Adopt or Shop – Whole Dog Journal


Wanna see a fight Start a debate on social media about what is best: adopting a dog or puppy from a shelter or rescue group, or buying from a responsible breeder. If the sparks don’t fly fast enough, throw some gas on the flames by assisting just one of these options – one of them! – In very strong words. That should do it.

In recent years, the “rescue dog” people seem to have gained the moral upper hand on this argument, helpful shortening their position to three bumper sticker friendly words: “Adopt, don’t shop!” In fact, this position has become so politically correct that people who to do When looking to buy a purebred puppy (or a “designer mix”), you often have a tight mouth when buying a puppy discreetly.

In my opinion, people argue about the wrong thing. Honestly, I don’t care if you’re buying your puppy from a breeder or paying an adoption fee from a rescue or animal shelter. Because that really The most important thing is to ensure that the source is ethical, responsible, and that it meets far more than just minimum standards of care everything the dogs in their care.

Do you want to add a new dog to your family? Be aware that there are many immoral and unscrupulous breeders, animal shelters and rescue groups out there. A great way to reduce the number of these bad actors is to source your dog or puppy just a responsible, conscientious and humane source, whether it is a breeder, an animal shelter or a rescue organization. Let’s see how you can identify them.


Yes there is something like a responsible, ethical breeder – thank god! Although many of the 30 or so dogs I’ve owned in my life have been mixed breeds, I’ve owned a number of purebred dogs as well, and I value a healthy, well-socialized pure-breed dog as much as anyone.

Here’s what I would look for from a responsible breeder. A responsible breeder will:

* Plan ahead and plan carefully. Only dogs that have been health tested and cleared for all identifiable, inheritable genetic diseases common in that breed are accepted into a responsible breeder’s breeding program. (For more information on these conditions, see the Humane Society Veterinary Association’s “Guide to Congenital and Hereditary Disorders” at Good breeders will also review father and mother test clearances to puppy buyers.

* Only breed dogs that are physically and behaviorally healthy. Pay at least as much attention to the temperament of the bred dogs as to their genetics, movement and structure. Far too many breeders overlook behavioral disorders in exchange for breed type and structure. Behavior is always a combination of genetics and the environment.

* Breed in a limited way. Good breeders only produce as many puppies as they do knows You can place (have houses lined up in advance). They also limit the frequency with which a single bitch is bred (not before age 2, not after age 5 to 8, and no more than one litter per year.

Note that the American Kennel Club registers puppies from dams that are between 8 months and 12 years old! In my opinion this is incomprehensible.

* Avoid the lure of extremes. There are innumerable examples today:

• Brachycephalic (short-nosed) dog breeds (especially Pugs, Boston Terriers, Bulldogs, and French Bulldogs). In our opinion, the progression of these races to the point where they can barely breathe and some can barely walk is criminal.

• German Shepherds – these are the models with sloping backs preferred by the show ring. These dogs have significant problems with joint and cartilage discomfort, hip dysplasia, and osteoarthritis.

• Breeds with excessively loose skin (“wrinkles”). Shar-Pei are the figureheads for this, but Bloodhounds, Bulldogs (again), and various mastiffs often have chronic, lifelong problems with pyoderma (skin infections) as bacteria and yeast become trapped in skin folds.

• Tiny toy breeds. Many of the extremely small breeds of dogs face major health problems including hypoglycemia, heart defects, collapsing windpipes, seizures, breathing problems, digestive problems, and blindness. (“Teacups” are sometimes created by growing runts into runts – and runts tend to have poor health in the beginning.)

• Dogs with “rare” colors, eye colors, coats, sizes and other characteristics. Any extreme in the canine way is linked to health problems in a few generations. To quickly develop a fashionable trait, unscrupulous breeders look for individuals with the trait and begin breeding with the offspring. This will produce salable individuals with the trait in a few generations – and cement the undesirable traits that the original individuals had in the offspring as well.

Ethical breeders move away from fashionable or marketable extremes and anomalies. They help bring their breeds back to healthy and traditional standards for the breed.

* Minimize stress. Pregnant mothers who are exposed to stress flood their puppies in the uterus with stress hormones. This can cause lifetime negative behavioral effects in the puppies she wore under stress.

* About socialize the puppies. Far too many breeders who hold themselves responsible do not understand what real socialization means or that the primary socialization period starts after 4 weeks. While the pups are still with the breeder, a significant amount of socialization needs to be done. Most breeders are nowhere near enough.

* Only place healthy puppies. A puppy with physical defects can be placed with someone who is able to care for a dog with disabilities, as long as the condition is properly disclosed. However, a sick puppy should never be transported or moved to a new home.

* Check out their puppy buyers. A responsible breeder does not sell her puppies to anyone at the purchase price. Instead, she interviewed potential buyers about her home, yard, fence, family members (including other dogs and other animals), experiences with dogs, intended activities with the pup, and so on. She will seek a veterinarian reference and ensure that the veterinarian’s office only commends the potential owner’s responsibility for their other pets.

* Allow potential buyers to visit. Puppy buyers should be able to meet the friendly mom and see well socialized puppies raised in a clean home environment (no outdoor kennel). Not allowing potential buyers to see the home environment is a big red flag.

Recently we visited the website of a breeder who mentioned lots times how many acres their “farm” existed. However, Google satellite imagery clearly showed that the area was completely unfenced and that there were only two main buildings on the property: a massive house and a two-story building. All dogs bred on the property live in cages and kennels in this building. You can’t frolic on all these mornings.

If you really care about dogs, visit their source and see for yourself where and how your pup’s ancestors lived their lives.

* Include references. A good breeder is happy to share the name of her veterinarian and contact information for anyone who has previously bought puppies from the breeder.

* Offer help. A responsible breeder is available to buyers at any time during the dog’s life if the new owners have any questions or concerns.

* Never sell to a pet store or a puppy broker.

* Take back every puppy. This is vital – and perhaps the most meaningful information about a breeder of all. Responsible breeders take back every dog ​​they produce at any time during this dog’s lifetime if for some reason the buyers are unable or unwilling to keep it.

Puppy Mills and the AKC

What is a puppy mill? There is no official definition. It is a derogatory term for a large volume puppy producer that is commonly used by those of us who work in animal shelters or emergency services and regret the overabundance of homeless dogs in this country. I would define a puppy mill as a dog breed that brings profits on dog welfare, where dogs are forced to breed all their lives until they are physically incapable of doing so and then abandoned – either auctioned, sold to a rescue group or killed in some way.

I can’t tell you the number of times someone has said to me, “My puppy didn’t come out of a puppy mill. It’s registered with the American Kennel Club (AKC).” That always makes me sad because it’s clear that the person doesn’t Wanted to buy from or support a puppy mill and thought that an AKC registration indicated a high quality breeder. Unfortunately, puppy mills and AKC registrations are not mutually exclusive. There are hundreds (if not thousands) of large volume kennels that have all of the characteristics of puppy mills and produce puppies that are registered or registrable with the AKC.

The only thing that guarantees an AKC registration is that the puppy’s parents have also been registered with the AKC. The registration in no way guarantees the health or quality of the puppy or indicates a humane place of origin. In fact, the AKC is known for defying legislative attempts to monitor or regulate breeders in any way. The organization makes its money registering dogs and paying entrance fees to events that only dogs that are AKC registered can attend. Effective measures to limit the mass production of registrable puppies will run counter to their financial well-being.


Here are the things I think are necessary for a shelter or rescue group to be responsible and ethical:

* Provide high quality care for all animals they take in. Adequate amounts of good quality food, water and shelter must be provided to meet this primary responsibility. Exercise and enrichment; and an environment in which the dog feels safe and offers species-specific opportunities for pleasant experiences. (See “Beyond the Five Freedoms,” WDJ, July 2019.)

* Engage in standard health care. This includes vaccination upon admission, the cleanliness of the facilities, the provision of sufficient space for each resident (no overcrowding!), The isolation of sick animals in quarantine stations, the veterinary care of sick or injured animals and the adoption of only healthy animals.

* Conduct standardized, fair and non-abusive behavioral assessments for each dog enrolled. Full disclosure of the results of the evaluations, as well as any knowledge of the dog’s history, should be made available to potential adopters. This must include all known previous bite history and behavior problems, whether reported by a previous home or caregiver, or observed by shelter staff or volunteers.

Note: Some shelters and rescue groups are quick to reject reports of deviant behavior from abandoned owners and adopters who have returned the dog. The behavior can never repeated at another person’s home, but potential users should be aware of the reports. The safety of the adoptive family should be examined as carefully as the safety of the dog.

* Interview and screen prospective adopters and conduct appropriate adoption matches. No shelter staff member should shake their head when an adopter leaves the shelter with a poorly coordinated dog. Every dog ​​should have the opportunity to go to a house that is likely to have a chance of success. Send each dog home with a collar, ID, microchip, and teaching materials for humans.

* Place pregnant dogs in foster homes for delivery. This reduces maternal stress and minimizes the impact of stress hormones on unborn puppies in the uterus.

* Implementation of comprehensive socialization and training programs for all stations. All dogs in a rescue or animal shelter (whether in a nursing home, boarding house, or animal shelter) should receive human attention and dog-friendly training. You should allocate resources to the physical and behavioral rehabilitation of suitable candidates.

* Ensuring organizational transparency. Good rescue and animal shelters regularly publish statistics that include all animals ingested and all of their results: returned to owner, adopted, fostered, transferred to another organization, or euthanized. If animals are euthanized, the reason for this decision should be given (injury, illness, behavior, space?). If the organization is “no-kill” and is transferring an animal to another location or organization for euthanasia, this information should not be hidden.

* Euthanize animals that are not suitable for adoption. In our opinion, dogs that are suffering (including psychological distress from long-term incarceration) or that pose a threat to their community should be euthanized using humane methods that are accepted in the animal care industry.

Why you shouldn’t adopt from inhuman shelters or emergency services

Whenever I’m looking for a new dog to add to my family, I will always prefer to house a homeless dog. But while there are many outstanding animal shelters and rescue groups that I wholeheartedly support, there are some that are just as bad (or even worse) than some puppy mills – and I wouldn’t adopt any more dog from them than I would buy a puppy would -mill puppy. Why?

Because just like every purchase of a puppy mill dog supports the puppy miller, adopting a dog from a terrible animal shelter or rescue center opens up space for another dog to be drawn into its inhuman system.

How do I define “terrible”? I would include any animal shelter that underperforms the animals in their facilities or euthanizes animals without trying to find a home for them. I would include emergency shelters and rescue groups overcrowding their facilities and nursing homes. Good shelters and rescue workers do not take in more animals than they can look after and ensure individual, high-quality care. I also find it unfortunate when life fins and scammers pretend to have the dog or puppy an adopter wants and then try to find one that matches the description in another shelter (maybe hundreds of miles away), or try to spend another dog.

I would also discourage people from shopping in shelters and rescue groups who keep failing to make appropriate and responsible adoptions. It is also terrible for me to hear that a shelter or rescue facility routinely reports dogs with significant behavioral problems (all too often these are not disclosed to the adopters) or dogs that pose a significant threat to their communities (again, often without disclosure), adopted from previous aggressive behavior or serious bite incidents). It is also inhuman and unfair to adopt dogs in homes or families that do not or do not suit their size, energy, fear and / or disposition. This prepares the dog and adopter for failure and heartache.


It’s easy to see why people get into disputes over purchase or adoption. You all love dogs! In front you Battle it out with someone, but remember that there are good eggs and bad eggs in both the shelter and rescue worlds and the breeding world. And the good eggs could use more support! Just make sure you are not supporting a source that neglects and abuses the dogs we all love. No pet shop puppies! To adopt or shopping – as long as you do it responsibly!

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