A good chunk of this web site is devoted to "responsible breeding." Please note that it is not devoted to ending breeding. It is devoted to better, more thoughtful breeding that ends up with fewer dogs dying and those that live being healthier.
We need better breeding
The "No breeding" mantra is contributing to the problem. It makes the ratio of available pets slide to toward those that are more and more carelessly bred. We don't need to increase the ratio of badly bred dogs. We need to (a) change the demands of the public (b) educate so what we do produce is healthier and keeps their homes.
We have done a great job with getting most people to spay and neuter. At this point we would be far better off to put much more energy into changing "the norm" on training and how the pet is integrated into the household. If we can get people to KEEP the pets they have, then the breeding end will take care of itself. Keeping an animal in its original home requires that the humans be able to predict what it will take to meet the needs of the animal. The more predictable the needs of the animal, the more likely that the animal will have a forever home. And THAT means well bred animals. We need to increase the ratio of animals that have fewer health problems and better temperament by IMPROVING breeding. Refusing to teach people how to breed well is the wrong answer. All that does is encourage poor breeding. As for the original question ... I don't think that people who breed ONLY for the conformation ring are the best judges of what "should" be bred. I think what "should" be bred are for those qualities that contribute to health, long life, appropriate temperaments, predictable physical and behavioral qualities. Things like coat length, coat type, size, structure, etc ARE important in matching animal to person - can they meet the exercise needs of the animal, can the animal meet the physical demands of the activities of the human, can the human keep the pet in their housing ... My criteria for responsible breeding is very high, yet it does not require meeting breed standard, winning at conformation, nor even being purebred. It may be extremely difficult to meet the criteria without those things but the point is to focus on what makes for healthy animals that keep their homes. When you teach responsible breeding (instead of no breeding) you show people how to have what they want AND stop pet abandonment. The "no breeding" mantra is the road to increase the worst kind of breeding.
For more information on breeding related health issues see Breeder Resources.
Anti-breeding legislation is on the rise and it threatens not only the genetic health of our companion animals but their very existence. Much of the legislation is drafted to look as if it is only going after the "bad guys" when in fact it will adversely affect rescue organizations, feral cat caregivers and others who too quickly embrace what they believe is the purpose while failing to examine the actual language of the laws. Take, for example, California's SB250 (2009). As introduced SB250 encouraged the extermination of feral cats because it literally made a violator of anyone who "harbors" a cat that has not yet been captured and spayed or neutered.
It is critical that any legislation be carefully examined both for intended and unintended consquences. Do not rely on what you think is the intent of a piece of legislation. Look at it carefully, think like someone who has the goal of eliminating animals as pets, look at how people who choose pets might be pressured, harrassed, or economically beaten into giving up those pets.
Consider, for example, an 2009 Arkansas proposal (SB864) to target not just people who have a large number of animals on their premises, but those who have a property interest in animals. It targets such people with a fee of up to $1000 anuallly. Sound good? Well if you are a responsible breeder your contract will maintain a property interest in the animal. That is what gives you the legal right to get it back from the other person if you don't think they are caring for it to your standards. it also gives you the legal right to retrieve it from a shelter if the other person dumps it without telling you. And if you are a rescue that fosters out animals you maintain a property interest because that is what gives you the right to get it back from a foster, to have a say in how it is placed etc. So it is a very bad provision. It hurts those who are doing the right thing.
Visit the DogPlay Mall. Great dog tee shirts, sweatshirts, and tracksuits. Also mugs, magnets, buttons, stickers and more. Special sections for rescue dogs, anti-breed specific legislation, herding and dog agility.
Copyright © 1999-2003, Diane Blackman Created: January 15, 1999 Updated March 14, 2009
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