Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Obama puppy: The breeder tells the tale

It took the misstep of a Vice President and the resources of the President and a Senator, but it looks like the Obama family may have located that near-mythical beast: the ethical breeder. A very good interview with a person who had been previously thought extinct.

For those of us without research staffs looking for a family pet, there are hundreds of thousands for adoption at your fingertips (including about 25% purebreds!) - most with no ethics screening required!


Blogger Luisa said...

Apologies in advance for the rant.

That "25% purebred" meme drives me nuts, because it's 1) impossible to verify by any reasonable measure [pedigrees? DNA?], and 2) misleading, since it fails to mention the breeds or types involved: they're the popular breeds of the moment. A shelter supervisor in NorCal told me some 80% of the dogs in her municipal shelter were "pit bulls."

I'm an ethical breeder, by the way. I bred a litter of working border collies sixteen years ago. Had a waiting list of terrific working homes, and tested the sire and dam [both excellent stockdogs] for every issue under the sun. One of the pups developed severe HD. I bought that six-month-old pup back, paid for surgery at what was then considered the best veterinary orthopedics hospital in SoCal, and placed her in the best home any dog could hope for. [For the record, all three pups in the litter were spayed.] There were heaps of ethical breeders back then — just as there are now.

6:20 PM  
Blogger -J. said...

No apology necessary, opposing viewpoints always encouraged!

They just seem to be tremendously hard to find - witness the VP with the help of "experts" who ended up with someone with repeated violations of the dog laws and an AKC suspension in 2006 - initially lauded by much of the blogsphere as an excellent choice. Ouch. The number of puppies being produced by disreputable breeders seems to dwarf the number being produced by ethical ones - pretty logical, as the disreputable ones are going for sheer numbers.

Pit bull is a hard one as you have both the technically correct definition that is the APBT as well as the legal definition - which has muddled the issue considerably - which varies from area to area and can include anything from Staffies to Rottweilers and beyond. I'm pretty sure that supervisor didn't have 80% APBTs, but she may have had 80% pits as defined by her local laws, which almost always include mixes as well.

The 25% "meme" actually comes from a study done by the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy published in the Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science. Admittedly, it's only an estimate, and it is at this point about a decade old. I'm willing to bet the actual number is higher based on my personal experience, but YMMV.

I know that purebreeds and papers are very important to some people, but in the context of a pet I don't see either as particularly important. AKC papers don't prove anything as they're obtained on the honor system - one that the Bidens' breeder was suspended from the AKC for violating - so if you're educated about the breed you're interested in you should be able to do just as well finding a pet at a shelter.

Yes, some breeds are better represented than others - I can find you black labs 'till the cows come home - but that doesn't mean it's not worth serious consideration and a look-see no matter what breed you're interested in.

6:57 PM  
Blogger Barb said...

Ethical breeders ARE hard to find - because they are a minority - but they're not THAT rare. Since their dogs virtually never wind up in shelters or rescues, and they don't advertise a lot it is understandable that some think they are an endangered species.

But it certainly doesn't take a research staff to find one. A quick Google search for the parent club of whatever breed you are interested in, plus a search for a few articles on "how to find an ethical breeder" and you're good to go.

In fact, I often think that people in positions of power and influence sometimes have MORE trouble finding "the best" of something because they are more likely to be approached by people who are ambitious and/or greedy. It's gotta be really hard just to sort through all the muck.

The truth is, a lot of people don't WANT to go to a responsible breeder because they don't want the hassle. There are all those pesky questions, and home checks, and contracts and so forth.

We need to start recognizing that the irresponsible OWNERS have every bit as much to do with the numbers of dogs in shelters as irresponsible breeders do. More, in my opinion.

10:22 PM  

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