News Flash – Commercial Breeders are not the enemy for show/hobby breeders. They are also NOT “puppymills” as claimed by our true enemy, the animal “rights” cults. USDA LICENSED PROFESSlONAL breeders are NOT “puppymills”. There are currently only 1538 licensed professional breeders in the US. The number of licensed breeders in this country has been steadily dropping due to lies from the animal “rights” groups about the quality of purebred dogs and harassment of breeders, especially those called commercial breeders or as they prefer to call themselves “professional breeders”.

For years, show/hobby breeders have held “professional breeders”, those who breed for (gasp, horrors) MONEY in contempt. Why? Why should we look down on those who breed dogs for the pet market instead of the show ring? Despite what the animal rights cults would have you believe there is a niche for puppies in a pet store. Puppies from today’s professional breeder are not the poor-quality pups of the past. Yes, there are occasional sick puppies. But stop and think – do show breeders NEVER have sick pups? I know I have had an occasional loss of a pup. It’s one of the heartbreaking things about breeding dogs. We are dealing with Mother Nature and if you will excuse my language but poop happens to all of us. If you had an accurate tracking of every sick pup sold by a pet store in relation to the THOUSANDS of puppies sold you would find it is an incredibly small percentage, probably no more than the percentage lost by show breeders in proportion to the breedings they do.

Today’s professional breeders have state of the art kennels and are starting to do health testing of breeding stock. Socialization of puppies is now considered an important element. The professional breeders do educational seminars that have been attended and highly envied by show breeders. The days of sick puppies in chicken coops is long past. First of all, these professional breeders have 157 pages of federal regulations they have to follow. How many show breeders could tell you how many inches per hour of purified air flow is in their kennel? I don’t know many. How many show breeders have all surfaces in their kennel able to be power washed with hot water at over 100 degrees? There are very few show kennels who could met the standards for a USDA license.

Then we come to the highly-touted myth of “good breeders don’t make money”. The holier than thou syndrome. Where in heavens name did this come from? When I got into dogs in the 60s there were major show kennels with multiple breeds belonging to famous names. They hired kennel managers and maybe making money wasn’t the first priority but I am certain those famous business people didn’t turn down money for a puppy. Even Charlie Brown’s dog, Snoopy came from the Daisy Hill Puppy Farm. No one saw any “shame” in making some money from the sale of a dog.

Gradually over the past 50 years, the myth of “good breeders” who don’t make money has grown and it is part of the propaganda pushed by the animal “rights” cults who are horrified at someone making money off a dog. Dogs have a special place in our lives. We have elevated them to a status far above most other animals (with the exception of the cat) but we have gradually lost track in our society of the fact that dogs are first and foremost ANIMALS. They are not our children and selling a puppy is not the equivalent of selling your first-born child into slavery. Most show breeders do health testing and that is a good thing but why are we not “allowed” to make money to cover those costs. Why are people horrified at the thought of selling dogs to be good pets? The answer is a slow indoctrination of our society by the animal “rights” cults who spread their poison about the role of dogs in our lives throughout the country.

Another excuse that the animal right cults use in relation to all breeding is the myth of “pet overpopulation”. Even the Humane Society of the United States admits there is no longer a pet overpopulation. There is a problem with pet distribution, a problem with owner retention and a problem with shelter management. Those are the problems that need to be addressed. 80% of all American pets are spayed or neutered. Where is this “pet overpopulation” coming from? Well, one source is the shelters. According to the USDA, shelters have been importing more than 300,000 dogs every year for the past 10 years from foreign countries. How can these shelters justify these imports from Korea, China, Turkey, Israel, Mexico, etc. and still scream about pet overpopulation? It’s very simple – they lie and tell the public they are heroes for saving these foreign dogs. Then the animal rights cults lie again and tell the public that breeders are the reason for dogs in the shelters.  ALL breeders – because they make no difference between professional breeders and show breeders. They don’t care how many ribbons you have won or how many health tests you do. They believe all breeding should stop. So, who is the enemy here?

Recently the USDA took down the website listing the professional kennels and the animal rights cults are screaming that this is a cover-up. You see, the ARs have used that website as their own personal “hit list” to stalk breeders. The website listed addresses for the breeders and it also lists any current “violations” for each breeder. These violations are actually “non-compliances” and can be something as bad as dirty conditions or as simple as a spider web on a fence. An indirect compliance does not affect the health of the animals, example: inadequate records. A direct compliance affects the health of the animals and is more serious, example: grossly inadequate space. Yes – they can be written up for a spider web on a fence. If I had to deal with that standard in my area where we have LOTS of spiders in the spring and summer months, I would be out of business in a heartbeat. And guess what – the crates most breeders use would be considered “grossly inadequate spaces” by USDA. But the professional breeders have their “non-compliances” listed and they are given time to correct them. If they fail to correct them they lose their license, plain and simple and can no longer sell puppies to pet stores. Pet stores are required by law to only buy from USDA LICENSED breeders and many of those pet stores pay their breeders bonuses for health testing and offer OFA proof of testing to buyers. USDA checks for tarter on teeth in breeding stock and puppies are given at least two physicals before they leave the breeder. AKC is helping with health clinics and has established the Bred By Heart program for the professional breeders.

The professional kennels have established a program called “Canine Care Certified” for their breeders. Their philosophy is “Professional breeders have an ethical obligation to raise dogs and puppies in a manner that ensures their physical welfare needs are met…but also that the animals’ behavioral needs are equally addressed, so that the animals they sell are in the best position to be ready for home life.” It is a national, voluntary program with rigorous standards that is science driven and outcome based on 3 years of research. It was pilot-tested with 16 professional breeders and is administered by the Center for Canine Welfare, a national, non-profit organization. With regard to physical health of all dogs within a breeder’s care, breeders must:  work with a veterinarian to develop a comprehensive physical health plan, document a minimum number of annual veterinarian visits to kennel sites and conduct genetic testing.  To ensure living environments meet Canine Care Certified standards, breeders must:  provide enriched, high-quality spaces, allow dogs to have access to outdoors, ensure access to multiple, safe flooring surfaces. To ensure a high-quality breeding life and retirement, breeders must:  Follow established limits for retirement, spay/neuter adult dogs upon retirement, retire in place or rehome all adult dogs and prohibit retired dogs being used for research. Breeders must participate in and document relevant continuing education topics such as dog care, genetics, health and welfare. Additionally, breeders must: commit to transparency, remain compliant with best practices as outlined in the standards and allow independent, third-party audits of their kennel.

The USDA has taken down the website at the moment due to privacy concerns for the breeders. There is NO cover-up. No conspiracy – despite the stupidity of the animal rights cults, there is simply a legal issue that is being dealt with for the protection of tax paying, voting citizens who are operating legal businesses – selling puppies. Most of the “raids” you see on TV or on the websites of the AR groups are NOT USDA licensed facilities. Substandard breeders do exist but they are not USDA licensed because “Sick” puppies do not sell. Sick females do not conceive and produce puppies. Sick males do not produce sperm and sire puppies. It is counterproductive for any industry to produce a defective product and expect to stay in business. For every sick puppy found at a pet store, THOUSANDS of perfectly healthy puppies are sold. Any dog can have health issues. Pet Stores are the MOST inspected source for puppies. The USDA and the American Kennel Club inspect THOUSANDS of kennels every year. Most states have already enacted laws to regulate breeders and many breeders have developed self-regulating groups such as the “Canine Care Certified” programs offering continuing education seminars, guidelines and inspections and colleague support. It’s about Mother Nature NOT lack of care or numbers. We all know that, so why have we allowed ourselves to be brainwashed into believing professional breeders are the devil incarnate. If you have not visited a professional kennel, you don’t know anything about professional kennels. You are simply listening to gossip, misinformation and propaganda spread by those who believe NO ONE should have animals in their lives. The animal rights groups are the enemy, not the professional breeder.

I am providing photos of some professional kennels in Indiana provided to me by John Stottele of The Family Pet Stores. John has worked hard with a lot of the Amish breeders in Indiana to improve the care and conditions for their dogs. He will not sell their pups unless they are current on their USDA license and he encourages testing. Recently they held an eye clinic in conjunction with AKC and tested more than 500 dogs that are breeding stock for the professional kennels. Care, conditions, health and the wellbeing of the dogs is stressed in all of the kennels where John buys puppies for his stores. Oh and by the way, the animal rights groups have realized that the Amish community is the perfect patsy for their hate campaigns because they are out of touch with the mainstream and unaware of what is being said about their breeding. Once they have been made aware, many worked very hard to improve their kennels. One group in PA approached me a few years back asking for help. I referred them to Karen Strange of the Missouri Federation (www.mofed.org) and they brought her in for an educational seminar. The Amish are businessmen who will do what is best for their business. Their approach to animals is different than many hobby breeders but it doesn’t mean they can’t learn to improve if that is what will help their business. 

As show breeders we need to realize that treating the professional breeders as the enemy plays right into the hands of the real enemy – the AR cults. As long as we are so busy squabbling among ourselves, we can’t unite and fight those who are working day and night to DESTROY all of us. Taking pride in our own breeding does not mean we need to look down on others. DOG BREEDING IS NOT A CRIME whether it is for the show ring or a pet home.

Photo Credit: John Stottele of the Family Pet Stores