Ben Stein Against Puppy Mills, Good Breeders Are Too

by Mary Haight on November 2, 2009

Here’s a good video from Ben Stein against puppy mills, the damage they do, the local groups who work with his favorite, The Humane Society of the United States, to remove dogs from horrible conditions, and to the other groups who do the work of caring for them in the aftermath.

Something we supporters of adoption may not have considered:  it is really important to remember that there are good breeders out there very serious about their work, who will never sell puppies to just anyone with cash–as we know, people often choose a breed that will never work with their lifestyle just because it’s darling, admitting defeat later down the line. Pet shops don’t take people’s mistakes back. Good breeders (and shelters and rescues) do.

In case you don’t know, good breeders, shelters and rescues will help you understand energy levels, exercise needs, personality traits, and compare these to your lifestyle needs. This will keep the family happy, and helps ensure a lifelong and happy home for the dogs and cats each organization is responsible for.  

The slogan “Adopt Don’t Buy” is aimed at pet shops, not good breeders. Go into any pet shop and take the time to notice how they have made a science out of cultivating the impulse buyer, triggering guilt through sterile surroundings and bright lighting meant to showcase the poor fluffy puppy or kitty surrounded by a completely unfriendly environment.  The psychological onslaught doesn’t stop there either.  Sales techniques are pretty loathesome.  Hey, lucky you, there’s a sale on that puppy–it’s $1500, today only–you’ll be saving $500!

Home breeders, unlike pet shops, really don’t make much money, if any at all.  It’s good breeding that perpetuates all the best traits of any dog breed and that process starts before the dogs in question ever meet.  Genetics testing is one of the things good breeders require of the potential candidate for their dog before going forward–this is expensive.  Not to mention licensing fees which are increasingly designed to squeeze small breeders out of business, leaving it all to the puppy mills who spread the cost over thousands of pets. Something all of us should not only be aware of, but work actively against for obvious reasons. 

[Side note: This is a major sticking point in legislation attempting to reign in puppy mills and give dogs stuck in them some quality of life relief; there are fees and punative measures directed at small breeders that could put them out of business when actually many are the people you and I would want to get our dogs from if, for instance, we were working dog types. I found a good discussion board at Pet Connection on this topic over the weekend that had many former small breeders in it and some currently active breeders also complaining about puppy mills and tired of being lumped in with them. Collaboration may be right around the corner?]

Good breeders should be encouraged to join in the protests against puppy mills and pet shops, welcomed with open arms. They are just as incensed about puppy mills as we are, and more: The mill concept goes against absolutely everything a good breeder knows is needed essential to bringing a healthy, happy, mentally stable family pet into the world.

Even if a commercial facility is kept clean and well run, cleanliness will never replace a home environment–the love and care of holding, playing, cuddling, talking to, showing a sense of what’s expected in family interactions when the time is right, potty training schedules, and not least of all maintaining the integrity of the social interactions that occur in each family of dogs, moms and siblings.  The health benefits of this family upbringing are well-documented and help dogs live their best lives.

Some pet shops have signed on to Best Friend’s pledge to work with shelter and rescue dogs rather than purchasing from puppy mills and those efforts will continue for some time to come.  These are places you will want to check out.  You’ll get a much better deal and will know you are doing a good turn for animals everywhere.

It might also help to never forget that a kind-hearted purchase of a pet shop animal with the intention of “rescuing” it is seen as demand, and another dog or cat will be “ordered” to take its place. Multiply that by thousands every day and you can see how this is the root of an enormous, self-perpetuating problem. 

The only way we can be sure to shut down the puppy mills is to never buy from pet stores unless they are adopting out rescue and shelter pets.  I’d also check with the local shelter they claim to be working with, just to be sure.  If you’d like to help in this pet shop conversion effort, check the Best Friends resources page.


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