What happens when animal shelters turn to breeding puppies to support their shelters? Given that this concept goes against shelter ethics, were they really ever a shelter? This question, and more, arose when Mel Freer (No Dog About It) wrote about an online site a friend thought might be of interest to her. Was this a puppy mill in disguise or was this a breeder operating an animal shelter as a front for puppy sales? Take a look at the screen shots and see what you think. Either way, it’s an ugly reality that defrauds the public. Skip ahead to the fact that this operation as a shelter could apply for a 501c3*, registering them as a tax-deductible entity with the IRS — Uh-oh.
Animal shelters are defined in the public mind as working to adopt relinquished and unclaimed pets.
A breeder is not a no-kill shelter and a no-kill shelter is not a breeder. The State of Wisconsin and others may be turn sheltering efforts on their head. Tax-free contributions by businesses who profit from them keep puppy mills or breeders masquerading as no-kill non-profits in the green, while the hapless people who think it’s fine to order a dog over the internet keep them thriving. With a 501c3, puppy mills and those selling pets to anyone with the cash would gain some credibility. What a way to defraud people, not to mention destroy public trust.
Having a kennel is one thing, but a 501c3? I wonder what the Animal Legal Defense Fund has on this. Can anyone chime in on this point: How many States allow animal shelters to also have a breeding operation or vice-versa? It may be that most do. There is some good information in this State Puppy Mill Laws document, but no easy answer.
It doesn’t seem logical there would be legislation that says you can’t have a business and a not-for-profit at the same time, simply don’t co-mingle funds. Of course there is a problem with board members profiting from any shelter business dealings, but how long would *that* take to be discovered by the IRS?
There are 2-3000 USDA breeding operations licensed each year according to the ASPCA. Add in estimates of unlicensed breeders and that total rises to around 10,000 per HSUS. Daunting numbers if you think how many could apply to be a 501c3 charitable organization. And here’s the kicker that might be on the minds of animal advocates: You may have heard or experienced first-hand the difficulty of determining who is a good breeder and who isn’t. Should this shelter/breeder ruse succeed in embedding itself like the cancer it is, won’t many animal shelters be stuck in a similar fight for identity and public trust? There is nothing stopping these operations from keeping the breeding facility at another location and out of sight.
Then comes the ripple effect — what happens to donations that come from outside the local area? Would it get to a point that people would only donate to shelters they could themselves inspect for fear of supporting a puppy mill? Not a pretty picture, and possibly the biggest case of identity theft ever.
*the group referred to is not a 501c3