifically refers to genetic or hereditary disorders that are known to be common in the breed. They will also have a clause in the contract that requires the puppy be returned to them in the event that the puppy’s new family can no longer adequately care for it, for whatever reason, at any point in the puppy’s life.
I cannot, in any way, shape, or form, express to you how that last sentence literally makes or breaks a responsible breeder in my eyes. If a breeder is not willing to take responsibility for a dog that they have produced, regardless of how long ago or under what circumstances that dog was produced, then they are NOT A RESPONSIBLE BREEDER. Shelters, rescues, foster homes, and the streets are overflowing with dogs (and other animals) who have been bred by irresponsible breeders who refuse to take ownership of the lives they have produced. These irresponsible people are those who have the blood of the animals on their hands. They are the ones, along with irresponsible owners, who have created the problems that we see existing in almost every corner of the continent (and beyond) in terms of surrendered or abandoned animals.
Now, having determined what a responsible breeder is, you may ask why, when there are so many animals in shelters that need homes, could we possibly support the producing of even more puppies (or other animals)?
The answer has two parts but is really quite simple:
1) Because responsible breeders are truly not the problem. In my two years of working in the health wing (see: pound) of an open admission (see: kill) shelter, I did not ONCE see a dog produced by a responsible breeder that was not retrieved either by frantic owners or an equally anxious breeder. As soon as the kennel club that the dog was registered with was contacted (via information collected from a tattoo or microchip) the breeder or owner was contacted and the dog was safely returned to its family or the person responsible for its existence.
And 2) Because if we cease all breeding, especially responsible breeding, we condemn our dogs to eventual extinction and the breeds that we have grown to love and cherish fade into nothingness.
At least PETA will be happy.
So. As dog lovers and animal welfare advocates, we will continue to encourage people to rescue, foster, adopt, donate, and educate whenever possible and suitable. We will continue to engage in those activities ourselves. We will also continue to support responsible breeders whenever we can. They are the stewards who hold the future of our beloved animals in their hands. Without them, we run the risk of losing the four legged friends that we hold so very dear to our hearts and condemn ourselves to the unthinkable prospect of a world without the dogs we love so much.
~ Christina C
Page Administrator, Pit Bulls Against Misinformation