I have already written a blog addressing my feelings regarding the "adopt don't shop" campaign and while this may have a little overlap, there are things that weren't covered there that I would love discussion on. It may be worth giving that blog a read as well, as much of it goes hand in hand with this one.
A week or so ago I shared a picture of one of my dogs in a public facebook group dedicated to members sharing their photos of nature and animals. The photo I shared was one of my dog in the water in a beautiful mountain setting that I simply wished to share with others. I did not mention being a breeder, having puppies, my thoughts on dog breeding or anything else that eluded to the topic, only her name and age. People quickly began commenting with a clear split of opinions; some appreciating the picture for what it was and some furious that I would selfishly be bringing more dogs into this world while shelter dogs need adopted and hashtagging "adopt don't shop". My assumption is that they saw the photo, went to my personal profile (which feels kinda creepy), and looked through my page to discover that I am a breeder. I could not even share a pretty picture of my dog without being crucified by strangers for being a breeder, that just blows my mind.
Here's the deal, RESPONSIBLE BREEDERS AND RESPONSIBLE RESCUERS HAVE MORE IN COMMON than people realize!! Believe it or not, we are on the same team! Many of you know I have a long history in rescue and it is very near and dear to my heart; I do understand the realities of dogs in shelters. I feel such a big and important piece of the picture is missed by so many. When I use the terms "breeder" and "rescuer" in this paragraph, let's assume I'm speaking only of the responsible ones for a minute. Breeders and rescuers both love dogs. Breeders and rescuers both believe they are helping dogs in the way that makes sense to them at that time. Breeders and rescuers both want to reduce and/or eliminate the number of dogs in shelters. Breeders and rescuers both want unethical/backyard breeders, puppy mills, and irresponsible owners to stop having litters. Breeders and rescuers both want to match dogs and puppies up with their perfect families. I could go on, but my point here is we truly are so much alike and could do so much more to help dogs if we recognized this and worked together a little.
The fact is, if we wish for the domesticated canine species to continue, someone has to be breeding them, those puppies are coming from somewhere. I can't imagine that those in rescue wish that no more dogs are born and the species dies off and ceases to be? Ok, so if we all agree that we love dogs and would like healthy and balanced puppies to continue to exist, how do we get them if all dog breeders are bad and shouldn't be breeding? Serious question, how? If we do what we can to discourage irresponsible and unethical breeding, rather than just all breeding, we solve both the problems. Stable healthy dogs continue to be bred and families continue being able to find puppies and dogs that match their lifestyle, for both working and companion purposes, and the problem of overflowing shelters goes away. This thought process is expanded in my other Adopt Don't Shop blog.
So what if we did it, what if we actually worked together towards this? What if Shelters had a local list of ethical breeders they could refer people to when they knew they didn't have the right fit for them and what if breeders referred prospective buyers to an ethical rescue when they felt that may be an option for them to first explore? What if we all educated people on the pros and cons of BOTH options and taught them what to look for and what to avoid in the option they choose? One small thing we personally do in an attempt to bridge that gap just a little locally is donate a portion from every pup sold here to a local rescue organization, we have now done it on the last 3 litters and intend to continue. What if all breeders did this? What other ways can you think of to help breeders and rescue work together?