Guilt: It’s Not Just For Jews and Catholics Anymore (Purebred Dog Owners Can Play)

by Susi on March 22, 2012

in Breed Clubs, Breeders, Designer Breeds, Guilt, purebred dogs, Shelter Dogs

Post image for Guilt: It’s Not Just For Jews and Catholics Anymore (Purebred Dog Owners Can Play)

I wore plaid to school for much of my academic life.  I had no great affinity for the pattern, but it was de rigueur at parochial schools and I was a student at one. Along with the requisite blazer, I wore a regulation-length pleated skirt rolled up several times at the waist until the hem hovered in the nose bleed section of my knees. The nuns cracked down on these displays of loose morality with a ferocity unexpected from women wearing a rosary. Guilt was their weapon of choice and we became poster children of compliance until the cycle of defiance would begin again.

Sister Louis Alena

As Catholic school girls, we resisted authority in ways that stopped just short of ensuring a one-way ticket to hell without so much as a pit stop in purgatory. I confess, I may have been more creative than most, but the occasion that saw me inflict whiplash to Sister Louis Alena by stepping on her veil as I followed her down a flight of steps really was an accident. I was spunky, not criminal.

Months later, when a confused pigeon flew in the window and landed on the same nun’s head, the incident proved to be too much for both of us. Since I was the first to see “the landing,” I was the first to dissolve into laughter despite her shrieking, “GET IT OFF ME!” while flapping her arms more vigorously than any pigeon ever had. I quickly point out that it was other nuns who came to the sister’s rescue since by now, the entire class was too convulsed with laughter to be of any help.

“Inappropriate behavior” landed me in detention which I shared with “Connie,” the new girl in school. Her infraction had been to drape her Star of David necklace on the baby Jesus statue and point out that before he was Catholic, Jesus was Jewish. We passed the time passing notes to each other and quickly realized that we shared an appalling lack of guilt over our respective misdeeds, largely because we didn’t think we’d done anything that egregious.  Given that in our respective religions guilt was as much a tradition as the Knights of Columbus and Gefilte fish, this was a revelation that made us instant friends. We would have to become adults before understanding what we only knew instinctively at the time: No one can make you feel guilty without your consent.

Forty years later, guilt has emerged again as a strategy to affect behavior in people who’ve done nothing more wrong than to own a purebred dog bought from a breeder.


  • Activists displaying placards break through barriers to stand on center stage of a televised dog show and announce to members of the audience that because they own purebred dogs, millions of other dogs will die;         
  •  A blogger attends a conference with her purebred dog and when asked if he’s a rescue, she replies cheerfully that he was purchased from a breeder. She feels shunned the rest of the weekend;
  • Francis Battista, co-founder of Best Friends Sanctuary, writes: “The only truly guilt-free purebred dog is one acquired from a shelter or breed rescue group.”
  • When a nationally televised dog show changes its sponsor because the sponsor failed to promote purebred dogs in a positive light at least as much as shelter and rescue dogs, a protest campaign is leveled at the show’s social media pages.
  • From Ted Kerasote, author: Dividing the world into those who should feel guilty for owning a pedigree pooch and those who can feel self-righteous for rescuing a mutt does little to solve the two major challenges domestic dogs face today: careless breeding and an antiquated shelter system.”

How did we get to this point?

It was likely not one thing, but a convergence of factors. Allow me to digress for a moment.

Historically speaking, one’s dog reflected one’s station in life. Working class men either owned “curs” or the ancestors of what would become today’s working purebreds. Nobles, on the other hand, had by their sides pedigreed purebreds. It was the royals who first bred dogs which had no purpose other than companionship, and by the 20th century, a purebred dog was a symbol of affluence and social standing. The rich appeared in magazines and newsreels with their dogs, and like their dogs, enjoyed the company of a pedigreed circle, if not lineage. They were a minority in the country, but a minority most middle class families aspired to join.

Times changed. Political upheavals, a blurring of social classes, changes of fortune and strengthening economies no longer made a dog a reliable barometer of its family’s means. By the time I came of age, the Queen of England owned Corgi-mutts, my mechanic showed a Yorkshire Terrier, millionaire movie stars owned shelter dogs, and families of all incomes loaded the kids and the family purebred into the station wagon and went to the dog show. In a little over 100 years, society went from relegating mutts to the “unwashed masses” to a point where anyone could own any kind of canine and have it mean nothing more than an affection for dogs. “Love the one you’re with” was a musical anthem of a generation and it extended to their dogs.

But somewhere in the last ten years, the culture of dog ownership changed again. In fact, it did a back flip.

Social mores changed even more.  Self made millionaires once admired for their industry and hard work came instead to be indicted for being greedy, resented that they should have so much when others, regardless of their work ethic, were just as deserving.

The animal rights movement that emerged in the ‘70s was changing, too. I, myself, would have been ripe for the picking as literature flooded my mailbox exposing with sickening evidence the horrors of vivisection. But the movement morphed; It became polarizing, unreasonable, and increasingly radical. Where it had once appealed to our pathos, it devolved into using our old friend, guilt.  Guilt for eating meat, guilt for wearing fur, riding in a rodeo and eating Kentucky Fried Chicken – all deeds vulnerable to criticism as we learned more about their respective industries.

But guilt for owning a purebred dog?

Welcome to the new elitism.

Its members, people who reside on the moral high ground and secretly harbor feelings of superiority because they own a mixed breed or shelter dog. They care more. They’re more sensitive and more populist than those of us who bought a purebred dog; They don’t shop. They adopt.

Don’t mistake them for animal rights activists, they’re not. They may, however, be the unwitting recipients of “trickle down morality” which at full strength can be seen in Humane Society of the United States TV ads that air nightly. Pitiful faces peering from behind cage doors serve as reminders that while the insensitive among us visit a new litter of fat, healthy purebred puppies, these dogs languish as they wait for their forever home which the viewer can help them find with a tax deductible donation. It’s a powerful message that would haunt anyone with a pulse. It is, however, an ad based on several false premises, the most egregious, in my estimation, is that one’s donation to the HSUS will actually save a dog’s life. In reality, the HSUS is worth $162 million in assets but less than 1% goes towards operating shelters in the United States. No matter. If HSUS doesn’t reach us through our wallets, they guilt us with their propaganda: Adopt,don’t shop, or no one else will (and the animal will die). Is it any wonder that rescue dog owners feel morally superior over their purebred counterparts in the show world who rescue nothing?

But that, too, is based on a false premise. Each of the 185 AKC registered breeds and varieties is represented by a member club devoted solely to the welfare and improvement of that breed, and every one of them engages in breed rescue. Nearly 33% of the dogs rescued by breed clubs come from shelters, animal control and pounds. That’s 33% more dogs rescued by purebred breed clubs than by the Humane Society of the United States. We don’t have statistics that reveal how many purebred dog owners also own rescue dogs, but it’s a lot.

PETA, which has killed over 25,000 animals in the last ten years, is so radical a group that it has alienated many of the fine shelter and rescue workers I’ve come to know in the last year. I am persuaded that the cult-like PETA’s bizarre mandate is to kill animals before the cats and dogs ever have a chance to suffer. Or even enjoy life. More on that here.

The shelter workers I’ve met regard animal rights groups with the same hostility as do those of us in the dog fancy. The bad news is that purebred dog breeders aren’t held in much higher esteem. Every time these folks go to work and see a purebred dog in a shelter cage, they blame breeders for having put them there by having bred yet more dogs.

They couldn’t be more wrong.

Animal shelters in the USA have been casting a wide net to fill their kennels for years. According to the US Public Health Service, Chicago O’Hare was the destination airport for 10,125 dogs imported from overseas in 2006, half of which weren’t vaccinated. Scientists from the Center of Disease Control estimated that over 199,000 dogs (38,100 unvaccinated) came into the country through the Mexican border that year alone, and in 2007, one organization in Puerto Rico by itself shipped more than 14,000 strays in seven years to the United States for adoption at shelters. ABC News reported that according to G. Gale Galland, veterinarian in the CDC’s Division of Global Migration and Quarantine, as many as 300,000 puppies a year – most from countries with little or no health safeguards, are being imported to satisfy the demand for puppies at shelters.

Where are the ads defending the RESPONSIBLE purebred dog breeder?

And yet the responsible breeder of purebred puppies is to be blamed for the overpopulation at shelters and dumb friend leagues?  The same person who runs health screens on the sire and dam, keeps a careful vaccination schedule, tirelessly socializes their puppies and screens potential owners  – THAT breeder?

These caring shelter workers, whom I really do admire, are guilty of painting breeders with a very broad brush. They fail to place blame squarely at the feet of owners who were responsible for their dog in the first place, and because it’s a dirty little secret, they likely don’t know that the dogs overcrowding their shelters may not even be from America. And finally, they don’t realize that when that purebred dog is adopted, American born or otherwise, it’s often by someone acting for a breed club.

How’s the view from the moral high ground now?

But we’re not done yet. The final fallacy is rooted in the notion that a mixed breed is healthier than its purebred counterpart. In fact, this can’t be proved because there is no registry that tracks the health of mixed breeds the way each member club of the AKC tracks the health of its respective breed. Owners of mutts don’t converge once a year at their national specialty to “check in” with their breed the way the national breed clubs do. As for “designer breeds” being more sound than purebreds, let’s talk about that.

No responsible breeder in the fancy would ever breed to a dog that didn’t pass health clearances, let alone to one that wasn’t a sensible match for their dog in phenotype and genotype because ultimately, the purpose of breeding is to IMPROVE THE BREED.  The very idea, then, of breeding their purebred dog to a dog from ANOTHER BREED is, you’ll pardon the pun, inconceivable. That leaves only irresponsible breeders breeding unsound dogs to each other to create a “something-doodle.” And these dogs are supposed to be healthier than the Labrador or Poodle whose responsible breeders kept records of their health and genetic soundness going back generations?

In December, 2010, Wally Conron, the creator of the Labradoodle said, “I released a Frankenstein.… People say, ‘aren’t you proud of yourself?’ and I say, ‘not in the slightest. I’ve done so much harm to pure breeding.”’

Labradoodles:One designer breed, so many different types

As long as I’m handing out guilt, I might toss a little blame at those of us in the fancy for not doing a better job of getting OUR message across. Misleading commercials and documentaries such as Pedigree Dogs Exposed provide powerful images which our talk alone cannot refute. Until the AKC counters with a video of its own, each of us must be the face of responsible purebred owners and breeders. Distortions and lies will continue, but we can no longer assume that someone else will fight back. The battle has been brought to our feet and stepping over it is no longer an option.

I’m not going to conclude with an explanation of why those of us who own purebred dogs have a right to own them, but more to the point, neither should I have to. In a country that promotes choice, purchasing a purebred dog is also a choice. Let us applaud those who chose to adopt shelter dogs even if they don’t endorse the choices we make, but let us also remember: They can’t make us feel guilty without our consent.


{ 207 comments… read them below or add one }

Jim Q March 22, 2012 at 8:22 pm

Standing ovation from Cincinnati for this blog post Suzi. The “moral indignation” is prevalent in nearly everything these days, from the dog world, to the political spectrum, and even to this imbecilic Kony 2012 crap that’s going around. The fact is, it’s easier to be a part of something where truth is secondary to feeling good about doing something, even if what you’re doing has little to no effect whatsoever.

The AKC needs to get off its butt and help get the real truth out there. The sad truth is though that these other politically charged groups are well organized and well funded, even if their facts are skewed or outright false.

Keep up the good fight. I’m so glad there’s someone out there that is standing up. Hopefully more will follow suit before it’s too late…


Susi March 22, 2012 at 8:31 pm

I appreciate the feedback, Jim, and have come to suspect that one either “gets it,” or doesn’t. Here on Planet Susi, my fondest hope is to reach the folks who regard themselves as critical thinkers and inspire them to objectively consider what I’ve posed.


Obita March 26, 2012 at 4:26 am

In terms of development we are still very young, but we are learning well. I am impressed, we can now walk upright and think!


Marcia September 12, 2013 at 9:49 am
Susi September 12, 2013 at 10:04 am

Thanks (a lot!) for sharing this link with me, Marcia. I might have missed it. I will indeed be reaching out to Chris at the AKC to see how best to help. Again, thanks for passing this along!


Gail Ledbetter March 22, 2012 at 9:37 pm

Bravo! My youngest Springer bitch is by my side right now and bred for May puppies from health tested and proven parents. She thanks you. I thank you. 🙂


Susi March 23, 2012 at 9:32 am

Thanks for writing, Gail, and I’m delighted you liked the article. Springer Spaniel puppies in May – PUPPY BREATH. I’m so jealous!


Charlee Helms March 22, 2012 at 9:51 pm

Oh well said! Good research, backed w/ facts and figures. I’m sure you will be accused of doctoring them, as the true ARistas and the totally brainwashed will automatically assume YOU lied instead of those they have endowed w/ deity-like powers. The rest of us know that these are true figures, we’ve done our own research. I am in a motel room, w/ 3 of my purebred kids, about to, gasp, show for the next 3 days. I thank you for defending my right to do so, and to defend me so eloquently!


Susi March 23, 2012 at 9:31 am

Awww, thank, Charlee. Doing a little research on this piece was very enlightening to me and persuaded me that much of the animal rights movement, such as PETA, is a cult. When you read about its founder, and how its members filter the world, they’re all classic symptoms of a cult. Once I looked at things in that light, a lot of things started to make sense. I’m not sure I can ever NOT regard them any other way again. Knock ’em dead at the dog show!


Pharme271 March 23, 2012 at 2:15 am

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Regan March 23, 2012 at 7:42 am

I’ll buy a dog from a breeder before I’ll buy one from a shelter. AR people call it adopt well it’s really buying a dog for a price that is to high for what the dog is worth. If I’m going to pay that kind of money I want a registered dog with a pedigree and not s/n.In the long run it’s just a ploy to take dogs out of humans lives in the futfure. Animal rights garbage is what it is.


Susi March 23, 2012 at 9:28 am

Thanks for writing, Regan. I spent some time with Mike Arms at the Helen Woodward Animal Center in California, a highly successful shelter based on its adoption rate. As you observed, the adoption fees are on the high side and Mike explained that people tend to think twice about how serious they are about bringing a dog into their lives when the cost is higher, and also value the dog more if they spend more. I’m not sure how I feel about the philosophy, but I can’t argue with his numbers. Your assertion that animal rights want to remove dogs from our lives, is sadly, spot on. I’ll never know why, but I think you’re right.


Susie September 11, 2013 at 6:07 pm

The adoption fees are fine at shelters. What do you think keeps the bills paid at the shelter? My 3 are all rescues. I would never pay hundreds if not thousands for a dog because it has papers. Are you a canine nazi? Gas the ones that aren’t perfect?


Susi September 11, 2013 at 6:31 pm

Wow, Susie. You’re a bit of a snob, aren’t you. So do you support choice? Choice for an abortion? Choice to pick your schools? Choice to marry whom you want to marry? Choice to own the dog you want to love because it has traits compatible with your lifestyle? Oh wait, no. YOU get to pick and choose FOR ME what I can buy, live with, own, adopt…..Evidently you know best for everyone else. Because shelters aren’t required to keep the kind of records that will indicate where puppies are coming from, why they’re being returned, who’s adopting them demographically, etc. we’ll never really know how many dogs are returned to shelters because they weren’t what the family expected, but let’s criticize the ethical, caring breeder who screens her potential puppy buyers carefully to make sure that they’re the perfect family for the puppy, and the breed of the puppy a good match for them.

You own rescues, good for you. That was your choice. Until you run the world, the rest of us also have the choice to acquire the breed of dog (or a mutt, for that matter) that’s the very best fit for our families. It’s in the best interest of the dog to fit with the family that loves it. I find it ironic that you used the “Nazi” word. If anyone is exhibiting a desire to control the world as Hitler did, it’s not me in this conversation.


Sheryl Wells September 12, 2013 at 12:41 pm

Wow, Susie, its simple minded and bitter people like you who make this
a great world to live in. You are grouping all dog breeders together, I can not
even begin to respond to this comment because it is so closed minded.


Stephanie September 12, 2013 at 1:57 pm

Hi Susi,

Just had to respond here – I am pretty sure that Sheryl was responding to the Susie (with an “e”) above who made the “Nazi” comment.

Very interesting post…I certainly do not feel superior or self righteous about having rescue dogs and have actually gotten flak for owning mutts that happen to be popular mixes – I don’t let it bother me though. They are wonderful dogs and I refuse to feel guilty about them.

As a trainer, I have seen the full spectrum of dogs and their owners. I will admit that when I see someone with a 6 or 7 week old puppy that they just got from a neighbor or a pet store that is *known* to sell mill dogs, I cringe inside. I know there are many responsible breeders out there and it is always obvious by the age, health condition and behavior of their new puppies whether they came from a responsible breeder or not. We know how important those first 2-3 months are for pups and props to the breeders out there who care for them and most importantly *socialize* them during that critical time!

I certainly support adopting shelter dogs – but I also support responsible breeding. I personally could not care less if I have a pedigreed dog, but that is merely my preference, my choice.


Susi September 12, 2013 at 2:18 pm

Thanks for a reasoned and well thought out answer, Stephanie (and for setting me straight about Sheryl’s comment about breeders. Duh. I should have known better). There isn’t a thing I could add to your remark. It’s fair and balanced and underscores that in the end, as long as we are ethical, humane and responsible, it should be our choice to own a marvelous mutt or a purpose bred dog.

Susi September 12, 2013 at 2:15 pm

Thanks, Sheryl. At first I thought you meant ME, but another reader has set me straight about you addressing a different Susie. Thanks for writing and sharing your views, I very much appreciate it!


Susi September 12, 2013 at 2:24 pm

The most influential comments are ones like yours, Kate. They come from personal experience “in the trenches” and have an authenticity you can’t invent. I appreciate your viewpoint and thank you for sharing it here, as well as validating my own point of view. Thanks for writing, Kate!


KAT September 12, 2013 at 6:51 am

I respect those that purchase from a reputable breeder and also those that rescue. I don’t think either should be looked down upon. I am involved in rescue and also foster dogs. But I have to disagree with your “for a price that is too high for what the dog is worth” philosophy on rescue dogs. The adoption fees that I paid were less than $300 and both came s/n and fully vaccinated. Rescues do not make money on adoption fees. I have 2 purebred rescued dogs and they are worth more to me than any price tag that is placed on them. I also compete one in agility and she has earned many, many titles. I feel that breeder vs rescue and vice versa is a very personal choice.


Susi September 12, 2013 at 10:37 am

Breeder vs rescue IS a personal choice, Kat. I agree! But there are those who will destroy our freedom to choose, or go down trying. You need only scroll among the comments section and find one left by “Jenna” to see how hardline some shelter advocates are about removing our choices, as well as moralizing about the character of people she’s never met.


Cat October 13, 2016 at 1:53 pm

Just getting sick with reading the comments made by people who are irrational and basically ignorant about animals. I will never allow anyone or organization tell me what to choose for an addition to my family. Even when adopting a human child you can request specific looks and age and background information that fit your family. If it’s ok for humans than its fine with animals.
I think it is disgusting and cruel to animals to say they should be allowed to cross breed. If they would stop these practices then there would be a lot less shelter dogs. Why you might ask, because people will purchase dogs that are perfect for their situation and families so they won’t be turning them over to shelters so problem solved.
I cannot understand how anyone could advocate genocide of purebred animals….


Susi October 13, 2016 at 3:29 pm

Hi Cat, I’m glad you responded to the article that was written some three years ago. Since I wrote the piece, I sense that a few things have changed slightly for the better: One of them is that the hard-line proponents of rescue/adopt-don’t-shop message are being recognized as either being out of touch with the importance of having choice in one’s canine companion, caring more about the political implications of the movement than what’s best for the dog, or being involved in “retail rescue” as a new source of income. I caution other readers that I’m not speaking of the fine people who do tremendous work with rescue dogs and fully understand that there is room in this world for both well bred purebred dogs and mutts as great pets, but of rescue groups that have gone “rogue.” Also since writing the article, Cat, purebred dogs now have their own day of recognition – May 1 – as National Purebred Dog Day which celebrates the heritage, diversity and predictability of the purpose bred dog. Colorado became the first state to recognize the day last year, and the resolution recognizing the day nationally has been introduced to Congress this past spring. So by inches, we ARE making progress. I invite you and others to the new official website at


Erica March 23, 2012 at 10:18 am

Thank you for this great article. I own and have owned dogs from both sides of the tracks. Currently I have one pedigreed purebred and two mixes. One was “given” to me by my sister when she had me dog sit her puppy for a few weeks, which has now become 9 years! I also bought from a private party – non breeder/non shelter – another mix puppy for my fiance, and I chose her because she fit what we were looking for. In that instance there was no reason for me to specifically search out either a pedigreed or shelter dog. Did I look at shelters? Yes, and they were chock full of designer dog puppies which was not the type of dog which would fit our lifestyle.

Wait, let me clarify that a bit. There were a couple which did fit the bill. The HSUS shelter dogs that did fit our bill were not only unhealthy, the people at the shelters gave reasons like they just didn’t know what was wrong with the dog but didn’t think it would be a major issue and so on. The dogs had not been seen by a vet and also had not been vaccinated yet – which blew my mind. On top of that I live in the state with THE highest incidence of rabies cases each year – and none of the dogs would be vaccinated for rabies when they left the shelter unless I paid an additional fee over the already too high (in my opinion for the complete lack of care and health) adoption fee.

Many private shelters simply did not get back to me – I called and left voice messages with no response, the emails I sent received the same treatment. For the shelters that required I fill out an application BEFORE contacting them about an individual dog, again they never responded back to my application. I am not an ineligible adopter – I own a home, have experience owning dogs of many breeds, ages and types; I take them to obedience classes, socialize them and keep their health up to date with regular visits to the vet and immediate attention if an issue comes up for them. In some regards I go above and well-beyond the basic care of other dog owners and have also accommodated dogs with health issues like allergies or special needs.

Now, my decision to buy a purebred pedigreed dog was because I knew what breed of dog I wanted, and unfortunately it is one which is potentially rife with genetic health problems. Health problems that can be bred out if the parents are tested and those which test positive are spayed/neutered and not allowed to pass those traits on. So, my decision to buy from a breeder was from my desire to support individuals who are responsible, who are testing their dogs and only breeding those who are sound in every way possible. I look at it like this – I can invest X amount in the initial purchase price of a dog produced by a responsible breeder and promote smart breeding practices and have a dog who is not going to suffer throughout their life from issues that are PREVENTABLE… or I can adopt a dog which already has problems from a shelter and end up investing that larger sum over the life of the dog in vet care and have to witness my dog suffer its entire life.

Your remarks about dogs being imported from overseas is 100% spot on. Go to and look at adoptable dogs, there are countless dogs listed where they will tell you that they just arrived from such and such country, or even many times the dogs have not yet been shipped to the states and they are already arranging adoptions. Sometimes we need to be responsible for what we have here in our country and stop reaching into other countries when we haven’t even got our own issues under wraps…

Again, kudos to you for a great article.


Susi March 23, 2012 at 10:43 am

I’m absolutely spoiled by the people who write in response to my blogs when they’re like you, Erica: Cogent, believable, and able to share real life experiences. Thank you for your reasoned comment, it fleshes out my article in a way I couldn’t.


Susan M. Traynor March 23, 2012 at 8:24 pm

Erica wrote: “The HSUS shelter dogs that did fit our bill were not only unhealthy, the people at the shelters gave reasons like they just didn’t know what was wrong with the dog but didn’t think it would be a major issue and so on. The dogs had not been seen by a vet and also had not been vaccinated yet – which blew my mind. On top of that I live in the state with THE highest incidence of rabies cases each year – and none of the dogs would be vaccinated for rabies when they left the shelter unless I paid an additional fee over the already too high (in my opinion for the complete lack of care and health) adoption fee.”

Whoa! can you hear the screeching of my mental brakes and smell the burning rubber?
The H$U$ does not operate ONE shelter within in the confines of the US or anywhere plus gives 1% of the annual contribution budget of $515 Million dollars to help any animal shelters. HSUS is NOT an umbrella organization which local shelters are affiliated with. And PeTA, bless their little black hearts, does operate a shelter but euthanizes 95% of the animals coming through the door. Cat adoption rate is abysmal at .04%. (sarcasm font on) They Love Animals.

Perhaps you are thinking of local shelter(s)???? Make no mistake about it. HSUS is not a shelter, does not run one, and is out for the contributions to lobby for legislation at both the state and federal levels to stop all companion animal breeding and cease agriculture of animal raising for meat consumption. If the general public does not wake up to this, we will be forced into the vegan diet lifestyle they are proposing, and winning one inch at a time BTW, so that Soylent Green will become a reality of life.


Susi March 23, 2012 at 8:38 pm

Soylent Green. I still can’t eat anything green and wafer like.


CAT April 6, 2012 at 9:10 pm

“we will be forced into the vegan diet lifestyle they are proposing… so that Soylent Green will become a reality of life.”
HUH? Did you not see the movie? Soylent Green was not vegan, it was PEOPLE!


Susi April 6, 2012 at 9:20 pm

Evidently ol’ Ingrid didn’t see Charlton and Edward G. I’ve never forgotten it.


KAT September 12, 2013 at 7:03 am

Not ALL shelter/rescue dogs have “issues”, health or otherwise. I have had perfectly healthy, both mentally and physically, foster dogs in my home. This is a huge misconception that many in the public have about shelter and rescue dogs. Even when you purchase from a reputable breeder and the pup comes from health certified parents, there is still always that chance of health issues etc down the road. No dog is 100% safe from developing non-preventable health issues.


Susi September 12, 2013 at 10:33 am

I don’t disagree, Kat. There are no guarantees in life that even our biological children will emerge the picture of health. That said, I do believe that one stands a better chance of getting predictability in a purebred dog bought from a breeder who screens the health of their dogs as well as potential owners to make sure that the breed is a good fit with the family. No ethical breeder I know would sell a puppy to a family for which it is wildly unsuited. A boisterous Rottweiler isn’t a good match for an older couple any more than a delicate toy breed is for a young active family. Some shelters make a valiant effort to screen homes, others not so much. But at the end of the day, no one can really predict with any accuracy how big, small, hairy, healthy a mixed breed will be, and that includes their health. Ethical purebred dog breeders perform health tests on the dogs they intend to breed and thereby “hedge” their bets that two OFA excellent parents will likely produce a litter of puppies with good hips. There is no guarantee I’ll will the lottery, but I certainly won’t win if it I never buy a ticket. You create the best environment for success and responsible breeders do that. Shelter can’t, and don’t.


KAT September 12, 2013 at 7:26 pm

I do agree with you, but I have fostered many dogs that had lovely temperaments, no “issues” and were healthy. Their only fault was that their previous owners no longer wanted them for whatever reason (some very silly). As a foster, I put a lot of time and training into my foster dogs, as well as a lot of time sorting through the applications they receive and matching them with the best fit for them and their new family. I also make myself available to the adopters at any time for the life of the pet. I love these dogs as if they were my own.
I have 2 rescued Rottweilers. My female is probably the most stable, sound minded dog I have ever been around. She is “bomb proof”. She earned her CGC several months after I adopted her and she and I compete in agility. Her previous “owners” dumped her on an elderly woman who could not take care of, they never came back for her, so she took her to the shelter. She had flea dermatitis, worms, etc.Things that were easily treated. I hit the jackpot the day she was surrendered to the shelter! I guess my point is, not all rescue dogs are the same and it pains me when I speak to people that just want a pet quality dog and they either want to adopt a puppy from a shelter or buy from a breeder because their perception is that all the other shelter/rescue dogs have “issues”. That couldn’t be further from the truth. I have even fostered a few Puppy Mill rescues and with love, care, patience and nuturing, they became wonderful family pets.
I have many friends that have dogs from reputable breeders and they have my utmost respect. That was their choice and they spent a lot of time researching breeders and lines to get exactly what they wanted. But please don’t look “down” on my rescue dog. She’s just as special and has accomplished just as much, if not more, than some dogs from a breeder.
I just wish reputable breeders and rescuers could live in harmony. We all have the same goal, and that is to place the dogs in our care or program into the best possible home and fit for that dog………for the life of the dog.


Susi September 12, 2013 at 7:42 pm

I would never look down on your dog, Kat, because of his or her mixed heritage. If I’m being really honest, however, my hackles will raise if I think I’m being judged for owning a purebred dog. I think you and I could have a beer or wine and have a good time. We both agree that the dog is what’s important, but that’s what’s been lost in this conversation at a national level. It has become politicized, polarizing and divisive. I would condemn the breeder who looks down on rescue or shelter dogs, but honestly, I don’t know any in my circle. I gravitate towards ethical, fine people who see the big picture, and that big picture favors a “big tent” approach to dogs. There’s room for both lovable mutts and purpose bred dogs. There should be the freedom to choose the best fit for our families and lifestyles. I, too, wish we could live in harmony. In my view, it’s not an “all or nothing” world.

Jenifer March 23, 2012 at 12:35 pm

Great article Susi! Coming from someone who also has to answer the “Is your dog a rescue” with “No, but I love them anyway!”

Here is the thing I just don’t get: Lets say that suddenly there were no more breeders. Poof. Does that equal no more dogs/cats in shelters? No. If @70% of animals in shelters are mixed, where are those coming from? Irresponsible owners. Wouldn’t it make sense to tackle the 70%?


Sandra A. Stealey March 23, 2012 at 4:35 pm

Thank you for pulling together some ideas that need to be known far and wide. Guilt can only be felt by those who accept it. It is time those of use who know the truth: that responsibly bred dogs from health tested, carefully chosen, temperament tested sire and dam that meet the standard for a particular breed are the only way the dog as a species is assured of survival. WE are the heroes here…really. I have rescue over 800 dogs and I am proud of that fact too. But of the dogs I have rescued and the tens of thousands more I have been associated with in my 15 years of full time rescue (and umpteen years and hours before that) I have seen far too many dogs with temperament issues, health problems (which would have been screened for and avoided in responsible breeding). I do NOT support all breeding…not by a long shot. Someone who has a sweet dog they breed…or a multi international CH Anything or people with purebreds that are AKC registered or mutts that are strays — someone who takes in the darling homeless, unwanted puppies from these intact strays…these are not the heroes. We are good people, yes. We are “angels” for the dogs –and for the people who have to deal with the masses of unwanted dogs and puppies, killing many of them because there is no place for them. We are a conduit for people who want to help solve the problem of unwanted dogs and are willing to take these puppies in. These cast offs that were not wanted, from breeders, or “greeders” or people who just didn’t care enough to alter and/or confine their pet deserve homes and love…of course. But love is not enough. Taking care of the fall out from these irresponsible dog owners and “greeders” is heartbreaking work. So many dogs are ruined and killed. Some fall through the cracks and all too many dogs and their loving new families suffer miserably as the pups end up with crippling hip dysplasia, arthritis, blindness, excessive allergies, GI disturbances, spinal anomalies, metabolic disorders such a hypothyroidism, diabetes…and the innumerable genetic problems that are in ALL canine genes and are triggered by poor combinations and exacerbated by little or no pre-natal care and sub-par or even dangerous nutritional and other physical and psychological conditions. I have seen this first hand. I have whelped over 100 puppies from mothers who were purebred or mixed but whose lives and puppies were going to be terminated in their last days of pregnancy because the owners no longer cared whether they lived or died. Yes, I’m an “angel” and in some ways I am a hero. But these things shouldn’t happen. The answer is not so spay and neuter every dog. The answer it not to stop all planned breeding. I am not willing to allow the canine species to turn into a population of genetic messes and dogs from poor beginnings that lessen their chance for good lives. I want better than that for the species. I believe in stewarding it and, while not ignoring the less than ideal specimens, striving for something better. I will proudly stand as someone who cares enough about the species as a whole to support responsible breeding. I will not hold hard and fast rules or try to inflict guilt on people who are honestly trying to better the species. I will, however, vehemently oppose those who breed by commission (or omission) without considering and addressing health issues through available testing. I will stand against anyone who breeds without attention to a breed standard, for a purpose AND does not provide in their contract (and enforce) a clause that makes certain any puppy they produce will never end up in a pound or homeless. I just wish that “good” breeders would step up and stand up for what’s right about dog breeding instead of trying to protect the “rights” of anyone who wants to produce puppies for any motive.
Also, I think the purebred dog clubs actually rescue far more than 33%’s like 3200% more, or 32 times as many dogs as HSUS and PETA combined actually rescue from shelters.


Susi March 23, 2012 at 6:10 pm

You include key words, Sandra, in your comment that resonate with me: Stewardship, for example. And I especially appreciate that you mention survival of the species, or as I wrote about it, the survival of the canine history of countries and cultures: I very much appreciate that you took the time to share your response here.


Heather Whitehead March 27, 2012 at 4:52 pm

Susi can vouch for me …

I’ve started my own blog, partly in response to what happened at Crufts but also as a means to educate everyone why we don’t need to lose purebred dogs. Do you mind if I quote some of what you’ve written here? It would work very well with something I have in mind for an upcoming post.


Judy March 23, 2012 at 5:15 pm

Having run an animal rescue organization, I know that the problem of overbreeding of poor specimen “purebreds” and overcrowded shelters has to do solely with irresponsible people, whether they’re irresponsible breeders of purebreds or irresponsible owners of mixed breed dogs — or irresponsible buyers. I just get turned off when someone says (in that pitiful tone), “Oh, you’re a saint to have adopted a dog.” I really object to the self-righteousness of so many. On the other hand, I do appreciate people who adopt a dog or cat from a shelter or breed rescue group because the animals need homes, simple as that.

And I admire the shelter staff and volunteers, because they are the true saints.

Erica’s argument may have been cogent, but I certainly question her statement: “The HSUS shelter dogs that did fit our bill were not only unhealthy, the people at the shelters gave reasons like they just didn’t know what was wrong with the dog but didn’t think it would be a major issue and so on.” since HSUS doesn’t run a single shelter.

I see no reason why you have to run down shelters in order to make a good argument for responsible breeding. They’re not mutually exclusive. That’s the WHOLE point, it seems to me. We’re all working towards the same goal: healthy animals happily living with responsible families.

Breeders need to screen and educate their buyers, and most of them do, but many of them don’t. For responsible breeders, it’s important that their puppies (and even older dogs) go to the right home. Irresponsible breeders are just looking to make a quick buck and will place their “product” with whoever wants to pay the money.

There needs to be an EXTREMELY strong push to eliminate puppy mills, not one of which could be characterized as a responsible breeder in the dog fancy world.

There needs to be an EXTREMELY strong push to spay and neuter any dog that is not owned for the purpose of showing and perpetuating a healthy breed standard.

I think one point is that the person buying a purebred puppy is not the same person who goes to the shelter, so it’s illogical to say that buying a purebred puppy leads to the death of a dog in a shelter.

I reiterate. We all want the same thing: happy, healthy animals living with responsible families.


Susi March 23, 2012 at 5:59 pm

I appreciate hearing from you, Judy. I won’t speak for Erica as she is better suited to respond with regards to her post than I am, but I can comment on my own post. I don’t believe I ‘ran down’ shelters, and like you, admire shelter staff and volunteers who have difficult jobs. But I do object to the message being presented as fact that overpopulation is a problem at shelters and municipal pounds because this message hurts the “good” breeders; The general public puts two and two together can comes up with this equation: “Overpopulation in shelters = bad. Breeders breeding more puppies = worse.” They may not take the time to distinguish between the responsible breeder who takes their dog back for any reason during the length of the dog’s life, versus the mom and pop breeders who love puppies, breed their two pets, place the resulting puppies with anyone who’ll take them – but heck no, they don’t ever want any of those pups back. This overpopulation myth is a divisive “porkie,” as the Brits say, and does nothing to engender a “team attitude” among responsible breeders and shelter folks who SHOULD be working in concert. Meanwhile, policies based on this “porkie” continue to be enacted across the country which truly impacts the responsible breeder. I, for example, can’t ship a puppy to a carefully screened forever-home across the country because I’m not a “known shipper,” but puppy mills have no such problems because of their volume. Thank you, Dept. of Agriculture.

And while on the face of it, having an “EXTREMELY” strong push to spay and neuter non-show dogs seems sensible, research is emerging that not only are we shortening the lives of our dogs by doing it, but that there may be a cancer link. I adore my dogs and want them around me as long as possible. Am I to be denied their company longer because someone else mandates that they be neutered because of “overpopulation?”

I conclude by sharing with you common ground; We all want happy, healthy animals living with responsible families. I’m “working” on my fellow fanciers, encouraging them to make the effort to help educate the public and giving local shelters a face to put with a responsible breeder – but we can’t do it alone. My blog was based on my personal experiences at events and blogging conventions at which most participants were the wonderful shelter people I described. When I suggested a “reaching across the aisle,” so to speak, with an organizer of such an event, it was met with a lukewarm reception. I try not to be cynical and consider that right now, real money is to be made in the demographics of the shelter and rescue world, but it’s hard not to be aware of it. And so I do what I can. I write.


Yvonne DiVita October 2, 2012 at 2:10 pm

Another outstanding article, Suzi. I’m reading the comments and learning from your readers, also.

I’m wondering about something in this comment from you; specifically, “When I suggested reaching across the aisle, so to speak, with an organizer of such an event, it was met with lukewarm reception.” As the co-founder of BlogPaws, and someone who admires your writing, and who is eager to bring your message to the discussion table, I have reached out to you several times … only to be met with silence.

It’s because of the vitally important issues you write about in this post and the fact that many animals lives are at stake, that I continue to follow your writing, to learn from you, and to wonder how to make more people sit up and listen. I don’t have the answers – I, like you, want what’s best and to achieve that, my belief is that people need to be educated – the conversation needs to be open and honest, and polite. Therefore, I hope I’m not the ‘organizer’ you spoke of! While attempts to find answers together have not materialized, I am open to whatever you think is the next step…

Thank you for writing another eye-opening article.


Susi October 2, 2012 at 3:46 pm

Thanks for the kind words on the article, Yvonne.

I’ve attended a number of events and honestly can no longer remember whom it was I was thinking of when I made the “lukewarm” comment, but when you’re ready to include a forum for purebred dog ownership/breeding at BlogPaws, holler and I’ll rustle up people who can speak with authority by citing numbers, statistics and data as well as provide an impassioned point of view supporting a “can’t we all just get along” sentiment. We’re all sharing the planet at the same time and, as you say, need to be having this conversation. I appreciate the time you took to comment, Yvonne!


Yvonne DiVita October 3, 2012 at 10:58 am

Thanks, Susi. I feel empowered! I’ll definitely be in touch on this subject. You have always been my first thought for the right resource to approach.

Heather Whitehead March 27, 2012 at 5:06 pm

Judy, you wrote:

“Erica’s argument may have been cogent, but I certainly question her statement: ‘The HSUS shelter dogs that did fit our bill were not only unhealthy, the people at the shelters gave reasons like they just didn’t know what was wrong with the dog but didn’t think it would be a major issue and so on.’ since HSUS doesn’t run a single shelter.”

I can certainly understand why you would question that – I know as well as you do that H$U$ doesn’t operate any shelters anywhere in the US, and less than 1% of their funds go to help any local shelters in any way.

However – not everyone is aware of that. Many people confuse “XYZ County Humane Society” with the H$U$, or assume that because the name of their local shelter contains the name “Humane Society” – that it is affiliated with the H$U$. Certainly – the larger organization does nothing to dissuade this misperception – why would they? Despite claims to the contrary, their whole purpose is to raise money to pay people off – whether it be Wayne Pacelle’s salary or buying lobbyists to harass members of Congress. Rather – H$U$ intentionally pushes the impression that they run or directly assist local shelters – the more people who think their donations will actually go to the animals, the better for the H$U$ coffers.

Question Erica’s statement if you wish – but it could be just a common, simple misunderstanding of who and what she was actually dealing with.


Catherine L. Cargo March 23, 2012 at 7:07 pm

Attended a training class yesterday to sign my year old OES up to gain some manners, was astonished at the number of people (trainer included) with mixed breeds, and scorn in their beings for the Purebred owner.
What a reverse, used to be you couldn’t find some place to train your (we did call them Mutts)..
It’s been nearly 20 years since I did any Obedience training, so I stupidly asked about a “choke chain” and was nearly run out of the building, SIGH..

Keep up the great work Suzi. I wish the AKC had been on top of this situation 25 years ago.


Susi March 23, 2012 at 8:05 pm

Thanks, Catherine – and I applaud you for working obedience with your dog. If I might digress for a moment, but my VERY favorite OES story is also an obedience story. Someone I’ll call “Miss X” had her OES in the ring for a long down stay and as was required, left the premises. Shortly after she left, her dog looked around, spotted a delectable Afghan Hound next to him, casually got up, and proceeded to jump her bones. For the benefit of readers who don’t do obedience, she wasn’t, nor was allowed to be in season at the time. When he was done, he went back to his spot and layed down again. The Afghan, btw, never broke her down stay. Spectators, of course, ROARED with laughter, and when the OES’ owner returned, she, and all the other owners, were puzzled by all the laughter. Things were as she left it, and only later when she got the dog’s score did she learn what happened.

Anyway, you encountered first hand the kind of scorn of which I wrote about in my blog. Once you’ve been at the receiving end, you never forget it. I’m glad you’re out there in the public eye. The AKC isn’t really being proactive on this, we need to be down to each individual. And yes, I also wish we’d started 25 years ago. But as much as I disagreed with the decision to invite mixed breeds into the performance end of things, I sometimes wonder if the AKC was being prescient; Perhaps they could envision the day when it wouldn’t be about mixed vs purebreds, but dogs versus everyone else. Hope not.


Janet L March 23, 2012 at 8:01 pm

Excellent, well researched well argued article. I had the situation on FB quite awhile ago, where one of my “friends” took me to task for bragging on the accomplishments of my well-bred, purebred bitch (yes I just wrote the “b” word). I told him it was my right to show and breed good quality purebred dogs which are screened and health-checked and it was his right to disagree with what I choose to do. We’re still FB friends. I think that’s the important point. We all have a right to choose what we do with our money, what dogs we own and what our hobbies are. I stand up for my purebred dogs. I hope other fanciers (yes, we’re fanciers) do that too. I have no problems with genuine rescue. God knows that enough animals are abandoned and casually mistreated. But many dogs left in shelters are those that are sick, damaged and cannot be safely placed in a loving home.

I saw what a perceived lack of good quality dogs needing homes meant when I lived in San Diego county. Sick, underage puppies (usually cute little white fuzzy pups) smuggled in and sold at swap meets and other casual venues. Owners with heartbreak and expenses after “rescuing” one of these pups. “Rescues” bringing in lots of “unwanted” pups (also usually cute, white and fuzzy) from Mexico. Sure, rescue. The breeders in Mexico knew darn well that they had a ready market north of the border. What’s the price of snobbery for those who support “rescue” or “shelter” dogs?

People shouldn’t just fall for a sweet pair of soulful eyes. It just brings more and more of the same. Do your research. Find a good breeder, a good shelter, a reputable rescue group. There are plenty of genuine rescues and shelters all over the country. You mentioned Helen Woodward. That is a GREAT organization. They are picky in the best way. There are also lots of good breeders who care enough about their dogs to breed the best to the best they can, breed the healthiest dogs they can, and place them carefully with wonderful owners. T

Thanks Susi for doing this research and balanced blog.


Susi March 23, 2012 at 8:23 pm

There’s not a thing I could add to your response, Janet, you’ve said what needs to be said. All we can do is what we can do and I hoped my blog at least exposed the reverse snobbery purebred dog owners are subjected to. I suppose some might say that what goes around, comes around, but this is hardly comforting to those of us who’ve always done the right thing and who weren’t even alive when purebred dogs were as much status accessory as companion. I miss that small window that existed for a short time when anyone could have anything and it was cool. Thanks for reading, Janet, and for taking the time to write.


Kathy Hoppe March 23, 2012 at 8:22 pm

Can someone explain to me why people who abandon a dog to a shelter or rescue aren’t held accountable? Why guilt isn’t directed at them? It seems they get a free ride when they are the real problem. Adopting or purchasing a dog from a shelter is not necessarily the end of the story. So many dogs boomerang back into the system. The problem involves taking personal responsibility when you bring ANY dog home regardless of the source (breeder, shelter, rescue) to make it a forever home. How many of us know dogs who have been “adopted” more than once? Until we start focusing on who is walking away from their responsibility, there will continue to be dogs in shelters and rescues in too high a number and responsible breeders will continue to be on the defense.

According to data Dr. Dunbar, most animals are at the shelter due to behavioral issues and many are traced back to improper training and socialization. Again this goes back to personal responsibility for the puppy or dog you brought home.

Is there a way to refocus the energy from the source of the dog or puppy to personal responsibility for the life of that dog?


Susi March 23, 2012 at 8:37 pm

I wish I could explain it, Kathy, but I don’t understand it either. Most shelters, I hope, do a good job of matching dog to potential owner, but you never know the true history of a dog brought in from the street or relinquished, especially if the dog has mixed parentage. In the case of the rescue dog we took in, his only sin was to have been owned by people who died. The relatives didn’t him and relinquished him to a shelter where he was taken in by someone who failed to consult his wife about bringing home a dog. Two weeks later, he was back in the shelter. Long story short, his story reached me and because he was a Puli and had a predictable nature, we took him in. He now has a forever home with my daughter who takes him skiing, rafting and rock climbing. If you ever stumble upon why owners aren’t held more accountable, let me know? I can only think it’s because we live in times where personal responsibility doesn’t mean what it once did. Just a guess.


KellyK September 16, 2013 at 10:43 am

I think part of what makes this complicated is that there are good reasons to have to rehome an animal, and any attempt to guilt the people who’ve abandoned a dog for lousy reasons will also affect people who are making the best choice they can in a bad situation. A perfect example is the cat I’m fostering. Her owner broke up with his girlfriend and moved out. Ex didn’t want to keep the cat, new roommates also said “no,” and new girlfriend is allergic. So, here’s someone with a living situation that doesn’t allow his pet and a deadline from the ex to find a new home for her before she goes to the shelter. He asked a ton of rescues and made a three-hour drive to get her to us. He felt bad about it, but he did all he could.

I also think that dropping a dog off at most shelters provides a sort of false hope. People see dogs getting adopted out of the shelter and think their dog will be too, but if the shelter is full, that dog’s odds are really low (especially because owner surrenders are euthanized before strays). They don’t necessarily have to confront the actual consequences of their choice.


Susi September 16, 2013 at 10:54 am

All good points, Kelly.


Judy March 23, 2012 at 9:29 pm

Sorry, I should have clarified. My push for spay/neuter is not a legislative one, but one of education (which leads to reasoned choice) and nonprofit funding to make it accessible to the low income pet owners, those who are frequently responsible for their dogs continuing to breed indiscriminately

I was not suggesting you, a responsible breeder, spay or neuter your dogs. (I’m not sure where you heard that sterilizing a dog can lead to cancer, but I’m skeptical. Open to learn new information, but skeptical.)

I previously worked with an animal welfare organization that offered financial assistance and had great success over the years in reducing the number of litters in low income neighborhoods. Because many of these offspring became street dogs and never got spayed or neutered, the numbers grew. This is the situation I’m interested in addressing, not the number of purebred dogs that are born. This is the situation that needs to be addressed.

I believe the advertising campaign that equates the birth/sale of a purebred puppy with the euthanasia of a shelter dog is a “porkie” in the worst way.

And I didn’t mean to say that you were coming down on shelters, but it seems that many of the postings retaliate against the ridiculous AR position by slamming shelters and the practice of adopting dogs, and that makes no sense to me, either. There are plenty of demons out there — puppy mills, Dept of Ag, PETA, irresponsible back yard breeders, ignorant/irresponsible owners, importers of puppies from other countries — we don’t have to demonize either the world of dog fancy or shelters.


Susi March 23, 2012 at 10:04 pm

Thanks for the clarification, Judy, now I understand. I think it’s not only commendable that the organization with which you worked sought to help low income families, but really smart. Kudos on that. Again, we share common ground in seeing the “boogie man” in lots of places that you identified. When you list it the way you did, my heart sinks.

You strike me as like someone who likes knowledge – I gleaned this in the full fifteen minutes we’ve known each other (grin) so I pass along some links you might find interesting with regards to the whole cancer/aging/neutering thing. I heard Dr. David Waters speak at a symposium last year and thought he made a compelling case for his hypothesis – but the work is on going. Be sure to do some digging into the material: (this shows in flow chat terms about the “Old Grey Muzzle” tour; while this is the home page, a reasonable starting point:

I’ve read some of the abstracts that touches upon organismal senescence – really fascinating stuff if this kind of thing interests you. Stay in touch.



Donna Chicone March 23, 2012 at 9:47 pm

Hi Susi, I want to thank you for your well researched and thoughtful comments. I too own a purebred dog. In fact I own two Portuguese Water Dogs. When I got the first one I was so struck with the compassion and knowledge of breeders, trainers, vets and so many other professionals in the dog world that I was inspired to become a part of this “movement” to help make the world a better place for dogs. To make a long story short I ended up creating and airing a TV show about dogs for four years. The show aired in community access TV. I learned a lot. I had breeders and trainers and every other possible dog related acitvity represented on the show. We also had a dog from a local Animal Humane Shelter on the show every month. I have many opinions as a result of this experience. One is the AKC does some very good things but also has it’s own dark side. Conformation and agility for example really put breeds as risk. I can hardly look at a German Shepherd without feeling pain for it as it seems to drag it’s back end across the floor. Other breeds have been put at risk for cosmetic purposes to enhance how they look in the ring versus looking like what they were bred to do. The AKC takes money from puppy mill breeders to register their dogs so they have papers. I refuse to give money to HSUS because they spend so very little if any on actual dog rescue but tought that they do so much. Anyone can hang a shingle and call themselves a trainer; sometimes what we do to dogs in the name of training and with no guilt I might add is senseless. People bring dogs into their lives for many reasons and usually are not aware of why they are doing so. Often times these beautiful creatures “dogs” are identified as children and treated as such. When they act like the dogs they are they are punished. I love my dogs very much. They are a part of my family; but they are dogs and I respect that wonderful truth about them. I don’t try to make them love me like a child would. I continually try to understand them and their dog behavior. Training needs to be positive and respectful as well. Having a dog is a great committment of time and money and training. If you can’t have a dog in your life because of lack of either of these things your dog may easily end up in a shelter. The disposable dog syndrome in our society is a serious problem. I am most fortunate to have found my dogs through the most responsible dog breeder I know. I have worked with a local Humane Shelter that was small and self suficient and kept dogs as long as they needed to be kept until they were adopted. I have worked with trainers who have put serious time into their own training so they can train dogs with positive and respectful techniques. I also know there are many more trainers and breeders and shelters who do not practice at such high standards. I am so caught up in trying to reach out to dog owners of mixed breeds and purebreds that I don’t feel the judgment of being a purebred dog owner a lot. I do agree it is there; but overall the average person knows so little about the dog world and more importantly about what all is involved in having a dog in thier life and that is what concerns me most. The welfare of the dog must come before any other effort. Thank you for responsible contribution to enhancing my information about dogs and thank you for letting me ramble about my convictions.


Susi March 24, 2012 at 9:54 am

Wow, Donna, you are clearly a “do-er” and not someone who sits idly by. Are your old television programs still accessible- You Tube, maybe?

I agree with most of your comments, though I might take issue with the ruination of breeds which can no longer perform their original purpose as I do see examples of them all the time. I have to agree, sadly, about the disposable dog syndrome, and the importance of putting the welfare (not “rights” but welfare) of the dog first. The whole situation is so huge that sometimes it’s tempting to just shut down. But then I’ll see something like this and realize that it’s not an option:

I appreciate hearing your thoughts. Feel free to “ramble” here anytime you’d like, though I wouldn’t call it rambling.


Judy March 23, 2012 at 11:44 pm

Thanks for the link. I’ll check it out. Take care……it’s been nice chatting with you!


Jacky March 24, 2012 at 10:00 am

BRAVO!! Thanks and well said! AND my two Champion Standard Poodles, one Champion Shetland Sheepdog and my Rescue Sheltie (from my Breed Club’s Rescue) thank you, also. I have owned many Rescues, all from breed club rescues, and my attitude is NOT that it was the evil breeders over populating, but the uneducated (lazy?) puppy purchasers who couldn’t take the time to research a breed to determine “fit” in their family.


Susi March 24, 2012 at 10:08 am

You’re absolutely right, Jacky – thank YOU for saying it here.


Donna Chicone March 24, 2012 at 9:31 pm

Hi Susi, thanks for your link and response to my comments. My TV shows can be viewed on my website:
I had the police officer in charge of canine training for the police force here on my show. He told me they go to Europe to get dogs to train. The German Shepherds here are not able to do the work due to how they are currently bred. Certainly not all breeds are at risk but there are most definitley some that have suffered and vets will concur. Be that what it is I agree with you all concerns for dogs can be overwhelming. I try to keep focused on my little ripple in the ocean knowing it makes a difference…we all make a difference, Woof & Smiles!


Susi March 24, 2012 at 9:36 pm

I look forward to seeing the videos, Donna, thanks for sharing the link! Like you, I focus on what I can do: writing about what I see, rescuing dogs off the street (really embarrassing when their jogging owners are 15 feet away) and adoring my own dogs. Stay in touch?


LM March 25, 2012 at 4:20 pm

What a nice article!

Here’s a radical thought. I’ve often wondered what would happen if every single dog, mixes and purebreds alike, could only be bred after full health testing (OFA, CERF, etc), earning at least a CGC if not more, and a pledge from the breeder to take back their dogs if ever necessary holding them permanently liable for what they produced? This would greatly reduce the unwanted canine population, put puppy mills, backyard breeders, and many (kill) shelters out of business, make dogs far more adoptable or keep them in their homes in the first place, and dogs would be much healthier, with better temperaments. With breeders having to do that much work, work that every truly responsible breeder already does, even breeding designer mixes (which I do not condone) wouldn’t matter as much.

Having said that, I would not trade my old mutt girl with bad hips and shoulders for the world. She lives better through chemistry at least and is having a happy old age. Hopefully my next dog won’t have to deal with these issues, regardless of where he or she comes from.


Susi March 25, 2012 at 7:59 pm

I appreciate the compliment, LM. Your radical thought isn’t only a great thought, but a reality in most breed clubs. Most, if not all,breed clubs have a Code of Ethics which requires member breeders the very things you’re suggesting. Sadly, there is nothing beyond common sense and personal ethics that holds mixed breed owners to the same standard.

The way I see it, love is love. We don’t legislate whom we chose to give our heart to, and if that’s a mutt, purebred, goldfish or hamster, we love them all the same. Your old girl is lucky to have you. It was about this time last year that I lost my old girl, just shy of 17 years old. Old dogs are the BEST and seem to understand us in ways the younger whippersnappers don’t. I do miss her and feel lucky to have had her in my life. Thanks for writing!


Jane April 5, 2012 at 11:37 pm

Bravo. I have owned mixed breeds and purebred dogs. I currently have 2 purebred dogs I purchased from a reputable breeder, and guess what? They are neutered and spayed. I own these dogs because I get a size, coat length, and attitude that I like. I will own more mixed breeds but the holier than thou crowd needs to catch a clue. The only reason there are dogs in shelters is because pet owners are not responsible for their dogs! They don’t spay/neuter, they don’t contain, and they don’t train. It’s not a responsible breeder’s fault there dogs are dying in shelters, it’s John Q. Public’s fault because they aren’t taking responsibility for the animals they own! That being said, puppy mills and backyard breeders are also responsible because of their irresponsibility.


Susi April 6, 2012 at 9:32 am

Thanks Jane, there’s not a thing I could add to your thoughts. You said it!


Rachel - Old Glory Pits April 6, 2012 at 9:23 am

GREAT ARTICLE!!!! This one is definitely one I will be sharing on FB. I love helping to save dogs from bad situations but I also feel that purchasing is okay too. Not every family is ready for the baggage a shelter dog may bring with it. I am against breeders purposely creating designer dogs though. Like you said, improving the breed is what should be attained, not satisfying the current fad.

I think that the AKC and the UKC need to team up and fight back together. They are both as equally affected by the PETA and HSUS campaigns. This burden should not lay on just the AKC’s shoulders.

BTW, LOVED the quote from the Doodle creator! That is definately one I’ll be pointing out. 🙂


Susi April 6, 2012 at 9:28 am

I would be honored if you shared the article, Rachel, and appreciate hearing from you. I wholeheartedly agree that our registries need to fight back. Devoting time and energy to canine legislation is a good start, but I wish the AKC would become more aggressive.


ANN M April 6, 2012 at 10:12 am

Thank you for writing this. Even some people who raise purebred dogs defend HSUS “because they keep the plight of homeless dogs and cats in the publuc eye” but I ask at what price?
I am waiting for my youngest dog to deliver a litter of purebred puppies. The parentsd have been health checked are champions in their breed and have great personalities. When I told a neighbor we were expecting puppies he looked puzzled as we haad never bred a litter in all thhe years we had lived in the area. I said this bitch was exceptional and all health chhecks were great, I was retired and could devote all the necessary time to a litter of puppies. He then made the comment about money and I just laughed- between health checks, dog shows to attain her championship AND 2 obedience titles, stud fees, progesterone testing because we had to travel 400 miles to the stud dog, vet bills, equipment, and time spent in obedience classes, I will be lucky to not have to dip into my savings to oay all the expenses. He then asked why do it – I said I wanted a puppy from this female because she was such an ideal companion dog. An expensive puppy that will be loved and cared for from before its birth! I also have 4 others of this breed: 1 conformation champion who is spayed due to a genetic abnormality thaat must not be passed on, 1 obedience champion who continues to excell and who is a therapy dog who visits nursing homes and brings joy to residents, 1 older champion,spayed, who came to me when her owner/breeder was no longer able tto care for her, 1 younger champion, intact,, who came to me when her breeder died and she needed a home, and the last one – a rescue who came to me from Georgia after Katrina hurricane left so many dogs homeless down south. She is a fearbiter that has “nailed” both my husband and myself due to fears developed as she went thru horrors we can only imagine, but don’t want to! Were she at to bite a hardworking shelter worker, she would have been put down, but here, being another breed I have had since age 11, she continues to live the good life, getting better daily. Still despite all of this when I offered to foster a young female the same breed as the “Georgia Peach”, I was told I could not because I had “intact bitches in the house” Duh! Last I heard it takes an intact male to help an intact bitch make puppies. Hiwever, this holier than thou attitude is pervasive in “rescue” – let the dog die because the potential foster has intact dogs!


Susi April 6, 2012 at 10:19 am

Well, Ann, I’m very glad you wrote so that others might get a more personal insight into what it means to be a responsible breeder. You’ve done right by your dogs, but have opened your heart to foster a needy rescue. This is not how we’re perceived by the general (and ignorant) public, and yet it’s how responsible breeders are. As you said, it’s not for the money, it’s for the love of the breed. Keep up the good fight, never let them make you feel guilty, and thank you so much for writing!


Rachel - Old Glory Pits April 6, 2012 at 10:33 am

I agree with you Ann! The rescue groups are too hard sometimes and will pass up a good foster home over something that isn’t really any of their business anyway. I could see thier hesitation if the dog you wanted to foster was an intact male (with your females). And then they cry that they don’t have enough people willing to volunteer to foster. It’s a shame and can be more of a hinderance then helpful.


Rachel - Old Glory Pits April 6, 2012 at 10:27 am

Oh, and did I mention that while my local Humane Society shelter is a no-kill shelter, they have no problem with sending a dog or cat that has been there too long to the local municiple shelter to be destroyed? Yeah… so sad.


KellyK September 16, 2013 at 10:47 am

Wow…I don’t think a group has any business calling itself “no-kill” if they will hand animals over to the local shelter.


Susi September 16, 2013 at 10:53 am

Another dirty little secret, Kelly, is that some shelters won’t take in breeds they don’t think they can adopt out so their numbers reflect higher adoption rates and they can call themselves “no kill.” As for the animal they turn away, I guess they’ll be killed somewhere else. You might find Nathan Wineograd interesting. I don’t agree with many of his stances, but he challenges the need for euthanasia altogether.


Jeff April 6, 2012 at 2:03 pm

I spent years rescuing Rottweilers and now have four AKC champions purchased through breeders. I can factually say, it was RARE to have a Rottweiler of AKC breed standard come into rescue. Most dogs that came in were from back-yard breeders looking to make an easy buck. Shut these folks down, not the reputable breeders who bread for health and temperament.


Susi April 6, 2012 at 3:52 pm

Thank you for writing, Jeff, and for the hard work you did rescuing a terrific breed. Backyard breeders may be the most insidious of the lot because, as they say, the road is paved with good intentions. When I was a child, my mother, a wonderful, caring person, bred her two terriers together reasoning that because both had AKC papers, they must have been decent dogs, right? No heath checks were done on either dog, and the resulting two pups were kept in the family. The sire and dam were never bred again and were subsequently neutered and spayed. Once I became an adult who got involved in the fancy, I looked back on it and realized my beloved mom was, essentially, a one-time backyard breeder. At least she bred them only once, but she hadn’t a clue (nor did any of us) that there was a bigger picture that involved the betterment of the breed.


Anon April 7, 2012 at 6:24 am

I would love to share this on FB but I’m hesitating due to the title, sadly.
It’s a great article and addresses several key issues in one go. Very well done! Cool site too, thank you.


Susi April 7, 2012 at 8:10 am

Thanks for writing, Anon – the title is indeed intended to shock people into reading the article out of curiosity. I’ve been gratified to hear from some folks who wouldn’t have read the piece had it been titled differently since they don’t always read doggie articles (and I thought to myself, “Gotcha!). I’d be honored if you shared it, but understand if you don’t.


Adrian April 8, 2012 at 3:42 am

Coming from a person who volunteers in animal rescue, I do respect your views and completely understand where you are coming from. I believe there is a place in this world for good ethical breeders because there will always be those who want a specific breed and wont settle for less. However, I do believe this attitude you discuss can be found on both sides as I have been scoffed at many times for having my shelter dog even remotely in the vicinity of an event where pure bred dogs are present. The fact is no matter the dog, its we the people who have the problem. But I would like to know where ABC news gets their info on shelters importing puppies in order to fill a demand. I volunteer with a shelter that unfortunately never has a shortage of puppies. We are in the Southeast just like TX, where people in general have no regards for animals welfare, so I just cant imagine them having a shortage. Im thinking that they need to define the word “shelter”. A true municipal shelter that has to euthanize is what I call a shelter, and as I said I highly doubt the shortage at such facility. If so, I would like to have the name of the shelter so I can contact them. I can send them plenty of dogs needing a home.


Adrian April 8, 2012 at 3:45 am

p.s.- Any rescuer who supports the “efforts” of the HSUS, Peta or ASPCA is not a true rescuer.


Susi April 8, 2012 at 1:16 pm

Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Adrian. I don’t disagree with you that arrogance can be found on both sides of the proverbial coin; it’s been my experience that true fanciers love dogs in all their glorious forms and would never hesitate to help a dog in need regardless of its pedigree, or lack of. In fact, a great many show people include among their own clan a rescue dog, as I do. But as in all walks of life and the different endeavors we pursue, there are quality people, and then there are not. It’s simply a mistake to paint either side with too broad a brush. With regards to the statistics I sited, first let me mention that ABC News got its numbers from Dr. Gale Galland, the veterinarian for the Centers of Disease Control. He has an extensive resume which a Google search will most likely reveal, but a little research will give you a gold mine of additional sources. As for your own observation that there really IS an overpopulation problem, it’s interesting that you should mention that now. There’s been a vigorous debate on one of the e-mail lists to which I subscribe on that very topic; both sides have conceded that data support the fact that importation exists because nationally (take note of that word) pet overpopulation doesn’t exist, but both sides have also found middle ground in the suggestion that the issue is regional. As you said, certain areas of the south are more problematic. I’m not sure if you were jesting about sending underpopulated shelters the puppies from where you work, but it’s actually a very good idea. Why on earth import unvaccinated dogs from other countries when parts of our own nation are struggling with greater numbers? By the way, are you familiar with the work Mike Arms has done at the Helen Woodward shelter in California?


Susi April 8, 2012 at 2:49 pm

Adrian, I just came across this article and thought you might find it of interest, in particular, the section, “Bringing the Problem Home.”


marie June 18, 2012 at 12:48 pm

I think on some fundamental level I just don’t understand why people buy dogs when they can rescue. I’ve volunteered in shelters and for rescue groups since I was old enough to drive, and to me there’s nothing sadder than “Nobody’s dog”, and nothing more rewarding than knowing you saved your pet’s life. I got back into fostering last year thanks to one of those plaintive photos that fly around facebook, of a dog scheduled to be euthanized the next day. I drove hours to pick him up, and walking out of the shelter with him on a slip lead gave me a thus far unmatched sense of accomplishment. There at the end of the leash was a bright spark of life that, but for me, would be gone. And that would have been too bad for the world, because he is a great dog, and I think a great source of pleasure to the people who ultimately adopted him.

I don’t disapprove of the existence of purebred dogs, or breed standards and dog shows. I grew up devotedly studying Simon and Schusters Guide to Dogs, and I can tell a Manchester Terrier from a Min Pin without batting an eye. I just… do not understand people looking for a companion animal who make the choice not to rescue a dog or puppy. I DO sort of make the assumption that people who buy instead of adopt lack some degree of compassion. I know it’s rude, but in my heart of hearts, that’s how I feel. I honestly can’t imagine buying a purebred puppy (I think breed specific rescue is great, and I applaud their efforts). I WOULD feel guilty, whether or not you choose to, and I think I’d really miss that feeling that in acquiring my pet, I’d not only gotten a great new friend, I’d done something worthwhile.

This is definitely something I’ve grappled with a lot, because I DO think I’m judgmental towards the regular Joe Shmoe (not someone who shows, not someone with allergies that demand a hypoallergenic dog) that won’t ‘settle’ for less than a $1200 8 week old Bernese Mountain Dog (which brings me to another thought, but i’ll save my feelings about ‘fad’ purebreds for a later time), but despite my concern that I’m being one of those “animal-rescue-fanatics” that people are always decrying, I can’t quite stop the snap-judgment that “puppy purchaser” = “Heart two sizes too small”


Susi June 18, 2012 at 1:06 pm

I applaud your moral honesty, Marie. You’ve done a stellar job of explaining your feelings and the internal conflict which volleys back and forth in your heart. I don’t think I can explain any better than I did in my article that the love you feel for your rscued charges is no greater than the love a purebred dog owner has towards the purebred dog they own because they wanted the predictablility of their breed. I suppose it’s perhaps a bit similar to the conflict one might have of bringing one’s own biological child into the world when there are orphans languishing in third world countries, or when there is overpopulation, or the world is a terrible place. We make choices that are often rooted in intangibles and I hoped to reveal some of the more “tangible” thoughts in the purchase of a purebred dog. Feeling guilt, I suspect, is a choice made when one has thwarted one’s own moral compass, not someone else’s.

I commend you for being upfront about it and wish we lived in a world where the burden of guilt on “dumped dogs” is on the people who dumped them and the irresponsible breeder who bred or placed the dog carelessly – not on the people who exercise their freedom of choice. I don’t know how to part company with you other than to thank you for your work with rescue dogs and the hope that one day, you might see things differently. I do appreciate that you wrote.


Jinnie October 2, 2012 at 10:34 am

Thank you Suzi!


Danielle Wizzie Bingham October 2, 2012 at 11:23 am

Absolutely brilliant piece, Susi! I’m sharing this with my circle of friends – many of whom are also breeders. But, more importantly, many are rescue dog proponents. I sincerely hope that some will read this through and understand that the issue is not just for the future of breeders, it’s for the future of the genus canis familiaris as we know it.



Susi October 2, 2012 at 11:33 am

Thank you, Danielle, it IS a piece I’d like to see shared far and wide. I’ve had it with the holier than thou attitude of those outside the purebred dog world; they are are oblivious to the data I found regarding just how much rescue is done by purebred dog owners, the overpopulation myth and the nonsense that mixed breeds are healthier than purebreds. There’s a lot of misinformation out there and it needs to be undone!I appreciate you reading and sharing it!


Mleissa Bee October 2, 2012 at 4:24 pm

As someone who shares their life w/ 2 purebred cardigan corgis . . . AND 1 back yard bred cardi AND one abused puppymill disfigured pemmie momma AND a mixed breed ratty scheduled to die in 10 hours, I take exception to those who condemn people who have purebred dogs. I’ve rescued both and won’t stop just because some idiots think it’s wrong. I work in shelter rescue/high kill ones where many, many victims are purebreds . . . does that mean they should die? Rubbish.


Susi October 2, 2012 at 4:33 pm

Thanks for writing, Melissa. You are a fine example of the person who has balance in their views on dog ownership. You own both purebred dogs and rescues and love them equally. I admire your work and thank you for it!


KC October 2, 2012 at 7:58 pm

Very well writen, very well reseached and Very much appreciated. I have put myself in the poorhouse breeding better dogs and ensuring only healthy representatives of the breed are producing sound healthy pups. I know I am appreciated by the new homes the babies go to. Unfortunately I can no longer afford to breed. If there were no backyard breeders, puppy mills or import of mutts from other countries there would be no shelter dogs. Responsible breeders are just that, responsible for the pups they bring into the world and for the life of the pup. I hope your article reaches everyone. Thank you.


Susi October 2, 2012 at 8:32 pm

No, thank YOU, KC. People do read the comment section of my blog and your response helps bolster my argument that by and large, it’s not responsible breeders whose dogs languish in shelters or starve on the streets. I’m sorry to hear that you’re no longer breeding, the fancy needs your mindset.


KC October 3, 2012 at 8:27 pm

I would like your permission to post your article in our club newsletter. It is a breed club not an all breed club but it is so important that the people in our club who do not show or work their dogs, who consider themselves “pet” owners, understand and share the fact that just as much importance was put on the dogs they share their homes with no matter if they are considered show quality or not. Every pup I produced was going into a loving home first and foremost, every one of them could have done well in the show ring, but that is not why they came into the world, they came here to love a family and be loved in return. Each family deserved a well bred healthy dog. I worked very hard to produce sound healthy pups no matter what. I have vowed to take back any pup that needs me, this is written right in the contract, I am there for that pup for its lifetime. I feel for shelter dogs, but the fact is, if only responsible people bred and placed dogs and promised to be there for the life of the dog there would NEVER be the need for a shelter. Keep up the great writing it may just get to some of these idiots who really believe breeders and purebred dogs are the problem.


Susi October 3, 2012 at 8:30 pm

You have it! This is one article I’d like to see go far and wide, thanks for asking!


Susan Dugas October 20, 2012 at 9:46 pm

Very well said! You are right on… I have pure -bred Gordon Setters AND a rescue Gordon who came to us through the rescue program of our National Club…. : )


Susi October 20, 2012 at 10:02 pm

Thanks for adding your voice to the choir, Susan. I fear that until we get this message across to pet owners, shelter and rescue workers – and indeed, even our own, we will continue pushing a very large rock uphill. Your comments proves it that fanciers are more than just cheap talk. We also walk the walk. Your Gordon, my daughter’s rescue Puli.


PLYNN COFFMAN October 21, 2012 at 8:18 pm

I purchased a brother and sister pair of AKC GSDs from a reputable breeder after checking first with Northern CA GSD rescue with no luck. The GSDs available for adoption were older (that would not have mattered to me) but either they didn’t get along with small children (I have 2 grandkids, cats ( I’ve had my cat for 18 years through 5 other GSDs over that time), or the dogs available had to be the only one in the household (I always have 2 or 3 GSDs at a time). After checking out the local animal controls and SPCA and finding them filled with pit bulls, pit bull mixes, and chiwowwows, I came to a personal decision to purchase a purebred from a reputable breeder. A PETA-loving, SPCA-volunteering, hybrid-driving, teacher I work with , who has a purebred dog she says she adopted, let me know in no uncertain words in front of no less than 5 other people in the office that what I did when I bred my dog and she bore 3 puppies (bred to another champion) was just “wrong”. She lectured me on “all the dogs in shelters that are purebreds ” and the benefits of spaying and neutering, blah, blah, blah. We haven’t spoken since, but I do hear from other teachers that she talks crap about what I’ve done. All I can say is don’t judge me. So she “adopted” her dog, thus preventing a dog from being put to sleep. I’m sure her self righteousness makes her a “hero”. Me, I received $2,500 for each puppy that sold the very day I listed them on a “GSD Puppies for sale” site. I guarantee these dogs will NEVER end up in a shelter. People that pay this much for their pedigrees tend to love them and treat them like they’re their children.


Susi October 22, 2012 at 12:26 am

Plynn, it’s a pity that an anonymous email suggesting to the hybrid-driving teacher that she read the article on “Guilt” can’t make its way into her “in” box. Or that she won’t find a copy of the following article on her desk: Folks like her, I’ve found, emote their way through life rather than use critical thought to process alternative viewpoints. It’s just easier to feel than think.


AnonymousforNow October 24, 2012 at 4:02 am

To lend my personal perspectives: If it weren’t for Peta, purebred fanciers wouldn’t have cleaned up their acts over the last 20 years. Dog clubs and fanciers should be proud of raising the bar for purebred dogs so high since then. Under AKC there are policies and regulations that all breeders follow that demands consistency, with constitutions for each breed club, ethics contracts, required documentation and reporting like registering a litter, pups, AI. It’s very organized and foster high standards.

Mix breed rescue is very different and just a mess. If someone has more than 3 dogs in most cities and a neighbor complains, the person is cited and has become a criminal in the eyes of animal control. People should be able to rehome animal without the stigma of being automatically associated with hoarding.

The shelters are full of lost, abandoned or turned in animals. Few dogs leave alive. It’s reprehensible for this to exist. I think this frustrates the heck out of Peta and the other rescue groups that it’s impossible to save many healthy dogs. Many of us who live where laws are lax take in way more than our fair share of dogs instead of letting them die at shelters.

Let’s face it, dogs have litters, not just 1 pup. It’s the sole reason for overpopulation and a source of contention with purebred breeders. Maybe if people united to lobby for the research and development of dog food with birth control agents, we could humanely solve the mixed breed pet overpopulation problem and get Peta off your heels. There wouldn’t be the pressure to sterilize animals so young either.

My only other comment is that animal control should be disbanded and reorganized to model some of the other city and county departments. Building and safety, flood control, police, fire and court systems for example, are public service organizations. Animal Control is dysfunctional with only 3 services – intake and euthanasia of dogs and low cost vaccines and harrassing citizens like the German SS when they should be the point department for training classes, pet education and cruelty cases and acting in a similar function as the Department of Child Protective Services. If they were more like real police under a sister Superior Court system, they would become profitable and dog abusers would be fined or jailed.


Susi October 24, 2012 at 11:23 am

I do appreciate the time you’ve taken to write, “AnonymousforNow,” and while you have a few good points, I think you have some misinformation about PETA and groups like it.

My first point would be that few things remain static, and indeed, most entities evolve. We no longer allow segregation, women can vote, most countries abhor child labor – and the dog fancy has been no different. It continues to tweak, monitor and improve with no help from PETA and has self regulated since the 19th century with regards to by-laws, breed standards, Codes of Ethics for breeders, etc.

It is because of animal rights groups like HSUS and PETA that multiple dog homes have been vilified and associated with hoarders. And Pit Bulls, once regarded as “nanny dogs” because of their gentleness with children, can no longer be kept in the City of Denver because lousy owners ruined the breed. Photographs of large piles of deal bully breeds – most family pets surrendered by their bereaved owners, are sickening. The animal rights groups did that by exerting pressure on local legislatures who already felt compelled to “save the good citizens” of their municipalities.

I’m somewhat taken aback by your assertion that PETA is frustrated by not being able to save more animals. PETA killed a near record-breaking 95 Percent of adoptable cats and dogs in its care last year. According to records from the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services alone, PETA killed 1,911 cats and dogs in 2011 and placed just 24 in adoptive homes. Since 1998, a total of 27,751 pets have died at the hands of PETA workers. I despise the title of this site, but you may find it enlightening: I’m persuaded that at the bottom of the pyramid-shaped PETA organization are big hearted, well meaning animal lovers, but the higher once goes up the food chain, the more radical and dysfunctional is PETA’s agenda. Many have suggested a form of mental illness to account for why PETA workers are compelled to end an animal’s life on the chance that it will suffer rather than bank on its chance at happiness. I urge you to visit the site of Nathan Wynograd ( who writes, “We have the power to build a new consensus, which rejects killing as a method for achieving results. And we can look forward to a time when the wholesale slaughter of animals in shelters is viewed as a cruel aberration of the past. We have a choice. We can fully, completely, and without reservation embrace No Kill as our future. Or we can continue to legitimize the two-pronged strategy of failure: adopt a few and kill the rest. It is a choice which history has thrown upon us. We are the generation that questioned the killing. We are the generation that has discovered how to stop it. Will we be the generation that does?” Michigan euthanizes about 2% of the state’s canine population annually (about 50,000 dogs out of 2.5 million.) Illinois euthanizes 19,000 dogs out of a population of 3.2 million. While the percentage of euthanized dogs in these states has declined (these are REAL numbers reported annually by shelters in those states because both states have laws requiring shelters to report intake and disposition), Mr. Wynograd challenges that even those numbers are necessary.

And finally, you also seem inclined to believe the myth of overpopulation which my research suggests is largely regional. Shelters have been importing so many street dogs from other countries to fill the demand at their shelters that the Center for Disease Control became alarmed at the number of under-vaccinated dogs coming into the country.

Take a look at these sites, read what they have to say, and then we’ll talk some more.


Meghan December 10, 2012 at 12:33 pm

Thank you for quoting Mr. Winograd! His book totally changed my view of the Humane movement in the US. A truly eye-opening read!


Jessica @ YouDidWhatWithYourWeiner November 2, 2012 at 9:30 pm

Breeders with purebred dogs certainly are vilified. But what about those that are too ignorant to fix their dog and let it hump everything or those who want to “check out” what baby Fifis will look like so they breed them in their “back yard”? Maybe I am naive but it seems to me that there are WAY more of those people in the world than breeders. That is who puts the pets in the shelters in the first place. THOSE are the real enemy of shelter pets. Most of the people I know adopted dogs so the actual rate with which purebred dogs that are bought from breeders doesn’t seem high enough to be a real threat. Unfortunately, those people are not organized and located in one concentrated to make an example of….or picket

I see the same evolution you describe in regard to how to feed your dog. Feeding your dog nutritionally complete kibble is likened to “animal abuse” by some these days. Raw food has become the only way for some. I see a great divide happening where those who feed their dogs kibble are starting to feel guilted or shamed for doing so.


Susi November 2, 2012 at 9:53 pm

Hello, Jessica! The fellow who came to fix my dishwasher last month owns a dog he rescued – a Chihuahua-poo-something (the good news), and wants to breed her with his Pekingese-oodle-something. Why? Because he feels that having a litter will make his female a better dog. Where does one even start with this? The ignorance ‘out there’ is mind boggling, as you mentioned, and while you and I both know this, there are others who chose not to make the distinction between breeders like my repair man, and the people who pour over pedigrees, run OFA, BAER, patella,hip, and cardiac testing on their dogs and do everything right. At the end of the day, I ask myself why OWNERS are given a pass since they’re the ones who relinquished their dogs to a shelter or didn’t look after it properly in the first place. I don’t have an answer for that, but I’m all ears for anyone who does. And you’re completely right about the feeding analogy, as well. I’ve been seeing the great divide between BARF feeders (raw diets) versus commercial food feeders for several years now. It’s all so contentious.


Diana November 25, 2012 at 9:00 pm

Being a raw feeder since 1992, unfortunately I was a “born again” when I first started. Not anymore. People either want to do it or they don’t. They either want to ask me about it or they don’t. I really don’t care. I’ve seen too many dogs live long healthy lives eating kibble. I do work with my puppy people to feed raw and my waiting list consists of raw feeders, so that makes me happy. But, really there is always going to be something we all want to be right about. It takes maturity to get over that frame of mind.


Dogs November 26, 2012 at 10:07 am

It’s too bad you didn’t actually speak with some of the people you label as self-righteous, etc. to ascertain why it is that they think breeders are not a good thing.
In our society, animals are seen as property. No matter how nicely they are treated, or how much they are loved, they are still considered, by law, to be property. As such, they do not have any rights in terms of how they are treated–the law assumes that a rational person would not do anything to harm/destroy his own property, so there are no laws to protect property. While some ground is being gained in terms of recognition of companion animals as sentient beings with real needs, there is still so much to be done. One of the results of companion animals being seen as property is that they are treated as commodities–things to be bought and sold, with little consideration for their lives, their wants, their needs, their desires as individual, sentient beings. They are completely at our mercy and completely dependent on us for everything. They inhabit an odd, unnatural space in our world where they are neither human nor autonomous “animal”. There is nothing natural about what human beings have done to dogs and cats by “breeding” them–these animals have been bred almost exclusively for how they look, with some truly bizarre results. While many will shrilly denounce me for saying that, it’s true. Very few companion animals have a purpose other than to be companions and to look a certain way. We breed them for traits that we like, while often, those very traits cause harm to them. Before you begin prattling on about “responsible” breeders, I must cut you off and point out that there is very little that is responsible in terms of bringing animals into the world for the sole purpose of selling them to people. Whatever your regard for “genetics” and “improving the breed”, the fact remains that you are producing a commodity to sell to human consumers, and that commodity is a living being. Americans used to do this to Africans–it was called slavery. I know you will now start squawking about how breeding animals is nothing like slavery; however, if you honestly look at the situation (animals as property, commodities, not recognized as sentient beings with individual rights that must be protected), you will see that it is exactly like slavery. Then, of course, there is the fact that many people buy designer dogs because they see the breed in a movie and want one, with no knowledge or consideration of what it actually takes to raise a dog. They quickly get tired of the dog, tired of fulfilling the dogs needs, and they dump the dog…in a shelter, usually. I know you will very defensively say that “responsible breeders insist that the dog be given back to them” in those circumstances….but that really doesn’t happen all the time, does it? People may do as they please with their property, including deciding how to dispose of it. Shelters are full of designer dogs. There is a “rescue” society for every single breed. The truth is that where there is a demand for dogs, and money to be made, there will be people breeding them. And also consider this–for every dog who has a loving home with people who genuinely care about him/her, there are hundreds of others who live shitty lives, ignored by people who prefer pedigrees and papers and a dog who looks a certain way. You are the self-righteous ones. I live with three dogs, and I don’t care what they look like. They are dogs, individual beings with unique personalities. I don’t care that they don’t have “papers”. When people ask me “what are they”, meaning what “breed”, I simply respond with “they are dogs”. What else matters? But you self-righteous folks seem to think that you have the right to bring more dogs into the world when there are already many languishing in shelters, with no human to love and protect them. You turn your noses up at these dogs, and pay thousands for someone to “breed” a dog to your specifications. So, I’m sorry, but your arguments are pretentious, not well thought out, and utterly self-serving. You continue to see dogs as things, that you can have made-to-order, for your consuming pleasure. Your love of companion animals is conditional, contigent simply upon how the dog looks. And you have the audacity to call people who value dogs for WHO they are, not HOW they look, self-righteous? Get a grip, lady.


Susi November 26, 2012 at 10:50 am

A well reasoned response, “dog.” Get a grip. Yes, very measured and thought out. Read the responses I’ve written to your other ramblings above, and then read some of my other blogs to see rampant disregard for the dogs I write about. You’ll find, instead, that like you, I love my dogs passionately. I chose their breed because we share a common cultural heritage, and because I knew what to expect. Read my blog, “This is Me Judging You.”

I think you could be Megan. Say, you’re NOT Megan, are you?


Meghan December 10, 2012 at 1:45 pm

Okay, I know you probably won’t care what I have to say seeing as how I do own a dog from a breeder BUT… I do understand your passion. I too hate to see dogs abused, neglected, ignored, stuck out in backyard to languish into insanity. I own not only a dog that was bred with careful thought and love but also two rescue dogs. In fact, I’ve only ever had rescue dogs up until this year.

People DO own and breed dogs for purposes other than appearance. My new puppy is working to become an agility and obedience competitor. My Chi X is a therapy dog and competed in Rally Obedience until she retired and my Beagle X is a competition frisbee dog. All of these activities help cement my bond with them and add to the enjoyment of our mutual relationship. Or do you view that as exploitation?

Please do some research. People would be much more willing to listen to you if you didn’t use such inflammatory language which alienates the very people you would like to reach. I personally believe that responsible breeders are few and far between. When I started searching for one I had HIGH standards for the person I chose. Just like she had HIGH standards for me as a puppy owner. My pup is almost nine months old now and I still communicate regularly with his breeder. I send her pictures and visit her often as well as attending dog shows where she is showing to see how my pup’s brothers and sisters are getting on and how her other dogs are doing. I couldn’t think of anyone who LOVES their dogs more than she does. Simply being a breeder does not makes someone devil’s spawn.


Dogs November 26, 2012 at 10:18 am

Please describe for me in what ways breeders have “improved” the breeds? Do you mean, making hypoallergenic dogs for the allergic consumer? Or smaller dogs for apartment-dwelling consumers? How have things like this benefitted the dogs? All I see is a benefit to the breeders’ wallets. Is it really responsible to breed dogs to a certain “show” standard, including ridiculous things like height? Who cares how tall the dog is? What does that have to do with anything? And please tell us what happens to “defective” puppies? What happens to those dogs into whom you unintentionally breed all kinds of problems while trying to get the perfect ear tilt, or some other absurd thing?


Susi November 26, 2012 at 10:46 am

It seems to me that you must hate dogs in general because every dog, mutt or purebred, comes with issues and concerns. Do you imagine for one moment that a mixed breed bounds about in glorious health and keels over at the age of 19 from simple old age? They die of cancer, DM, cardiac issues, kidney or pancreatic failure. Most mutts I see walking down the street next to their oblivious owner exhibit patella or hip problems, something their owner never sees because she doesn’t know how to look. AKC breed clubs donate millions of dollars to groups such as the Morris Animal Foundation every year to study diseases in our dogs, and ALL dog benefit from this research, not just purebreds. There is no such thing as a “hypoallergenic” breed, and very clever “irresponsible” breeders used that as a marketing ploy – or maybe it was the creator of the Labradoodle who now regrets ever having gone down that road. Breeders have improved their respective breeds by making constant strides in health, and a healthy sound dog lives out its life without pain. I can’t say the same of mutts. Honestly, I hear your passion but also read a lot of ignorance on your part by making emotional, knee jerk accusations without having a scintilla of fact. Please name for the the responsible breeder whom you’ve called to learn more about what they do so that you’re better informed? Or did you simply make your assertions based on sensational videos of dogs in a show ring in England that made ME gasp? Please, I really do want to know names.


chienblanc4csi November 26, 2012 at 1:14 pm

Just the other day I spotted a guy running with his lab-shepherd mix – running as in “Running”. The view of the dog, at first, looked like it was wagging its tail, but as I got closer, I saw a tail that indicated one of the worst cases of hip dysplasia I have ever seen, plus serious sidewinding, and shoulder problems visible in side gait, with the rear feet almost tripping on the front feet. When the guy stopped at the corner for traffic, I rolled down the window and, as diplomatically as possible, asked him if he had seen a vet for his dog’s hips? “No, why?” he asked. I suggested that his dog showed signs of HD, and he might want to get a vet’s ok before taking this dog on long runs. He said “Yeah, ok.” And I moved on. I know he won’t do anything now, clearly, by his attitude. The day will come when his dog refuses to run, or can’t get up off the floor for breakfast, and this breaks my heart. I know I was a busybody, but maybe I planted a seed. Maybe the dog will “say” something sooner rather than later. I can hope, for the dog’s sake. But this is a dog that will have a lifetime of discomfort, and later on, serious pain, and no way is there any record of anything, as a mixed breed from a shelter or a ‘breeder’ like your refrigerator repair man.


chienblanc4csi November 26, 2012 at 1:53 pm

Susi is being too kind to this kind of ignorance and bigotry. I will try to emulate her. Before you take aim at me and call me a dirty name, you need to know that I am at least twice your age. Yes, I know that. I have had dogs in my life from every possible source, mixed breeds from shelters and purebreds from breeders and everything in between. I have volunteered in every aspect of dogs, from fostering, buying dogs from shelters, to the founding of a canine non-profit, for about 40 years. I have earned titles on dogs in the conformation ring and the performance ring, have hunted with dogs, raised puppies, and trained countless dogs and their owners, from pets to top certified search and rescue dogs. Here’s what I know for sure – you have no idea what you are talking about, you are inexperienced, uneducated, and you are also hateful, egotistical, cynical and judgmental, not the least bit becoming in someone so young. (You are “Megan”, I know you are.)

Here’s why I buy purebred dogs – they are predictable in health, structure, temperament, coat type, grooming requirements, general behavior, motivation, intelligence and drive. Just because you believe the opposite doesn’t make it true. Sixty years in dogs just might mean something. The breeders I have worked with do all the health tests applicable for the breed, and will mentor me – when I discovered the rare breed I have loved for the past 20 years, I got involved in public education, and have spent quite a bit of time with people like you, most of whom have actually learned something, I am happy to say. The last 15 years I have trained and worked my dogs searching for missing people. I need the qualities mentioned in my dogs, and the law enforcement agencies and grieving families my dogs have helped are very grateful for these very qualities. There is no way in hell that I can afford to waste 18 months of training on a dog that turns out to have undetected hip dysplasia because its parents weren’t tested.

Sixty years in dogs just might mean something. Just one of your more egregious comments needs a response – “what happens to ‘defective’ puppies?” Depends on what you refer to as “defective”. That is ridiculous question, but I will go back to an example that I know about personally, rather than waste my breath trying to figure out your shallow comment that lacks a definition. My girls’ breeder had one litter that had one puppy with a minor cleft palate. She supplemented his feeding every two hours for as long as necessary, and when he was deemed healthy and strong by the vet, and cleared with a canine specialist, he was sold to a pet home for a greatly reduced price, with a referral to the vet specialist if there were any subsequent mouth issues, and a contract to pay a percentage of the costs of any further related issues. He was fine. His dam was spayed. My ten-year-old’s litter brother was ‘stuck’ in the birth canal – he was very large – and since his mental capacity was questionable, his breeder kept him, neutered him, and a couple of years ago he was given to an older couple as a great trained and sweet tempered companion. Mixed breed “defective” puppies . . . hmmmm, what do YOU think happens to them? Don’t know? Of course not. That’s the whole point, my dear.

Your opinion is nothing but contradictions and idiotic rationalizations, excuses for reasons to vilify people you know nothing about. I suggest you go back to your room and grow up, “Dogs”.


Meghan December 10, 2012 at 1:48 pm

First of all, I’m willing to lay down money that RESPONSIBLE breeders don’t MAKE MONEY off of puppies. I’ve never spoken to ONE responsible breeder who is making a PROFIT. So stop saying that, PLEASE! Secondly, if you are implying to breeders cull undesirable puppies that is SICK! No responsible breeder I’ve ever known would KILL a puppy just because it wasn’t “perfect”. Most will sell the pup on a spay/neuter contract and with-hold registration papers until the pup is fixed. They get to go to wonderful pet homes where they are loved and cared for just like show prospect pups. And not responsible breeder allows their dogs to breed “unintentionally”.


Meghan December 10, 2012 at 1:50 pm

Oops sorry, misread that last part. As far as “unintentionally” breeding in problems… Responsible breeders strive NOT to do this. It sounds like you’ve gotten a whole lot of information from very biased sources. Please, please, please do some research with an open mind. No one is saying you have to change your opinion but right now much of what you are saying is steeped in ignorance which does not lend credibility to your argument.


Dogs November 26, 2012 at 10:24 am

“I guarantee these dogs will NEVER end up in a shelter. People that pay this much for their pedigrees tend to love them and treat them like they’re their children.”
Really? You can absolutely, 100% GUARANTEE that those dogs will never end up in a shelter. Wow. So, if the people who adopted them move out of state, or out of the country, what then? What if something happens to them, and they pass away and their kin don’t want the dogs? How can you make a guarantee like that? And it’s ridiculous to think that people who pay lots of money care about these animals. Talk about painting with a broad brush!! If they care so much, then why are there so many rescue organizations for pure breed dogs? If these people never ever ever ever let their animals go because they just love them so darn much, where are these dogs coming from who populate these pure breed rescue organizatons? No, you people are the arrogant ones. Just read some of the comments you are making here. “…the importance of spaying or neutering your pets, blah blah blah”…..are you for real? Wow. Words fail me.


Susi November 26, 2012 at 10:37 am

You ask, “If they care so much, then why are there so many rescue organizations for pure breed dogs?” There are so many rescue organizations for pure bred dogs because we’re moping up after unscrupulous, irresponsible, money-grubbing, “let’s witness the miracle of birth,” mom and pop backyard breeders, that’s why. Responsible breeders take back their dog for the life of the dog, and most AKC breed clubs have Codes of Ethics which stipulate that provision for the breeders they list. It seems to me you’ve never met the kind of breeder of whom I write but you are very quick to judge them. Now who’s using a broad brush?


jack galt November 26, 2012 at 6:45 pm

I have owned my breed since 1982, been exhibiting and breeding since 1992 and still have contact with every single person who got a dog from me in the past 20 years–all on a contract to return the dog if they cannot keep it or in the event of death of the owner. In the past 8 months, I have taken back 3 dogs-two from owners who went into hospice. The last one was owned by a prominent former business owner in another state whose contract on the dog were filed with her attorney for her estate, but the adult children apparently disregarded the agreement and dumped the 8 year old dog at a local vet who does rescue. Since I send an annual email to my family of owners every September, and this particular owner’s note was returned–I knew something was wrong. I Googled her and found her obituary where she had just died 10 days earlier and went on a massive hunt for her dog. Her original application filed 4 years ago listed a veterinarian, who I called and learned the name of the clinic where her family likely dumped the dog. I contacted that clinic by email and included 6 photos of the dog, a copy of the contract, along with the microchip number which I had implanted when it was a puppy. I then paid for the return airline shipment of the dog and sent a donation to the vet for her rescue efforts in addition to “my bill.” Since the obituary had included the names of the adult children, I managed to find the son who had surrendered the dog and sent a wish of sympathy with an explanation that he could be assured that his mother’s dog would be well cared for. Yes, I sure am greedy.


Susi November 26, 2012 at 6:59 pm

I would say, Jack, that you make me proud to be an owner/breeder/handler, except that you and I both know that yours is the standard to which all responsible breeders are held and to which most comply. Still, you’ve expressed it so beautifully and poignantly that I’m especially grateful that you’ve shared your story here. Well done, sir. Well done.


Peggy November 26, 2012 at 2:41 pm

I run a purebred breed specific rescue. Where do the dogs come from you ask? They were bought at pet stores, or from what is termed a ‘back yard breeder’. A BYB is someone who breeds two dogs of the same breed but does no health testing, no contracts, etc.

In 30 years of doing rescue, I have only TWICE gotten dogs that came from reputable breeders. In both cases the owners were supposed to return the dog to the breeder but for some reason did not.

I’d say that’s only 1% of the dogs that came from reputable breeders that were given to my rescue , I’m pretty sure the % is about the same with others. The vast majority came from the two sources mentioned above.

Most dogs in shelters and turned over to rescue are adult dogs. It’s rare that we get a puppy. That means these dogs HAD homes and were given up by their owners. Let’s put the blame where it belongs, not on responsible/reputable/ethical breeders but on breeders who don’t ask questions and make sure the dog is going to a responsible home. And to the owners who are not responsible and see their pets as disposable property. That’s where the dogs come from. It’s time this world realize that when you buy or adopt a pet, you should be responsible for that animal for the rest of it’s life and if you cannot you find it a new home. Or better yet, contact the breeder. If it’s a responsible breeder then yes, they WILL take their dog back no matter what the age. Shoot, I don’t even ask why, I figure if they want to tell me fine, if not I just want my dog back.

I’m tired of people trying to blame responsible breeders for the whole shelter/rescue problem. It’s not them. If so then why do shelters import dogs to place?

Yes, I am a breeder. Yes, I own purebred dogs. I breed purebred dogs, and I show them. And I am not guilty for doing so! If you think I am, that’s your problem, not mine.


Susi November 26, 2012 at 2:47 pm

I appreciate your feedback, Peggy, and hopefully, “Dog” is not a “hit and run” writer but one who comes back and tries to either educate herself, or refute our experiences with data and sources our points. I’m inclined to think we may never hear from her again, but that, too, is revealing.


Meghan December 10, 2012 at 2:17 pm

Of course no one can “100% GUARUNTEE” anything. However, the blame for someone who chooses to violate a contract and dump a dog lies NOT with the breeder but with the individual who dumped said dog. Do you think that this same person would NOT have dumped their dog had it been a rescue? If you do, you’re more naive than you appear. Sadly, the only difference would have been that that poor rescue dog might be put down at a shelter whereas the responsibly bred purebred might have a chance to be reclaimed by his/her breeder like Jack talked about in a previous post. Sadly, too many rescue dogs never get that chance.


Denise November 26, 2012 at 11:25 am

I agree with Susi completely. I am the President of my local breed club and the President of our local breed Rescue. The purebred dogs that come into Rescue are from irresponsible breeders and pet shops. I have had 11 year old dogs come into Rescue; the breeders have taken them back, no questions asked but, “When can I pick him/her up?”. These are responsible breeders who take back a dog no matter the age or health condition. Most of the responsible breeders microchip their litters, and keep track of the numbers and keep track of their puppy buyers. The dogs in the shelters are the result of owner failure, not the result of responsible breeders.


Jen Hileman November 26, 2012 at 11:57 am

Kudos to you again Susi….I am trying to convince one off my old friends that HSUS isn’t the group she thinks they are, and I have been around long enough to see some shelter dog disasters. I think rescue is great but someone needs to be doing it right and you hit the nail on the head…AGAIN!


Susi November 26, 2012 at 3:09 pm

Thanks, Jen, and we have a monumental task in front of us in trying to persuade good hearted people that HSUS and PETA are not what they purport to be. I wish I had a magic pill to help people instantly see what we’ve learned over the years. A Vulcan mind probe would be nice.


Amelia Smith December 8, 2012 at 1:29 pm

In the US, we kill 3,000,000 +/- dogs each and every year. I have never had a shelter tell me, “wait, we have a fresh shipment coming next week.” This is purebred hogwash and rebuttal that is misguided toward HSUS and PETA, which are just as evil as our AKC. Adopt and rescue proponents like myelf have no love for them either. The picture shown is typical of PETA’s methods to subvert a popular cause for fund raising, which they do not use any part of to reduce the killing of unwanted and homeless animals. I agree. They stink! But so do people who breed for self-agrandizement, greed, ego and selfishness, like too many in the AKC. The AKC is a bad business model. The number of purebred dogs killed in county shelter, and the number of genetics ills resulting from knowingly unsound breeding practices is proof. Unsound, like purposeful merle to merle breeds, the King Cavalier debacle, bulldogs that can’t breathe efficiently, and the list goes on. Pure bred dog owners should feel guilty. They are part of the problem and dogs are suffering as a result. The “sick dog” argument doesn’t fly either, because in a kill shelter, if a dog sniffles, it dies. They don’t have funds to treat them. The last dog I rescued became pregnant in a kill shelter because they don’t spay/neuter them either unless and until they’re adopted. They can’t afford the procedure on dead dogs walking. She was spayed, the puppies destroyed, and I fostered her and found her a home. Show me a bill of lading on those imported shelter dogs, or get 1 single, solitary shelter manager to speak about it, and maybe I’ll believe you. Patently absurd, but welcome to the world of the AKC


Susi December 8, 2012 at 1:53 pm

In my view, Amelia, the steadfastness of some shelter and rescue people in refusing to acknowledge data is fast approaching that of animal rights zealots. Let’s demonize ALL breeders and equate the irresponsible, profit driven breeder with the dog fancier who spends years researching bloodlines of a breed they love, spending a fortune on DNA, OFA, BAER and CERF testing and taking the time to match the right family to the right puppy, and while we’re at it, let’s give lousy owners a pass. After all, it was a breeder who encouraged the new owner to have a baby and ignore the dog. Let’s ignore the staggering numbers of dogs being imported into the country to fill shelter demand in certain regions of the country, and by all means, it makes perfect sense for a shelter to tell you, “Wait, I’ve got new meat coming in” when they often don’t know the source, themselves. You don’t believe me. Fine. Will you believe the Center for Disease Control? How about the NAIA? How about this 2000 paper citing the real sources of shelter dogs:

If you were remotely interested, you’d find scores of reliable data, Amelia, that throw a wrench into the narrative you chose to believe, but it’s feels so much better to blame everyone but owners, irresponsible breeders, shelters too understaffed to make sure that a dog goes to the right home and instead, gets the dog back. You find me a shelter manager who will speak about the importation of dogs to fill demand, and I’ll show you someone who no longer wants a job. Welcome to the our newest industry: the shelter and rescue world.


Meghan December 10, 2012 at 10:53 am

I recently purchased my first dog from a very responsible breeder. I have always had rescues until now. I was shocked and disappointed at how many ‘friends’ I lost due to the fact that I purchased a dog. The looks of judgement from fellow rescue volunteers was just too much. It’s too bad because I love my rescues just as much as I love my new pup.

What really gets me is that many rescuers do not realize how valuable responsible breeders are to the rescue effort. The breeder I got my pup from has rescued or helped her club to rescue MANY more dogs than she will ever produce. Such a shame the two sides can’t seem to come together for the greater good.


Estelle Dahl January 4, 2013 at 8:35 pm

I tell people who ask why I bought from a reputable breeder the following: If you want to have children, do you or did you plan to have your own, or do you plan to adopt? If you want to have your own, why, when there are already many in foster care who need homes? It’s the same for me as far as a dog. I want a well bred dog raised in a proper environment rather than carelessly or thoughtlessly randomly bred.


Susi January 4, 2013 at 8:47 pm

An interesting way to challenge the folks who ask you such a question. Well done, Estelle, I may have to “borrow” that (okay, I’m stealing it)


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Susi March 5, 2013 at 5:40 pm

Good Gosh! What high praise – and I can assure you, it is very much appreciated! So, is it over the top if I tattoo your comments on my forehead for all to see? (grin)


Katie April 26, 2013 at 11:17 pm

Thank you so much for this article! I have long said that Judeo/Christian guilt is still alive and well in the so called “animal welfare” groups. After working at the humane society of Omaha Nebraska, my husband and I were actually charged with animals cruelty after our beloved dachshund came down with pneumonia. When we took
Him to the VCA emergancy animal clinic a vet tech called the SPCA and told them we “abused” our baby. Without any evidence other than the phone call, ignoring my years of volunteer work with animals, they attempted to take my dog and charge us with misdemeanor animal cruelty. Luckily when faced in court with their lack of evidence all charges were dropped, but I will never get over the trauma caused by this betrayal of a cause I was supporting. I now do earth dog competitions with my beautiful wonderful Doxies who are all AKC registered and would
Gladly support the AKC over the HSA or any sort of SPCA.


Susi April 26, 2013 at 11:49 pm

Katie, what a horrific experience! It’s mind-boggling to me the power that “do-gooders” have on little more than heresay. Dogs do get sick – how on earth did they make a leap that it was your fault? Experiences like this just make me shake my head. I’m so sorry you had to go through this, but am grateful that you shared your experience here. Personal anecdotes are very powerful and serve to underscore that in this day and age, you “can’t make this stuff up.”


Jenna September 11, 2013 at 12:08 pm

There’s no reason to breed purebred dogs. You SHOULD adopt shelter dogs first. And you SHOULD feel guilty for forcing dogs to breed just so you can have a perfect dog to prance around at dog shows. There are more than enough dogs that need homes.


Susi September 11, 2013 at 12:26 pm

So, Jenna, the family that adopts a shelter dog, takes it home and realizes that it has temperament issues, is too big, doesn’t like to play, sheds too much – you name the excuse, then takes it BACK to the shelter and dumps it there because it wasn’t a good fit for the family – THAT’S more humane than getting exactly the right breed for the family the first time? Yup. Makes perfect sense to me. You display an appalling lack of knowledge about what it means to be a responsible, ethical breeder and you either didn’t read this article or simply lack critical thinking skills to have seen its point. There is no reaching you.


Jenna September 11, 2013 at 5:53 pm

People who adopt shelter dogs then “return” them are just as bad as breeders.


chienblanc4csi September 11, 2013 at 8:39 pm

Wow. Jenna is sharing the word from on high, I guess. There you have it, in plain English. No reason to breed purebred dogs – tell that to the families whose lost loved ones have been located by the lovely golden retrievers, the German shepherds, the bloodhounds around the country, the certified search and rescue dogs. I’ve been a trainer of SAR dogs for close to 20 years now, and I promise, Ms. Jenna, that purebred dogs are the top choice for top trainers and handlers. Yes, many shelter dogs are turned into great search dogs, but there is a big “luck” factor, and usually, the successful dogs were already evaluated by experienced and knowledgeable people before being given to new handlers. A family whose 7 year old autistic child suddenly disappeared should be able to trust that the K9 team called in has put every possible effort into fielding the most reliable dog and handler team possible, there may be only one chance to find their child. They don’t care about political correctness or someone trying to prove a point with ignorant statements like yours. Purebred dogs are highly desirable for good reasons. They are not “better” than shelter dogs, and not more loveable or loyal than shelter mutts, but they have certain predictable traits that approach an ideal that should be deployed in an emergency, and often are necessary to make the best fit for a lifetime with a family.

Let me tell you a story, Jenna. It’s not my experience, so you can’t blame me for being biased. Here goes. I was working with our state lawmakers on a new breeder licensing bill, when one of the senators pulled a couple of our volunteers into his office to share his story. His parents had recently lost their aged pet dog, and asked their son if he would help them look for a new companion. They didn’t have a lot of expectations, just that the dog be not a puppy, have medium to low exercise requirements, and be under 30 lbs. to meet the condo association requirements. This senator thought he should “do the right thing”, according to his constituents. So he went to his nearest shelter, thinking he might have a couple of prospects to visit with. Nope, nothing suitable. He found 4 more shelters in his district, and about a half dozen rescue groups, and put his name and requirements – simple as they were – in with all these groups. He called each one every week, and found only a couple of dogs that met those requirements, but they weren’t a good fit for his parents, in fact, he suspected that some of these groups were fibbing to him about the dogs’ temperaments and behavior. He talked to his staff, asked one aide to help him with this search, he was getting frustrated, this had gone on for months by then, still no suitable shelter dog for an older couple in a condo. Lots of teenaged, untrained, goofball Lab/shepherd mixes, lots of strong pitbull types, nothing under 30 lbs. that didn’t have some temperament issues. His aide said that her neighbor was a dog show exhibitor, bred Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, and might have an adult dog that would do well with his folks. He worried that this would be too expensive, and he might have to kick in some funds if his parents went that route. Well, they went to the breeder’s home, met several of the loveliest, sweetest dogs they had ever seen, and that day went home with a beautiful 5 year old retired show champion who wasn’t going to be bred again. Expensive? Nope, the breeder gave these people this lovely, trained, housebroken, sweet-as-sugar dog, with the stipulation that they would have her spayed within the year, saying that she deserved a good home as an ‘only’ dog. These people had made instant friends – both human and canine. This senator wanted to tell our dog federation that he had become educated in a hurry, and that he had done more research after this experience. He now knows that there is a SHORTAGE of dogs in our area, as he saw for himself the empty cages in so many shelters. Only the rescue groups seemed to have a lot of dogs, but it became clear to him that some of these rescue groups were making money selling these dogs as “rescues”, and getting new ‘merchandise’ from out of the state regularly. So much for “should-ing” on us, Jenna.


Lynda Beam (Canine Candids by Lynda) September 11, 2013 at 1:34 pm

And scarier still are the “rescues” that are literally making a good living “rescuing” dogs. They cater to those that want to do “the right thing” according to the ladies with the PETA signs and are willing to pay for the privilege of “adopting” a needy pet.

I’m fine with shelter dogs, really I am … I’ve volunteered at the Anti-Cruelty Society of Chicago, I’ve lived with many mutts at the same time as purebred show dogs. I loved them just as much. I have often gone to shelters to evaluate malamutes or shibas for our local rescues. I’ve shared photos of Facebook of adoptable dogs, but I do not like what is becoming the practice of setting up a rescue out of the house, soliciting donations and selling, yes selling … dogs and other animals for a pretty hefty fee. Are these rescues actually evaluating the dogs and evaluating the people that adopt them, do they have experience in evaluating behavior and training? Sometimes they do, and I’m fine with that, but if they don’t, then they are just part of the problem … the seemingly never ending problem which begins with lack of responsibility by the owner.


Susi September 11, 2013 at 1:37 pm

I appreciate the comment, Lynda, and your points are excellent. The hypocrisy on the opposing side of this is daunting and emotion-driven. Critical thinking has been trumped by “feelings” and balancing good decision making has been thrown out of whack.


Meg Francoeur September 11, 2013 at 1:42 pm

Well said!!! I work in rescue and have fosters and adopted a beagle mix…I also own two purebred Rhodesians that I got from a reputable breeder that has bred from some of the first ridgebacks in the country. I will never give up my beautiful ridgebacks, will always take the time to research breeders before buying…AND I will never give up my mutts either. There must be balance. There will always be a place for a purebred dog…something to be said about knowing what you’re getting! And thank you as well for pointing out that HSUS and PETA both have negative agendas that have nothing to do with the welfare of animals.


Susi September 11, 2013 at 2:08 pm

Thank you, Meg, I appreciate the comment! Since writing this piece, I believe more people are wising up to the radical agenda of the animal rights movement and seeing how utterly out of balance the debate has become. As you said, there’s room for both rescues and purpose-bred dogs – often in the same house as you’ve pointed out.


tyler September 11, 2013 at 1:50 pm

Working in a metro shelter I watched the Kentucky Human Society walk the kennels weekly and get first choice to the most desirable dogs for adoption. Based solely on looks followed by a brief temperment test. They pay no taxes and pay nothing for the dogs to the city which is funded with tax payers money and have cared for the dogs a minium of 5 days. And provided vet care before being released. In return they take the same dogs and sell them to the public for no less then $200+ where they are marketed in their brick and mortar locations and local petfood stores…. I work and own purebreeds and working dogs. I will never support a non profit organization that uses peoples hearts and guilt into making money.


tyler September 11, 2013 at 2:00 pm

I saw alot of things wrong with the “system” and may write a book one day. I cant tell you how many times its a pet owner and not a breeder who dumps the dog and how many times a breeder came to pull that same dog out at a higher cost because it wasnt “desirable or too old or too big” or fit in the selection or most likely to be adopted or paid more for process for the “humane society” and this what lead me to working dogs and dogs bred for work. Thankfully there are responsible breeders and responsible pet owners.


Susi September 11, 2013 at 2:09 pm

THANK YOU, Tyler, for a great observation and for sharing it here. Now, if I could just tattoo what you wrote on my forehead for all to see. Thanks for writing and for the work you’re doing with dogs.


Susi September 11, 2013 at 2:14 pm

Wow, that’s discouraging to read. It seems to me to be the perfect expose for a news organization to cover. The NAIA has completed their work on a shelter model about which I’ll soon be writing. The day that shelters must keep records and report on their activities is long overdue.


Robyn September 11, 2013 at 2:15 pm

So, Saint Jenna of Flaming Sanctimony, just how do you think all those nice shelter dogs got there, anyway? Because: just spreading your emotional napalm over everything you don’t like or care to understand? Yeah, that makes sense.

Oh, that’s right. Too many shelter pets are surrendered by THEIR OWNERS, who insist on buying those pets on a whim via a website that takes PayPal, their Sunday paper, their neighbors, or at a pet store or flea market. They typically put about as much thought into getting a dog as buying a coffee maker…usually less. Then those owners kick them out in a backyard, the garage, or the laundry room and expect them to magically train themselves. And eventually, when the warm and fuzzy puppy experience tanks and goes south—and all too often it does—those pets get dumped flat at shelters by the very people they ought to have been able to trust the most, or get abandoned by them, get backyard-bred to continue the sad cycle and “recoup” the expense for them, or worse (See: 99% of all Pitbulls).

“She won’t housebreak.” “He won’t stop barking.” “He jumps on my kids.” “She has a thunder phobia.” “We can’t afford her hip surgery.” “We have a baby on the way.” “We’re moving (heard the most often, and the least excusable).” “We don’t have time for him anymore (he’s four months old. You’ve had him eight weeks…?).” “He ate the sofa.” “She has allergies.” “He bit the neighbor/my spouse/our kid/the vet.” Yup. Heard them all. And then some.

How? I actually rescue. And not as a backyard nutter posing as a savior, but for audited local and national 501 (c)’s. I’ve been actively involved as a Board member for our local shelter as well as rescuing and fostering dogs and the occasional cat since the mid-90’s. As such, I have seen Joe Public’s effect on his own dog too many times. And let me tell you: it is not pretty. It makes me really hate people sometimes.

Breeders like me aren’t the enemy, sorry, and, surprise: very frequently we’re the ones actually in the trenches putting our money where our mouths are with rescue…and it’s the constant bashing and the lame, callous, lazy and dishonest OWNER surrenders that make me ill. Blaming all breeders across the board for the problem is like blaming Smith and Wesson when one of their guns gets used in a crime.

But: sure. Let’s just continue to blame good breeders for everything, even those of us who–last time I checked–still have the legal right to produce ethically-bred, purpose-bred, physically and mentally sound dogs for carefully-screened people who *want* them, who understand what they’re taking on, and who sign contracts agreeing to return them to us at any time in their lives if they don’t want them or cannot keep them anymore. These are the owners who overwhelmingly keep those pets for life. Responsible breeders are not the problem, no matter how much you’d like to pin it on us. And our typically healthy, happy dogs are NOT the ones in shelters. And we have every right to keep producing litters if we choose, and working with them, and enjoying them, even occasionally (gasp!) prancing them around at shows.

Shelter mismanagement–and not pet overpopulation–is the real problem…Google Nathan Winograd’s blog for comprehensive factual data. And: notice I said “factual.”

You might be surprised to learn that AKC all-breed and specialty club volunteers nationwide pulled many thousands of dogs (frequently including mixes) from shelters in 2012, and far, far more than any Animal Rights group$–and we all know their stated and verified “solution” to shelter pets.

Do you?


Jenna September 11, 2013 at 5:54 pm

Idiot, I never said that adopting dogs from Petsmart or wherever is a good idea! I said that buying/”adopting” pure bred dogs is wrong, and that’s true whether from a “breeder” or the mall.


Susi September 11, 2013 at 6:02 pm

Since it’s apparent that you’ve not read the article very carefully, Jenna, allow me to give you the salient points. At the time this piece was written, 33% of shelter dogs were rescued by individuals acting on behalf of their purebred dog club. It’s likely more than that now. That’s 33% more dogs than HSUS or PETA ever helped. Overpopulation is largely a myth, why else would the Center for Disease Control report that somewhere over 300,000 dogs are imported per year from Europe, Mexico, Puerto Rico and other islands to meet demand IN SHELTERS? Ethical, responsible breeders carefully screen their puppy owners before allowing one puppy to leave their homes. Shelters don’t do this kind of screening and consequently, a great many dogs are returned to shelters. How many? We don’t exactly know BECAUSE shelters aren’t required to keep the kind of records that will indicate where puppies are coming from, why they’re being returned, who’s adopting them demographically, etc. The National Animal Interest Alliance is going to change all that with a Shelter Model that all pounds and shelters should be required to meet. So Jenna, let’s hear your story. Who are you? What makes you an expert?


Robyn September 11, 2013 at 2:30 pm

BTW…I have nothing against mutts or rescues. I have one (a rescue “failure”), as well as my Purebred Prancing Show Dogs. (Sarcasm intended.) But just as not every purebred is the right dog for someone, not every “pound puppy” (gag) is the perfect pet or going to live happily ever after, sad though that may be.


janet September 11, 2013 at 3:26 pm

Excuse me …. Force to breed??!!?? With my dogs there is no forcing to it. If I didn’t keep them apart I’d be having puppies all the time. The victim of a couple of OOPS litters over 25 years I can say without embarrassment – my girls are sluts and my boys walking hormones!


mary kay September 11, 2013 at 3:33 pm

Wow! You could not have said it better! I find myself often justifying my dogs and the fact that i am a breeder-i allow people to put their guilt on me-but no more!
Thank you!


Susi September 11, 2013 at 5:02 pm

You’re not alone, Mary Kay. There are lots of ethical, caring breeders doing a fine job of breeding purpose-bred dogs. Stick to your guns (oh wait, they’re trying to take those away, too) and never feel anything but pride in doing a good job and being a good citizen. That’s more than we can say for many of those criticizing us.


Bonnie September 11, 2013 at 5:55 pm

You had me until you got to this: “Social mores changed even more. Self made millionaires once admired for their industry and hard work came instead to be indicted for being greedy, resented that they should have so much when others, regardless of their work ethic, were just as deserving.”

This is VERY untrue. No one is hating rich people in general. The ones we hate are those that didn’t do anything productive at all, but used OUR money to lie and cheat to make themselves rich. Useless people who take billions in government subsidies and tell children and the elderly they will just have to die if they can’t work.

After that, the propaganda in this piece was clear. While I agree with the basic premise of course, having “been in” purebred dogs for over forty years, like so many of the adversaries that you site, you provide no links and no references for where your information comes from. In fact, I have seen similar numbers used before without any facts to back them up, so I have to disregard them.

Stooping to the level of PETA and AR fanatics does us no good at all. We need to be SURE of our “facts” and provide references. What I feel you are skirting around here is the fact that most of those “purebred” dogs in shelters and rescues came from commercial “breeders”. I know that some believe that we should support these kinds of “breeders” so that we don’t get taken out on the “slippery slope”. This is ridiculous and always has been a false argument. These “puppy mills” (yes-puppy mills!) need to be done away with once and for all. Obtaining a dog needs to be a lot more difficult than it is now. Schools need to teach proper pet care and stress empathy for ones’ pets. REAL Breeders have made some good progress in educating pet buyers, but a lot more still needs to be done.


Susi September 11, 2013 at 6:18 pm

“We?” Bonnie? Who is the “we” you site in your sentence, “The ones we hate are those that didn’t do anything productive at all.” I think with this sentence, you’ve revealed your own bias. The Kennedy family is pretty rich. Do you hate them? They inherited their fortune from Joe Kennedy’s bootlegging. How about the Koch Brothers? Their family fortune came from developing a cracking method for the refinement of heavy oil into gasoline. D’you hate them, too?

As for my references, I’ll repeat them again:The Center for Disease Control and G. Gale Galland, veterinarian at the Division of Global Migration and Quarantine, ABC News, the United States Public Health Service, the AKC, direct quotes from Francis Battista, co-founder of Best Friends Sanctuary, Wally Conron, the creator of the Labradoodle.

Your turn. You are quick to indict me for a lack of references which were sited in the article, but then drop this one: “What I feel you are skirting around here is the fact that most of those “purebred” dogs in shelters and rescues came from commercial “breeders”. So what’s YOUR source for saying that MOST purebred dogs in shelters come from commercial breeders? A link please?

We find common ground in your last sentence about teaching proper pet care in schools. I would add instruction in recognizing canine body language and understanding dogs’ social structures. Beyond that, you drop the word “propaganda” quite freely when it seems to me that you’ve bought into some, yourself.


Leslie M September 11, 2013 at 7:34 pm

Melody my collie pure bred from great stock nod everything I wanted and expected from her. Caleb my Keeshond a puppy in trouble. Horrible accident killed his breeder family. Rescued before sheltered as a puppy. Adopted two cats one bearded dragon two horses currently. I’m a mixed family. I have wonderful unwanteds. I have the animals I wanted. I accepted what came. Others were not responsible animal owners. I blame the owners. I blame their ignorance. I blame there parents for not raising thm to the responsibilities or taking a life into their own. That is where the guilt truly belongs. For me here is a special place in he bowels of te afterlife for those who abuse animals. Neglect trauma or abandonment all qualify.


Susi September 11, 2013 at 9:50 pm

No one I know, be they purebred dog fancier or marvelous mutt owners, would disagree with you, Leslie. At the end of the day, we love our dogs- period, and those that harm them, well, they better hope I’m never called to sit in the jury during their trial.


Kathy A September 12, 2013 at 5:38 am

. Responsible breeders aren’t the problem. And the breeders I know work as hard to help rescue dogs as non-breeders. They foster, transport, pay medical bills, screen adopters, publicize rescue, and run fundraisers. They take back their dogs if the new owners can’t keep them (and write that into the contract of sale). They only breed when they have homes lined up for the resulting puppies. They require that pet quality dogs be spayed or neutered. They’re NOT the bad guys. Puppy mills and backyard breeders are — and so are HSUS and PETA.


Susi September 12, 2013 at 10:37 am

Sing it, Kathy A. Thanks for writing and saying what needs to be shouted from the rooftops.


Soila S September 12, 2013 at 8:39 am

just read your article! Thank you! I used to volunteer at a local humane society. Not anymore! After I got my second purebred dog from a wonderful breeder, the comments from other volunteers and staff were so bad, that I left the place. And have not missed it! I have 3 dogs, two purebreds and a mix that I found on the street. I love them all equally but the ones that came from the breeder have been so much easier in every way. I do show my dogs in obedience, rally and conformation. I had a rescue (purebred) dog that I lost 2 years ago. She was sweet with me but had some serious behavior problems and could not much of anything outside my house. And yes, my next dog will be purebred (and from the same breeder)!
My question is: Is there anything we as regular dog owners can do to help with this fight?


Susi September 12, 2013 at 9:55 am

I appreciate the kind words, Soila (and I love your name!). What you as a “regular” dog owner can do is share your story and opinion with anyone and everyone because nothing is as persuasive as someone’s real life experience. You could also join the NAIA ( an organization I believe is poised to fight back against the misinformation promulgated by the “other side.” They are an animal welfare (not rights) advocacy group and there’s a “get involved” tap at the top.

There is no persuading the more ardent of rescue advocates. They see what they see in their own local shelter and believe it’s emblematic of the rest of the country. They refuse to believe data when it’s presented to them, but think nothing of the fact that local shelters aren’t required to statistics and data about their intake. But mostly, Soila, never be “guilted” into owning the dog you want to own be it a purebred bought from a breeder, or a dog you saved off the streets.


Deb September 12, 2013 at 9:16 am

Great article. I am sharing this. I live in WI and I can tell you that some of the rescue groups go down south and bring back dogs and puppies to adopt up here. Yet if there are purebred dogs in shelters (unfortunately mostly pit bulls at my local one) it is the fault of anyone who breeds. Maybe if they didn’t bring in out of area dogs the local ones that are adoptable would all have homes! Maybe they should feel guilty that they are denying a local dog a second chance! Also, they forget who helps rescue — many specialty clubs assist the rescues for their breed with financial and material donations, networking, sending people to rescue who really don’t want or shouldn’t have a puppy, etc. And GASP — this will really destroy their illusion, many of us who breed also started purebred rescue groups and even have rescued mixed breeds!! If we love our breed we often try to find room for that “one more” who really needs a home — I have three of those “one mores” currently besides my several purebreds (most of which are now spayed/neutered).


Susi September 12, 2013 at 9:45 am

Thanks for writing, Deb, and for the work you do. Having just responded to “Nicole,” further above this reply, I believe there are those people who will simply never be persuaded that they could be guilty of reverse discrimination, let alone admit that they may have been deluded about the huge money associated with “moving dogs” from the south as you cited. Rather than love all dogs, as you do, they castigate purebreds and those of us who own them. I fear it’s an impasse that will never be bridged.


Nicole September 12, 2013 at 9:22 am

Wow, what a load of bullshit. This is an impressive work of fiction to justify your own biases.

I’m no big fan of peta, but the idea that shelters have to go out of their way to accumulate dogs to meet adoption demand? Bravo, that’s just beyond twisted, I couldn’t have come up with that while on an acid trip trying to invent conspiracy theories. As one who actually works in rescue, with both small scale, home-based operations and local shelters, that is so radically beyond the truth it’s sickening. And that’s only part of what’s nonsense about this whole post- I don’t have time to go after the rest.
All of this just reads as “Poor little me! Stop judging me you shelter advocate meanies- I deserve a purebred and not some broken abandoned mutt, so stop making me feel guilty about it.” I’ll call the wahhhhhmbulance for you.


Susi September 12, 2013 at 9:37 am

Take it up with the Center for Disease Control, Nicole. They gathered the data, not me. Now do something really refreshing and talk with purebred dog owners, not just your own little circle of friends and like-minded cronies who will pat you on the back and tell you how wonderful you are. Talk with the people who own purebred dogs AND rescues (me included) because they have room in their hearts for both, not just the “broken down mutts” that have earned you your halo. You’re demonstrated snobbery at its worst, Nicole, because it drips sanctimony. Well done.


Vonnie September 12, 2013 at 10:32 am

It makes me sad that over time it came down to some fanatics as either/or. I have both well bred and rescue as many “show” folks do. I think the argument that if you purchase a purebred you are denying a home to a rescue makes as much sense as a cat advocate posting here that for every dog you pull from a shelter, you are sentencing a poor cat to death. (btw have several rescue cats also before someone calls me a nazi)


Susi September 12, 2013 at 10:46 am

It makes me sad too, Vonnie. It’s as if the shelter dog zealots have drawn a line in the sand and picked a fight we never wanted, let alone started. The misinformation out there is staggering to me.


Lydia Stanfield September 12, 2013 at 12:18 pm

Where is all the moral indignation for people who won’t spay or neuter?


Susi September 12, 2013 at 12:33 pm

Like who, Lydia? Pet owners? Show dog owners? Everyone?


Kate September 12, 2013 at 1:53 pm

Great article!
I’ve had huskies all the time,from reputable breeders in the show ring,before that I have a mutt,which I adopted from a street years ago
I enjoy training dogs,my mutt was a GSD+Golden Retriever mixed (or so the vet said)
He is easy to train,but unstable,while on my huskies’ side,thou a lot of people told me about how stubborn this breed is,and my mutt is better than them….
It’s NOT. My first siberian could do more than 20 tricks & learnt them under 8-15 repetitions whereas my mutt requires at least 10-20 repetitions,and despite him being older than the siberian,he learnt only 10 tricks. He still chews stuffs in my house and will lost his focus easily. He is too hyper even if I exercise him for 2-3 hours, and requires medication for his skin disease from time to time. I hardly see my siberian with any disease unless you’re talking about fleas,1 or 2 could be found in 3-5 months.
Until today,I’ve never regretted that I bought my first siberian,which eventually lead me to understand dog shows from my breeder.

I love them all,but I will always prefer a quality purebred from reputable breeders at any time.

A lot of people had told me,why didn’t I just adopt? (because I have 8 huskies now)
I do rescue dogs,you can ask me for transport,for dog food,for medications,but don’t expect me to bring them into my life. Because I will not be able to leave them if I do so.

I believe that true,passionate breeders will always educate possible owners & filter owners before letting them purchase the dogs, or offer them other breeds from their friends when the owners are not suited for the breed (adopting or buying).
My breeder even offers to take him back if I ever found it difficult to keep my siberian.
I try to give my side of the story to my friends,but it’s hard to do that alone. Not everyone will purchase a dog,but not everyone will adopt either.

Thanks for taking the time to make it clear to the public,definitely sharing this!


Susi September 12, 2013 at 2:14 pm

I appreciate the time you took to write, Kate, and for passing along the article. You’re not alone in trying to present your side of the story to friends, I hear from frustrated people all the time. There is no better education, however, than hearing about the experience of another person. It lends authenticity, and besides, it’s rather hard to say to someone’s face that their experience is wrong or invalid. Hang in there and know that you have an army behind you of like minded folks.


Anne Steshoo September 12, 2013 at 3:07 pm

When taken to its logical conclusion, the “no one should buy from a breeder and breeders shouldn’t breed” argument would cause the pet dog to ultimately become extinct (which, incidentally, is PETA’s goal).


Susi September 12, 2013 at 5:09 pm

And there you have it, Anne. You’re quite right. The elimination of the pet dog is the ultimate goal. Incidentally, HSUS and PETA are also targeting food sources.


Colleen Silva September 12, 2013 at 3:19 pm

I too, hated all the guilt trip ads to donate. I really appreciate all the honest information that has been put out here. I get angry when groups put out misinformation like it is the truth to further their agendas.

I only had a wonderful, short lived, mixed breed dog (from a relative) as I was growing up. I was more of a cat person. My youngest daughter had asked me for a dog for years. I resisted. I had always said that if I did own a dog it would be a greyhound because of all of the abuse and death in that industry. I finally relented and rescued a purebred greyhound from a group. Yes, it cost more that going to the pound, but I still thought it was reasonable. Unfortunately, my daughter was out of the area for a couple of months right after I took in the dog. Needles to say the dog bonded with me. Rocky had his share of quirks due to the abuse he suffered at the hands of his previous owner – scared of older men, separation anxiety, to name a few. But he protected my daughter and me (not typical of greyhounds) and to lessen his separation anxiety we decided to rescue another dog from the pound for company. We saw mostly pit bull mixes (pit bull Shar pai?), but a handsome shepherd/herder mix caught our eyes. We took her home and the first ting she did was almost kill our cat (my greyhound was cat safe and even let them sleep with him). Back to the pound. I did try to find her a home with several rescue groups to no avail. As the time limit at the pound was about to expire, and my daughter really laid the guilt trip on me, I went back and took her back home with me. It turns out that she too had been severely abused in her short life. It took a lot of work and and many classes to get her adapted. I feel that both pure breeding and rescue centers serve their purpose and both have their draw backs. My greyhound developed cancer (probably due to over breeding) at age six and had to be put down. It has been six years and I still miss him. But Jessie has turned out to be
a great dog in the confines of our yard. (Outside, she still forgets everything she has learned.) Why can’t we just learn to live together.


Susi September 12, 2013 at 5:14 pm

Why indeed, Colleen. I’ve never once written that purebreds are preferable to mutts, and I will hold steadfast to the idea that the key is being able to make those choices for ourselves. I appreciate reading your story. There is nothing as authentic as real experiences and while anecdotal, enough stories tend to show a pattern.


DesertRat September 12, 2013 at 3:48 pm

My family prefers shelter or “rescue” dogs, simply because we’ve had better luck with them over the years.

Over the years we’ve had a number of different purebred (or so they were reputed) dogs of various breeds. Of those, every one has had some physical, emotional, or mental issue that led to them passing or being put down before their expected lifespan. Because they are family and we love them, this makes purebreds less desirable. This problem arises because, while many breeders are careful in how they go about it, there are lots of others that don’t. The “don’ts” say all the right things, and have all the (apparently) right paperwork, but their results are not the same. Their breeding practices and the way they treat their animals leads to unhealthy or unsocial dogs that just can’t live normally or be pets, which perpetuates the idea that shelter dogs are healthier.

If there was some better way to credential and monitor reputable breeders, that would probably help. Unfortunately, both practical and economic reasons make this impossible. Credentialed breeders would raise their prices because they ARE credentialed and know they offer a better product, and people desiring lower-cost animals of the same breed will still seek out un-credentialed breeders who would offer ‘the same dog’ at a lower price. This cycle means that a healthy purebred dog will remain the domain of the well-off, and unhealthy purebreds and shelter dogs will remain the realm of the less wealthy.

I’m not going to feel guilty or superior over where my dog comes from, regardless. Our animals (cats, too) all live happy, as-healthy-as-we-can-provide, lives. They know they are loved, regardless of their ages, weird breed-mixes, appearances, or health issues. As far as I’m concerned, if you treat your pets well it doesn’t matter where they came from.


Susi September 12, 2013 at 5:20 pm

Thanks for sharing your experience, DesertRat. I can’t disagree with most of what you’ve said. Like it or not, breeding matters and it can be done haphazardly, or it can be done within the scope of ethical, responsible and humane behavior. I suspect the answer is in education. People must learn how to tell a responsible breeder from a subpar one, they must learn what purebreds offer versus mixed breeds, and visa versa, and they must learn that dogs aren’t disposable. MANY purebred dog fanciers work in rescue and own one of their own, my family included. What’s important is that we have the choice to have the kind of pet we want to have because at the end of the day, the right fit is a win/win for the dog and the family.


Sara S September 13, 2013 at 12:26 am

I think there are many good points made in this article. I don’t have a problem with people having purebred dogs…that wouldn’t be very fair as we are head over heels for Westies. However, I do think it’s important to let people know that they can get a purebred animal from a breed rescue group.

In my mind, the primary “villains” in this whole story are the puppy mills (and pet stores that sell their puppies) and backyard breeders. Responsible breeders are another group entirely. We have a dear friend who breeds Newfies and she is devoted to working for the betterment of the breed. She screens her “puppy parents” very carefully and makes it clear she will take the dog back at any time if the situation arises.

However, I have to admit to being troubled by the apparent disdain some posters have for rescue groups. For one thing, it seems some people lump rescue groups in with the radical animal rights people (I abhor PETA, btw). Believe me, I know there are “fake rescuers” out there but I’ve been lucky to be involved with several very reputable non-profit Westie rescue groups. Thanks to Facebook, Westie lovers have formed a “network” which serves to spread the word if a Westie shows up on a shelter list, and if the dog isn’t adopted some rescue almost always manages to pull the Westie.

I do understand that there are some rescue people who may reciprocate the negative feelings. I was at a Westie event with a puppy when I was approached by a woman who, with her nose in the air, asked “Did you get her from a responsible breeder?” When I told her I got our sweet girl from Westie Rescue her attitude did a 180. I just walked away shaking my head, but did share the story often that day.

The cost of adopting a rescue is something I’ve heard questioned, but at least with Westies, far too often the dog has either been dumped or released to a rescue because “they have skin issues (or other malady) and we don’t know what to do” or just as often the dog has been neglected for months if not years. Some Westies come into rescue with almost no hair on their bodies, rotten teeth, or some other serious condition. No GOOD rescue is going to place a dog with serious medical issues with a family until the dog has been fostered and treated. The two rescues we got our current girls from make sure their dogs spend time in a foster home, sometimes to “learn to be a dog”. This time also gives the foster time to evaluate the dog, noting any issues that need to be addressed. Vet care is given if needed during fostering as well. When the time is right, the dog is listed as available for adoption. How long it will take to get the Westie into a home depends on if there’s an appropriate home that already has an approved application on file. There may be certain requirements (no cats, this dog needs to be an only dog, etc) that mean the right home may take longer to find. The fosters go into this knowing they’ll have the dog in their family as long as it takes.

I guess my main point is to say there is middle ground…


Susi September 13, 2013 at 9:32 am

I appreciate your comments, Sara, and am sorry, if not disgusted, by the attitude you encountered at the Westie event. My family also includes a rescue dog taken in from the National Breed club and you’re right – the majority, if not all of the AKC pure breed clubs maintain a “rescue” branch of their club. My intention with this article wasn’t to vilify rescue groups, but to point out that some people have become very judgmental, if not sanctimonious, about their rescue dogs, and it’s time to stop. If we’re to celebrate diversity among our human population, why not include the dogs? There’s room for all wagging tails.


Niki September 13, 2013 at 12:50 am

Great article. I just wrote a very similar one about llamas and reputable breeders. There is a definite difference between breeders vs producers…..


Susi September 13, 2013 at 9:27 am

I appreciate that, Niki, and I hadn’t heard the distinction put in your terms before, breeder vs producer. Can I borrow that?


Bette Isacoff September 13, 2013 at 5:38 pm

As a longtime show breeder, I did the responsible thing and required, via legally binding contract, that all the pet dogs I sold be spayed or neutered, and that they come back to me if at any time during the dog’s like the owner could not keep it for any reason. Why don’t you get out of the dog shows and parade through neighborhoods, where people are breeding their dogs without regard for health issues or overpopulation.


Susi September 13, 2013 at 5:52 pm

Most responsible breeders do as you do, Bette, and yet we’re painted with a very broad brush. Funny how no one seems to go after the breeders of “designer dogs” who take two mostly undesirable dogs from two different breeds (since no ethical breeder would purposefully breed out of their breed without a very, very, very good reason) and voila, they make money. Go figure.


Debi September 13, 2013 at 5:42 pm

I have owned purebred and rescues dogs I dog walk at at a local shelter. I am always amazed at the overall generosity of dogs and the nuttiness of people. Shelters, as imperfect as they maybe, are still the last best hope for unwanted dogs. The dogs I see range from purebred to mutt and a majority are there because owners did not know dogs guard things, or they did not realize children cannot go unsupervised with dogs, or surprise dogs bite usually after multiple warnings. Dogs are great communicators its just people do not always listen. Sometimes dogs are there because of a loss of job or illness. The decision to adopt or buy is personal. I just implore people to educate themselves about the time and energy it takes to live with one.
Worth every minute by the way


Susi September 13, 2013 at 5:55 pm

I agree with you, Debi. I daresay the reason most dogs are “dumped” at a pound or shelter is incompatibility with its new family, and that comes down to ignorance, a lack of educating oneself, and insensitivity to the dog. Adopting or buying IS personal, and I’d rather it be a CHOICE, not a mandate from a government or organization. I appreciate that you’ve shared your thoughts here, Debi. I don’t disagree with any of them.


Michelle Bruce September 13, 2013 at 8:11 pm

I love this article. I own both a rescue (who is a purebred) and a purebred who is not a rescue. Both are wonderful dogs. I do not support “designer” breeds (mutts) with high price tags and cute little names like ” yorkipoo” this is one of the most ridiculous things I have ever seen. I know plenty of breeders that show and breed dogs not for bulk but for excellence in breed and they are very picky about where and who their dogs go to. I think it is sad that some folks feel the need to feel above the rest of us because they chose to rescue a dog. I say good for you, but it has no bearing on a responsible breeder or their choices.


Susi September 15, 2013 at 11:35 am

Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Michelle. Naturally, I agree with you, but it’s always helpful to hear when others have similar views.


rafael lanz zarandona September 15, 2013 at 12:21 am

Just wanted to clarify that the blame for shelter dogs are not on the breeders but on the pet farns breefing any kind of animals to make a living out of it.


Susi September 15, 2013 at 11:34 am

They are part of the chain of events, Rafael, but as I see it, the ultimate blame for shelter dogs are the owners who dump them there or failed to protect them in a fenced yard.


donna September 15, 2013 at 4:28 pm

All these hurrah comments about breeders are great and I’m sure there are some good breeders but there are simply too many dogs being churned out …. look at the shelters and rescues. There are plenty of purebred dogs that are abandoned, neglected and abused and end up in these shelters or rescues. Many of the bitches are tossed aside when they can no longer produce puppies and puppies are surrendered when they can’t be sold. I wanted to breed mini dachshunds as I am retired, I love the breed and have owned them all my life but as I started researching information on breeding I ended up looking at both pros and cons and the cons far outweigh the pros when it comes to breeding. I don’t know how any breeder with a conscience can look at the overpopulation of dogs and still go ahead churning out more! Just my opinion.


Susi September 15, 2013 at 4:44 pm

Missing out of your indictment, Donna, are the owners of the dogs dumped at the shelters. So breeders breed dogs and they go directly to the shelter? Please. In-between was an owner who failed that dog. Failed to protect it. Failed to see if it really was a good fit for the family. Failed it utterly and completely. Add a bit of guilt to the shelter which also failed to screen the prospective home. Good for you that you elected to not breed your dogs. You recognized your limitations and acted accordingly. Out there, however, are breeders who, like you, have been in their prospective breeds for years and years BUT realize that there is a market for their well bred, carefully placed dogs which will never see the inside of a shelter unless th owners die without plans for their dogs. Overpopulation is a myth, or at best, a regional problem, Donna. Please do a Google search on “pet overpopulation myth” if you don’t believe me.


donna September 15, 2013 at 5:15 pm

I certainly didn’t say that breeder dogs go from breeder to shelter and did not mean to imply that and yes as I said there are probably some good breeders and yes there is a person in the middle who is responsible and I will google the overpopulation “myth” which I didn’t get from any statistics only from following so MANY shelters in Canada and the US any province or state … search any breed and there are rescues set up for them. I’ve spoken to and researched a lot of breeders, some were good some not so much. It wasn’t my “limitations” that I recognized it was that there are too many dogs in horrible situations and I’m not saying all dogs end up in these situations but far too many do! If there are so many good breeders how are so many dogs ending up alone and on the streets or at their local Humane Society?


donna September 15, 2013 at 5:22 pm

This was the first link that came up when I typed in pet overpopulation in the US, I haven’t read it all but seems to be a problem ..


Susi September 15, 2013 at 5:32 pm

Good God, Donna, that link goes to the Humane Society of the United Staes, the most egregious, radicalized and dangerous animal rights organization there is out there. They seek to eliminate pet ownership altogether, not just responsible breeders, and less than 1% of the MILLIONS they take in every year goes to save a dog, let alone support local shelters. Consider looking at this site:

That said, my article never said that all breeders are good breeders. I’m saying that laws intended to shut down substandard breeders – those awful facilities that stuff dogs into cages and breed the life out of them – is also hurting the breeders who are doing it right: running health checks, studying geno and phenotypes in their dogs, raising the puppies in a loving, well socialized environment and carefully placing puppies with the caveat that if any time in that dog’s life the owners can’t keep it, the breeder gets it back. The Dept of Agriculture just regulated breeders to standards that no HOME environment can meet including the hosing down of facilities with hot steam and disinfectant. My dogs sleep on my bed, I have rugs and pillows and wood furniture. Tell me, Donna, would you rather buy a puppy raised in a loving home or in a tiled and stainless steel room. There’s a lot more to this subject, Donna, that I suspect you’re unaware of. I sense you have a good heart and care for dogs. Guess what? So do ethical, responsible breeders.

Kristina December 17, 2013 at 8:53 am

This is a wonderful article, and the message is vitally important to the survival of the purebred dog. In my home, as a child, we always had a family dog. One was a shelter dog that my dad ‘saved’ from death row. She was an old dog that had been surrendered by family after her owner died. She was a fantastic dog, but sadly we lost her to cancer. She also had mild hip and elbow displasia. She was a ‘mutt’. We also ran afoul of the dreaded BYB with the dog we got after we lost our sweet older shelter dog. This girl had allergies, and more health issues than I can name. We lost her at 5 to osteosarcoma. After this we decided as a family to buy our next dog from a breeder registered with the Canadian Kennel Club. It was the best decision we could have made. She’s now 8 years old and the picture of health, and an ideal example of her breed (GSD). Her breeder is always calling to say hi, and asks after how our girl is. We share pictures with people that have her littermates. We now have two other purebred dogs of another breed, and our relationship with that breeder is exactly the same. We have healthy, happy dogs…and a wonderful support network of other owners and breeders in those breeds.

I don’t look down on people that choose to rescue…but I want to know that my companion is going to be a member of my family for a long time. I’m secure in knowing that if anything ever happened and I couldn’t keep my dogs (be it illness, accident, or death) that they would go back to breeders that love them and that I trust. I’ve seen them take back dogs from such situations…and seen them rehomed with care and flourish with their new families. Responsible breeders are the SOLUTION to irresponsible dog ownership….not the cause.


Susi December 18, 2013 at 10:07 pm

A wonderful note, Kristina, and I appreciate that you took the time to write it. There’s nothing like experience on both sides of the issue to bring authenticity to a comment made to this article, it was a piece not fully appreciated by some who commented on it. Interestingly, these folks are on the “rescue” side of the issue and view the rest of us as criminals. They fail to see what you’ve seen (and experienced), and remain steadfast in their views of our “villainy.”


Tony Jabone December 20, 2013 at 6:46 pm

Wake up and smell the dog poop people …There are way too many pure breed puppy mills out there these days like Sandy Oak Chesapeake’s, Red Lion Chesapeake’s, and Sago Chesapeake’s.

These old ladies only care about the money !


Susi December 20, 2013 at 8:25 pm

Tony, I’m not entirely sure of your point. Are you suggesting all purebred breeders are typified by the mills you mentioned? That old lady breeders care only about money? That Chesapeake breeders are problematic? Honestly, I don’t know how to respond, here. If it’s the suggestion that all breeders “suck,” that’s like saying all singers suck because you don’t like Wayne Newton and he’s a singer. Shrugging my shoulders here.


Cheryl May December 22, 2013 at 5:55 pm

Thank you, thank you, thank you! I agree 100 percent. We have nothing to apologize for, but some misguided people seem to think we do. I will continue to own purebred dogs because I love getting sound, healthy dogs from a responsible breeder.


Susi December 22, 2013 at 6:51 pm

And thank YOU, Cheryl, for adding your voice to the chorus of folks pretty darn sick of the guilt trip.


monster warlord combinations ancient May 27, 2014 at 7:41 pm

What’s up, just wanted to say, I loved this post. It was practical.
Keep on posting!


Janelle July 22, 2014 at 1:33 pm

You make some very interesting points in your article, but I do wish you had backed it up with more hard numbers and references. You don’t prove that “pet overpopulation is a myth” just as it is difficult to prove that there IS pet overpopulation. It is dependent on your definition. I would argue that HUMANS are overpopulated because we can’t seem to figure out how to adequately distribute resources to maintain the overall health of the population and planet…. but many, many people would disagree with me.

It sounds like your real issue is with the self-righteous, moral condemnation attitude of certain groups and people. Which, I completely understand. I don’t like to see anyone have a “holier-than-thou” approach. It doesn’t solve anything.

The problem is that there’s no Federal or national standard for what a “responsible” breeder is or laws surrounding it. We (those that care) all agree that it means health screenings and potential owner screenings and keeping the health of the dam a priority. But that doesn’t mean that that’s what goes on in practice. There are many people who breed dogs to make money, not to promote the breed. And maybe they do the above, but don’t adequately prepare people on what to expect. For example, the person that gets a Sheltie, but ends up removing the voicebox because it barks all the time. Or the Jindo that ends up as a stray because its owners didn’t have a secure enough yard. Or anyone who adopts a working type dog that has a strong drive, but isn’t prepared or doesn’t have the time to occupy an intelligent breed.

Or all of those people who adopt a puppy because puppies are cute, but don’t invest the time or patience into proper training or socialization and get rid of the dog when the naughty behavior is no longer cute or manageable. Many people are also willing to put up with certain behaviors until about a year and a half or two years old and then suddenly expect the dog to calm down. Because I work with rescue groups and in a shelter, I see this far too often.

In Los Angeles, it costs less than $300 to get a breeding permit and there are no standards, no inspections, no interviews. Just a wad of cash and a piece of paper. And people sell their puppies on Craigslist, sometimes even just trade them for who knows what, and when they can’t find homes, they dump them in city shelters. So, you can see how in a major urban area, that there is definitely the appearance of pet overpopulation. And it’s easy to blame the “breeder” because there are so many irresponsible ones. And there are plenty of “oops” litters from people who don’t bother to spay or neuter their puppy… because they don’t understand the strong desire of a male to get to a female in heat or that dogs can get pregnant at an incredibly young age. Or they just don’t think it will happen to them.

Education should be our number one priority and even responsible breeders should have their puppies spayed or neutered if they aren’t going to someone intending to be exceptional breeders themselves.

I respect the desire and choice for individuals to have purebreds, but I don’t think it’s the best choice for most people. Shelters and rescues and breeders all need to work together to educate the public and provide support for issues and care. There is a misconception that the best choice for most people is a puppy because you can “make it your own” or that only one specific breed is “right for you.” But I have witnessed that adult and even senior dogs can learn new things and adjust to new situations and bond to new people. I have learned that temperament and energy level can vary widely even within a breed and that each dog is a unique individual and should be chosen as such.

Finally, I think a lot of that guilt will go away when dog shows stop caring so much about looks and care more about health and the purpose of a breed. When breeds become so extreme that they can’t naturally mate or have to be born by Caesarean or that no amount of screening can prevent the inevitable health issues, we have to step back from our “pure” standards and admit that genetic diversity is a natural and healthy thing and should be reintroduced sometimes to reinvigorate a breed.

Extremes on any end of the spectrum are almost always detrimental to the overall good. We all love dogs and should do whatever is best for our wonderful companions. We are the guardians and anyone who cares about them should work together to make sure they all have homes.

Thanks for starting the conversation! I hope you can be an advocate for responsible breeding AND ownership!


Susi July 22, 2014 at 4:15 pm

I appreciate hearing from you, Janelle, though I confess I got some mixed messages from your note. With the greatest respect, on the one hand you seem to understand that part of my article objects to the self-righteous, moral high horse on which some in the shelter community sit, but then you go on to write that even as you respect the right of individuals to own purebred dogs, you don’t think it’s the best choice for most people. How do you know this, and again I ask with respect, who made you the final authority on this? I believe that no one knows what’s best for me and mine than me, and I presume that you are also a better authority for what works in your family than I am.

You mention that shelters/rescues and breeders need to work together to educate the public, but that’s a tall order when there are segments of the shelter community which believe that breeders make bad owners because they are, after all, breeders, and therefore morally unfit to own their dogs (I need only cite the case of the Sheltie, “Piper,” who remains out of reach of her breeder/owner). You write, “there’s a misconception that the best choice for most people is a puppy because you can “make it your own” or that only one specific breed is “right for you,” and that you’ve witnessed that “adult and even senior dogs can learn new things and adjust to new situations and bond to new people.” I agree! But that holds true for mixed breeds as well as purebreds. A lousy owner is a lousy owner, whether they own a loveable mutt or a purebred dog; I maintain that the odds of keeping dogs out of the hands of lousy owners is lowered with a responsible breeder who knows his or her breed than with shelters which have a statistically horrendous track record of identifying breeds, let alone matching the right dog to the right family.

You write, “I think a lot of that guilt will go away when dog shows stop caring so much about looks and care more about health and the purpose of a breed.” First, I think you misunderstand the context in which I use the word,”guilt.” No one I know in the dog fancy feels guilty about owning a purebred dog. Rather, guilt is what animal rights activists and some in rescue movement WANT us to feel. I also suspect you may not be aware that the “looks” of a breed IS driven by its purpose – or put another way, “form follow function.” Have humans exaggerated breed appearances? Sure. A Poodle trim came about because of practical considerations, though it seems to be human nature to embellish hair styles here and there. Have humans tampered with the soundness of a breed to achieve an exaggerated appearance? Yes, and I have a name for those people: Bad Breeders. They are no more embraced by responsible members of the show community than by anyone in the shelter world.

You write, “…it’s easy to blame the “breeder” because there are so many irresponsible ones,” but I believe there are many more irresponsible dog owners who consistently get a pass from the shelter and rescue world. I don’t see public signs chastising irresponsible dog owners, I don’t see PETA or HSUS publicly going after substandard dog owners, nor have I detected a tsunami of public sentiment rising up against people who don’t do right by their dogs, but responsible breeders have been victim to all of the aforementioned. We seem to have a wildly displaced target of our loathing, choosing to target ALL breeders instead of focusing on dog owners with cavalier attitudes towards their responsibility to their dogs.

And finally, I can’t disagree with your closing sentences about the dangers of extremism and working for the betterment of all dogs – but you need not hope that I can be an advocate for responsible breeding AND ownership. I already am one, and have been for over 30 years.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me, Janelle, I think we have more in common than not and that’s a good start.


Joyce August 13, 2015 at 8:43 am

Thanks, Susi. Spot on, as usual. The most amazing thing to me is I’ve recently read about a concept called “shelter breeding programs.” Um….. I thought shelters existed to help homeless pets find permanent homes…. NOT produce dogs and cats for sale to the public! These are *not-for-profit* organizations, breeding puppies and kittens to sell to the public? If there truly aren’t enough homeless pets to make a shelter’s ultimate purpose necessary, then these shelters should be closing their doors with much gratitude and celebration, NOT looking for ways to produce a product to sell.?!?!?!?


Betsy Malavet October 10, 2015 at 6:30 pm

The biggest reason I refuse to feel guilty about owning a purebred dog is that he is neutered and I am a responsible pet owner. My Scottish Terriers do not contribute to over-population. None of them have ever been abandoned to shelters. I am not the problem and I refuse to feel guilty for someone else’s over population. Those dogs in shelters didn’t come from Mars, someone irresponsibly bred them, and it wasn’t me or the breeder that I bought my dog from! So until the people who created the problem get blamed for it, I ain’t taking the blame. Show me how many Scottish Terriers you find in shelters? not Many. The Aberdeen Scottish Terrier Rescue in Washington State has started taking in other breeds because they frankly don’t have enough Scottie to rescue.


Susi October 10, 2015 at 6:53 pm

Good for you, Betsy, and I delighted to hear it. You make good points, and a recent study by the National Animal Interest Alliance supports you! Check this out:


Heidi October 11, 2015 at 4:09 am

I agree with every point you made except for the lumping together of what you call designer breeders. Believe it or not, there are some of us that practice responsible breeding that meets or exceeds the quality of breeding practices performed by purebreeding . There are plenty of us that work hard, doing the same testing and tracking that purebred breeders do, to set standards and improve our breed. Not all of us simply breed one purebred to another. I myself am currently working on generation 6 (f6) with no throwbacks (b) since F3 and zero line breeding (with the exception of the original purebreds having been linebred)

Those who breed purebreds well should not be judged for the actions of terrible breeders. But why is it okay to do the same for breeders who breed non purebreds?

They may not be considered Purebreds by the akc yet, but they may one day. Please do not forget all dogs were once mutts. We are not all irresponsible.


Susi October 11, 2015 at 11:14 am

A interesting comment, Heidi, and to respond to your last line, I have to think that most of us in the “fancy,” aren’t, or haven’t been, exposed to the kind of breeder you describe. I can’t speak for everyone, of course, but while I know that are people “out there” breeding for performance and work ability, I know of no one breeding for a new breed that isn’t in it for the money. This isn’t to suggest that you are, so please forgive me if that came out wrong, but still, I have to ask what the end goal is of a breeding program that is taking two purebred dogs to make a new one?


Brianna October 28, 2016 at 1:34 pm

Appreciate that I’m late to the party here, but I’ve spent the last hour reading the initial post and comments and now feel invested in the topic. The first dog I adopted as a teenager was a wolf hybrid from a backyard breeder. Totally irresponsible, but I was a teenager who saw a fluffy puppy and couldn’t resist. Dog ended up with a fine temperament but died at on age of nine shortly after two hip surgeries…go figure. Next, I adopted a purebred fox terrier from a shelter and then a mixed breed dog. The terrier is what you’d expect from the breed and a great pet. The mutt had serious temperamental issues, and I put him to sleep after he bit the 12th person. We’d involved trainers and felt like we put a lot of work into him, but I now know (after having researched all things canine for months in deciding on our next dog), that we could have done more.
I’ve volunteered at shelters, donate money to our local dumb friends league, and don’t have much cynicism toward rescue organizations. If anything, I have misgivings about the moral high ground taken by “no kill” shelters. Then again, I use a pinch collar and have declawed cats, so perhaps my feelings would change if I were on the receiving end of the righteousness.
What I want to discuss though, are “designer dogs.” I’m obviously a layperson with only vague notions of the tenets of responsible dog breeding: Test the parents, screen buyers, only breed those dogs that will elevate the breed, and so on. Until my recent stint of canine research, I didn’t realize how much genetic testing and temperamental assessment was going on, and yes, that elevated my opinion of those breeding purebreds.
We have a young bernedoodle, and yes, I try to avoid saying that owing to all the doodle scorn. It seems arbitrary to pick a certain point in time after which new breeds cannot be established. Or, is that not the issue, and the point is that the doodle things end up quite varied and folks aren’t collectively working toward a standard?
I’ve often read those “not getting” the doodle thing. Well, it’s the non-shedding fluffiness and poodle smarts the dog brings to the mix. The Bernese are very short-lived and incredible shedders. I can’t say as yet whether we’ll avoid the health issues on account of hybrid vigor (if you believe in that), but the minimal shedding is wonderful as is the activity level that comes from the mix of these two dogs. It ‘s my personal aesthetic, but I think most F1 doodle things are adorable but have to agree some combinations probably don’t make sense.
What else should I consider before getting our next dog knowing that I have a doodle fondness?
Lastly, a story. A few years back, we were vacationing in St. Lucia. One day, we hired a driver to give us a tour of the island, and like many such destinations, there are a number of street dogs hunkering around and darting away from traffic. He told us about an American couple who became enamored with a mutt and took it home with them. I was about the do the, “oh, isn’t that nice and what a lucky dog” when the man went on to comment on the injustice in taking a dog from a tropical paradise with freedom to roam to some suburban fenced in yard. Rather than countering with appeals to the dog’s improved health and safety, I decided to just reflect on my notion of rescue.
If you haven’t already, search for Amy Schumer Doggy Daycare for a hilarious spoof on self-righteous rescue dog owners.


Debbie December 7, 2015 at 2:16 pm

I don’t understand the rescue movement. I don’t get the hate towards people that goes along with it. Some of the rescued dogs didn’t need rescued at all. Some are stolen, some have chips that are ignored and some couldn’t make bail at Animal Control. If one doesn’t have the money upfront, they are forced to surrender and the dogs go to a rescue group. It seems more charitable to me to set up a fund to help an animal stay in it’s own home. Perhaps a chipped dog should go to a half-way house so there is more time to find to whom it belongs.
. I don’t believe that by getting a purebred, a shelter dog dies. I have no problem with anyone wanting a mutt for a pet. It’s not for me. I like my Labrador, and would never consider getting a rescue. If I couldn’t have a Lab, I wouldn’t have a dog. I also wouldn’t want to adopt a pet that is someone else’s lost or stolen pet. How can it even be called rescue if a dog is taken away from somebody who loved it? Rescue should not be it’s own authority. It clearly needs to be regulated and cleaned up. Animal control needs to work with people who have trouble paying fines. How can rescue feel “warm and fuzzy” about taking a dog that couldn’t make bail at AC? That isn’t love for an animal, it’s love of making oneself look good.


Susi December 7, 2015 at 4:04 pm

You make some great points, Debbie. How indeed can a group purporting to love dogs deny them the only loving home they’ve ever known when “saved” by a rescue group, and of course I’m thinking of Piper, the Sheltie here. The dirty little secret of the Rescue movement is that it has become big business which hurts the fine rescue groups doing it right. Though it started with the best of intentions (and breed clubs have been engaged in rescue long before it became what it is today, and they did it without funding or fanfare), but I think arrogance and greed has corrupted some in the effort. I like your suggestions and hope they get some traction! I appreciate the time you took to write.


Debbie December 7, 2015 at 7:08 pm

Piper’s story is bitter-sweet. I just read about it last week. Something similar happened to my Son. He will not have a happy ending. His pugs are sitting in a rescue and will probably never be adopted. They are 10 and 11 now.. A father and daughter set. I don’t think the rescue is even aware. The rescue has the younger listed at between 6-7. Not bad, considering the picture that is being painted of the previous owners. I didn’t know these kind of things could happen in America. I am happy that Piper was able to go home.


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