What to do about Backyard Breeders ?

Backyard Breeders, Puppy Millers and Rescue

by Carol McElheney, © 2006

A recital by BCNC Rescue Chairperson of some recent backyard breeder created problems in the Sacramento Valley region. I am reprinting it with permission exactly as written except for adding a bit of formatting to make key points stand out more.


Backyard Breeders, Puppy Millers and Rescue

BCNC Rescue Chair, Carol McElheney , © 2006

Recently, I have been contacted to take in two Bouviers who originated from a high volume breeder in Northern California. One dog, "Jackson", was turned in by his owner, who bought him from the breeder. The other, "Hazel", was turned into the Placer County Animal Control Center for euthanasia because she couldn't have any more pups.

Jackson was adopted immediately, as he was a very nice dog and in good health. Poor Hazel is also a sweet girl, but has a mammary tumor and an advanced case of heartworm. She is being fostered by Pam Green and treated at UC Davis. She is 9 years old.

Last week, there was an ad in the paper for a year old bitch, AKC papers for $350.00. The phone numbers given matched the ones from a puppy selling website offering Bouviers for sale, 3 months-1 year. It was our friend the backyard breeder. I called him to ask about the bitch who was for sale.

Despite my initial urge to wrath down upon him for dumping poor Hazel at the pound, I politely asked about the girl he was selling. No, she wasn't spayed. No, her ears weren't cropped, and she had never been inside the house so she wasn't very socialized; in fact if you made a sudden move towards her collar, she might snap. He was selling her because he "didn't have time to mess with her" and he wanted to get a female who wasn't related to his stud dog. This one was the daughter of his male. He said that "nobody would sell him a female" (GOOD!).

I asked about health testing. He said he xrays hips and that this dog was up to date on her shots and heartworm (good! if true). I told him about my experience with SAS and suggested he get his male tested at the next heart clinic. He said he didn't need that; his vet said the dog was fine. I told him that an OFA Cardiac cert on his male might make him more attractive and his pups more valuable, but he didn't care.

This fellow seemed motivated by sales only. He breeds several other smaller breeds as well. I have not met him in person or seen his place so I can't judge, but if Hazel's condition is any indication, he should not be allowed to breed dogs unless he can adequately care for them by providing basic preventative medical care and humane treatment. We all know bitches should not be bred every season, and not until they have been health tested and (ideally) proven in some field of endeavor such as showing, obedience, herding, or other work. Same goes for the male. In fact for a stud to be exceptional, he has to exceed the minimum. Everyone knows there aren't enough good Bouvier homes for the small number of pups being produced by ethical breeders. They have special needs that all we BouvLovers know about. To provide a Bouvier to anyone with $350.00 no questions asked is unconscionable.

Our current adoption fee is $350.00. Puppy Miller was charging $350.00 for his female. We screen adopters, alter the dog before placement, and make sure the dog is healthy and stable emotionally. Puppy miller was providing an unsocialized unaltered bitch with AKC papers. If you were looking for a dog for your family, which would you choose? If you were looking at getting into the breeding business, which would you choose?

As a Bouvier Rescue, do we continue to clean up the messes made by backyard breeders? Do we spend scarce rescue dollars to buy dogs from pet shops and back yard breeders to spare them an awful fate? Doesn't this keep them in business? How do we deal with a fellow Bouvier owner who cranks 'em out and sells to everyone with some cash? Do we invite them to join the club, then use gentle peer pressure and a code of ethics to educate them? Call them up and scream at them?

Unfortunately there are no hard answers, only hard questions.


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site author Pam Green copyright 2003
created 5/10/06 revised 5/10/06
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