just a quick doodad bc I don’t blog about it bc this is a horse blog but I brought the drama to it:
I super support rescue. I also super support responsible breeding and buying of pets and working animals.
I have two rescue horses, a rescue cat, and a dog that came from a breeder.
The first three I was able to adopt because I was happy for them to be pets. I didn’t know anything about their backgrounds, I didn’t know anything about them, and I was happy to rehabilitate them.
I got my dog from a breeder because she’s a service dog prospect, and so I wanted a very specific type of dog, with certain guaranteed physical traits and certain genetic behavioral predispositions. I wanted to be able to guarantee that she was raised and socialized to fit my needs. None of these were things I could guarantee from a rescue dog.
Responsible breeders do not contribute to pet overpopulation. Irresponsible breeders, who are trying to breed for money, who had an oops litter, who do not test their dogs for genetic disease or physical flaws, who do not track bloodlines, who do not plan homes for their puppies, who are not working specifically to improve their breed, who just breed for the funzies, are the ones contributing to pet overpopulation.
Responsible breeders aren’t working to turn a quick buck. They’re working to preserve or improve a breed. Depending on the size of their operation, maybe they’ll have a litter a year, maybe a litter every few years. They’ll usually have a waiting list. They’ll carefully scope out candidates who want a pup, find out what kind of dog they’re looking for, examine all of the puppies’ different traits at an early age, and work to put the pups in the right homes. If there’s a super drivey pup with maybe a tiny physical flaw that means it won’t do well in the show ring, they’ll give it to a working home. If there’s a more low-key pup, they’ll give it to a pet home. If there’s an absolutely perfect puppy, they’ll probably keep it for themselves, to work and show and use to (again) improve the breed. And almost every single one of them will ask that the puppy be returned to them if the new owner can’t keep them. Many of these breeders will remain in contact with the new owners and even showcase the accomplishments of the dogs on their websites as they grow up, to show the quality of animal they are producing. They are invested in the future of these animals.
Badmouthing breeders overall does not help to reduce the number of unwanted pets. Responsible breeders are not the ones whose dogs end up in shelters. And those responsible breeders often do a better job than shelters at keeping dogs in homes. Breeders make prospective owners wait, do their research, and pick them out the right dog for them. Meanwhile, many shelters (my own local shelter included) will let you walk in and adopt a dog on the same day, without so much as a home inspection (unless the dog is a certain breed that they says requires a fence, in which case all that’s required is the fence, and then you’re good to go!). Many shelters are not invested in the future of these animals; as much as they may care, they do not have the resources to track animals that have been adopted, or ensure that they’re succeeding in their new homes, or ensure that they’ve stayed in those homes. Rescues also almost universally perform a pediatric spay, which has been shown more and more to have a negative impact on a dog’s health longterm.
There are shitty shelters just like there are shitty breeders. The problem is not as simple as ‘rescue, don’t buy, while shelter animals die’. As usual, black and white pronouncements are catchy, but unhelpful.
I’ve volunteered a ton in rescue. That’s why so many of my pets are rescues. But I have seen questionable things happen behind closed doors at rescue organizations. I’ve seen animals adopted out to people who couldn’t properly care for them. I’ve seen animals returned after hurting or scaring someone. My own rescue horse has taken years to get to a safe place. I took that on because I accepted the responsibility and I wanted the challenge. Someone with a rosey-eyed view of rescue could have taken him in and been seriously injured.
Rescue does not guarantee a happily ever after story, and breeders are not all assholes out there trying to turn a buck.
Irresponsible breeding, irresponsible rehoming, and irresponsible ownership is the problem. People need to be educated about where their animals come from and how to care for them appropriately. Ignorance is the problem.