Okay, I know I bang on about this. Why though? Surely it doesn't matter that much?
How many of you reading this have a dog or a cat, or want to get one (or more) in the future?
Do you ever think about where it's come from?
When I saw this graphic posted somewhere... there was a comment that said "but you can't do this if you're rescuing".
Let me explain. Where do rescues come from? They exist because of BYB and kitten/puppy mills.
Why? Because a BYB doesn't take responsibility for the offspring they produce. They won't take them back if it doesn't work out, they won't bother to match their pups or kittens to an approximate home for them.
Why? Because they're mostly just about money, and all of that is just time and effort that they can't be bothered with.
Same answer for: Why don't they do health testing? Why don't they know, or strive for the breed standard?
What's the result?
- A pet might not be matched to their new humans eg. personality/behavioural stuff, maybe the breeder didn't educate enough on the breed, activity levels, typical behaviours etc.
- Maybe the person just wanted a dog or cat that looks cool, but they had no idea of their temperament or breed traits, so they regret getting them.
- Maybe an animal was given as a gift, and when it grows up or stops being cute, they think its fine to just move it on.
- Maybe they wanted their pet to have babies "just one time".
- Maybe their pet developed behavioural problems because it wasn't socialised correctly and now they don't know how to handle it (....the list goes on)... and ultimately.... these animals end up in shelters/rescues.
Rescuing is the work of angels. I may dive back in someday. But one of the reasons I breed is to go beyond that step to purposefully create a well-bred companion. Another reason is to help others understand the differences. That's not correct. Our animals deserve better.
If you rescue an animal, who does that support, ultimately? Go back through the steps, and you'll see that 99% of the time, you're supporting backyard breeders and kitten/puppy mills through the *proxy* of rescue.
Where does a puppy/kitten come from, before they get to the store front? Or these organisations on the socials where they are advertising a different breed of puppy every few days? They are outlets for puppy farms. You have no history on them, they *might* have a health record. And they certainly won't support you if you run into any problems. For many people, it's instant gratification because they "need it now".
The adopt-dont-shop movement has good intentions, but it is displaced.
Adopt-dont-shop people say "*shock horror* how dare you not support rescue?!" Or "you could have saved an animal if you rescued them"
But they forget to explore the rest of it...ultimately, these people are unwittingly supporting BYB.
A reputable breeder doesn't contribute to the shelter problem.
Go beyond rescue. Target the source. Support a reputable breeder (and maybe get a rescue as a mate for them, because in our current world, this is still important). By supporting the ones that tick all the boxes, we may make a dent and begin to stamp out the lazy-money-driven-backyard-breeder.
This is where it gets tricky though.... how do you tell a BYB from a reputable one?
I'd like to mention that experience doesn't necessarily = reputable. If a breeder does something "because we've done it for 700 years" does this mean it's right? Are they doing it for the enrichment of the breed? Or are they doing it because it's convenient? Do they adapt and change their practices as they gain new knowledge?
Also, being registered doesn't automatically = reputable. A registration number is easy to get. It doesn't mean anything in terms of ethics unfortunately.
Some points here where I dont think the system is working (this relates to the cat world where I'm involved, but I think a lot may relate to the dog world too):
(1) There's no real legal repercussions if a breeder isn't doing things right - unless there's an obvious case of neglect or abuse. Beyond that, it's huuuuuuuge grey area.
- Kitten not socialised enough
- Kitten weaned too early
- Kitten not receiving all the appropriate vet care at the correct times
- 8 weeks is the legal age for a kitten to be homed, but it's often too young
- Not following health testing protocol for parent cats for your chosen breed
- Knowingly breeding an animal with a fault or genetic defect
- Releasing a breeding animal to another breeder and not providing mentorship (perpetuates the cycle)
- Not providing a contract for a pet or breeding animal, which protects the animal and both parties
- Not desexing or providing a contract for desexing the animal at the appropriate age, and not obtaining proof of desexing from the owner if/when it's done.
- Crossing two breeds and calling it "designer" or marketing as hypo-allergenic or low shedding. Calling it a new breed, does not make it so.
- Charging more or less for certain colours or sex. Each animal is raised the same, and should cost the same.
- Giving the option of getting the animal with or without papers > every animal should automatically come with a pedigree. There's never any reputable option where they get a choice to pay less money for no papers. No papers = no history or record of the animals origin. This applies to cross-breeds too. No papers = not purebred.
these are just some of the things that aren't looked at unless someone reports it.
(2) There's no one checking in regularly to make sure a breeder is ticking the boxes. Governing councils only (sometimes) step in if a report is made. Many times, there's not.
(3) Many times, a breeder is just removed from an organisation if they don't meet the requirements, but no attempt is made to allow them to make better choices with better information on board. They're just booted, and then they hop to another organisation, still with no mentorship or direction.This ENCOURAGES backyard breeding. Remember when you were a kid and your parents said "Don't do this". So then you went and did it anyway, but you found a way to do it so they didn't find out? This is exactly that. Genuine mistakes can be allowed for, but a repeat offender is just left to their own devices.
(4) Often, the only way a breeder improves their practices is if they are publicly named and shamed by one of their kitten owners or by another breeder. It's their word against everyone else's. People are afraid to report breeders not up to scratch. People are afraid to name and shame publicly. And rightfully so because of the kickback. Why should it have to come to this? Why aren't there more measures in place or checkpoints along the way to hold them accountable? Maybe because it is largely a "hobby" world and there's no real money in it if you're doing it right. Also since the governing bodies are volunteer organisations and don't have the resources.
(4) What's stopping a breeder telling a potential home that "they've done the health tests", or that "a particular test isn't needed", or simply just not educating / leaving out important information if the buyer doesn't ask? If the buyer comes in with little to no knowledge, they just accept it. That's not their fault. We have a responsibility to not swindle or rip off people, simply because we can. But many do unfortunately.
At the end of the day, a pedigree is simply a piece of paper that shows lineage and history. I have nothing against rescues who don't have them, it's not their fault! But breeders please don't market and price your animal as a purebred if they aren't one.
So that's why it's so important to me - because almost everyone I've talked with doesn't actually realise the complexity or the lack of regulation. And I didn't know it either until recently.
This graphic was adapted by Torhild Birkeland from a dog source. But it applies to both dogs and cats.