Tag Archives: dogs

No Ice Cubes for Dogs?!

I’ve seen the a post going around Facebook quite a bit over the past couple of days.  Interestingly, this rumor has been making the rounds to dog lovers everywhere since 2007.

The post talks about how an owner, showing her dog gave him ice to cool down.  After just a few minutes the dog began to bloat and almost died.  According to the blog post, the vet told the owner she was VERY lucky as giving ice cubes can cause a dog’s internal organs and stomach muscles to spasm leading to GDV, a very serious condition that can lead to death.

Since we live in a ‘culture of fear’ and ‘take it as it is’ (if it’s on the internet it MUST be true), I had to check it out for myself as it didn’t just seem right.

Dog Killer?

Dog Killer?

According to Snopes, this information is absolutly false.  Turns out it’s not the cold (and subsequent stomach muscle spasms) that could cause the GDV but rather consuming large amounts of water too quickly.  If your dog is hot or has been running hard, before you let them gulp down large amounts of water (introducing air internally) you’ll want to walk them for a good 10 – 15 minutes to not only help stretch and cool-down the muscles but it gives the dog a chance to cool it’s temperature down as well.

Always good to double check your facts!  Will it kill your dog if you were to stop giving them ice cubes?  Absolutely not.  No reason not to err on the side of caution if you’re still unsure, but it’s best tot be informed and not spread information in the ‘name of fear’.  We all want the best for our four legged family members!

Click the links below to read both the original blog post that’s been going around as well as the Snope.com fact check.  If you’re not into Snopes I’ve provided a few other links as well!

Original Blog Post

Snopes Debunking

She Who Knows

Vet Debunks Online Rumor

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SPARCS 2014 Conference Livestream

Looking for something to do June 20th – 22nd without leaving your home?  Looking to learn more about canine behavior from experts in their fields?  Grab your computer, a comfy spot and listen to the SPARCS 2013 Conference Livestream!  This is an amazing opportunity to hear from animal behavior specialist, biologists and canine behavior experts on a wide variety of topics.

Sparcs Brochure cover

What is SPARCS?  From their brochure:

Current dog training practices are based on outdated knowledge, with
even popular celebrity trainers suggesting techniques more than 50
years behind modern behavioral research. A Seattle non-profit has
started a revolution to change this. The Society for the Promotion
of Applied Research in Canine Science (SPARCS) has created an
open-access public platform where modern canine science can be
presented, discussed and debated by the greatest dog experts from
around the world.

I know where I will be June 20 – 22!  Want to learn more?  Click any of the links below to look at the schedule, read more about the speakers and topics and bookmark the livestream feed!

Schedule

Speakers and Topics / Conference Brochure

Livestream Link

Happy learning!

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WoofTrax

You’ll notice a new image on my sidebar.  I found this great app that allows you to help your local shelters just by walking your dog!

Intrigued?  Read on:

Don’t just Take your Dog for a Walk, Take your Walk for a Dog!

Walking your Dog just got a whole lot Better! Now you can Raise Money for your Local Shelter every time time you walk your dog.

Taking your dog for a walk is now not only good for you and your dog, it raises money to support all pets at your local animal shelter. The Take your Walk for a Dog program is a revolutionary Dog-powered fundraising tool for animal shelters that uses a free mobile App to promote healthy pets and healthy humans while raising money to support local shelters. Your Local Animal Shelter is partnering with WoofTrax, Inc., to introduce and promote the App in this area. “You walk your dog anyway,” says Mike Katz, Director of Community Relations for WoofTrax. “Now, for every mile you walk, we donate to to your local animal shelter.”

“There is no easier way to raise funds for our local shelter then using the app every time you grab for the leash!” says JoAnn Goldberger, Director of Development, Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Center, Baltimore, MD. Whether you are walking with your dogs or by yourself, the App is a way to keep track of your walks, encouraging you to walk more every day. That’s good for your health and your dog’s health. Plus, you have the satisfaction of knowing that your walking directly benefits your local shelter.

One of the key developers of the Take your Walk for a Dog program is the “WoofDriver,” a world famous dog-powered sporting lifestyle expert. WoofDriver focuses on new and exciting ways to exercise, train, and spend time with your dog. You can see videos of the WoofDriver in action at Wooftrax.com.

Our community can now support us simply by walking their dogs.  Proceeds directly benefit the many homeless animals that come to our local shelter each year and support the ongoing good work that our local shelter does in our community.

If you would like additional information about Walk for a Dog, or if you have any questions, visit wooftrax.com.

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PETA responds to HBO Real Sports segment on dog showing

No big surprises here, but PETA has already jumped on the Real Sports segment on dog showing.   Even less surprising is the message that they took away:

You’ll definitely want to watch the full feature on HBO GO or HBO On Demand and share it with your family and friends, especially those who think they need to have purebreds. It will surely inspire many people always to adopt and never buy their future canine companions and to find something better to watch than contests that exploit “man’s best friend.”

Read more: http://www.peta.org/blog/hbo-real-sports-dog-breeding/#ixzz30DSWdp4D

 

As typical, PETA is using this as an opportunity to decree all purebred dogs as ‘bad news’.  Let’s be realistic here.  Not all breeders are bad.  Not all purebred dogs are bad and not all dog sports are exploiting those who participate.

The answer is not to turn away from the sport nor is it to stop purchasing and breeding purebreds.  That’s the simple extremist answer to a complex problem.  The answer lies in taking a step back and bringing back a true mentality for health in breeding.  We enjoy our purebred dogs not just because of a look (sure that’s part of it) but also because of what they can do.  Breed function should be maintained and if we turn to an adoption only rescue model we’ll look the distinction we love so much in various breeds.  Let’s not let the blind eye to bad practices and a few ‘bad apple’ breeders stand for all purebred dog owners, breeders and aficionados.

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How NOT to take Pictures at a Flyball Event

This weekend we went and watched a U-FLI tournament out in Davisburg, MI (one of my old 4-H stomping grounds).

As you probably gathered by now I am a ‘wannabe’ photographer and love taking pictures of dog events.  One day, I’d like to be professional and do professional dog photography but I have a long way to go.

Case in point this weekend.  I grabbed my camera and headed out in hopes of getting some amazing actions shots like this (these are NOT my shots…photo credits in captions):

 

Needless to say, my pictures did not at all turn out like this.  Instead, I got shots like this:

Blur...yes, that was a dog.

Blur…yes, that was a dog.

 

More dog blur...

More dog blur…

 

Strange ghosting.  Clearly took the shot too late, not that it matters as the dog would have been a blur.

Strange ghosting. Clearly took the shot too late, not that it matters as the dog would have been a blur.

 

Off the box dog blur.

Off the box dog blur.

Now, in my defense this was an indoor event and there was no flash photography allowed.  However, there has to be a way to get better shots than this.  I know because I’ve seen them!

Most embarrassingly, most of my shots came out like this:

Sweet!  A flyball jump.  Too bad I was going for a dog.

Sweet! A flyball jump. Too bad I was going for a dog.

I’m not kidding.  I have literally pic after pic after pic of this same jump with NO dog.  Even using the sport function on my camera was too slow to catch these extremely fast dogs.

I recently ordered a few books on indoor and low light photography as well as dog photography in general.  I’m hoping these will take my photography up to the next level.

I currently don’t have any advice on how to take better indoor, no light / low light photography of action shots at the moment.  However, I do plan on bringing that advice to you once I have it!

The event was great.  I had a blast and was reminded of why I love being involved in dog sports.  The community is fantastic, they are helpful and the events are just fun.  I can sit for hours and just watch.  I am going to be joining the flyball team Canine Express with my golden Blizzard.  I can’t wait and have already started on target training with him.

I did capture a few cute pics!  Look for more on flyball training and photography tips and images from me in future posts!

When's it my turn?

When’s it my turn?

Red Dog's White Zinfandel aka 'Zin'.  She's carrying something important for me!

Red Dog’s White Zinfandel aka ‘Zin’. She’s carrying something important for me!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Start Them Young!

One thing I love about the UKC is the time and attention they give to juniors who want to participate in the sport of dog showing.

This past weekend I had the opportunity to not only show but mentor two green junior handlers (and by green I mean this was going to be their very first dog show ever).  The show was a UKC show held in Mason, MI at the Ingham County Fairgrounds.  If you have never shown in UKC you’re missing out.  These shows are relaxed, generally friendly and most people are more then eager to help.  It’s not without it’s own ‘dog show politics’ but the laid back atmosphere coupled with the friendliness and ‘realness’ of those that show in UKC make it worth competing in.  If your dog has an AKC registration then you can register for UKC.

Unlike the AKC which requires juniors be at least 9 years of age to start handling, UKC allows children as young as 2 years old to start getting experience in the ring.  Pee Wee, Sub Junior  and Pre Junior (all up to the ages of 7) allow a parent to enter the ring with the child or help from the sidelines.  Once they get into Novice Junior they are judged and earn points. All of the ‘pre classes’ are run through their paces but not ‘judged’ per se.  The idea is to get children experience in the ring, build confidence, build knowledge and most importantly give them a great spark for showing dogs.

My daughter Braewyn, who is 4 years old showed a dog for the first time ever this weekend.  She absolutely loved it and had such a big smile the entire time I know it left a great impression with her.  She was so proud of herself and the work she did.  With each show she got more and more confident in the ring; so much so that by the end show she needed someone in the ring with her but not by her side.

Just look at her beam with pride!

Just look at her beam with pride!

 

We told her to smile when she got back to the judge after her down and back.  She was genuinely happy!

We told her to smile when she got back to the judge after her down and back. She was genuinely happy!

 

One of the best things about UKC is that it’s not just cut throat competition with cold judges.  Most judges genuinely care about the juniors who are starting out because they know that they are the future of their sport.  They take the time to make it educational and do what they can to help juniors grow; they don’t just hand out ribbons and let them go without giving them tips on how to best grow and learn.

Showing in UKC doesn’t just require you know how to show the dog off, it also requires you have a wealth of information around the breed you’re showing, dog health and dog anatomy.  They ask about what the dog’s purpose is, what they do and general anatomy questions such as where the dog’s stop, croup or withers are.  The kids in the ring can’t just look good, they have to be smart as well.

Savanna with Oracle.  This was her very first dog show and she did amazing!

Savanna with Oracle. This was her very first dog show and she did amazing!

 

My two young dog handler prodigies!

My two young dog handler prodigies!

 

Savanna, the daughter of a good friend of mine showed for the first time this weekend as well.  She did absolutely amazing. In fact, she went from not knowing how to even handle a dog to not only showing in junior showmanship but going on to handle Oracle to his championship by getting him two Best of Breeds.  She learned quickly, was eager and a natural.

SONY DSCSONY DSC

If you want to keep the sport of dog showing going you have to have a future generation who is interested.  To do this you have to make it fun.  You have to build confidence.  You have to let them know that their passion means something.  UKC does this and they do it well.  I am so proud of these two young ladies for the work they did this past weekend and I cannot wait to see them grow!

 

Much deserved rest after some hard showing!

Much deserved rest after some hard showing!

 

 

 

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126lb Border Collie?!

Just as it’s important to stay away from bad pet food, you really shouldn’t feed human food to your dog either!  Below is an image of a dog from the UK who’s owner felt she was ‘pampering’ her dog by feeding her all kinds of rich ‘people’ meals.  She could only walk for 3 minutes at a time before becoming exhausted.  Just look at this dog:

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At her highest weight she weighed 126lbs… oh and in case you can’t tell, that’s a Border Collie.

Luckily she’s now down to 63lbs but still has a ton of weight to lose.  

Just remember, we love our furry family members but need to keep them slim and trim for their health!

Full article can be accessed here:  World’s fattest dog slims to half her weight

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Where Should I get a Puppy/ Dog From – Rescues Part 4 and 5: Rescue Types

Rescues are a great way to help a life if it fits in with your lifestyle, family situation and reasons for wanting a dog.  Unlike with breeders, almost all rescues are going to be good places to rescue from; after all, how can you go wrong when you open your heart?

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Estimated numbers of adoptions and shelter statistics are eye opening to say the least.

  • 3,500—Number of animal shelters
  • 6 to 8 million—Number of cats and dogs entering shelters each year
  • 25 percent—Percentage of purebred dogs in shelters
  • 3 to 4 million—Number cats and dogs adopted from shelters each year
  • 2.7 million—Number of adoptable cats and dogs euthanized in shelters each year
  • 30 percent—Percentage of shelter dogs reclaimed by their owners
  • 2 to 5 percent—Percentage of shelter cats reclaimed by owners

According to these number obtained from the (former) National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy only 1/2 of all animals that enter shelters are adopted.  39% of these animals are put to sleep because they didn’t find home.  These numbers speak volumes as to the reasons that someone should adopt a pet.

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Open your heart but be smart!

Just like with any important life decisions, logic needs to lead the heart.  It is important is that you make the decision based on facts, and ensure that you are ready to bring home a new dog.  Do your research ahead of time so you have everything you need; food, food and water bowls, leash and collar, crate and a whole lot of patience.

I had a friend growing up who adopted a dog from an animal shelter.  Needless to say he was not prepared.  The dog was super high energy and they both worked and attended school full time.  They didn’t know anything about training and left the dog to run their house during the day while at work.  One day they came home and the dog had eaten their entire couch.  You can probably guess what happened to the dog; he ended right up back in the shelter.  The entire situation could have been avoided had they rescued a dog that would better fit their lifestyle along with receiving a great education on how to care for a dog.

In addition to paying an ‘adoption fee’ for the dog they are about to adopt, new perspective pet owners should be required to take a day long seminar on how to care for a dog.  Perhaps they should raise the price of adoption as well and include a ‘care kit’ with the dog that has the essential items needed (crate included) and a few lessons for training.

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Education is KEY!!!!

I want to give a quick run down of the various types of places where you can adopt from.  A slight word of caution:  While these are all places you can and should adopt from, they are not all places you should support with charitable donations.  I want to give two specific examples of places you need to think twice before donating to.

ASPCA

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We’ve all seen the heartbreaking ASPCA commercials air at some point on TV.  When you donate to the ASPCA you believe you are donating to an organization that is going to help pets across the U.S.  The truth of the matter is that the ASPCA is a local branch of the SPCA in New York.  When you make a donation to the ASPCA you are making a donation to one shelter in New York.  Now, scroll back up… I’ll wait.  You’ll want to check the numbers again on how many shelters there are in the U.S.  That’s right.  There are 3,500 shelters in the U.S., of which, the ASPCA is only one.  This particular branch is extraordinarily wealthy and claims to give donation proceeds to other branches.  The truth is that less than 1% ever leaves this particular shelter in the form of donations to other SPCA shelters across the U.S.  Why would you want to give your hard earned money to a huge organization that spends less than 1/2 of the donations it earns on things other then the pets they want to help?  Giving to a local no-kill shelter or breed specific rescue organization is a much better way to help.

HSUS

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The Humane Society of the United States has been under fire lately.  I have seen a ton of articles floating around Facebook these days about allegations on mismanagement of funds, politics missteps and general ideology that you would be surprised to find in an organization such as HSUS.

HSUS doesn’t actually own or run any particular shelter. Nor are they personally associated with any animal donations, food or well being.  What they are is an extreme group of lobbyists and activists that use their name to gain donations.  Like the ASPCA, HSUS spends less than 1/2 on their budget to helping animal shelters.  When you consider their operating budget is over 99 million dollars you have to wonder what they are spending it on, if not for the welfare of animals.

HSUS is more akin to PETA an extreme animal rights activism.  CEO of HSUS was even recorded on record saying he didn’t like animals.

“I don’t love animals or think they’re cute.” – Wayne Pacelle

There are more shocking accusations of scandal that involve HSUS giving money to Michael Vick (you remember, the dog fighter) and misrepresenting and misusing funds for Hurricane Katrina pets.  If you want to read more you can do so here:  Merry Grinch-mas: the truth about ASPCA and HSUS spending.

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Sad but true.

Don’t let these two organization scare you away from donating or helping.  You don’t have to spend money either; many of the organizations could use your donation of time by dog walking, cleaning kennels or by helping to organize events.  Personally, I am a huge advocate and supporter for local no-kill shelters.  Just use the internet to find shelters in the area that could use your help, investigate them to ensure it’s an organization you want to support and then start supporting!  While I may not personally be in a position to adopt a rescue, I do my best to support them.

I just want to close out this section on rescues by pointing out the different types of shelters that you can adopt from to further help make an informed decision. NOTE:  The examples below are just that…examples.  I am not suggesting they are either good or bad, just using to further illustrate.  As always, do your own research before making a decision.

Municipal Shelter

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Wyandotte – Municipal Animal Shelter example

These are your local shelters run by the city and state.  They are operated by taxpayer dollars and as such almost always have an ‘open dog admission policy’.  This means they have to take anything that is dropped off with them regardless of space or resource available to their shelter.  They simply cannot turn an animal away even if this means putting current ones to sleep.  These shelters are the ones who tend to euthanize more-so than others simply because they are first thought of when someone needs to get rid of a pet.

No Kill Shelter

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No kill shelter example

These shelters are selective in who they are going to take but only because they are going to keep the animal for the rest of it’s life until it’s adopted.  This can mean a lengthy stay and with these longer stays comes longer and higher costs of care.  Once the shelter is full they stop taking animals in.  These shelters are typically run mostly by volunteers and donations.  Most no kill shelters are also not for profit shelters.

Not for profit Shelter

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Example of a Not for Profit Animal Shelter in Michigan.

Typically run by either a board of individuals or just a few good Samaritan types who want to help animals in need.  They will rescue animals from shelters who are set to be put to sleep, take in animals off the street or from individuals who otherwise can’t care of their animals.  These tend to be smaller in type and are all run by 100% volunteer work.  They make no money on what they do.  Anything you donate to them goes 100% to the animals they are helping.

Breed Specific Rescue

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Cascade Bulldog Rescue/Rehome, Inc. Example of a breed specific rescue located in the Pacific NW.

Rescue organization run by volunteers who take in a specific breed.  These types of rescue groups are good to adopt from if you want a specific breed of dog but still want to rescue.  Usually there is no central ‘home’ to these types of organizations but rather a network of people in a geographic area working together.  When you contact them they will usually put you in touch with the closest rescue volunteer to you.  You will meet with them and surrender the dog.  They typically ask you to fill out a detailed history, provide vet history and any other information that will be helpful in finding the animal a new home.  The dog is then placed in ‘foster care’ for evaluation, further medical treatment if needed, and will live with it’s ‘foster parents’ until a suitable adopter is found.  They do extremely rigorous checks of background and homes to ensure they are placing the dog in it’s new forever home.  They are also 100% non-profit.

Thanks for sticking with this very long series!  It’s a serious issue and I wanted to make sure I gave it the attention it deserved.  At the end of the day it’s about being a responsible pet owner and ensuring that you are well prepared before you get a dog.  I personally feel the animosity held towards reputable breeders needs to stop.  A well bred dog is just a rewarding companion as a shelter one.  Individuals who chose to go down the path of a purebred shouldn’t be made to feel any guilt for their choice. Just as in all things, research, understand and don’t make blanket assumptions. On the other hand, I have the utmost respect for people who rescue.  It really is becoming a hero in the eyes of an animal.

At the end of the day, what is needed is just better education for all people about responsible pet ownership.  I firmly believe that the path to decreasing the number of unwanted dogs is through education.  This is especially important right now in the U.S. as we continue to thrive in a ‘throw away’ society.

I hope you enjoy this series!  Check back soon for some product reviews as well as some fantastic information about healthy living for your AND your dog!

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Where Should I get a Puppy/ Dog From – Rescues

Since my posts have been exceedingly long lately, I’ll cover Part 4: Municipal shelters vs. no-kill in the next post.  What I want to cover in this post is a look at rescues overall.

In the previous posts I’ve covered off in detail (maybe too much) on the different types of breeders you can purchase a dog from.  However, there are other options that might make sense for prospective dog owners.  With the exception of backyard breeders, puppy mills and pet stores, neither is better than the other (purebred purchase from a reputable breeder vs. rescue adoptions).  Where you purchase or adopt a pet from is a highly personal choice that someone makes for their particular situation.

I absolutely respect people who rescue dogs.  My good friend has two pitbull rescues and they are absolutely fantastic well adjusted dogs (just ask my kids who spent some time with them this past weekend).  If I lived on a farm or somewhere with the room I’d probably have a few rescues myself.  However, right now in my life a rescue is not something that makes sense so I do purchase purebred dogs from a reputable breeder.

What I dislike about many rescue organization is they act like they are the only way to go and look down at those of us who purchase purebreds.  I remember an incident, many, many years ago at a local adoption.  I was looking for a cat to adopt (this was back before I developed a severe allergy to them).  I found one I liked was fine with the $150 adoption charge and happily filled out the paperwork.  The woman handling the adoptions took one look at my paperwork and told me quite briskly that I couldn’t adopt.  When I inquired as to the reason (all my paperwork was in order and I even had my lease showing I could have cats) she told me coldly that it was because I had a non-spayed dog at home.  *GASP*  I did indeed have a 1 year old Golden Retriever female who I had not yet spayed.  The reason?  She was a co-owned conformation dog and we were growing her out a bit to see how she’d do before making that determination.  It didn’t matter how responsible I was.  It didn’t matter how many dogs I had in my life that never had an unwanted litter.  It didn’t matter if I was involved in 4-H and the teaching of responsible dog training and ownership.  As I politely explained this all to the woman my irritation grew as she just kept telling me I was an irresponsible pet owner.  Here I was, wanting to adopt and I was denied and told how horrible a pet owner I was.  I don’t understand why there has to be such animosity on the part of rescue organization towards those of us who purchase or even breed purebreds.

For the record, I did end up adopting a couple of amazing kittens from a different organization.  I can’t deny though that the experience left me with a bad taste in my mouth.  Let me assure you that this post is not a rip on rescues.  I think rescues absolutely have their place and am happy that someone is there to help out dogs who are no longer wanted or needed.  As I said earlier, a rescue isn’t right for me at this point and time in my life.  I live in a house in the suburbs and while I do have a backyard I am not only limited by cities ordinances but have to be realistic about how much space I have for another family member.  Also, I have kids and I want to know the temperament of whatever dog I’m getting.  When we decided to get a dog for the family both my husband and I instantly agreed we wanted a Golden Retriever.  They are loyal, patient, smart (or are supposed to be at least), and tolerant.  I knew that if I got a Golden I would never have to worry about the dog snapping my kids, gaining a neurosis due to the chaos that can be my household and would love the attention it would receive.  The only way I could guarantee this was to get a purebred Golden Retriever puppy.  Adopting an older shelter/rescue would mean I wouldn’t know anything about temperament, the past history, what mom and dad were like or even anything about its health history.

Recues are a mystery.  For some people that is perfectly acceptable but for someone with a family and limited space I can’t take a ‘mystery dog’.  I don’t think they are inferior, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with them; they simply don’t fit with my life right now.  While a rescue isn’t in my cards, I do support some rescue organizations because I believe in the work they do and want to help them out with donations, time and other little ways here and there.

As a prospective pet owner you have to decide for yourself what works best.  Ask yourself the following:

–          Do you want a particular type of companion or do you just want to add a four footed friend to your family?

–          Do you care about health guarantees for the life of the dog?

–          Do you need to know what breed or breeds your new dog is?

–          Do you want a detailed history or pedigree of the dog?

–          Do you want to sell out big bucks for a particular type of dog?

–          How much patience and knowledge do you have to deal with any potential behavioral issues?

Rescue dogs aren’t going to give any guarantees in terms of temperament, history, or health.  The organization you’re adopting from will do their best to past on any history they have but often times they simply don’t have any history to give you.

The great part about adopting a rescue is that you’re saving a life.  You are taking someone’s ‘trash’ and giving it a second chance at life.  Instead of the thousand plus dollars you can spend on a purebred you pay an adoption fee, typically around $200, for your new dog.  This money goes back into the organization to cover the rising costs of taking care of an animal.  Rescue dogs also usually have had a health check, are neutered/spayed, microchiped and up to date on their vaccines.  Getting a rescue dogs means you’re getting a total package.

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As I stated when starting this post, neither a dog from a reputable breeder nor a dog from a rescue is better.  If you purchase or plan to purchase a purebred do not let anyone make you feel bad or feel guilty.  Likewise, if you are getting a rescue don’t let someone scare you or talk you out of it.  So long as you’ve done your homework and are prepared either way is a great way to go!

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Where Should I get a Puppy / Dog From? Part 3 – Backyard breeders, Puppy Mills, and Pet Stores

Before I tackle today’s topic, I want to revisit Part 2 as I was remiss to give important information and pointers for perspective puppy owners.  I outlined what a good breeder should do but what about the things that a perspective puppy buyer should do?

It’s important for a potential dog owner and puppy purchasers to do their homework.  Potential puppy owners shouldn’t be shy about asking tons of questions to any breeder.  If a breeder doesn’t answer these satisfactorily or seems to get mad or frustrated it puts up a huge red flag.  Likewise you should be prepared to answer their questions; honestly.  Just like you want to know where your puppy is coming from they want to know where it’s going.  They’ll likely want to talk to you via phone, get to understand the type of dog you’re looking for, the reasons you want one and what experience you have.  I recently contacted a breeder about a potential puppy and she asked for a vet reference, something I’m more than happy to get for her.  This ensures that you do what is needed to keep your dog safe and that you are a responsible dog owner.  Don’t feel that they are trying to be intrusive; a good, responsible breeder wants to do everything they can to ensure they are placing a puppy in a forever home and one of their dogs isn’t going to end up in a shelter.

I can’t say this enough but please do your homework before contacting a breeder.  Make sure you understand the breed enough to know if it will be something you can handle and will be a good fit with other family members and your current lifestyle.  Go to shows.  Find people who own the breed you’re looking at and ask for a meet-and-greet.  Call potential breeders to find out about the breed.  Check out breed sites or organizational sites like the AKC or the UKC.   Most importantly, don’t buy a dog on impulse.  Dogs are a lifetime commitment.  They cost money beyond just the cost of the dog itself; food, vaccines, medications like heartworm, neuter/spay, toys, equipment…etc.  Make sure you have given it enough thought and are truly ready.  As a good and responsible dog owner you’ll want to do your part!

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Now, with that said, let’s turn our attention to today’s topic:  Backyard breeders, Puppy Mills and Pet Stores.

If there are 3 places that you should never, ever get a dog from these are it.  Under no circumstances is it ever okay to pay money for a puppy from any of these 3 sources.

Backyard Breeder

These individuals breed solely for profit or other misguided reasons such as ‘it’s fun’.  Often times they think their dog is cute and they have a friend or neighbor who happens to have a cute dog too and they think the puppies will be just adorable!  /facepalm

They can make a profit because they don’t do any of the needed clearances or testing to ensure they are breeding dogs that are healthy and a good example of the breed.  They have no understanding of genetics, bloodlines, or even have a base concept of breed improvement.

If a price sounds too good to be true, that’s because it probably is.  Backyard breeders sell at a low price because they can sell all the pups and still make a large profit.  If they have a litter of 5 pups and sell each for $200 they still make $1000 and all of that goes back into their pocket since they aren’t paying for the upkeep of the dog.  Their dogs often don’t live in good conditions and puppies are born in make-shift set ups or no set up at all and are left to fend for themselves.  The puppies often grow up in unsanitary and deplorable conditions.  When you don’t pay anything in, even if you lose a few you’re still making money.

Don’t be fooled by a backyard breeder offering papers or registrations with their puppies either.  Just because a breeder offers papers doesn’t mean they are reputable.  Sadly, it doesn’t take much to get AKC registration on a dog or a litter of puppies.

Backyard breeder ad from Ebay classified.  Notice that they offer 'papers'?

Backyard breeder ad from Ebay classified. Notice that they offer ‘papers’?

Signs of a backyard breeder; poor living conditions for the dog.  Photo credit:  http://k9nation.org/breeders/kindsofbreeders.html

Signs of a backyard breeder; poor living conditions for the dog. Photo credit: http://k9nation.org/breeders/kindsofbreeders.html

Not all backyard breeders are evil.  Rather, they are ignorant and/or greedy.  Some backyard breeders have good intentions but are sorely misguided.  They devalue the life of a dog to nothing more than something that can make them money with little regard to where the lives they were responsible for are going to end up.  These breeders will not offer any health guarantees and basically forget about you and the dog once you walk out their door.  These breeders should not be supported under any circumstances.

Recent Craig's List posting for Husky Puppies.  Backyard Breeder.

Recent Craig’s List posting for Husky Puppies. Backyard Breeder.

chocolate lab backyard breeder

Backyard breeders. Puppies are not a Valentine’s Day gift.

Notice the 'rehoming' and 'adoption' fee?  It's how people get around Craig's List rules.

Notice the ‘rehoming’ and ‘adoption’ fee? It’s how people get around Craig’s List rules.

Below are some of the ‘red flags’ that tell you someone is a backyard breeder so you can avoid them.

  1. Advertises in the local papers, places like ‘Petfinder’, or on Craig’s List.
  2. Doesn’t ask you any questions.  They are interested in making a sale only and could care less where the new puppy is going.
  3. Gives you a price immediately before telling you any other details.
  4. Doesn’t offer any health guarantees.
  5. Doesn’t do any health clearances like hips, elbows, or eyes (depending on the breed).
  6. Doesn’t do any genetic clearances like CEA or TNS testing (again, depending on the breed).
  7. Makes excuses on why you can’t see mom or dad or simply flat out refuses.
  8. Won’t let you see where the puppies grow up.
  9. Always seems to have puppies available (a good breeder doesn’t breed until there is demand).
  10. Offers registration papers with full registration and no questions asked (one of the ways that backyard breeders are able to continue).
  11. Breeds dogs under the age of 2.
  12. Breeds dogs back to back in their heat cycle (you should NOT breed back to back as it strains the female).  Backyard breeders do this to maximize profit.
  13. Can’t explain the reason for a dog pairing; i.e. Why did they breed for these puppies?
  14. Often have puppies that are older; don’t have waiting lists.

So what should you do if you come across a backyard breeder?  Most places have laws, regulations and ordinances against backyard breeders.  If you suspect that someone is a backyard breeder call your local animal control or local animal shelter and report them.  There is also a group on Facebook called ‘Wobbies’ that was started in November.  Their goal is to wipe out backyard breeders.  Head to their page, like it, and report any backyard breeders to them and watch the community go to work.

Two key questions you can ask:  Can I get a vet out here to check to puppy before I take him home?  Can I have references from past puppy purchasers?  The backyard breeder is going to say no to both of these questions which tells you to immediately walk away.

Puppy Mills

If backyard breeders are greedy, misguided idiots then puppy mills are simply the embodiment of pure evil.

A puppy mill is a commercial dog breeding facility.  They care only about profit and their dogs are treated like a commodity.  They live in horrible unsanitary and heartbreaking conditions.  Most live in tiny cages that are overcrowded with no access to sunlight, regular fresh water or food and do not have adequate veterinary care.  These puppies have no socialization and are often weaned from their moms between the ages of 5-6 weeks instead of the recommended 8 – 9 weeks.  The Department of Agriculture is supposed to be in charge of regulation and licensing which should include regular inspections.  The reality is that the Department of Agriculture has their hands full with other issues and can’t be bothered to keep up with regular inspections.

Once a ‘breeder’ bitch reaches the age of 4 or 5 she is too old to produce and is killed.  Animals that get sick are left untreated to die or are simply killed.  Many of the dogs can’t walk; some can’t even stand from being in such tiny cages their entire life.  Grown dogs that come from puppy mills require special attention and years of rehabilitation to live a semi-normal life.

If you think I’m exaggerating I’m not.  This is real life hell on earth for the dogs that life in these places.

Puppy Mill Conditions.  Photo credit:  http://www.columbusdogconnection.com/PuppyMillBill.htm

Puppy Mill Conditions. Photo credit: http://www.columbusdogconnection.com/PuppyMillBill.htm

Puppy Mill conditions.  Photo credit:  http://www.columbusdogconnection.com/PuppyMillBill.htm

Puppy Mill conditions. Photo credit: http://www.columbusdogconnection.com/PuppyMillBill.htm

 

Your typical puppy purchaser (you or me) will never deal with a puppy mill directly.  They don’t allow just anyone onto the facility because they know that no sane, rational human would be okay with what they do.  Instead these puppies are specifically bred and sold in bulk to Pet Stores.

I worked for a vet clinic just after high school that was the contracted/preferred vet who took care of incoming puppies for a local mall’s pet store.  These puppies would arrive on a truck, packed in like any other commodity that gets shipped.  They would be filthy, dehydrated and scared from the long drive.  The condition of these puppies was so bad that the vet clinic had an isolation room that was dedicated to just these puppy mill puppies.  Many came in with fleas, needed IVs, baths, and a large majority had to be immediately treated for parvo.  It was absolutely heartbreaking.  We saw many of these pups get put to sleep because they were already beyond help at just 6 or 7 weeks of age.  There were a few puppies that ended up being ‘adopted’ by vet staff (I use the term ‘adopted here loosely as they were simply taken home and never went back to the pet store).  If a dog needed expensive medical care the Pet Store asked for them to be put to sleep.  The ones that could be saved were and became property of the vet clinic.  One vet tech had 3 dogs, all from puppies that the Pet Store wrote off.  The vet’s prime job was to provide health certificates for the puppies that would go home with the new puppy once the pet store found a buyer.  The kickback to the vet was that the pet store would required these new puppy purchasers to get a vet check with him.  He had a revolving door of business and new clientele that way.  I honestly don’t know how the man slept at night knowing he contributed to the sustainability of both puppy mills and pet stores.

Pet Stores

Pet stores are the sole reason that puppy mills continue to exist.   Pet stores that sell dogs and puppy mills are symbiotic; they can’t exist without each other.  Let me clarify I’m not saying all pet stores are bad, just pet stores that sell puppies.  Again, it’s business and the bottom line on any business is profit.

Most pet stores don’t broker directly with the puppy mill.  Instead the puppy mills use ‘dealers’ who masquerade as purebred breeders.  They serve as a middle man and a buffer for the truth of where these puppies come from.  However, pet stores should know better; no and I repeat, under no circumstances would any reputable breeder sell to a pet store.

I’ve always been shocked by the prices that pet store charge for these so-called purebred puppies.  More often than not they are not purebred dogs regardless of what the pet store tells you.  Even so, if it’s a purebred their prices are astronomical.  An individual could find a reputable breeder, pay less, and get a better puppy.

$1,000 for a mixed breed?!  $600?

$1,000 for a mixed breed?! $600?

$1600 pit bull puppy and over $3,000 for the bulldog.  Bulldog's can be expensive but this a $3k gamble.

Over a thousand for a pit bull puppy and over $3,000 for the bulldog. Bulldog’s can be expensive but this a $3k gamble.

Pet stores also make a crisp business on designer dogs; Cock-a-poo, Golden Doodle, Chavachon, Chesadore, Chi-a-poo, Malshi, Puggle, Malti-poo, Maltzer, Morkie, Peke Tzu, Mini Bulldog (which is apparently a Bulldog, Pug mix) or whatever crazy name they come up with.  A mixed breed, is a mixed breed, is a mixed breed.  These ‘designer dogs’ also come with a steep price tag.  Pet stores can get away with it because people actually pay it.  I cannot even wrap my mind around the fact that people are willing to sell out over a thousand dollars for a mixed breed dog! These are not designer breeds… there is no such thing.

A Shitzu-Yorkie mix for over $500.

A Shitzu-Yorkie mix for over $500.

A list that one Pet Store's website had for all their 'Hybrid Designer Breeds'.

A list that one Pet Store’s website had for all their ‘Hybrid Designer Breeds’.

One pet store I looked at listed over 34 puppies arriving in February alone.  Many of the puppies incoming are already neutered or spayed at less than 8 weeks of age.

Almost all the websites I looked at said they sell only puppies from licensed USDA breeders.  Licensed USDA breeder is code for ‘puppy mill’.  Anyone who sells an animal to a pet store must have a USDA license.  The only reason to get one is so you can sell to a pet store.  The license doesn’t ensure anything more than a requirement for food, water and shelter but doesn’t specify or interfere with the manner in which they are housed.  They puppy mills can literally cram in hundreds of dogs in a small space and so long as they provide food, water and shelter it’s perfectly acceptable.  When a pet store says, “We only sell puppies from USDA licensed breeders they have told you flat out they purchase and resell puppy mill puppies.

At ‘XX Pet Store’ we offer a wide variety of puppies and designer hybrid puppies.

The vast majority of our puppies come from USDA certified breeders. We also enjoy featuring puppies from small independent breeders where licensing is not required. All the breeders names and addresses are proudly displayed on each puppy’s cage! Many of our breeders offer AKC, ACA, or APR registration. Also, many of our puppies come with microchips in case your puppy were to be lost or stolen.

Or this one:

All ‘XY Pet Store’ is the only one of its kind in the industry to be regulated and licensed to sell puppies. This means we must follow the laws with our puppies and only use USDA licensed breeders. When it comes to choosing our breeders, we have our research and development team seek out the finest kennels and ensure that they have the same standards, work ethics and professionalism as ‘XY Pet Store’.

Remember above where I said that puppy mills use ‘brokers’.  That’s exactly who these places are dealing with and regardless of the words they use they’re still perpetuating puppy mills.

Many pet stores also tout that if they don’t currently have the breed you’re looking for they can get it!

We always strive to keep a large selection of Breeds of every size, from Chihuahua’s and Yorkshire Terrier’s to English Mastiff’s and Saint Bernards. We generally have the largest selction of breeds in the area. If we dont have the certain breed you are looking for we may be able to obtain from one of our breeders.

 I left the above quote as is without editing.

I’ve also seen a pet store offer 100% financing for their puppies.  If someone can’t afford a puppy they shouldn’t be buying one and offering financing is almost guaranteeing that the purchaser isn’t ready for a puppy.

I blocked out the pet store name.

I blocked out the pet store name.

So why do people buy from a pet store?

First – impulse.  You’re out and about, and would you just look at the super cute puppy in that store?  We should totally get one!  Let’s do it because if we don’t do it then it might not be there later.  Dresses are an impulse buy, puppies are not.

Second – Easy, no hassle purchase.  Pet stores don’t ask questions.  They aren’t going to screen prospective buyers.  If you have the money they have the puppy.

Third – ignorance.  Prospective puppy buyers just don’t know better.  They don’t realize there is an entire world of reputable breeders that will help them not only find a breed that fits their life but will be a partner with them for the life of the dog.  I’m stunned by the amount of people that don’t even know the first place to look for a puppy.  Between reputable breeders and rescues there should never be a reason to purchase a puppy from a pet store; never.

To recap, there is never a good reason to purchase a puppy from a backyard breeder, puppy mill or pet store; never.  Ignorance is not an excuse.  I didn’t not pull any punches here because I don’t think this is a topic we should be sugar coating.

In Part 4, I’ll be talking about Municipal Shelters vs. No-Kill Shelters

Stay tuned!

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