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How I Failed as a Rescuer: Lessons from a Sanctuary

This has been a heavy, heart breaking week in the world of animal welfare. A few days ago a formerly reputable sanctuary in Texas called Spindletop Refuge was raided by authorities. Close to 300 dogs, mostly pit bulls, were discovered living in terrible conditions. It was just one of many failures this week.

The reason why this particular case is so upsetting is that this was supposed to a “good” sanctuary. Rescue groups and families from around the country have been sending their dogs to live there, paying hefty boarding fees, in the hopes that the dogs would have a chance at another life out in Texas. Some dogs were adopted out, others lived at the sanctuary for life.

Apparently on the surface, this place seemed a like a good one. People have come forward to say that they visited Spindletop as recently as the first week of July and were satisfied that it was a safe, clean facility. Turns out they weren’t seeing the whole facility – only a small part of it.

The woman who ran the organization has a long and positive history in animal welfare and at one point, I believe this really was a good place for dogs, mostly pit bulls, that no one else would care for. But something went terribly wrong and the dogs kept coming and now rescues and families are scrambling in panic to get the dogs back.

They must feel beyond guilty for sending the animals that they love into this situation. I know I did.

Years ago in Philly I helped care for a small feral cat colony that had sprung up in a construction site across from the house of one of my dog walking clients. Not having much experience with ferals, I reached out for help and found a woman who would help me trap the cats. The construction site was rapidly tuning over into new luxury homes. The cats couldn’t stay there, so we had no choice but to remove them. The short story is that we trapped the kittens and I adopted them out. But the adult females were a different story. They were truly feral and suffering in the home of the trapper, an experienced feral handler. We came to the agreement that cats were miserable in her house, despite her best efforts, and we had to do something. We couldn’t return them to their former “home” – it was now the foundation of a townhouse. We couldn’t take them to the city shelter. They would be caged, stressed, then killed for being feral. So we looked into a sanctuary and found one in western PA.

The kittens from the feral colony all got adopted, but their moms weren’t so lucky.

We were as diligent as we thought was necessary about checking out a place that was a day’s drive away. I had multiple phone calls with the owner. We spoke to other people who had transported cats out there and seen it in person and they swore it was a safe, clean, enriching place for cats to live out their lives, if they were not adopted out. Desperate not to put these two cats to sleep (one of them now named “Dolce” after me), we arranged for a volunteer to drive them out to the sanctuary.

Those of you in animal welfare might be wondering: Yes, it turned out to be the infamous Tiger Ranch. A few years after we brought our two feral cats there, authorities raided this sanctuary and found dead cats and neglected animals everywhere.

I was sick that I had contributed to this and that’s when I knew: you’re only rescuing an animal if you see it through all the way to the end, whatever that end may be.  I had passed the buck onto someone else. And failed to take full responsibility for the lives I had “saved.”

Even though I was afraid it might be dangerous to send them to a sanctuary (and I knew I wasn’t doing my due diligence inspecting the property personally), I was more afraid to make the other choice – euthanasia.

Here’s what I know now, having worked at a shelter and in rescue: All animals deserve love at the end of their lives. Sometimes the most loving thing we can do is to provide a peaceful death. And a peaceful death comes from a human taking full responsibility for the life of that animal. I wish I had done that for those two cats.

Shipping animals off to live in sanctuaries, many of which are not being run particularly well (there are exceptions), is not necessarily saving them. It’s often the beginning of a life sentence. Time and time again, we hear about sanctuaries that started off ok, but due to a variety of circumstances the sanctuary falls apart and the animals suffer. It’s often the case that something like: terminal illness, natural disaster, financial ruin, mental illness etc. pushes the sanctuary over the edge and the animals pay the price.

Before you raise your pitchforks at the owner’s of these sanctuaries to call them monsters, I ask you to look at the whole picture. Where are these animals coming from?

From people like me: everyday people who “rescue” animals and desperately reach out for help once they realize they’re in over their heads. From no-kill rescue groups and shelters that don’t want to euthanize pets they’ve taken into their care, but have run out space or do not have resources for long-term housing. From families that for whatever reason cannot care for their pets.

We all keep pushing down the chain. Individuals reach out to shelters, shelters plead with rescues to pull dogs, rescues can’t place all the dogs, so they board hard-to-place dogs in sanctuaries.  

We’re all begging for someone else to give us the happy ending we so desperately want for the animals we love. If people deny us, we lash out that no one will help. If a shelter isn’t no-kill, we refuse to donate to them. We keep pushing and pushing until someone will take this painful, difficult situation off of our doorstep.

 We all push until we find sanctuaries who say yes.

Can you blame them for saying yes? How long could you say no for, when the world is banging down your door to help just “one more” innocent animal? The pressure on these people to say “yes” is enormous. No doubt about it – they should be responsible and limit their intakes and their behavior, in the case of Tiger Ranch and other similar scenarios, is criminal. But in reality their failure to be responsible comes at the end of a long line of people who failed to make responsible choices. We can’t turn the spotlight on their mismanagement and recklessness, without turning it back on ourselves.

We are so invested in the misunderstood idea of “no kill” that we will do anything to postpone the death of the animals we care for. And so the dogs and cats get shipped out across the country or driven across the state, packed with their paperwork and all of our hopes that there really is a happy ending out there for every single animal. And then they wait. In kennels and cages for months, then years. 23 to 24  hours a day in their kennels. No family to call their own. Warehoused and tucked away from the world.

Alive. But not living. 

We’ve passed the work onto someone else. And then, when those people crumbled under the weight of the pile we have swept upon them, we turn our fingers on them and say they’re the monsters.

I’ve come to think that we’re all just different parts of one dangerously ill body.

One part of this sick body is the public and our expectations of what no-kill sanctuaries can do for our pets. If you own a pet that you feel you cannot keep, please know this: you are your pet’s best resource. Very few people will care more than you about the outcome of your pet’s life than you. Invest your time and energy into properly managing, training, or seeking vet care for your pets. If that does not work, think very hard about whether or not your pet will be able to withstand the intense stressors of life in a lonely kennel, particularly if you are looking at a sanctuary. There are no easy answers or quick fixes out there.

I believe that the most loving thing we can do for animals is to stand with them until the very end. Sometimes the end is providing excellent life-time management, sometimes it’s rehoming them, sometimes it’s finding a good shelter or rescue that has a committed staff or volunteers, but sometimes the end is death. Putting them to sleep, in your arms, can be the greatest act of love you give to your pet. You are giving them an end with dignity. We need to consider this as part of our responsibility to our pets.

Before I go on, I’d like to make this clear: I believe in shelters and rescues and I support the “no kill”  approach as long as it’s done with the quality of an animal’s life in mind. I believe many, many places are doing good, responsible work and that the public should be encouraged to bring their pets to these places, if they cannot care for them any longer, so that the pets have a chance at a new life. I’m not trying to scare anyone away from surrendering a pet to a shelter or rescue. I am not saying that all animals are better off dead than at a shelter. What I’m talking about in this blog is our responsibility to animals, how we all contribute to this mess, and the misunderstood idea that saving an animal means just keeping them alive.

If you are a rescuer: saving an animal doesn’t end at pulling them off the euthanasia list or picking them off the street. If you cannot commit to the process of housing, managing, adopting out, and providing owner support to the pet that  you are “rescuing”, then you need to examine what it means to “save” an animal. The glory of pulling a dog from the “to be killed” list isn’t the end zone. The real success comes when the pet is in a home that you or your group is providing ongoing support for. If you can’t do that, do not point fingers that no one will help you. You committed to caring for this animal, once you saved it, so the animal is now your responsibility. See it through, even if in the end, there is no glory.

Cats and dogs live in the moment. They are not burdened with thinking about the future. That is our load, as humans, to bear for them. Instead of passing their suffering along to someone else, in an attempt to relieve ourselves of the psychological pain of euthanizing an animal or the physical discomfort of having to do the difficult work of management and foster care, I beg you to carry the weight for them. Do the hard work. But, if you cannot place them in another home, if you cannot provide the care they need to stay sane and healthy in a long term, no-kill shelter environment, if you cannot manage them safely around others, if they are suffering, you must take responsibility for their life: Love them until the very last minute and let them go.  

I don’t know what the solution to this huge, complex problem is, but we are all part of this problem: the shelters, the public, the rescues, the animal welfare organizations, the families, the sanctuaries. And we all need to work together to fix it. Every time we save a life, we have to commit to providing a level of care for that animal that makes their life worth living. It takes a lot of work. And a ton of resources. And it might mean saving fewer animals, but we’ll be providing a higher level of care for the ones that we do save. Simply keeping them alive, at any cost, is not a humane solution.

I know the rescues and families that sent dogs to Spindletop are beside themselves with regret and sorrow. And I’m sure this week’s events will have a profound effect on them. My heart is with those folks and the dogs they tried so hard to save.

I’m still so sorry for the suffering that I contributed to when I made the choice to pass the responsibility of the feral cats to someone else. I’ve never done that again. It means I’ve rescued fewer pets, but the ones that I have, I’ve seen through to the end – sometimes it’s been putting them to sleep and sometimes there are happy endings. Either way, I’m committed to taking responsibility for the animals I rescue, no matter what the outcome.

There are worse endings than humane euthanasia. Spindletop, Tiger Ranch, and all the others proved that to be true. May we all find a way to do the hard work, for the sake of the animals.

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  1. Diane #

    I don’t think I’ve ever read anything more thought-provoking. I would prefer NOT to believe this is true but I fear it is and I will think about it hard and often. Thank you.

    July 21, 2012
    • Thanks for reading Diane. It’s not fun to think about, but we owe it to the animals to try, right?

      July 21, 2012
      • Matt.S #

        That’s true. Fixing this requires hard choices, unpleasent, but neccesary.

        July 22, 2012
    • Thank you for writing this great and truthful blog. We’ve been trying to say this for years. Out of sight, should not be out of mind. Just sending dogs off to a “rescue” or “sanctuary” is not good enough. We all must be more responsible: owners, breeders, rescues, shelters, everyone! Thank you for writing the truth. Animals deserve better from us!

      July 22, 2012
    • Andrea Barbosa #

      Well said Diane!! Sad, but true.

      July 23, 2012
    • I’m afraid it is, many times we hear about these places that take dogs in because no one wants them and they end up in situations that are not in there best interest, also this is what happens to hoarder dogs, people think they can take better care of them than others and they won’t die, their are things worse than death is very true.

      July 24, 2012
  2. The solution to the problem is to stop all the ongoing reckless breeding of animals by all the people seeking a quick buck. If all these animals were not being continuously bred over and over, the shelters and rescues would not be so over burdened. These animals do not create themselves. They are bred intentionally by people.

    One well know place where these breeders advertise and sell their puppies is Craigslist. Craigslist does not allow any “For Sale,” “Free,” “For Stud,” or “breeders/puppies” ads. They only allow “rehoming” ads and the ad must state the price, which should not be more than $50. All of this is stated in CL’s rules and regulations. All these ads can be flagged as “prohibited.”

    Go to your local CL site, then go to the “Pets” section and start flagging all the ads. You only need to flag the ads once. Remember not to click “back” to the ads. Instead, go to the main CL section in the upper left and then go back to the “Pets” section and continue flagging.

    After you finish with your local section, then go to the surrounding sections, which can be found back on the main page in the far right column.

    This is the main place that backyard breeders and puppy mills post all puppies for sale.

    July 21, 2012
    • That may be true, but what are we going to do for the animals in the meantime, while we work on fixing huge problems like backyard breeding? Clearly, shipping them off to sanctuaries hasn’t turned out to be a very happy ending for a lot of animals. So I hope we can all examine our choices right now, while we continue to work towards long term solutions for other issues that contribute to homeless pets. It’s really complicated stuff.

      July 21, 2012
      • I don’t see it as complicated. Stop all the backyard breeding, today, now from this point on, get as many animals into foster homes as possible, get them adopted into permanent homes. Animals will continue to be euthanized in shelters, as they have been for a very long time. Not every animal can be saved, but save as many as possible. The root of the problem is the puppy mills and backyard breeders. Get them stopped ASAP. I support 100% mandatory spay/neuter laws. That will be the only way to get to these people who breed and breed and breed, creating all the problems.

        July 21, 2012
        • Tina Vu #

          Jackie Phillips you are exactly right, shut down all the puppy mills, and back yard breeders, and have ALL animals spayed and neutered!!! We need to make sure every animal has a home.

          July 21, 2012
          • Michael Delvecchio #

            To those of you yelling, “spay and neuter ALL animals!” Where, exactly, do you propose people go who actually want a dog of a specific breed that they have researched and found to suit their home and lifestyle? If ALL dogs were spayed and neutered tomorrow, dogs would be extinct within 15 or so years; Mandatory spay and neuter is not the answer to anything, and is completely ineffective, at best, in areas where MSN laws are already in place.

            July 21, 2012
            • Stacy White #

              That was exactly my thought, Michael. Yes, stop the mills, but the individual ‘backyard breeder’ who is responsible and does not seek to overpopulate their locale is NOT the problem. If you spay/neuter the pups, that will help avoid an accidental pregnancy, and also be safer for the animal. All of my dogs and cat are fixed. People have to be responsible for the animals they buy as much or more than the legitimate breeders who brought the animal into being. Yes, there are many breeders who have two or three bitches running hot all the time. That, to my mind, is irresponsible and beginning to overpopulate the animals.

              A man not far from where I live had 3 litters (21 pups) of Boxers he was selling. I about fell over. There is no way I would have purchased one of his dogs, even though I could have given it a wonderful life, I would have been contributing to the problem. People, for the most part, do not think outside their immediate wants to the long term. It is when we focus people on that long term effect of overpopulation and rampant breed/purchase/rehome/euthanize cycle that we can stop this problem. Unfortunately, not everyone cares or wants to be educated.

              No demand for the product will stop the mills and the excessive breeders. Adoption/rescue is a perfectly acceptable option. If the person is opposed to keeping an adult dog, why should they be allowed to own a puppy that is going to become an adult dog within a short period of time?

              July 22, 2012
              • The problem that exists is how to determine “responsible” and “not responsible.” Of course, everybody is going to say, “I am responsible,” and “they” are not responsible. For example, I saw one CL ads that say, “Stop flagging my ads, The dogs I am breeding are my own!” Now this person believes they are not a breeder and should not be flagged.

                The only way to make sure everybody is covered is to say, “If you are going to breed dogs, you will be required to be licensed and regulated, and you must follow these rules and reg.” Period. No arguing or discussing.

                Why would breeders not want this? The large majority of their competition will disappear. What business owner would not want their competition to disappear? They can use their “licensed and approved” status to say, “I am a responsible breeder. I have been approved and authorized.” What business owner would not want that status attached to their business?

                July 22, 2012
                • Linda Lewis #

                  Why would breeders not want this??? When has the government ever done regulation right? The USDA manages all those puppy mills and how has that worked out for the dogs? Dogs need to be in a class all their own and not lumped with farm animals so they will not be bred like farm animals. I realize I’m jumping around a lot but back to responsible breeders. A responsible breeder keeps the puppies until they are at least 8 weeks if not 12 weeks and works hard to socialize them properly so that they can go safely into our homes with our children. A responsible breeder breeds to the breed standard and most are involved in showing their dogs. Most BYB (backyard breeders) have no notion that there is a written standard for every breed of dog. Responsible breeders have a vet do breed related health checks, do home visits when they place=sell the puppies, take back their own dogs if the owner can’t keep them at ANY TIME IN THE LIFE OF THE DOG. These are just a few of the things that a responsible breeder does. AKC and responsible breeders (along with some irresponsible breeders) are fighting tooth and nail to keep out the requirements for hobby breeders. No laws will ever be able to legislate morals or ethics so those who care for dogs properly and breed properly would be most hurt by legislation because it just addresses the physical (cage size, temperature) and those things are never an issue with a responsible breeder.
                  For my own opinion I don’t think anyone should have in their care any more dogs than they can properly socialize and provide for at any time. Depending on the breed and size and nature of the dogs that varies greatly. Great blog, great points and I will share on my fb site.

                  Just way too many issues and way too many irresponsible people.

                  June 20, 2014
            • Read my post, Michael, I did not say “spay/neuter all animals.” I said there should be breeders who agree to be licensed and regulated and follow rules and regulations about what animals can be bred and when. They have been doing this in Europe for a long time.

              There are some breeders who are good, but, unfortunately, they are few and far between. Let’s make those good breeders produce nice dogs and let’s prevent the backyard breeders and puppy mills be put out of business.

              I adopt all my dogs from shelters and rescues and I have also shown mixed breed shelter dogs for over 25 years in a wide variety of competitive sports with only one ILP Am Staff in the 1980’s.

              July 22, 2012
            • IT IS EFFECTIVE, in areas where they have made it law to spay/neuter. There are breeders who apply for a license and can breed. There are lots of ways to still get puppies and dogs. The law should apply to the puppies/dogs/cats that are sold/adopted to JQP. The average owner does not need to let his animal have untold amounts of puppies/kittens. IN Texas all shelters are required to see the animals are spayed/neutered when being released to the public by way of adoption or given to rescue groups. I don’t know the # of the law but I know it is there. Why not to breeders who sell their dogs/cats UNLESS it is to another breeder with a license to breed, or to show people with a license to keep their pet whole.. The sky will not fall in if we limit the sources of obtaining pets

              July 22, 2012
            • PJ #

              If all the responsible pet owners spay/neuter their well trained, well behaved, dogs that is going to take all the good tempered dog genes out of the genitic pool and leave the dogs beloing to bad pet owners, gang members, drug dealers etc who are NEVER going to do the right thing and get thier animal fixed. They insted will be mating bad tempered dog to bad tempered dog and cranking out as many pupies as possiable with dog or people aggression in their genitics as possiable to fill the void left by the good dogs that were spayed by responsiable owners. We may end up with less unwanted dogs in the long run but what we are left with are going to have a whole bunch of behavorial problems.

              July 23, 2012
              • All of my dogs are well behaved and have outstanding temperaments and all are spayed and neutered. They also are all adopted mixed breed shelter dogs. Plus, I would consider myself responsible. Purebred dog does not equate well bred. Purebred does not mean that they should be bred. Responsible person does not mean they should be bred. None of those things mean a dog should be bred. Scientifically determined genetics is the only thing that should determine if a dog should be bred. Temperament is not genetic, it is environmental and a total crap shoot. Good and bad temperaments can be in good and bad homes. I put this on all my emails: “Great dogs are not born, they are created.”

                July 23, 2012
            • Delwin Goss #

              You need to quit using No Kill Solutions as your only source of information. To say they are biased is an understatement.

              August 14, 2012
            • helenlove@centurylink.net #

              When my Beloved Pug ( found in a shelter) , passed away in my arms, I knew my life would be empty until I found another – had to be a pug, just like LIzzy – So I started checking out shelters until I found another Perfect Pug. You can find any breed any age in shelters. There’s really no need to go to breeders IMO.

              November 21, 2013
            • MP #

              Create laws and regulations on who can breed – when breeding can be done – etc. Permits, fees, and red tape as the only legal way to breed animals will lead to only those committed to doing it correctly being willing to pay and thereby reducing the puppy mill breeding as well as back yard breeding. In the meantime, spay/neuter rescues and pups adopted by folks without these special breeding permissions. That leaves folks free to save as many currently existing animals as possible without the problem being further compounded. Later on down the road if there is a shortage (bless the world if that happened and the shelters were empty), restrictions can be varied or modified to fix the issue and allow for more pups, cats, or what have you, to be bred. Fixing the problem that we face right now also requires some thought to the future. The real issue is that there either aren’t enough people behind this epidemic that care or there aren’t enough people willing to stand up and say something.

              August 17, 2014
              • Rachel #

                More laws are not the solution. More laws will make it even more impossible for responsible breeders to exist. Which is the problem by the way:

                What we really need is more responsible breeders; more people choosing to buy from responsible breeders instead of from puppy mills.

                I have only been breeding dogs for five minutes here, and I already see so much breeder-breeder criticism where it is not needed.

                Why?

                Breeders get so much stigma because of outraged folks advocating for shelters and against breeding or buying, hence many reputable breeders reaction is to breed on a very limited basis, while the mills laugh all the way to the bank.

                The result is that the majority of available pups to buy are produced by mills and backyard breeders.

                Therefore, the demand for pet puppies is met by mills and bybs instead of responsible breeders, because those are the available puppies to buy!

                Hence the reality: too many unwanted, homeless dogs which are euthanized.

                We must accept five realities before coming up with a solution that works:

                1) In spite of any change we may make, there will always be irresponsible people hence dogs that need to be rescued. To think otherwise is like thinking that had there been enough lifeboats, all the people aboard Titanic would have been saved; while indeed there can be WAY less dogs that need to be rescued if we can make a change, there will never be none at all, though working for that goal will never be in vain. That is the irony of the imperfect world we live in: perfection can never exist, but it is not vain to work toward it because in doing so does bring us closer to it.

                2) Not everyone wants to rescue, nor can they, or should they.

                3) There is a demand for puppies. Some people prefer to raise their pet from a young puppy. Others, like myself, cannot find what they want in a shelter hence must breed or buy to get it. Dogs that are in the wrong home do not remain there, so it is in the best interest of the dog that the buyer gets what they are looking for (and so it is good when the buyer KNOWS WHAT they are looking for!).

                4) Folks who want a puppy are going to get one!

                5) There are two kinds of breeders: Breeders who breed to produce a good specimen of the breed and stand by what they produce and sell (i.e. reputable breeders) and breeders who breed to make money (i.e. puppy mills and backyard breeders). The former makes no money because they have to sell puppies for less than the amount that they spent to produce them otherwise shut out too many good homes who cannot afford to drop thousands of dollars on a dog. The later makes money because they cut out necessary practices which produce good specimens hence make more money selling the puppies then they spent to produce them which is a reasonable fee that buyers can afford; there will always be mills and backyard breeders so long as reputable breeding is a money-loosing business. Proof that reputable breeders are not in it for the money is that they remain in business in spite of operating at a loss: a business which exists to make money goes out of business when it operates at a loss, which is why mills remain in existence; they are making money.

                The reason we have not found a solution is because there are too many crusaders who do not accept those realities, or otherwise do not do their research.

                So many are hardly involved with either rescue or breeding, yet want to dictate how it should be done or what is wrong with it.

                You know, when I sell a puppy the reality is not that it is one less dog that could have been rescued from a shelter, the reality is that it is one less dog that was bought from a puppy mill! If I or another reputable breeder in my area had no puppies for that person to buy, you can bet the mills in the area would have.

                If there is going to be ANY law about breeding, it should not be about how to breed, buy, or sell, it should be about being responsible for the consequences of your actions:

                Make it so dogs can be traced back to the breeder who sold them.

                Make dogs who cannot be traced back to the breeder illegal to buy, sell, or possess; these ones will need to be rescued from or rehomed by a legitimist rescue organization to be legal to possess.

                Make it so rescue organizations are a NON-PROFIT organization; their motivation MUST NOT BE TO MAKE MONEY.

                Like I said, there will never be no dogs that need to be rescued, because there is no perfect solution. There is only a solution that can best help or help as many dogs as possible. We have a problem because folks choose to be irresponsible, or because folks are ignorant of how to be responsible, and a law is not going to help the folks who chose to be irresponsible. It may help those who are ignorant of how to be responsible, but history will show you that laws usually just screw over those who are responsible in the first place, leaving only those who are irresponsible to thrive.

                I cannot tell you how many folks I know or talk to who do not recognize a particular breeder as a mill.

                I cannot tell you how many dogs which are not rescues that I board which are from mills or bybs and the owner is completely ignorant of the fact that they supported such a breeder by buying a puppy from them.

                I cannot tell you how many dogs I board which the owner claims “is a rescue” when the dog was indeed a PURCHASE based on their story!

                We must advocate for not only shelter dogs or rescuing instead of buying, but we must also advocate for reputable breeders for the folks who are going to buy instead of rescuing, and education as to what a reputable breeder actually is and what a rescued dog actually is, to see more responsibility hence less dogs in shelters.

                August 22, 2014
              • Rachel #

                Also, we do not want to see breeding end up like our food industry, where only the commercial industries who can mass produce can afford to operate or are supported by the government/legal….basically we do not want commercial puppy mills to be the only breeders who can legally breed!! That is what may happen if we advocate to have breeding heavily regulated.

                August 22, 2014
        • It is complicated. It is unrealistic to think it’s not. Who is going to police this? You? Everyone involved in any type of rescue is overworked and underfunded. There are certainly not enough people worldwide (it’s not just a US problem) to make sure people aren’t trying to breed dogs for sale in their backyards.

          There are no easy answers.

          July 21, 2012
          • I think one thing needs to be kept in mind here: the difference between theory and reality. Theory is what is talked about in textbooks, in classrooms and at fancy seminars. It is the ideal of what is desired. Another word is utopia. Then there is reality. This is what life is really like when you leave the classroom and go home.

            Shelters, rescue groups and the general public has been trying to achieve utopia for many years, and sometimes they come close. Dogs and cats get adopted into nice homes, donations come in and everybody is happy. Reality is when you walk back into the open door shelter the next day and see a hundred new animals that weren’t there the day before. Again, everybody tries to do as much as possible and a lot does get done, but animals get euthanized that were perfectly adoptable. But you remember the animals that did make it out.

            Then you walk into the open door shelter again the next day, and 120 animals have come in since the day before. You go through the routine again and some animals go to rescue, some animals get adopted and some get euthanized. But you remember the animals that did make it out.

            Then you walk into the open door shelter again the next day and 150 animals have come in since the day before. Again………….

            Does that sound familiar to anybody on this list?

            Theory gets discussed again and again and again at these annual fancy “No Homeless Pets/No Kill” conferences that so many groups seem to be holding every year. People come out of the classrooms after having discussed theory for the last week and everybody is happy and rejuvenated.

            Then you walk into the open door shelter again and see 160 animals that have come in since the day before. Again…..

            Theory is not working. If 100 animals get adopted out the front door, then 10,000 leave out the back door in barrels. That is not good news. It is good news for the 100 animals, but not for the 10,000 that don’t make it out.

            I would like to bring up one more thing that I know will not be popular, and then I am going to bed since I need to be at a dog show very early tomorrow with my dogs, all adopted shelter dogs. I have heard some people say, “Well, if so many animals get spayed and neutered, and the population goes way down, then I won’t have my choice of animals when I want a new dog.” How do I say this diplomatically? Oh well here goes: Who cares if you don’t have a wide choice of animals to pick from in order to get your next dog? What is important is the lives of the animals who do exist, our responsibility toward their comfort, and not that a person gets to have a wide variety of animals to pick from for their next pet. So many people, and I won’t narrow this down to Americans only, have gotten so used to having exactly what they want, how they want it, when they want it and they don’t want to wait a darn millisecond in order to get it. Pet people have become spoiled, whiney brats and the animals are the direct victims of this gluttony and orgy.

            I am sure I am not describing anybody on this list because I know rescuers are all selfless and focused on the animal’s well being completely, but I am sure people on this list know of people who I am describing to.

            Goodnight!

            July 22, 2012
            • Matt.S #

              I agree that many wonderful animals are discarded because of selfishness. I honestly believe that people “shop” for pets as though those companion animals are just things, and as such, expect to have as much “product” to choose from as they want. This perception needs to change if any meaningful progress is made. As I see it, it comes down to laziness on the part of the prospective pet “owners”. If someone isn’t commited to putting in the time and effort needed to find, then work with an animal that may not have come “made to order” like a fast food, then said person(s) should not have a pet anyway. Sometimes we need to be patient and wait for the animal that’s right for us as a pet. That includes temperment, energy level, and all other personal & physical traits that are the best fit for human and pet.

              July 22, 2012
            • Christine #

              AMEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

              July 22, 2012
            • Midge #

              I agree with you 100%. Pets love us unconditionally, we could learn from them. Makes me wonder who is the smarter “breed” here??????

              July 22, 2012
            • Talk about hitting the nail on the head. YES……..and to me, it’s ok if there are breeders if we can get laws to have pets spayed/neutered – its the family pet that keeps getting pg and owners giving away puppies or taking them and dumping them at the shelter….AND of course, there are those who get their PET from a breeder then dump them later but if it were required to be spayed or neutered it would still help – especially those who dump them in someone’s neighborhood thinking someone will give them the home they won’t give it and that dog gets pg in the meantime.

              a walker HAS to focus on the ones they are saving – to go in and know so few of the ones they are looking at will not be alive tomorrow is hard and many say they can’t do it. The only way is to focus that your efforts are doing some good by reporting on all the dogs needing help. The walker cannot be responsible for that dog’s life or to monitor the rescuers #’s to tell them when they have too many. There needs to be something else in place for that. First of all and all out effort to cut down on the #’s would be the biggest step. Be darn to those who think getting a dog is stylish and want a variety to pick from. There will always be a variety but we don’t have to put thousands down because they need that variety – just let them visit an animal shelter and see if a pair of eyes won’t capture their attention. There will always be those who do go to breeders, adopt the pet, when it grows up decide they don’t want it any more. There are those who die and left no provisions to take care of their animals when they went where the family dumps them. There will always be those who get into a bind they had no idea they’d be in and have to do what they have to do to save their family. And there will always be those who disobey the law and don’t get their pets fixed or that mentality they want their kids to experience LIFE. So we will always have a “supply” even if it isn’t always a puppy – puppies don’t stay puppies and they don’t bond any stronger to their family than a saved or adult dog does. Cut the puppy mills and the carless pet owner and you will see a big reduction. 2 cents please

              July 22, 2012
            • Jackie is absolutely correct, why is it mandatory that we have easy access to pets? If we could not run to the shelter, a breeder, a mill, craigslist on a whim maybe we would not be so quick to accept moving to an apartment that won’t accept animals and dump our pets, maybe we wouldn’t so easily decide that having a baby is a valid reason to abandon our pets, maybe we would work harder to help our cats who suddenly are missing the litter box and the dog who doesn’t always wait until we get home to relieve himself rather than decide we just can’t handle it and turn them back over to the rescue we got them from.

              I’m so tired of hearing about people who did “all the research” to pick the “right” breed for them. Please… and then you get the animal home, it doesn’t act like the books suggested and what? You do new research? We need to accept responsible for what we created when we domesticated animals to use for our personal work and amusement, put up the money for our local governments to hire enforcement and eliminate mills and seriously limit who is allowed to breed animals. “Responsible” breeders are far too rare for anyone to take seriously the “but… but.. buts…” of those who think they are the responsible ones. Create national standards, hold breeders to them and insist that the number of animals allowed to be bred in any area for any breed be severely limited.

              July 22, 2012
            • Your last paragraph is spot on. I truly believe our Society has forgotten that we are Guardians and NOT owners of animals. We own things. We doNOT own sentient beings. I know this current mindset will change some day. This will take the children choosing NOT to lead by our current example.

              July 23, 2012
              • Owning a sentient being is owning a slave. That was outlawed in this country in January 1, 1863. Get away from the words, “owners” and, “masters” and use the words “guardians” and “leaders” and “people.” Once that changes, then the mindset will change.

                July 23, 2012
                • Words mean something, and what you’re suggesting is NOT acceptable as a construct in our society, and I doubt it ever will be. Guardianship applies to humans, not animals, and that has been so since the beginning of human societies. We are OWNERS of our animals, and that should continue to be the case, for the sake of our animals. When the government OR someone else who thinks their way of keeping an animal is the only way is able to take legally take loved pets from a home “just because”, something is very wrong. Hey, that also applies to many of these thefts under color of law. An animal being OWNED doesn’t keep them from being seized under certain circumstances, but ownership usually protects them from arbitrary seizure. Are they a special “property”? Yes, and there are laws that deal with treatment of living property.

                  Comparing an owned animal as like owning a human slave is downright insulting to the humans who were slaves over 150 years ago. The framework of our society was developed by humans for humans. The majority of owned animals living within our society have very good lives, and they wouldn’t be alive if it weren’t for humans. Do you really think an animal would choose never being alive to being owned and taken care of? I seriously doubt it, since the desire to live is very strong in all beings.

                  The sentient argument is a red herring and invalid in an argument about ownership of animals. Many living creatures meet the definition of “sentient”, but they don’t have “rights” within the construct of our society, nor should they. Disney-fying Mother Nature is a major mistake of those who are mistakenly anthropomorphizing animals. Mother Nature is cruel–survival of the fittest.

                  Blaming breeders for a societal problem is just using them as a scapegoat rather than constructively working to solve problems, as some of the groups (like No-Kill) are doing. The blame game is a way to divide people into “us” and “them”, and it is destructive to society as a whole.

                  In society, we dote on pets that have special needs (a compassion that goes hand-in-hand with children with special needs). That doesn’t mean our animals are our children! They are NOT! I find it insulting to suggest that, since no matter how much I love my pet, there is no way I’d choose its life over my child’s. That would be an immoral and sociopathic choice, IMO.

                  November 24, 2013
                  • Your last three letters said it all, “IMO.” That is your opinion. There are other opinions and beliefs, and luckily a lot of people believe the same way I do. We will see what the future holds, but, so far, I am happy with the direction of animal rights at the moment. They are headed in the right direction!

                    November 25, 2013
                  • Yes #

                    You are absolutely wrong when you say ” most animals in our society who are owned are taken care of.” In fact only a very small percentage of animals in the care of our society our beloved pets and cared for as such. The remaining and overwhelming majority of domestic and companion animals are in laboratories, chained in backyards, living in kennels for various reasons, used for dog fighting and medicinal research… As well as all the animals used for meat consumption, product research, in the circus and entertainment industry… I believe a great deal of animals would prefer to die than be owned animals in this society.

                    November 25, 2013
            • TerriB #

              Animals are not “things” to add to your collections. They are not like going out and buying your next car. You can pick the type of car you want but to think back yard breeders should be allowed to breed dogs so you can have the choice of the dog you think is perfect is ridiculous and selfish. These are living, breathing beings. Do you breed for the right children? Let’s hope not and the same should be said for your dog.

              I believe in 100% spay and neuter – all dog owners should be required to license, spay, and neuter. Few exceptions should be made. Go to HBO and watch the documentary “One Nation Under Dog”. Many dogs sitting in shelters are pure bred. Where did you think all those shelter dogs came from?

              July 23, 2012
              • MG #

                I do not believe that anyone has said that backyard breeders should be allowed to breed so that people can shop their choice of dog. I do believe however that if one wants a particular type of dog they should be able to get the dog from a responsible breeder. Your belligerent attitude toward breeding for particular traits in dogs is quite offensive and indicates how little you know about purebred and purpose bred dogs. There are wonderful histories of man and dog working together written in many of these breeds but of course, we should throw it all away because you say so?

                If I seem to be getting a bit aggressive it is because I am sick of judgement being passed by people who have little to no experience in the purebred dog world. It sounds great to parrot the old “mandatory S/N” and to recommend taxing all breeders so heavily that they cannot breed but I doubt that most of the people who support such things have any idea of the damage they would do if the good breeders of pure/purpose bred dogs were eliminated.

                Anyway, I see this constant reference to “backyard breeders” and would invite people to post a definition that would hold up in court but that would not be so stringent as to include responsible breeders. As a former animal law enforcement officer I’m quite curious as to how people would like to see this regulated in a fair and equitable manner.

                July 23, 2012
            • Pam #

              You hit it on the head; people who are afraid there won’t be enough animals for them to choose from are incredibly selfish. Let dogs and cats become rare; let it be a PRIVILEGE to have a pet, than all pets will be appreciated more and treasured for the gifts they are, not discarded when people are tired of them or they become inconvenient. I know there are some times when there are legitimate reasons to give up a pet, but if dogs and cats were rare, it would be easy to find homes for them. I don’t expect to see this in my lifetime. Also, more breeding licenses could be issued based on demand. Perhaps people could be put on list and THEN the animals could be bred based on the demand. Just dreaming, I guess.

              July 25, 2012
        • Annette #

          100% spay and neuter laws?? Seriously?? You want to ELIMINATE pets from society?? That IS the end result of 100% mandatory Spay/Neuter. Lets also be realistic, if you do mandatory spay/neuter, do you SERIOUSLY think the backyard breeders WILL comply? They are NOT complying now. Enforce laws on the books for reasonable care, EDUCATE people on dog ownership/training/responsibility and IF someone WANTS a purebred dog, make certain they get it from a reputable breeder (there ARE reputable breeders out there) who WILL screen potential homes appropriately, they WILL take their returns, they WILL sell puppies on spay/neuter contracts and they DO RESCUE and network to find these dogs a home.

          July 21, 2012
          • Nobody said 100% spay/neuter of all animals. That would be quite ridiculous. Read other posts I have made that said there should be registered and licensed breeders who are allowed to breed animals bases on established rules and regulations.

            There has to be some control and restrictions. Free-for-all breeding does not work. People need to get past the belief, “This is my dog and I can do whatever I want.”

            July 22, 2012
            • Some people are saying 100%, earlier in this thread.

              July 22, 2012
              • Terry T #

                Including Jackie Phillips:
                “Get them stopped ASAP. I support 100% mandatory spay/neuter laws. That will be the only way to get to these people who breed and breed and breed, creating all the problems.”

                July 24, 2012
                • TerriB #

                  Like I said earlier. TWO MILLION unwanted dogs are euthanized each year in the USA. This includes pure bred dogs!

                  So you don’t support 100% spay and neuter. You are the solution or you are the problem – I don’t see any shades of gray when 2,000,000 dogs are killed each year.

                  What would be an acceptable number euthanized each year so that you can continue to breed dogs?

                  July 25, 2012
                • Those are not my words. If you want to quote my words, then quote correctly. That is what quoting means.

                  July 25, 2012
                  • Terry T #

                    Well then I do not understand the post above from July 21. If you did not post this who did? And I do quote correctly from what I see above:

                    “Jackie Phillips #
                    I don’t see it as complicated. Stop all the backyard breeding, today, now from this point on, get as many animals into foster homes as possible, get them adopted into permanent homes. Animals will continue to be euthanized in shelters, as they have been for a very long time. Not every animal can be saved, but save as many as possible. The root of the problem is the puppy mills and backyard breeders. Get them stopped ASAP. I support 100% mandatory spay/neuter laws. That will be the only way to get to these people who breed and breed and breed, creating all the problems.”

                    Do a search for ‘ASAP’ to find the post above.

                    July 25, 2012
            • TerriB #

              Ridiculous. 2 million dogs get euthanized in this country every year.

              TWO MILLION

              2,000,000

              Why is 100% spay and neuter ridiculous?

              Two million dogs being euthanized is ridiculous, not 100% spay and neuter with minor exceptions.

              July 23, 2012
            • Rosebud #

              Does anyone know how many dogs and cats are pets in America? Does anyone know how many are adopted from shelters? Does anyone know how many homes are looking for a pet annually?

              July 24, 2012
            • Rachel #

              “This is my dog and I can do what I want,” by Jackie:

              A great example of a big part of the cause of the problem here.

              People today conveiniently back up their actions with their “rights” when they should back them up with ethics; it is not ethical to breed dogs to produce pets. Period. Until the situation in the shelters and rescues is eliminated.
              And even then we need to remain ethical to prevent making the same mistake.

              Of course everyone being ethical is a perfect world that does not and will not exist, so I suggest holding the breeder of the dog responsible for the dog and any laws should be so that this is possible. Let the breeder be responsible for euthanizing their dogs because they breed to meet sales demands and lets see how many people continue buying their puppies.

              Unfortunately the breeders responsible, the breeders whose dogs are homeless or euthanized, do not have to deal with the conceqences and so they remain ignorant or in this false reality that “we care where our puppies go” or “we are not the problem.”

              Also, educate the people buying puppies: I hear so many say, “well, I dont care if my dog is a show dog (or in my breed, a sleddog)” and so they dont care who they are enabling when they buy a puppy mostly because I think that they do not see that they enable a breeder when they buy a puppy from them and so they shoud be buying that show dog or whatever happens to be what the kennel should be doing with the dogs if they are claiming to have a good reason to breed from them when so many are homeless and euthanized.

              July 28, 2012
              • sheltie1 #

                Abandoned dogs are much more likely to come from “oops” accidental litters from people who consider themselves pet owners than from planned litters from breeders. People who plan their litters also plan to screen homes and get committed placements for them.

                July 29, 2012
                • OK. If you don’t believe, then go to these Craigslist Pets sections: San Francisco Bay Area, Sacramento, Fresno, Bakersfield, Los Angeles, Inland Empire, Las Vegas, Merced, Modesto, Stockton. And that is just California on a single day. Look at all the pages and pages of planned litters of dogs, and see how many people actually will do any amount of screening and would take the dogs back if the purchaser is unhappy three months down the road. If you got the dough, you got a puppy! Most of those people won’t even be in the same home a year later.

                  After you are done at those sections, and if you still don’t believe, then go to every major city in the US and look at those CL Pets section and see the same. Page after page of planned litters of dogs by breeders. You might find an accidental litter in one in two hundred ads. The rest are all 100% planned litters.

                  July 29, 2012
                • Rachel #

                  Yes sheltie1, I agree that a person planning a litter will be better prepared than the person with an unplanned litter, but properly caring for the dam and pups and carefully placing the pups is not all that should be “planned.”
                  It is not ethical to breed to produce pets in my opinion because pets are unconditional and in the eye of the beholder and many are euthanised. Let these homeless pets be adopted, otherwise people should be buying their “pets” from breeders who have a porpose with their dogs other than for profit or “great wonderful pets” or other whims that do nothing for a breed or for the dogs.We dont need pet stores, which is what any breeder breeding to sell puppies is regardless of how well they love and take care of and place their dogs.

                  For example, the dogs I have are sleddogs. I will be breeding them to enhance my team and to improve the Siberian husky sleddog by running the dogs in harness. I will not try to meet sales demands or breed to make money, even if that money would go into my dogs (there are other ways to make money with dogs other than selling puppies). The dogs I breed do not come form backyard breeders or puppy mills, they come from racing kennels with successful sleddogs with which they compete in races with. I have stacked the odds in my favor and my goal is the integrity of the breed that I claim to have available.

                  Any dog makes a great pet and too many breeders take advantage of not only this but the ignorace of those looking for their pet or companion, particularly with purebred dogs.

                  If breeders are held responsible for their dogs I would not find breeding to produce pets so unethical, but because many are euthanized, I strongly feel that anyone intentionally breeding to produce pets or make money regardless of what that money is used for and regardless of their “rights” or reasons for breeding pets (accedents do happen, that’s different; alter the dog if you dont want to breed it!) are unethical disreputable breeders.

                  I feel strongly on this issue because I love what I do with my dogs and I dont want to not be able to do it because I cannot afford to do it legally. I worked in an industry that was so strangled with regulations nothing can actually get done right dispite the irony that the regulations are for getting the work done right.

                  I hold myself responsible for every dog I bring into the world or own until the dog is dead. People buying puppies should support these people or breeders like myself who already exist and who dont need a law to make them be responsible or ethical.
                  If there is a law, I hope its one that registers to identify the breeder and their dogs and so allows the dogs to be traced back to the breeder who is lawfuly responsible for the fate of their dogs.

                  Sorry for the long winded post; I suck at the short version.

                  July 30, 2012
                  • sheltie1 #

                    I agree “just pets” is a lousy excuse for breeding. I personally want a dog bred for excellent health, longevity, conformation, athleticism, intelligence.. but having dogs for most of my life I have also come to believe that there is no shame in being a great pet. Some show dogs are lousy pets which is a shame because they are in the show ring for 10 minutes a month and they need to be happy and well-adjusted the rest of the time. I know some people who got a couple of siberian husky puppies and then dumped them in the shelter after they killed the neighbor’s yorkie. Totally normal for a sled dog to go after small animals but not a great pet. So if someone says their dog is healthy, beautiful, long lived, and most of all is a great pet, I have no problem with that. Most people who breed for “just pets” actually don’t care about the whole picture and use it as an excuse to be lazy about studying pedigrees and health testing. So I think we agree on a certain level, that you have to have goals and do right by the dogs, but the longer I’m in it the more I think breeding for the perfect pet can be a noble goal. There are what, 300 million people in the USA, and what, 100+ million want a dog, mostly just a pet? Those dogs can be great or lousy depending on how the country chooses to support and encourage dedicated breeders and reduce the number of “oops” litters.

                    July 30, 2012
                    • “I agree “just pets” is a lousy excuse for breeding.”

                      If, in your own words, “There are what, 300 million people in the USA, and what, 100+ million want a dog, mostly just a pet?” then I would say that the pet/family dog market is much, much bigger than any show dog market. Those are all the people selling their dogs on CL. Have you even seen CL yet?

                      Those are all the thousands and thousands of people breeding dogs every day. They are filling the “pet” market and they need to be controlled, licensed and regulated like all breeders. They are also overflowing all the rescues and shelters.

                      Whether you agree or not, it is the basis for the vast majority of breeding in this country, and it needs to be controlled, regulated and licensed. The amount of money in fees and fines alone coming in to each state along from all breeders, would support the effort of every agency involved, and would go to the support of the shelters in the area of the breeders. Sounds like a win, win, win. The competition for the breeders would be reduced, the agencies get money to support their efforts and millions of animals don’t loose their lives every day.

                      July 31, 2012
                    • Yes sheltie1, there is absolutely no point to a dog’s existence if it cannot be with a human.
                      This should be a part of the goal of a breeder or anyone intentionally bringing a dog into the world.
                      That does not mean that other things should not also be considered or that such should be an excuse to deviate from breed standard or health clearances.
                      There are breeders whose dogs that they have and sell are:
                      Healthy
                      Great pets or have a great temperament
                      Excellent representations of their breed or can perform their original function successfully

                      ALL of the above things listed (cant do italics so I capitalized) should be a requirement of the breeder of any dog that they bred from. Otherwise, dont breed from the dog.

                      The trick is that not every breed is for everyone or every lifestyle; it should be up to the breeder to be sure that they place their dogs into the correct home. This will be an incintive for the breeder if they are responsible for their dogs for each dog’s life; reputable breeders do this (if they dont, I dont classify them as reputable, no matter how many champions they produce) or there should be a law that makes breeders do this.
                      This will also be an incentive to breed on a limited basis, since dogs may come back to the breeder (and they always will!).

                      August 1, 2012
                    • Rosebud #

                      You people are just crazy. EVERY SINGLE COMPANION ANIMAL IS FIRST AND FOREMOST, A PET!!!! Even if they are the #1 freaking dog in the country, or from the finest pedigree in ten states. At the end of every single day, that animal (in my case, dogs…) is a PET!!! We should be breeding for health and temperament so that dog can be the most SUCCESSFUL PET on the planet. So, if we aren’t breeding “just pets”…what should we be breeding? My “just pets”, are successful show dogs, successful field dogs, successful advertising models, successful dance partners, and even those that might not be termed “successful” by titles or accolades, are STILL PETS!!! My rescues, my mixes…ARE STILL PETS! My carefully bred pure-breds, ARE PETS!!! So what the hell are we SUPPOSED to be breeding, if not “just pets”??? What’s wrong with just being a pet? Not every puppy even in the best planned breeding, can be “show” or “top performance” quality? But they are every bit as good a pet. And I have absolutely NO problem with someone breeding “just” pets as long as they are obtaining the necessary health testing, are breeding healthy, age-appropriate animals, and are not over-breeding their stock, and are raising healthy, well-socialized puppies. I mean, I listen to how breeding pure-breds is evil, because no animal should be genetically manipulated, but then I listen to how evil breeding mixes is. SO, what should be bred, who should breed, and who should approve it, and who should enforce it? And this idea of holding breeders responsible for their puppies until each of them dies, might be carrying it a bit far. Responsible breeders will offer reasonable guarantees. But let me you ask this question. If you sold me a car, and three years later, I had put 50,000 miles on it, wasn’t good about the maintenance, didn’t take care of issues when they arose, and it finally quit working, would you take it back? Would you refund my money? Would you give me a new car? Some responsibility MUST lie with the owner. The owner is the one that purchased the puppy, and the one legally responsible for it’s care. If I as a breeder, have given you instructions on how to feed, on what health care is important, the importance of training, etc. and you as the owner choose to ignore it, why am I responsible? Why I am responsible for a dog that you promised me would be a house-dog, that would receive a minimum eight weeks of obedience training as a puppy, and receive refreshers every two or three years until aged, a puppy that died because it contracted a disease that you chose not to vaccinate for? Or vaccinated for something I advised against? I’m not saying that breeders shouldn’t be responsible for their puppies, but this “they should be held accountable in all circumstances”, is a bit unrealistic, being as owners have a history of lying. I can’t tell you how many breeders have picked their dogs up from a shelter or rescue, when their contract stated, that the owner would NEVER surrender it to a shelter, and would contact the breeder FIRST before placing the dog in another home. HOW is a breeder supposed to be responsible for that? I think instead of pointing the finger at “one” point/number in the equation, that perhaps we need to consider the whole equation. Because there is plenty of blame to go around, unless your solution is simply to NOT OWN PETS! Which DOES solve the problem. But leaves the world without “just pets”.

                      August 1, 2012
                    • Wow sheltie1, I am still confused about your reply to my posts; I said that there is no point to a dog’s existance if it cannot be with a human ALONG with the other things that a breeder is claiming to have available for sale, like a “purebred” dog, which has a standard, should have had the proper health clearances for the sire and damand, and should have a particular temperament so that the right home can be found. Each breed is not for everyone or every life style.
                      Pets should not be the ONLY end-all-be-all of a breeder’s goal, because of all the homeless dogs, the many of whome are euthanized and would make great pets. The fact that the dogs produced are great pets should be A PART of it, and DEFFINTATELY A REQUIREMENT AND GOAL. (capitals are to be in italics, I am not meaning to shout by capitol spelling)
                      These are all things I have just stated.
                      Breeding for ONLY pets when everythin else (integrity of the breed and health and temperament) is dissreguarded is no excuse and unethical (because of euthanized dogs).
                      Too many breeders take atvantage of people who just want “great pets” and so the buyer and breeder only reguard these things and lots of breeders who sell pets are making a profit.
                      I dont make a profit. Why?? Because I do not breed to sell pets; I breed to add to my kennel and a lot of money goes into the stock so I will be lucky to break even.

                      The breeder should be responsible because that makes them responsible for placing their dogs in the RIGHT home, the home that will take care of them that will be responsible and THE HOME THAT WILL UPDATE THE BREEDER ABOUT THE DOG and so that the breeder may TAKE THE DOG BACK or APPROVE OF THE NEXT HOME or otherwise be responsible for the dog’s wellbeing, if the owner should fail their duty to which they should lawfully agree to because the breeder should not have sold the dog otherwise. People may agree to anything when they want something.
                      Some one needs to be responsible. This is a reality. No one better than the person who brought the dog into the world and decided to sell it! Dont like it? Dont breed or sell.

                      I am crazy for believing these things???

                      August 2, 2012
                    • sheltie1 #

                      I think you were replying to something Rosebud said, not me. Anyway if one day you make a profit selling a dog I hope you don’t feel guilty about it. Because hard work should be rewarded and there shouldn’t be a stigma against hard working breeders profiting from selling awesome dogs. That’s part of the problem that craigslist only allows a $50 charge and that people are so obsessed with getting a deal that its a faux pas to admit you want to always break even and hopefully make a profit putting in the amount of time and effort it takes to raise dogs with still and study. Rescues charge an arm and a leg for desirable dogs, way more than $50, and some of them do turn a profit. So on that point I hope you can look at the big picture we do agree that pet qualities are part of the whole dog not the only criterion.

                      August 3, 2012
                    • Oop, sheltie you’re right, that last post were I eneded “am I crazy for believing these things was in response to rosebud.

                      I would not feel guilty if I made a profit from selling puppies, but where I differ from the several breeders making a profit off selling puppies is that I do not have a litter for the reason of selling puppies or making profit, even though that does happen; I do not take atvantage of this! I do not make much of an income either, since it really does go back into the dogs. I do not make a living or an income selling puppies.
                      I do not have many litters a year were I sell all the puppies from most of the litters. I plan to KEEP a puppy from the litter, and sell the rest in that litter. Sometimes I suppose I will keep two, who knows. Sometimes I may plan to keep a puppy, sell the rest in the litter, and end up placing the puppy later. It all evens out really since I breed on a “limited basis.”
                      I also do the proper health clearances, breed from proven dogs who have the better chance of producing healthy dogs that represent the standard well and will be able to perform their original funtion.
                      I take responsibilty for the dogs I sell; I sell only to people who will keep in touch with me and I make them agree that I have legal rights to take the dog back should they not want it and that I must approve of any new homes, if I dont I legaly take the dog back from the new owner who I do not approve of. My contract is very clear. Either way, I approve of the nect home.This makes me very picky about who I sell to. Since it is difficult, I only care to have as many litters as I need to have; I also dont want 90 dogs, and if I had six litters a year by the time the 6 dogs I kept from the 6 litter in year X, 15 years later (which is the lifespan of my breed) I would have 90 dogs!

                      I am targeting the many breeders out there who have 6 litters a year but do not have 90 dogs; they have about 15 dogs. 6 litters a year to keep only 15 dogs? When so many dogs are euthanized?? Discusting. Or they have a litter every year with 2 or 3 dogs; they should have more like 15 dogs. You find these “puppy store” breeders on listings like “puppyfind” or breeders.net or craigslist or whatever who are puppy mills or at least small-scale puppy mills or stores who own however many dogs and breed the crap out of them or “only breed the females once a year” and they do nothing else with their dogs (such as show, get health clearances or any other breed related activities or work).
                      Many people are mislead that these people are “reputable” breeders or ethical breeders or otherwise not responsible for the situation in animal shelters.
                      These breeders do sell great pets, but unless they are also selling what they are claiming to, like “AKC” or “Siberian husky” then they should be practicing selective breeding by being involved with the breed and their dogs, not just owning great pets. They take advantage of the reputation of the AKC or the word “purebred” and the uneducated buyers who dont know how to breed dogs.
                      These breeders also make competition for reputable breeders who produce these “great dogs” you speak of, not to mention piss reputable breeder off by ruining the integrity of the breed by not practicing selective breeding or ignoring the breed standard.
                      Many dogs that should not be bred are bred; the puppies are sold as pets.
                      Many people that should not be breeding dogs are breeding dogs; the puppies are sold as pets.
                      When someone “wants to be a breeder too” all they have to do is contact on of these breeders I have described and the breeder only charges more for “breeding rights” and makes sure the person lives far enough away so they wont have too much competition; these breeder multiply like rabbits.

                      These breeders should go; I would love it if every breeder was responsible for every dog that they brought into the world for that dogs life. This may mean that the breeder needs to euthanize a dog they bred.
                      This would be an incintive to sell to proper homes and an incintive to not have more litters than nessesary for your kennel.
                      I find so many breeders who just breed their pets (which came from puppy mills more than likely) and sell puppies. Some have one litter a year, some have 6 a year and some are puppy mills who have more than that a year. They may take great care of their dogs, but otherwise profit is what they are dedicated to, not the integrity of the breed nor the fact that some of the many dogs they bring into the world go into the wrong home, or the right home and then somewhere else other than a home they should be approving of.

                      I strongly feel these “puppy mills” “backyard breeders” or other breeders who are basically a “puppy store” and who have no regard for the integrity of the breed or homeless/euthanized dogs would go away if they had to deal with the consequences of their actions.

                      I think we do agree on a lot of things, this post is how I feel as a person dedicated to my dogs and the breed that I have.

                      August 6, 2012
                    • Rosebud:

                      “And this idea of holding breeders responsible for their puppies until each of them dies, might be carrying it a bit far. Responsible breeders will offer reasonable guarantees. But let me you ask this question. If you sold me a car, and three years later, I had put 50,000 miles on it, wasn’t good about the maintenance, didn’t take care of issues when they arose, and it finally quit working, would you take it back? Would you refund my money? Would you give me a new car? Some responsibility MUST lie with the owner. The owner is the one that purchased the puppy, and the one legally responsible for it’s care. If I as a breeder, have given you instructions on how to feed, on what health care is important, the importance of training, etc. and you as the owner choose to ignore it, why am I responsible? Why I am responsible for a dog that you promised me would be a house-dog, that would receive a minimum eight weeks of obedience training as a puppy, and receive refreshers every two or three years until aged, a puppy that died because it contracted a disease that you chose not to vaccinate for? Or vaccinated for something I advised against? I’m not saying that breeders shouldn’t be responsible for their puppies, but this “they should be held accountable in all circumstances”, is a bit unrealistic, being as owners have a history of lying. I can’t tell you how many breeders have picked their dogs up from a shelter or rescue, when their contract stated, that the owner would NEVER surrender it to a shelter, and would contact the breeder FIRST before placing the dog in another home. HOW is a breeder supposed to be responsible for that? I think instead of pointing the finger at “one” point/number in the equation, that perhaps we need to consider the whole equation. Because there is plenty of blame to go around, unless your solution is simply to NOT OWN PETS! Which DOES solve the problem. But leaves the world without “just pets”.”

                      I would not “refund” an money if an owner could not have the dog, especially if they did not take care of it properly, or as I clearly stated in the contact for sale that the buyer signed.
                      If they felt that they need a refund, and did not follow my contact, the contract is very clear that any guarantees or warranties are voided if they did not follow my contract which includes proper care of the dog.
                      So, if I do “buy the dog back” the dog will be worth the money, the money that the owner would have sold the dog to the general public for.
                      I would take the dog back even if the dog was in bad shape, like you’re car alalogy; if I have to euthanuze the dog myself that should be the harsh reality of being a breeder or bringing dogs into the world or selling them to other people.
                      Dogs are not cars. We do not have a problem with homeless and euthanized cars; cars are sold for scrap and this is not unethical.

                      I am talking about when an owner, even a responsible one who was the right home when the puppy was sold, cannot have the dog any longer. What do they do? They place it. Where? Do they know enough about this responsibility or are they dedicated enough to know how to do this right? LIKE THE BREEDER SHOULD??
                      The dog should be the breeder’s responsibility. The breeder should either be given the dog back, not buy it back unless that is fair, or should help the original owners find a new home and should APPROVE of the next one.
                      The breeder should be careful who they sell to and should sell to people who are aware of the responsibilities which include financial ones; the breeder needs to take the time to inform the owner and ask certain questions.
                      Buyers will agree to anything if they want something, so the breeder needs to feel comfortable with the buyer’s circumstances and needs to understand that they can change with time.

                      Your argument fails because. yes, an owner should be responsible, but what happens when they do not want to be the owner or otherwise cannot be responsible?
                      The breeder brought the dog into the world and chose to sell the dog in a particular home so they should have to deal with the consequences. The buyer may or will just dump the dog off should worse come to worse, or will drop it off at a shelter, and no one would care. They will not be condemned for this. Now, ask yourself; if a breeder just “dumps the dog off” are you going to give them your business?? No. A breeder must maintain their reputation unlike the owner who will not care what others think of their actions.
                      Making the breeder responsible will obligate them to be responsible, which includes selling to responsible owners, not the ones who are convenient or willing to buy a puppy “that needs to go.”

                      This will rid us of these breeders who breed from their females “only once a year,” the breeders who have 6 litters a year from 15 dogs, the breeders who take advantage of the fact that buyers only care about great pets, the buyers who are not educated about breeding dogs, the buyers who are not educated about breed standards or health issues, and the breeders who take advantage of the reputation of the AKC, “purebred” dogs or otherwise uneducated buyers.

                      Breeding dogs should be a hobby and a breeder should be dedicated to the breed that they are claiming to have available. Selective breeding is required for any breed that was created in such a manner. We did manipulate the gene pool of a creature nature created. Mixed breed purebred, does not matter, each dog should have a purpose and all dog’s purpose includes being a great pet or are limited to this, but this is no excuse to have 6 litters a year with a kennel of only 15 dogs or an excuse to add, subtract or change the breed standard, or an excuse to disregard proper health clearances which are especially important for “purebred” dogs since they have higher odds of having or passing on breed-related health issues.

                      Not owning pets is ridiculous, as ridiculous as “stop all breeding.”
                      There are certain breeders who need to be stopped, and doing so is as simple as making them responsible.
                      The buyers are to blame but it is best to stop the source.
                      The buyers do need to be educated, but not everyone is going to get it, that is a reality and so there will still be a problem if breeders are not held responsible instead.

                      August 6, 2012
                    • Rosebud #

                      You are making a huge assumption that the owner will CONTACT the breeder TO take the dog back. I can’t tell you how many dogs we have taken into rescue that the breeders were NEVER CONTACTED by the owner. The owner has promised to take care of the dog they purchased. Failing that, they rarely contact the breeder, either from embarrassment, or they don’t wish to admit they “failed” in some area of care. Most of the breeders I know personally would take their dogs back in a second, regardless….but that assumes that the owners will hold up their part of the bargain. Including contacting the breeder if they can’t keep the dog. In addition, with limit laws as they are in communities, taking dogs back creates a huge problem. In many communities, the limits are as small as two, three or four pets. No, dogs are not manufactured widgets…but my point is that the environment and the care and the training and socialization that are also part of the owner’s responsibility, and it is incredibly unfair to make the breeder responsible for every single issue and problem that may occur with a dog of their breeding over the entire course of the dog’s life. And again, the responsibility for even notifying the breeder lies with the OWNER, and most owners with issues that are caused by their negligence, ARE NOT GOING TO CONTACT the breeder. They are either going to place the dog, dump the dog, or surrender the dog. And how you hold the breeder responsible for owner irresponsibility escapes me.

                      August 7, 2012
                    • Rosebud,

                      That’s why breeders should sell to people they can stay in touch with, someone close by or someone they know.
                      I microchip puppies that I sell. The law should include that puppies sold by breeders need to have some means of ID so that if they are ever “dumped” anywere they can be given back to the breeder when dumped at the shelter or found on the side of the road.

                      Until then, I would love it if dogs sent to rescues were traced back to the breeder and sent there if they have papers or other means of ID. Instead, someone else takes care of the dog (other breeders usually, who are usually a part of rescues), so the breeder who should be responsible never has to deal with the consequences of their actions. All they know is that they made a buck and “sold a great pet,” so that is incentive to repeat the actions.

                      If there was such a law making breeders responsible for their dogs, breeders in areas with a limit of how many dogs they can have should then be able to get a permit to have an unlimited number of dogs or they should live in a place where there are no limits (like where I live; I dont even require to be licensed). Limits on numbers of pets are usually to avoid hoarders or people who get too many pets for where they live which is annoying to others; a kennel should be a different circumstance and people in such areas are required to be licensed and inspected.

                      For the dogs that are sent back to the breeder in such an unhealthy condition or improperly socialized beyond repair; putting the dog down is an option, an option that should be done by the owner or the breeder.
                      This article is about, after all, that sometimes that is the best thing to do, and as a breeder one should accept that reality and responsibility.
                      All the more incentive to be very selective and stay within your limits of how many litters you should have a year. When breeders become selective this should weed out the irresponsible buyers or at least make the public aware that getting a puppy is no whim or easy.

                      I agree the owner should be held responsible as well; like being fined for violating the contract that says they should have contacted the breeder, but the dog should ultimately be the breeder’s responsibility.

                      It sucks that all this is necessary; there are breeders who are responsible and even though there are cases with such breeders where a dog cannot be tracked by a “disappearing owner” this is not enough to cause an issue which inspired this article: some breeders have no ethics and are producing MANY puppies that they ship all over the country. Many or most dogs are not being tracked by these breeders and even when the owner does contact the breeder because they cannot keep the dog the breeder probably says “I dont want to buy the dog back, good luck.” Many of these breeders feel the dog is now the owner’s problem, and the owner shoves the problem to some one else. All this started with the breeder bringing the dog into the world and selling it; fix the problem at the source so that many “sources” dissapear.
                      Selling puppies should not be the reasons why one is breeding; eliminate these breeders by such laws as making them responsible for the hundreds of dogs they have sold and they will go away or rectify their ways.
                      A breeder should be dedicated to the breed and so they will be involved with the breed by involving their dogs in breed related activities or work and getting the proper health clearances. Selling puppies is a part of breeding and it should not be taken advantage of while so many dogs are euthanized.

                      I am targeting the many breeders who pump out several litters a year or the breeders with a few dogs who have a few litters a year to sell the puppies, rarely keeping one except to replace an aging dog or female. The breeders who do nothing with their dogs except take care of them or spoil them or have them “a part of their family.” These are prerequisites of having dogs, not breeding from them.
                      Obviously there is a problem and unfortunately we need a law. I would rather not have a law because with every law I feel we lose a right. Laws tend to screw over or retard the people who were responsible in the first place yet let the irresponsible slip through or let only the big business who can afford it prevail.
                      But the reality is that we are too big and there are too many people who suck or take advantage because they lack ethics and know they “have a right” because it is not illegal or they know that they can get away with it so long as no one is looking. Or they are blind and do not see the whole picture or they practice seeing what they want to see.
                      So, since it is obvious something needs to be done, and that something will be done with all the out-cries, I feel making the breeder responsible is better than heavy regulations like 150$ to license an unaltered dog, or huge fees to be a breeder or things of this sort that simply run breeders out of business; we will lose the reputable breeders along with the irresponsible ones. You see this with small farms or other things in our country, all to “make it better” or “for your own good or the good of others.” Trust me: the government would LOVE to set heavy regulations like this because they will make money off the irresponsible by fining them and the responsible by requiring permits, licenses and other fees.

                      Reputable breeders already breed on a pretty much limited basis, are selective with breeding stock and buyers of their puppies, and can track most of their dogs. Making a law that makes breeders responsible would have the least impact on the reputable breeders yet destroy the puppy mills and breeders who only breed to sell pets, who economize their breeding programs so that they make the biggest profit which is not good for the integrity of breeds, who have very many dogs to keep track of; whats 6 litters a year times the number of puppies in each litter times the number of years a breeder has been breeding? Thats a lot of puppies. Now times that by HUNDREDS, if not thousands, of breeders. Now make them responsible for their dogs; they will go backrupt if not because of their customers being disgusted with them for having to euthanize so many dogs that they have bred.

                      I dont want to see limitations of any kind, like a breeder can only have this many litters or sell this many dogs, like we see with conservatio (which IS nessessary there I gues, but doesnt have to be with breeders if all breeders can all just be responsible), I would rather simply be held responsible. This shouldnt mean I get fined if someone finds my dog homeless or mall-treated (the owner should be fined) but it should mean that I end up with the dog and make the calls on where the dog ends up or putting down the dog.
                      This would eliminate shelters, rescues and all that.
                      When I take in a homeless dog I sell it for the price that I had to put into it to alter it, up date it on shots, feed it and all the rest. This should cost no money because sometimes I get a dog that is young and altered so it sells fast and I make a profit; which goes to that unaltered dog I get that I end up spending 500$ on yet can only sell for 200 or less because he’s old. Rescuing should break even. If it doesn’t, profit will be made from puppies sold because without all the irresponsible breeding (which far outnumbers the reputable ones) there will be a bigger demand for pets in relation to each breeder available; the people making a living off the puppies they sell will not find it worth it if they end up responsible for their dogs!

                      August 7, 2012
                    • Rosebud #

                      Ok, so you are breeder chipping all your puppies. Do the owners then also chip? How do the owners identify the animal as theirs? How does that work? And you’ve had NO issues with your chips at all? I have chips not read at all, and have found them in legs and in loins, after traveling from the original injection site. This is in rescue dogs. What manufacturer’s chips do you use? And do you know which manufacturers make readers for that chip? Are all your dogs sold locally? Have you had any owners that have gone “dark”? Meaning, they don’t keep in touch. Do you have limit ordinances or legislation where you breed? Can you accept back any returned dogs without ordinance issues? Have you had any instances where owners have had to return dogs? Do you have a contract? How enforceable is it? Have you had it approved by a practicing attorney, that knows the intricacies of that contract? How many puppies do you produce annually, and what is your typical sales price? Do you raise puppies in your home, or are they raised in a kennel? Are you selling show, performance, or pet dogs?

                      August 7, 2012
                    • Rosebud,

                      “Ok, so you are breeder chipping all your puppies. Do the owners then also chip? How do the owners identify the animal as theirs? How does that work? And you’ve had NO issues with your chips at all? I have chips not read at all, and have found them in legs and in loins, after traveling from the original injection site. This is in rescue dogs. What manufacturer’s chips do you use? And do you know which manufacturers make readers for that chip? Are all your dogs sold locally? Have you had any owners that have gone “dark”? Meaning, they don’t keep in touch. Do you have limit ordinances or legislation where you breed? Can you accept back any returned dogs without ordinance issues? Have you had any instances where owners have had to return dogs? Do you have a contract? How enforceable is it? Have you had it approved by a practicing attorney, that knows the intricacies of that contract? How many puppies do you produce annually, and what is your typical sales price? Do you raise puppies in your home, or are they raised in a kennel? Are you selling show, performance, or pet dogs?”

                      The owners do not need to chip the puppies I sell; if the dog gets lost and found the dog comes to me and then goes back to the owner. I do this in case the owner cannot be contacted or does not care to be contacted; I cant make them ID the dog so that if he gets lost he may be returned if found. What should happen to that dog?

                      The owners can use an old fashion collar with their number on it to identify their dogs. The owner should care to use a micro chip to GET THEIR DOG BACK, not to “identify it as theirs” and this is exactly what happens if I micro chip the puppies; I get the dog and then contact the owner, who is supposed to remain in contact with me or keep me updated. If they violate this part of the sales agreement not only do they not get to have their dog back, but I wont give it back! Works out great actually.
                      Most are grateful for this service because it is one less thing they need to pay for :)

                      No issues so far, and I read your post about how faulty chips can be; I hope these problems are rectified and chips become more standardized, but until then a good ole fashion tattoo works too. You talked a lot about chips and why they dont work, but no comments on tattoos…
                      I do micro chips because most people prefer these. I would just as willingly doo tattoo.
                      Worked for cattle ranchers hahaha.

                      I also stay in touch with my buyers; I am very picky who buys my puppies. I do sell pets to local buyers. Unless they move, I know where they live. I bank on the micro chip otherwise.
                      I also keep my eye out at shelters and rescues because I am sure I can recognize one of my dogs.
                      Laws should make IDing work somehow; this should not be an excuse.
                      It is possible to ID a dog and make it so the breeder can be IDed and contacted; if puppy-buyers can contact them, so can someone else :)

                      There are no limit ordinances or legislation where I breed; I live in such a place because I wish to breed. Anyone should do the same.
                      If you want to something that is exclusive to certain areas then it seams wise to live or move to these areas. They exist. Not an excuse either.
                      Otherwise, I support a law that allows a breeder to get a permit to have either an unlimited amount of laws if they do live in an area where there are limits. Or a limit that allows the breeder to maintain their kennel size and take dogs back. Otherwise so what if you have to live in a certain area??
                      If you want to have a farm why would you buy a property in the city??
                      Dont breed if you are in an area with limit ordinances or move.
                      Not an excuse to not have to be responsible.

                      I have had dogs returned to me. Worked out fine. Is it a pain in the ass? Yes. Not an excuse to say “not my problem;” I brought the dog into the world and sold it, I hold myself responsible. I am not the only breeder who does not need a law to make me do this.
                      Some came back in poor condition. The dog that comes back already altered and in great condition and that is young so sells for 500$ pays for the old raggy infested dog that comes back unaltered and who I’ve got to sink 500$ into but can only sell for 200$ or less. Rarely do I have a problem because I select owners who truelly want the dog and who can truly have the dog and I have a knack for finding them; takes lots of time and effort and denials, but worth it since none of my dogs are euthanized because I bred or sold too many.
                      I breed or add a puppy to my kennel based on if I am sure I have buyers that I approve of lined up to have a puppy.
                      Breeding is not the only way to add to my kennel; lots of adults, older dogs and puppies from other breeders.

                      I do have a contract, it is long, very clear and has legal power; it scares many buyers away haha! I like that because it weeds em out. If a buyer doesnt like my sales agreement, which is what I expect and what any responsible owner is capable of, then I dont want to sell to them anyways.
                      I feel that laws should be made that make breeder’s contracts have enough legal weight so that they are required to be adhered to by law by the signers; if contracts are made by laws to be taken seriously then this would help to make owners responsible, along with breeders.

                      I produce a litter when I wish to add a puppy.
                      I do not breed to sell puppies, though of course I do sell puppies.
                      I do not breed to make a profit, though sometimes I do.
                      I do not breed to meet sales demands; if I dont have puppies I direct buyers to other breeders that I associate with.
                      I always insist buyers that they should consider rescues. I give those who have or have had rescued dogs of my breed successfully preference.
                      I ask a lot of questions; the buyer needs to convince me that they will be responsible and that they are able to be responsible if they cannot prove it with experience or references.
                      Puppies are sold for the average price of an AKC puppy of my breed; it compensates to prove my stock, get health clearances and have the litter. Sometimes more, but if I average it I basically break even and I am considered a “hobby” business even though I still file (because the IRS scares me and I’d rather avoid an audit).

                      My dogs, as any should be bred since so many “pets” are already available and euthanized, have the potential to be show, performance and pets; so I sell pets, show dogs and performance dogs. Most dogs become pets, although these “pets” are perfectly capable of being a performance dog (perform its original function) and be a show dog (perhaps not a champion in all cases of course).
                      I breed to the standard, my dogs can perform their original function which is what I do with them and I will eventually title them in this field. Health and temperament is regarded equally with regard for the standard and performance when I breed or sell; not more than or less than, but equally.
                      I produce the breed I claim to have.
                      My stock comes from kennels who do these things.
                      I feel a dog can be, and mine are, a show dog or performance dog AND a great beautiful pet with lots of personality. I feel producing a great pet is no excuse to deviate from the breed standard or breed from dogs who cannot perform their original function because there are dogs that can do these things AND are great pets so it makes sense to breed from them.
                      Otherwise I feel a dog should be adopted.

                      I only wish to eliminate the breeders who breed to sell pets when too many are being bred for no other reason than to be sold as a pet or become one, when so many dogs are euthanized.
                      I am aware that “show kennels’ may also contribute, but I think these puppy mills, backyard breeders and other breeders who are basically only a place to buy a puppy or puppy store are the big problem here; eliminating them by making them deal with the consequences of their actions, which will make it not possible or worth it for them to exist, will solve a big part of the problem here.
                      Do you agree with that?
                      If so that is my argument, not that owners are irresponsible. MANY of these irresponsible owners would not get a puppy if the breeder did not have them available for sale.

                      Stopping the source would have a huge efficient effect.

                      August 8, 2012
                    • Rosebud #

                      “and this is exactly what happens if I micro chip the puppies; I get the dog and then contact the owner, who is supposed to remain in contact with me or keep me updated.”

                      So, if I’m understanding this correctly, yours is the only microchip information allowed. Owners are not allowed to chip a pet from your breeding. Out of curiosity, what type of pets do you breed? Are they show dogs, working dogs, strictly pet/companion dogs, performance dogs? As for collars, those who have coated show dogs, do not use collars because they break the coat. Also, if the dog DOES become lost WITH a collar, it just becomes another potential liability. They get caught on fences or objects if the dog jumps, and should it play or even fight with another dog, jaws get caught up in collars very easily. I personally know of dogs that have died from both. One was caught in the fence and basically hung itself, and the other broke a jaw when playing in the yard, when the jaw got caught in the other dog’s collar. My rule at home, is collars are only worn AT home, or while working or showing, or for a purpose while I am supervising. I have an older Dane that has seizures…and is on phenobarbitol and can have issues with balance. So she wears a very wide collar at home in case someone needs to help “steady” her. But when they are outside playing, I don’t allow collars. They are too dangerous, which is why I tattoo mine, but tattoos are problematic as well. I have notified my shelter that should they receive a breed that I own, that is tattooed, that it is probably mine. But they are tattooed with their AKC registration number, not my address or phone because what if I move and those change? I don’t like chips…I’ve had too many issues with them. And it is not the place of government to force me to implant them. The health risks may be small, but they are risks nonetheless. .

                      August 8, 2012
                    • Rachel #

                      Rosebud,

                      “So, if I’m understanding this correctly, yours is the only microchip information allowed. Owners are not allowed to chip a pet from your breeding. Out of curiosity, what type of pets do you breed? Are they show dogs, working dogs, strictly pet/companion dogs, performance dogs? As for collars, those who have coated show dogs, do not use collars because they break the coat. Also, if the dog DOES become lost WITH a collar, it just becomes another potential liability. They get caught on fences or objects if the dog jumps, and should it play or even fight with another dog, jaws get caught up in collars very easily. I personally know of dogs that have died from both. One was caught in the fence and basically hung itself, and the other broke a jaw when playing in the yard, when the jaw got caught in the other dog’s collar. My rule at home, is collars are only worn AT home, or while working or showing, or for a purpose while I am supervising. I have an older Dane that has seizures…and is on phenobarbitol and can have issues with balance. So she wears a very wide collar at home in case someone needs to help “steady” her. But when they are outside playing, I don’t allow collars. They are too dangerous, which is why I tattoo mine, but tattoos are problematic as well. I have notified my shelter that should they receive a breed that I own, that is tattooed, that it is probably mine. But they are tattooed with their AKC registration number, not my address or phone because what if I move and those change? I don’t like chips…I’ve had too many issues with them. And it is not the place of government to force me to implant them. The health risks may be small, but they are risks nonetheless. .”

                      You are not understanding correctly.
                      I did not say, or imply, that “only my microchip info is allowed.” I said that I microchip my puppies. They are mine and I concider them my responsibility; I do not shove it off on someone else because otherwise it keeps getting shoved off and look what happens: who’s responsible??
                      An onwer should only care that the dog goes back to them, not that the micro chip says their name on it.
                      If some one doesnt like the fact that I microchipped the puppy, they dont have to buy it!

                      Owners can use other means of ID, microchips are not the end-all-be all means.
                      If a breeder microchips, the owner can tattoo.
                      If the breeder tattoos then the owner can microchip.
                      Good ole fashion tags and collars are the best thing for the owner:

                      I recommend to anyone that a dog should have an ID that can be readily seen even if the dog is microchipped; like a tag, so that the owners can be contacted or IDed immediately.

                      I recommend collars because the unlikely risks or “liabilities” you speak of are FAR outweighed by these benifits: the loose dog will not be assumed to be a stray, the collar lets some one know that the dog probably has an owner.
                      The collar allows the dog to be grabbed or restrained by someone catching it; way easier to catch and restrain a dog by its collar than by its fur or body. Trust me, I have had to catch many of my loose Sibes and I was thankful for the collar.

                      Harnesses can be used too.
                      Or a dang bracelet, lots of possibilities.

                      I use collars that have the dog’s name and my phone number embroided on them, which is an option for those who do not like tags (I use the collars to attach the dogs to their neck lines…I have sleddogs by the way, Siberian huskies, and my dogs have collars with 2” rings hangin off them…no dead or injured dogs yet and they run and play hard).
                      I dont use tags, they are a pain in the ass to me.

                      Microchip is only a last resort should these things fail to ID the dog.

                      If I sell a show dog or performance dog, I know or trust the owner; they dont need to use a collar if they dont want.

                      I assume that folks are using appropriate collars for their dog, and fit them appropriately….I have never had a problem, but maybe some breeds do or more likely some people do, but I dont think this as an impact on the issue here:

                      WE NEED TO PICK THE LESSER OF TWO EVILS. You seem to shoot down every possible way to ID a dog or at least only talk about all the negative things about it, as if because there is a negative side is not a realistic possibility and there for a no go, breeders will never be ID’ed, problem will never be solved. Come on! We cant have everything perfect, there will always be a negative side to any solution or idea. You need to ask if it is worth it.
                      If a few dogs die “because of dangerous collars” ( are others laughing??), I find that more acceptable than the millions of dogs who are homeless or euthanized because the breeders responsible are not held responsible.
                      If you think that the possibility of any dog being killed makes it not worth it, then no one can have dogs because the reality is that some are going to be killed; if its due to freak accidents like because of a collar then that’s life for you. If its due to a simple matter of bringing too many puppies into the world for profit than that is unethical and unacceptable.
                      Lesser of two evils; if you are a dog breeder then you must know that perfection simply does not exist so you must stack the odds in your favor or, in this case, in the favor of the fate of dogs.

                      I want to see the puppy mills and puppy stores go. I hope you agree!
                      IDing dogs and their breeders by law so that breeders are responsible by law for the amount of dogs they choose to bring into the world or sell is an effective way to get rid of them and significantly reduce the problem that inspired this article.

                      “But they are tattooed with their AKC registration number, not my address or phone because what if I move and those change?”
                      Well, what if each breeder had a registration number, where the breeder can keep contacts up to date? Where the incentive to do so is that in order to keep being a breeder (or selling puppies) the breeder needs to renew their number and update contacts.
                      This is not a difficult problem to overcome either.
                      I would not use the AKC reg number; if we use permanent ID like tattoos obviously we need an ID that allows a profile to be found, one of the breeder and one that is updated.

                      August 9, 2012
                    • Rosebud #

                      Rachel, after the past conversations, I do not believe that we are really that far apart in our philosophy. However, any time that I am presented with “legislative” corrections or “proposed” solutions to regulate bad behavior, the best thing we can do, is to search for, and explore the possible “negatives”. We don’t ever propose legislation corrections without seeing the benefit to that legislation. I mean really, duh….there’s always “good” reasons behind bad legislation. We are always trying to correct a “wrong”. BUT, that is the key. We never consider the down side, the negatives, the possible damage. We can’t seem to see past the potential good, and see the potential for great harm. And if that proposed solution does any harm to innocent people (or animals…), then the good cannot possibly outweigh it. So, if I “seem” negative, it’s not that I don’t agree with you in theory, and many of my practices DO mirror yours…but I have been involved in so many municipal, county and even state legislative initiatives that while they may seem very good at the surface, have very detrimental effects in the long run. A one-size fits all, cannot ever work. I may not agree with every aspect of how you keep your dogs, or how you breed. BUT, that does not make you wrong, nor does it make you unethical. But that is the very thing that is happening. The current popular mindset is if I don’t like the way you do something…then you should do it differently, or you should be stopped from doing it. There are a myriad of ways to do something right. The USDA proposed regulations I speak of? They are very real. The comment period is open only until the 16th of August. If you have not yet read them, I would very highly recommend you do, because they are federal, and they will apply to every breeder, every where in America. Four females. $500 annual gross profit, maximum. Every buyer must see the animals on your property prior to sale. An additional danger? These regulations will apply to rescue as well. For rescues and shelters, that means no offsite adoptions. It means fosters must open their homes to the public to visit individual dogs being fostered, in order to adopt them. That was never the “intent” at least not originally, but how do you identify a rescue from a breeder, or even exhibitor that may have multiple dogs without ever breeding a litter? You can’t. People that keep animals, keep animals. And rescues and shelters take in pregnant animals, and whelp and place the offspring. They are, in all practical context…breeders. The potential dark side of this legislation? Shelters may automatically euthanize all pregnant females. Rescues may not take them in because they have become such a liability. The HSUS also has a bounty program ($5,000 to anyone reporting a breeder that results in an abuse or neglect conviction…) and whilst I don’t see the HSUS “paying” out that bounty on a regular basis, I can certainly see a lot of “neighbors” or enemies attempting to “cash in” by ratting your butt out to the authorities. Even if it doesn’t pan out for them, it’s worth a shot for five grand. And you? Well, your name has just been drug through the mud, and depending on what state you live in (Texas in my case…) your animals may have been permanently divested when you couldn’t post the appeal bond after the initial hearing. Yes, even before you go to trial. In Texas, you can lose your animals before a finding of guilt. In Texas, unless you post an astronomical appeal bond, if you go to court and are found “not guilty” you have no way of recovering your animals. Unbelievable? Yep, but I’ve watched the insidious crawl of this incremental process over the past eight years…and we’ve now come to this. You can lose your animals without a finding of guilt in a court of record. At your initial hearing, if the judge believes there is enough evidence, he can take your animals away permanently, even have them destroyed, before you have a trial. When I say “you”, I don’t mean you personally, I mean “you” collectively, i.e. breeders. Because to many in the public, we are all scum, period. Unfortunately, you cannot legislate morality. And to try to do so, only punishes those who are moral. It criminalizes behavior that is not criminal. And we do that in the noble name of fairness. You know and I know that the “real” mills, will continue to operate. Even if they have to operate on a black market basis. As long as there is a market for puppies, kittens, and pets…someone will be willing to supply them. All the attempt to “legislate morality” will do, is to criminalize those that are already moral…leaving ONLY the immoral to continue operating. NOW…what you choose to do as a private breeder, is your business, and I would say in your “personal” case…a good business. I like your philosophy, and your apparent love for what you do. But I know a lot of breeders. Good breeders. And they all operate a little bit differently, and yet successfully. Why must “our” way be the only right way? There are criminal laws on the books for cruelty, neglect, and abuse…in 46 states it rises to the level of felony charges. We don’t adequately enforce those laws, even though that remedy exists. It is tool we choose not to use, whether through apathy, or lack of funding in our municipalities to do so. So, we are trying to pro-actively criminalize a behavior that hasn’t even happened yet. We can’t charge someone with murder, before the murder occurs. You know, and I know that some folks can take very good care of a number of dogs, and some can’t take care of one. So numbers are arbitrary, and mean nothing. These laws are being used against good people. Against reputable people. I see it every day. So while you nobly are seeing these proposed solutions as a great defense against evil, I see the damage it does to innocent people and their animals on an almost daily basis these days. And the numbers keep getting smaller, the profit allowed becomes almost zero (we’re not reputable unless ALL we care about is improving the breed…and to prove that, we can’t make a profit. Some legislation doesn’t even allow us to give them away without regulation…would you keep breeding under those circumstances?) Does that mean I have to somehow deal with the fact that unethical breeders will exist? You bet…but they’re going to exist, regardless. What I am worried about, are all the ethical breeders that get caught up in being told HOW to conduct their programs. By people who have no experience in animal husbandry, breeding, whelping, training… I guess I have seen so much of the dark side, and how much of this regulation is used against responsible breeders, that I trust NONE of it, any more. If the USDA regulations are approved and enacted…it will be a dark day indeed. All because we feel we must impose our personal philosophies on others.

                      August 10, 2012
                    • Rachel #

                      Rosebud,

                      We are on a few of the same pages I think:

                      I DO NOT want to see breeding be regulated.
                      I has experience in other fields where regulations “for safety” or for “your protection and the protection of others” only retard.
                      Just take the FDA; I have chickens and I cant even legally sell the fresh eggs I have available to the neighbors because we are not “FDA approved” all because someone (someone probably stupid and irresponsible) got screwed over once and demanded laws to protect them instead of taking this responsibility themselves.

                      We rely on a law to make us safe and responsible and I hate this.
                      It only, like you said, screws over those who are responsible in the first place while letting the irresponsible get away with things anywas.
                      If someone is a murderer, taking the gun away is not going to stop them from being what they are or prevent their behavior, yet so many cry out “lets make better regulations for having guns” or “lets not have guns at all.” This does not make the murderer go away, yet I cannot defend myself or my livestock without being able to own a gun.

                      You hit it on the nail; so long as there is a market, some one is going to supply it.
                      I do not deny this, this is a reality.

                      I only wish to see people be held accountable for their actions.
                      I feel the majority can be.
                      Since something is going to be done because too many are pissed off and outraged about the number of euthanized dogs, I only wish to see that dogs go back to their breeders.
                      I also wish to see breeder contracts taken seriously so that if a breeder takes a owner who violated the contract to court, the owner gets screwed like the deserve at no cost to the breeder other than their time.
                      Most breeders, even the “evil” ones, are not evil people; they love dogs and I think that many just dont realize the level of their responsibility since they do not have to deal with the consequences of their actions.

                      I wish it could be as simple as IDing every breeder and their dogs so that when people buy a dog they cannot register it unless the dog has ID (so that the breeder may be IDed). Since the dog is IDed,should it be dumped or become homeless the dog can be re-homed by the breeder or should the dog need to be euthanized, the breeder can do this. Most dogs are able to find the right home; there is a right home for most dogs. For the ones that are so damaged that no home may be found, not only should the owner be fined or even imprisioned, but the breeder should euthanize such a dog.
                      I just strongly feel that since most breeders really do like dogs, that if they had to take them back or euthanize them they would rectify their ways. Or at least people may not want to support them.

                      I realize that some breeders will sell “under the table” in a black market, but these dogs will be “illegal” and there will not be as many buyers as there are now of puppies from “legal” puppy mills now. There should be a significant improvement. I dont expect everything to be okay, I just want to see a difference without regulations that limit or restrict breeders or worse.

                      I know my way is not the only way.
                      I do think that people should be able to agree on certain ethics; it makes no sense to sell 60 “pets” a year while never taking any back, never rescuing,and not doing anything for the breed while cutting every expense that cuts into profit (like showing, health clearances etc) while so many “pets” are euthanized.
                      For those onely selling a few litters a year “as pets,” the only gripe I have with them is when they claim to have available “AKC Siberian huskies” or whatever the breed may be yet they do not breed to the standard and they are not practicing slective breeding. They are not reputable, but are not nessesarily “irresponsible” or “unethical” I think so because they are falsely advertising and taking advantage of uneducated buyers, ignorantly or not, but where do you draw the line?? I certainly do not want a law or regulation to draw it for us!

                      I would rather take all my dogs back in any conditition than have to conform to regulations like you have spoke of.

                      August 10, 2012
                    • Rosebud,

                      In my reply I said:
                      “Otherwise, I support a law that allows a breeder to get a permit to have either an unlimited amount of laws if they do live in an area where there are limits.”

                      I correct it my saing “Otherwise, I support a law that allowes a breeder to get a permit to have either an unlimited amount of *dogs (not laws haha) if they do live in an area where there are limits…..”

                      August 8, 2012
                    • Rosebud,

                      I forgot to add; if a breeder’s dog ended up in a shelter, even a breeder whose contract made the buyer agree that they would not drop the dog off at a shelter:

                      What I mean by “the breeder should be responsible” is that the breeder of this dog dropped off at the shelter should be loacted and contacted so that the dog can be sent back to the breeder. Dogs with papers make it very easy to find the breeder.
                      The breeder now has the dog and can keep the dog, place it into another home or euthanize the dog. The breeder should be responsible, not the shelter, and not the owner since obviously not all owners are responsible or dedicated to dogs. Dog breeders should be responsible and dedicated to dogs!

                      Breeders need to assume this responsibility, which should be law, or otherwise do not breed or sell.
                      No one would by pets if pet owners were responsible because a pet owner is not going to be dedicated like a breeder should; a buyer just wants a family dog or companion and many owners are vain or have higher priorities in their lives than their dog. Owners have a life other than dogs or their dog; a breeder’s life should be their dogs.
                      The breeder decided to breed, bring dogs into the world, and sell them. They are the source and they are the ones taking advatage of ignorant buyers.
                      I strongly believe in educating the buyers and I do my part as should any breeder, but the reality is that a part of the public will always be ignorant so make the source, or the seller, responsible.
                      Otherwise we will have a problem because people will always be irresponsible, but everything has a source and it makes since to rectify problems here.

                      Very simple to me, but I dont think we agree :/

                      August 6, 2012
                    • Rosebud #

                      Rachael, most purebreds do NOT have their papers “follow” them into the shelter. It does happen from time to time, but is not “usual”. So having the “breeder” information at your fingertips is not how this usually works. Usually breeders recognize animals of their breeding once rescue gets them in, and has pictures up on the website. And those in the purebred community usually know the local breeders, and the local mills as well. From time to time, we can sometimes recognize a “type” and contact a breeder to ask if it might be one of theirs. And our rescue is made up of a cross section of breeders, exhibitors, and just rescue folks so we know the local breeder community, but with the advent of long distance shipping, it’s certainly not unusual to have dogs shipped from all corners of the country…do identifying the original breeder can be problematic.

                      August 7, 2012
                    • Rosebud,

                      I figured many registered purebreds end up in shelters or rescues without papers and I know lots of unregistered or otherwise unidentifiable dogs do; I am talking about the ones that do happen to have some sort of ID; I hope the rescue or shelter contacts the breeder.
                      I wish the breeder was obligated to take the dog back, instead of just being requested to.
                      I know this would make a lot of breeders find selling puppies not worth it; obviously these homeless dogs came from somewhere! I feel that somewhere should be responsible for caring for, re-homing or euthanizing the dog.

                      What if each dog had permanent ID, like a tattoo or microchip, an ID that proves that the dog belongs to a particular breeder?
                      I think this should somehow be a requirement for puppies sold by breeder (there are breeders who do this already).

                      August 7, 2012
                    • Rosebud #

                      .” I wish the breeder was obligated to take the dog back, instead of just being requested to.” You would be amazed at how little many shelters do to unite dogs with their homes, current or original. Even if the papers contained a breeder’s name, how would they go about finding them? That breeder probably doesn’t live in that particular town, or perhaps, even state. So, how much work are they going to do? Hell, in far too many shelters, they don’t take time to even scan for chips…much less do actual owner/breeder research. In addition, if the breeder is already at their “limit” how would you propose they “take back” the dog? Should they be required to surrender one of their others in it’s place? How would you work around limit ordinances?

                      “What if each dog had permanent ID, like a tattoo or microchip, an ID that proves that the dog belongs to a particular breeder?”
                      Not an entirely bad idea, although we already know how unreliable chips “can” be. There are many problems with chips and readers, and regardless of what you have been told, there is no true “universal” reader. Some can tell a chip exists, but cannot read it. Each manufacturer’s runs on a different frequency. And that frequency and the software surrounding the chip’s manufacture, are proprietary information, and companies do not wish to share their “proprietary” info. Congress has been asked to legislate companies to do so, including European manufacturers. Oddly enough, they each still play by their own rules. Chips also do not last forever. We always recommend that when you take your dog for their annual exam, to have the vet scan for the chip. You’d be amazed at how many don’t read. After just three, four or five years. Chips also have the irritating propensity to migrate. So chips don’t stay where they’re put. And how many chips shall we require an animal to have? A breeder chip? A rescue chip? An owner chip? And do we have a reliable system of updating that information? And for those that already are concerned about the “safety” of chips (since they transmit a continual frequency inside the animal, and there are isolated cases of sarcomas at injection sites…) probably convincing them that multiple chips are necessary, is not going to be successful. The only other alternative is for the breeder to chip, and be responsible for tracking each and every animal for the duration of their lives. Again, assuming that the chips continue to transmit and operate properly, and that someone bothers to actually scan the animal if it comes into a shelter, and that the equipment/reader they are using, is able to read that particular brand of chip.

                      August 7, 2012
                    • Rosebud #

                      “The breeder should be responsible, not the shelter, and not the owner since obviously not all owners are responsible or dedicated to dogs.”

                      Rachel, this statement has really bothered me. Why on earth should owners be not held accountable? Have they not also made a commitment to the animal? Owners surrender animals to shelters. Owners turn them loose, or advertise them “free to good home”. So, I guess I can go buy a puppy, get frustrated with his behavior, surrender him to the shelter, and I’m not responsible. Wow…I guess every time the owner doesn’t get the perfect puppy, (regardless of how much or effort they have spent with said puppy…) it’s the breeder’s fault, and they can just blame the breeder, and absolve themselves of all responsibility and go find another puppy, and when they don’t spend time with that one, they can blame another breeder… I mean, after all, it’s obvious that lots of owners are miserable excuses for humanity….but breeders should be perfect and flawless, and anything less is unacceptable. Wow.

                      August 7, 2012
                    • Rosebud,

                      ” “The breeder should be responsible, not the shelter, and not the owner since obviously not all owners are responsible or dedicated to dogs.”

                      Rachel, this statement has really bothered me. Why on earth should owners be not held accountable?”

                      I am not saying that owners should not share some of the blame nor are all owners not dedicated to dogs.
                      I am saying that owners typically have lives other than dogs or most are not dedicated to dogs while breeders lives typically are dogs; this makes a breeder’s priorities in life different, or it should, when they own many dogs and bring many dogs into the world.
                      There are people who suck and there always will be; there are fewer breeders (or there should be or would be with proper regulations) than owners and so it would be easier to make the breeders responsible.
                      Its not difficult to be responsible, why are you so against this? Do you breed or sell dogs?
                      Have you ever had dogs come back to you?
                      I have taken dogs back, dogs that are not even mine. I put money into them and re-sell them to regain what I spent. This is no big deal to me.

                      If I want to sled with dogs which requires snow so I live where there is snow, not in the tropics;
                      If I want to be a breeder then I would live or move to a place where there are no limits.
                      If you want to be a breeder you should live in a place where there are no limits, or there should be laws that let you get a permit to have an unlimited amount of dogs, or the amount you need accounting for taking dogs back. I have said this in a few posts now. This is not a difficult hurdle to rectify.

                      The fact is that the breeder is the one selling the dog; they should be responsible for their “product.”
                      Many owners tend to be fickle. Not that I do not agree that when an owner buys a dog they must commit to it. It is just a fact and I dont hear of a good idea that states how exactly the proplem will be solved at the owner part.
                      If the law was that owners, rather breeders, need to be responsible for finding their dogs a new home or euthanizing their dog (because if they want to place it they are not going to keep it and care for it; they are going to get rid of it) an owner may not be the best person to accept this responsibility of finding a new home (not in all cases, I know) when they are not the right home in the first place.
                      And, I do not think any owner would euthanize a dog they could not keep; like this article talks about, they will find it more humane to place the animal instead.
                      A breeder should be able to accept that sometimes putting the dog down is the most humane thing and then–most importantly to solve the problem here– they can rectify the amount of puppies they produce or sell to prevent this from happening again:

                      I feel making breeders responsible will eliminate puppy mills and other breeders who breed only to sell pets. I wish to make the latter statement in italics or bold!! It is my point when I say I wish to see breeders responsible, because they are!!!!
                      This is the only reason why I wish breeders to be held responsible by law for all their dogs should the owner no longer wish to keep the dog; there are too many breeders selling too many puppies to make a profit, usually a pretty good profit.
                      Too many puppies being born and not enough owners, much less responsbile ones!!!!
                      THESE BREEDERS ARE THE PROBLEM and ELIMINATING THEM WILL BE THE SOLUTION. Making them responsible will make them go away, or at least the results that they are responsible for in the shelters.
                      I dont really care about the irresponsible owners; futile to do so because there will always be people who suck or who are irresponsible; it is simple to make every “business” responsible or every “source” responsible; if you are responsible then chances are pretty good that the owner you chose will be too. If you have six litters a year or 60 puppies to place a year odds are higher that you are going to sell to an irresponsible buyer or, if there was a law, that you will need to euthanize a dog (which no one wants to do, especially if they must mainain a reputation!).
                      Why try to regulate every single buyer when you can regulate the source of the problem?
                      Do not mistake me; I totally agree that an owner should be fined or punished or held responsible IF THEY VIOLATE THE BREEDERS CONTRACT.
                      So again, I am talking about owners who simply cannot keep the dog, a dog that is otherwise in great shape or is in the wrong home or where the owner did not violate the sales agreement; this dog should go to the breeder or cared for by the breeder if the owner cannot or this dog’s next home should be approved by the breeder (like the first one was) or this dog should be euthanized by the breeder, not by the shelter and not by the owner (because I bet they wont do this and then we will have a problem if “breeders” are still pumpin out several litters a year and selling them) and this should be law to make it happen.

                      Because some people take offense or think that I mean to shout; my Capitals are to be regarded like italics, to be emphasized. Same with these: !!!

                      August 8, 2012
                    • Rosebud #

                      The regulations that USDA is taking comments on would make a LIMIT of FOUR females. Regardless of where you live…as this is FEDERAL law. That would include retired females, any puppies over six months (and yes, we hold them that long for evaluation, and they can’t be heath tested until the age of two years…) and would include any females being returned for whatever reason. So where you may be able to operate where you are now…should these regulations be adopted, they will affect you as well.

                      August 8, 2012
                    • Rachel #

                      Rosebud,

                      “The regulations that USDA is taking comments on would make a LIMIT of FOUR females. Regardless of where you live…as this is FEDERAL law. That would include retired females, any puppies over six months (and yes, we hold them that long for evaluation, and they can’t be heath tested until the age of two years…) and would include any females being returned for whatever reason. So where you may be able to operate where you are now…should these regulations be adopted, they will affect you as well.”

                      I hope we dont see limits like this!
                      I assume you mean that people want to see a regulation that makes a breeder able to keep only four females??

                      Things like this will DEFFINATELY affect and screw over the breeders who are not the issue here; sure it will eliminate puppy mills (but not backyard breeders) but it makes no sense to me to retard the responsible breeders in the process.

                      We need to get rid of the puppy mills without getting rid of or screwing over the breeders who are not an issue…if something is not done many of these extreme outragged “animal rights people” are going to make something like this happen because they are tunnel-visioned and tuned into only the fate of dogs or absolute statements or “facts,” and they dont care about any breeders nor do they see that we can do something about this so that only the breeders responsible for the homeless euthanized are affected whithout affecting reputable breeders.

                      I know that means we need to define “reputable” because many are misled or ignorant about what this should mean.
                      For example: if some one is breeding for their own whims or not to the breed standard or changing the breed standard yet claiming “AKC Siberian husky” then they are not reputable because they are claiming to have available something that they do not actually have.
                      Many other things included, but would make a long post and I am sure you know what the rest intails (health, temperament, contracts etc) :)

                      August 9, 2012
                    • Rosebud #

                      I would also point out, that once the puppy is purchased, it is the LEGAL property of the “owner”. Now, there are certainly pushes underway to give animals “legal rights”, and therefore, NOT be classified as property, but that has not happened yet in the courts. So….unless you are suggesting that all breeders “co-own: any puppies they sell, owners are the LEGAL entity for any animals they purchase. Now, if we wish for breeders to co-own every single animal they breed, then this could have merit.. However, most legislation being considered, including the proposed USDA regulations, would make co-ownerships count toward your limit of four.

                      August 8, 2012
                    • Rosebud #

                      “there are too many breeders selling too many puppies to make a profit, usually a pretty good profit.”
                      Define “pretty good profit”. Should I recoup my expenses to show my dogs, to health test my dogs, to feed and vet my dogs, to cover the costs of breeding, whelping, raising, socializing, feed and vetting the puppies? What is “reasonable”? What costs are “ethical” to recover? Or should I simply breed at a loss, to be considered “reputable”? I find your arguments to be self-defeating. The only people that will be affected by your “reasonable suggestions”, will be those that are already responsible. Those that already do what you suggest. And based on your expectations of what makes a “good” breeder, most of them will simply stop because they are, in fact, unreasonable and are asking for even more regulation to be put upon their shoulders. Unfortunately, they are not the ones you wish to stop. And that is where this paradigm is doomed to fail. And quite frankly, there are NOT more dogs or animals than there are homes. It is a fallacy. It has been discussed at length, and even the HSUS states that with an additional 5-10% of the American population adopting from a shelter (25% already do…) that there would be no need for shelters other than their original purpose. So breeding is NOT the issue. I’m not saying that there aren’t crappy breeders. I’m not denying that puppy mills exist. There are, they do. But trying to regulate the majority for the sins of the minority, is doomed to failure. Unless you outlaw the ownership of pets. THAT would stop breeding. And you can’t legislation a segment of the population. The law must apply to everyone. And much of the content of the proposed USDA regulations, will unfortunately, also apply to rescues and shelters, especially in terms of sales, and gross profit from those sales. It would affect your ability to take in animals and re-home them. I would have to guess that your annual sales are in excess of $500. If so, you will be affected by these rules. And zoning doesn’t just apply to kennels, or limits…it also applies to businesses, and you may very well be considered a business if your sales exceed that amount. Whether you are a rescue, or a private individual, any animal you sell, counts toward that $500 limit…and you may very well be defined as a business, depending on the ordinances of your city or county.

                      August 8, 2012
                    • Rachel #

                      Rosebud,

                      ” “there are too many breeders selling too many puppies to make a profit, usually a pretty good profit.” Define “pretty good profit”. Should I recoup my expenses to show my dogs, to health test my dogs, to feed and vet my dogs, to cover the costs of breeding, whelping, raising, socializing, feed and vetting the puppies? What is “reasonable”? What costs are “ethical” to recover? Or should I simply breed at a loss, to be considered “reputable”? I find your arguments to be self-defeating. The only people that will be affected by your “reasonable suggestions”, will be those that are already responsible. Those that already do what you suggest. And based on your expectations of what makes a “good” breeder, most of them will simply stop because they are, in fact, unreasonable and are asking for even more regulation to be put upon their shoulders. Unfortunately, they are not the ones you wish to stop. And that is where this paradigm is doomed to fail. And quite frankly, there are NOT more dogs or animals than there are homes. It is a fallacy. It has been discussed at length, and even the HSUS states that with an additional 5-10% of the American population adopting from a shelter (25% already do…) that there would be no need for shelters other than their original purpose. So breeding is NOT the issue. I’m not saying that there aren’t crappy breeders. I’m not denying that puppy mills exist. There are, they do. But trying to regulate the majority for the sins of the minority, is doomed to failure. Unless you outlaw the ownership of pets. THAT would stop breeding. And you can’t legislation a segment of the population. The law must apply to everyone. And much of the content of the proposed USDA regulations, will unfortunately, also apply to rescues and shelters, especially in terms of sales, and gross profit from those sales. It would affect your ability to take in animals and re-home them. I would have to guess that your annual sales are in excess of $500. If so, you will be affected by these rules. And zoning doesn’t just apply to kennels, or limits…it also applies to businesses, and you may very well be considered a business if your sales exceed that amount. Whether you are a rescue, or a private individual, any animal you sell, counts toward that $500 limit…and you may very well be defined as a business, depending on the ordinances of your city or county.”

                      You sound like a breeder who is doing everything you should.
                      “Pretty good profit” means that the breeder only owns the dog and breeds it, nothing else.
                      Imagine if you did not do health clearances or show your dogs or all the rest but did not change the price for which you sell you puppies? THOSE breeders making a profit like this are the ones that I am talking about!

                      I am not talking about breeders like you, like the kind you have described in your reply, who may or may not make a profit, I am talking about the ones I think you know I am talking about, right??

                      Of course we would go bankrupt if we did not make a profit! Either you make under or over; breaking even all the time is talent! So profit is nice and realistic.

                      I have stated and know that “those of us already responsible will be the only people affected” but not so much if a law or regulation only means our dogs come back to us:
                      Imagine if every puppy mill and backyard breeder had their dogs go back to them; what do you think will be the result if thousands of dogs go back to one breeder??
                      If a breeder needs to euthanize thousands of dogs do you think people will buy their puppies?
                      I think they would go out of business! Or rectify their ways, I dont care which.

                      You dont think breeding is an issue? You dont have a problem with some one crankin out 6 litters a year with 15 dogs that they “own as pets” to make a living of the integrity of a breed “that they love” yet crap on by not being selective? No health clearances, no showing, no working of the dogs. They only own them, breed the crap out of them and sell them.

                      If a breeder is doing what they should with their stock (health clearances, shows, breed related work or events or otherwise prooving or being selective with stock) then I dont care if they make a profit; these breeders are not the issue and they are dedicated to the breed, breeding for the breed.

                      Are you not irritated when someone buys a “purebred” or “AKC” puppy from someone who got a dog from a puppy mill and bred it, someone without any clue about how to breed dogs or what AKC or purebred means?

                      Outlawing pets is ridiculous.
                      Make the puppy mills take their dogs back. Make the backyard breeders do this, and everyone else.
                      Dont you take your dogs back anyways??? Whats the problem then if you do?
                      If it’s expenses of meeting regulations then that should go into the cost of the dogs sold, like everything else.

                      I dont want to “stop breeding;” I am a breeder and I love what I do! I like dogs too.
                      I feel like you either have not read all my posts or do not get what I am saying.

                      I think you have me confused with some kind of radical left wing breeder-hater like you read about.

                      Short version is: if mills or breeders WHO ARE NOT BEING RESPONSIBLE are made to be they will probably not find it worth it to breed or they will finally loose their pride and breed more reasonably or responsibly than they do.
                      Breeders who are already responsible should not see much of a difference or I dont want that to be the case!
                      I want to see these folks crankin out 60 puppies a year yet never go to dog shows (or only go to one a year) be responsible for the puppies they ship all over the world.
                      I want to see the uneducated breeder “just breeding pets” be responsible for their ignorance.
                      I want to see the dogs not be the only ones suffering consequences of actions that are not their own.
                      That is what I want to see.
                      I feel it is then necessary to ID dogs and breeders somehow; if what we do or have available now does not work I want to see something that does so lets work together and think of something.
                      I also want to see breeder’s contracts be taken seriously, by law, so that owners are held responsible for their commitments or violations or so it is not difficult for a breeder to hold the owner responsible.
                      Hopefully we would then not need rescues or shelters, or at least their will be way less dogs there.
                      I would love to see education required for those who want to buy a pet puppy; like if you want to go hunting you need to take the safety course “for the safety of you and others.”
                      How about the same for those who are buying a puppy? Like hunter safety courses, you only take it once. And in this case it would be for “the sake of the owner and the dog.”
                      I’ve taken these hunter safety courses, they cost like 5 bucks. I think many breeders would be on board with teaching these, do you think? I know I dont mind volunteering for rescues and shelters, I would not mind volunteering education.
                      This would help educate buyers, which I know are the heart of the problem.

                      I dont care if I am considered a “business;” usually you can write off the expenses that go into the dogs which should include any that come about due to regulations. Otherwise its profit and everyone needs to pay taxes on “income.”

                      August 9, 2012
                    • Rachel #

                      Rosebud,

                      To further explain what I mean by “too many breeders breeding, too many breeding to make a profit:”

                      May I ask, why do you breed?
                      What is your point when you have a litter? Or what do you accomplish?
                      (it sounds like you are not one of the breeders I am targeting)

                      I am targeting the folks who breed so that they can sell puppies; profit or selling puppies is the REASON and modivation for breeding from their dogs, instead of “the integrity of the breed” being the modivation.

                      Every breeder sells pupies and probably makes a profit. If a breeder is also producing what they claim to have available, and so regard such when they have a litter, then they are reputable and it is not unethical for them to make a profit, unless they start to take advantage of meeting sales demands when the cost of their operation is more than covered fromt the sale of “pets” already; let some dogs be adobted. I dont know many reputable breeders who are unethical, so I am not talking about them in my replies when I target breeders.

                      I am targeting puppy stores, backyard breeders and mills
                      If they ONLY care about “selling good pets” and NOTHING else, like health or the breed standard of the AKC dog they are claiming to have, they are not reputable and often (note: often, not always) not otherwise responsible or educated or ethical.

                      The breeders I am targeting do not have much to “recover” when they make a profit or sell their puppies if they are not “breeding for the breed.” And so when so many dogs are euthanized, I find it unethical to make money like that, no matter “how great” the pets they sell are.

                      The breeders (and you sound like one of them) that are making a profit but do something for the breed or at least have what they claim to have should be given the business or enabled.
                      This is good for the owner who wishes to have a certain breed
                      This is good for the integrity of the breed, the breed the owner wishes to have
                      Often this is good for the situation in animal shelters because these breeders are not the issue (meaning that their breeding is not the issue)

                      August 9, 2012
          • Sorry, I don’t think that one flies. To educate one family about how they should treat their dog won’t make up for the backyard breeder OR the careless owner who lets their dog get pg……you still have huge #s of unwanted dogs. The ones who want to learn are not usually the problem, its the one who guys on impulse or gets one for the kids to play with, throws it in the yard and whatever happens, happens. If the breeding was done by registered breeders, its far better than letting others breed at will. Dogs would still be available if you spayed neutered all coming out of breeders, rescues, shelters, etc., for the purpose of being a pet. Those registered breeders can keep the whole animals and/or sell to other breeders who are licensed to have whole animals. Same with show people, they have to have whole animals to show and they can have a license to do so. It won’t be the end of having dogs nor the end of getting them. Again, there are always those who buy, then a year later want to dump the dog, the ones from familes the owners passed away, the ones who lost their homes and have to move into an apartment where dogs aren’t allowed, or whatever the reason is. To regulate breeding will not make dogs an endangered species. If so, we can make changes when it gets to that level – right now to NOT do anything because in the future there might be a shortage is so so wrong – too many lives are going down the drain right now because of lack of doing something. YES there are a lot of PBs in the shelters or people wanting to give PBs away but far out numbering them are the mixed breeds that were accidental because of lack of responsibility – or the stupidity of wanting to see what a mix of this with that will produce (designer dogs for one). AND where do the majority of those come from, the careless owner allowing their dogs to run at large or not caring to have them fixed or experimenting or wanting one pup out of ole Susie and dumping the others. Education is good and necessary but it is not the answer in my book to this huge problem we are facing today.

            July 22, 2012
        • http://www.dogstardaily.com/blogs/who-killed-these-dogs

          Please check out this additional thought-provoking blog from Dog Star Daily. We all have a tendency to look for somebody to blame for the deaths of shelter or sanctuary dogs, and I think I have to agree with our dog walker here and with this additional blog that it’s just not THAT easy. Stop the breeders won’t stop the dogs from being dumped in shelters or abandoned in the street. It requires a bigger and different commitment from every dog owner–a commitment to spay/neuter, of course, AND a commitment to educate himself about what a dog is and what a dog needs to live successfully in a human home. If people are properly educated, maybe they won’t get a dog they can’t (or won’t) properly handle.

          July 21, 2012
          • Those things have been tried for decades. They are not working. Shelters and rescues are still overflowing. Something new has to happen or more Spindletops will occur.

            Go to the HSUS site and search on their Animal Emergency Team. They have been responding to all types of cases similar to Spindletop for many, many years. This is not the first in any way. “People with good intentions gone bad” is an old story.

            July 22, 2012
            • Sarah Adams #

              Shelters actually are NOT overflowing. Some are, but shelters in many areas of the country are importing dogs from other areas, or even from out of the country, so that they have dogs for people to buy… er, “adopt”.

              July 23, 2012
        • Lynn Ungar #

          100% mandatory spay and neuter, if you managed to get full compliance, would mean exactly no pets at all. In my perfect world we would be able to simply insist that anyone who brought an animal into the world was responsible to it for life. Good breeders already understand this. Unfortunately, I don’t know how we’d enforce it for bad ones. I think a lot of good can be done through educating people about responsible vs. irresponsible breeders. Spay/neuter rates have gone way up through education campaigns,

          July 22, 2012
        • This conversation started last night on Facebook about several blind and deaf Australian Shepherd. These are the wonderful “breeders” out there:

          “Recycled Pets NorCal wrote: “they didn’t want me to take the pups, they wanted them killed. they dont care about the dogs and money is their only incentive. And even with 4 defectives, there were 4 others so they made $3200 off of them. This is the joy to irresponsible breeders and the country is littered with them.”

          This is only one of thousands of breeders doing great things.

          July 22, 2012
        • DIane Blackwood #

          Where 100% spay neuter laws have gone into effect, more animals were dropped off at the shelter because people did not want ot pay. I have had three different female dogs for a total of 15 years before they were spayed. Not one of those produced a puppy.
          Some dogs have health issues where spaying is dangerous for them.

          the neuter your pet efforts have produced resutls in that there are far fewer dogs in need of homes than there were in times pasts.

          Seperating back yard from well bred is easier to see than to define legally.

          July 22, 2012
        • Matt.S #

          I agree that puppy mills and byb’s need to go. The problem is how? Laws already exist in many places around the U.S. that aren’t being enforced due to insuffient resources. Laws are good to a point, but enforcing them requires more resources than alot of places have or will commit to this effort. We can lobby for better enforcement of existing laws and more resources, but that’s a long term solution, until then we need to make choices at the local level here & now.

          July 22, 2012
          • Rachel #

            Educate those buying a puppy. People today just google “puppies” or “breeders” instead of looking in the appropriate places to find reputable breeders. Most are unclear, ignorant or missled as to what a reputable breeder actually is since I know people who think certain breeders are “reputable” when what that breeder is doing is breeding to sell pets! Education. Even if you only get one person, that is a defference.

            July 28, 2012
        • Kris R #

          how, exactly, would you enforce 100% spay/neuter? Better than that, impose hefty taxes and fees for those who do breed. If you require an annual fee to be paid to the county for any animal that is not spay/neutered (that is more than the cost to spay/neuter), that is your first incentive to spay/neuter. Second, for those who choose to breed, impose a large sales tax when the puppies are sold – and a fee to the new owner if the pet is not spayed/neutered by the age of 6 months. Both of these actions will remove the incentive for backyard breeders and, since the cost of selling a puppy will increase, it will deter many from purchasing a dog from a private breeder rather than adopting from a shelter.

          July 22, 2012
          • Matt.S #

            Unfortuately this all depends on compliance with the law. The sales tax will only affect the responsible breeders, those who already follow all applicable laws and breeding ethics, probably driving them out of business. The byb’s aren’t likely to comply with any law that costs them money and will likely just keep on with what their doing, if maybe a little more discreetly to avoid the law. again, a law can look good on paper, but implementing it can be more complicated. I still think we’d do well to ban the “storefront” petshop selling of cats & dogs. That’s at least a start, and more enforcable in my opinion.

            July 22, 2012
            • Rachel #

              Well said!

              July 28, 2012
              • Why would somebody think that some people would break laws to sell their puppies? They aren’t breaking any laws to sell their puppies now, unless they live in an area with mandatory spay/neuter or breeding restrictions, but those are few and far between. Maybe they are following the laws in the area where they live.

                Why is it assumed that all other people would follow the laws? Doesn’t everybody speed in their cars, sometimes not have their seat belts on, roll through stop signs and do all the other normal things that everybody else does because they think they can get away with it, and there is no cops around to ticket them.

                I think we can get away from the use of “responsible” because that means that everybody else is irresponsible, and that is not true. I think “breeder” is more appropriate, that way there are not classifications or divisions. If you bred a dog and are selling or giving away the puppies, you are a breeder, and you should follow blanket rules and regulations and be licensed and allow inspections, whether your dogs are in the living room, backyard or kennels.

                I personally know show breeders who have dogs that never come inside, and never interact with any family. They have outside kennels and the dogs live there all the time. Whereas, the single one-time breeder might have the dogs being whelped and weaned in the living room. There is no difference, so why call them different? If you bred an animal and are selling or giving away the puppies, you are a breeder, whether this is your first litter or your fifty-first.

                July 29, 2012
                • sheltie1 #

                  Having puppies in a factory farm setting is totally different from having puppies in your bedroom. That is why the USDA has regulated factory farm/laboratory/bulk breeding facilities. I think anyone would agree that a facility with 500 or 1000 dogs needs regulation and having a litter of puppies in your bedroom regulated is a breach of privacy and a waste of government resources. Unless the goal is only to bother/harass breeders. Any visitor and a government inspector in particular could easily have parvo on their shoes walking from kennel to kennel and would not be welcome in the house of anyone with young puppies and common sense.

                  July 29, 2012
                • Rachel #

                  If people are making a buck and feel that they are doing so in a manner that is not unethical then I doubt a law will make them change their minds is all I am saying.

                  There is such a thing as responsible verses irresponsible and reputable verses disreputable. The problem is is many are ignorant, misguided or uncaring of what the deffinitions are.
                  It all breaks down to ethics which is like the word “responsible.”

                  Breeders who breed to sell pets or make profit or meet sales demands are unethical and so irresponsible because of the obviouse disregard for the overpopulation of pets, many of which are available/homeless and euthanized; why would you bring more into the world for the reason of producing or selling pets? Because it is a “right” or not illegal. Some people lack ethics, which means that they need to be enforced which means we slowly loose our rights with the addition of more laws which tends to screw over those who were responsible or ethical in the first place.
                  This is a seperate issue from “reputable” or those who “show” or “work” their dogs.

                  Unless they are proving the purebred dogs that they sell in some area and doing the proper health clearnaces with their breeding stock the breeder is disreputable and falsly advertising purebred dogs or “AKC.” (especially if their “purebreds” came from a puppy mill). These dogs have a standard and that is a conditional thing, to claim to have it available when you dont breed to the standard is dispreputable. I am not saying that it is disreputable to breed for what you want, but it is if you are labeling it as something that already has a clear deffinition (the breed standard); call it what it is. Nature will have her way and a breeder needs to be selective since selective breeding “created” the breed.

                  My point is that making something illegal does not solve the problem; people will find ways around the law or go underground with it and the government stays happy because it is one more thing they can cash in on for those anlawful people (penalties and fines) and the lawful people (permits, licenses, registration fees, etc).
                  Also, only the “big breeders” or puppy mills will be able to afford to breed if heavy regualtions are implicated; we see this with things like Wal-mart verses the local mom and pop grocery.

                  I do agree with some regulation and I feel eventually there will be regulation with dog breeding. I hope that this regulation simply makes whoever brought the dog into the world responsible for the dog, even if that means that person is the one who puts the dog down. This should be the responisbility every breeder takes. Many claim but how can they honestly do this if they are having 6 litters a year?? Thats a lot of dogs to keep track of once you’ve been doing that for 5 or ten years! Claiming something in a contract and signing it does not mean jack unless the breeder actaully follows it up with action.
                  Those who have less than about six litters may infact track their dogs, but if all they are doing is selling wonderful pets they are at least not helping the situation in the shelters and rescues, if not adding to it by taking away the chances of a homeless dog being adopted.

                  The government wont care about the integrity of a breed or the homeless dogs. We need to be very careful about any laws we wish to set into stone because it will become very black and white and it will be harder to operate, speaking of those who exist who are responsible and ethical and reputable, which is why all I ask is that breeders be responsible for their dogs, period, its that simple or should be made into law to be that simple, even if that means you need to live in a cetain area to be able to be a breeder or not be able to have as many litters because of the limit of dogs you can have.

                  July 30, 2012
                  • sheltie1 #

                    There are a lot of breeders that also support shelters and rescue. In fact just out of the members of the local breed club I volunteer for I know several. One is a breeder and also vet for the local shelters. People in my area do not draw lines about who can help animals and all try to pitch in. The local AKC show does a fundraiser for the local rescue and many of the same people are members of both. It isn’t necessary and in fact counterproductive to accuse breeders of not doing rescue. In fact the original rescue founders for shelties in the USA were all sheltie breeders not “pet” people. Don’t forget that breeders have the know-how to groom/train/place a dog much better than the average pet person and are a valuable asset as rescue volunteers if you don’t get on their case all the time and alienate them for preserving the next generation. Breeders seem to stay in rescue long after others have quit because they are deeply dedicated to the dogs.

                    July 30, 2012
                    • Perfect! It sounds like those people you are describing would be more than happy to support and get on board anything that helps out the animals in their areas and work with everybody to help animals in all ways.

                      Here is a job for all of them in their spare time: Why don’t you have each person go to their local CL Pets section and have them contact every single person selling puppies and “educate” them on how to sell the dogs to the best homes possible? Then, once those puppies are sold, they can then “educate” them about spay/neutering their males and females. After than, they can educate them about volunteering at their local animal shelter or rescue.

                      Sounds like a great job for a dedicated bunch of people!

                      July 31, 2012
                    • Yes, Jackie, breeders like sheltie1 described would be onboard with regulations that make breeders responsible for their dogs and hence or to help out the rescues and shelters. Not only would this eliminate a lot of unessessary litters or breeders, it would provide some income that I hope goes to the situation in shelters.
                      I am sure though, that most breeders like sheltie1 described just dont want to see any crippling regulation like really expensive fees for licensing or registration that run the small hobby breeders out of their existance. Regualtions can be crippling because we tend to over-regulate things. Too much regulation is just as bad as no regulation, I know from experience in other fields. We need a healthy balance that gets the job done so that the job may be done.

                      I do spend a lot of time educating anyone who inquires to me about puppies and I give them a long email full of links to educate them about what a breeder should be doing and why and this includes that they should first concider adoption. some say thanks, most never respond back and probably think I am psycho but I dont care.
                      I do not however, slam particular breeders, but I describe the ones that I would like to slam enough so that anyone who can understand english will be able to figure out that they should not support certain breeders.
                      I have a long page on my website dedicated to educating puppy-buyers and I link it to anyone who asks me about puppies.

                      I do not however, contact everyone on CL or “puppyfind” and other listings and go out of my way to educate them. Instead I try listing myself in these places, these places where people should not be looking for puppies because most reputable breeders will not be found in such places, and my hope is that people come across my listing and get set in the right direction.

                      August 1, 2012
                    • sheltie1, I am sorry, I do not understand your response to my comment.

                      I am aware that there are breeders who rescue or volunteer at shelters; I am one of those people! (I foster for a Siberian husky rescue, and we currently have a foster)

                      The other people involved with my rescue are also breeders, some of which I have stock from, reputable breeders who do not breed “to produce pets,” though they do produce great pets, breeders who do the proper clearances, and whose dogs represent the breed standard well and perform their original function successfully.

                      I am positive it was breeders who started breed rescues because, like myself, I look of imagine a homeless dog or a unhappy dog in the wrong home, particularly one of my breed, and then I look at my dogs whom I love very much and envision them like that I cannot stand the thought of it, so something is done to help, hence breed rescues.

                      It would be a complete oxymoron to me if a breeder was breeding to sell pets/puppies or to meet sales demand or to make a profit (regardless of what they spend it on) and participated in a rescue or shelter trying to help out; a big way they can help is to stop having unnecessary litters! Once there are no more “rescue” or “shelter” dogs, then breeders can start having litters for the purpose of selling pets or puppies IF breeders can do so on a basis where we will not create a problem again.
                      Until then, a litter should only be produced because and to include all of the following:

                      The sire and dam have the proper health clearances and preferably come from a pedigree of cleared dogs.
                      The sire and dam have good temperaments and would make or do make a great pets
                      The sire and dam are good representations of their breed or can perform their original function for which they were bred.
                      THE BREEDER IS KEEPING A PUPPY and so breeding to add a puppy to their kennel, not to sell them all as pets.

                      It is a reality that breeders need to sell most of the puppies that they produce because they cannot properly take care of them all. Most reputable breeders give other show or working homes preference, then give recreational working homes preference, then finally last give the right pet homes preference. I know kennels whose “demand” for pet puppies far exceeds their “supply” of pet puppes and the waiting list for a pet is long.
                      And they rescue because most reputable breeders feel that since they breed they should also rescue.

                      August 1, 2012
                    • sheltie1 #

                      I really don’t understand your reply to my reply, I mean, the continuity–breeders shouldn’t breed to meet a demand but then the ones you know that do have a demand are reputable. They shouldn’t try to make a profit but should only have awesome dogs that are great workers and great pets. They are only reputable if they actually rescue.

                      What about people who live under restrictive pet laws and can barely have a breeding program much less rescue because of a numbers limit? Frankly even a sheltie with two heads and a biting problem would still find a loving home, the demand is so strong, so I have no qualms about bringing more shelties puppies into the world. The reason sheltie rescue is busy is that there are a lot of elderly owners going into nursing homes and similar situations due to the breed’s overall popularity. Even in a perfect world where everyone commits wholeheartedly to their dog there will still be some homes that don’t work due to situations where the owner falls on hard times or health problems. But there is no reason for a homeless sheltie to ever be euthanized except for severe health reasons. Have you considered that there are for-profit rescues that sell small, desirable pet breeds? Its becoming more and more the norm for people to cash in on rescue and its not an oxymoron even if they’re not also breeders. You’re so busy placing value judgements on everyone’s choices and motives you haven’t stopped to consider the restrictions and realities that go into different situations.

                      August 1, 2012
                    • My comments, nor should any, are not meant to be absolute.
                      I dissagree with the people who breed dogs to sell pets. I dont care if all the dogs bred from are champions. Usually they are less than that. I dont care if you rescue or not, or how many dogs you are allowed to have.

                      My mention of rescues in response to your comment was because that you seamed to assume that I was not aware that breeders ususally rescue.

                      I am not saying that if you sell pets you are unethical. That means every breeder is; if you BREED to sell pets, then I think that is unethical. The breeder should have other goals for having the litter when so many dogs are euthanized.
                      Any dog that is intintionaly brought into the world should be a good pet, because there is no point to a dog’s existance if it cannot be with a human.

                      August 2, 2012
        • Jessica #

          Unfortunately, mandatory spay/neuter laws are not the answer, according to the research I’ve done.

          Requiring the public to spay or neuter will not somehow create affordable surgery options, and in so many instances, transportation is a hurdle.

          You may also have issues with people not taking their pets to the vet if they feel like they will be “turned in.” for having an unaltered pet.

          The same people who are not responsible enough to keep their unaltered pets from getting other animals pregnant or from getting pregnant will be the same people not complying with the law.

          Enforcement is also a biggie – there too many cruelty cases for many underfunded animal control agencies to keep up with – who will be the spay/neuter police?

          One thing I agree on though: shut down the puppy mills!

          July 22, 2012
        • Janet #

          The mandatory spay neuter will only address those who choose to comply – not the vast majority of animal owners, at least here in the south. There are no resources to enforce this even if there was the political will – which there isn’t. Plus there is a hefty stray population, in both cats and dogs. So mandatory S/N won’t stop the problem. Also, I have yet to understand what a backyard breeder really is by your definition. The most responsible breeders I know do so from their homes and are very careful not to overbreed and to find excellent homes for their offspring. I would not wish to shut them down as I do appreciate a dog that has been well bred for a specifi purpose – like sheepherding or SAR…

          July 22, 2012
          • Janet #

            I wish to add to my comment, that something has to be done to reduce the animals abandoned. I have worked as a volunteer at a (kill) shelter, walking those who were to be euthanized, and now work in breed rescue. I personally have 7 animals, rescues, plus one foster….the toll of suffering due to our irresponsibility as a species is just tremendous. Those of us in rescue see it all too often – more dogs than we can responsibly help. We have a rule that we only pull a dog from a shelter if we have a foster lined up The reality is, dogs die everyday and there is nothing we can responsibly do about it as a rescue. I truly appreciate this discussion as we need to rethink what we are doing as those who care for animals.

            July 22, 2012
        • D #

          Jackie, where has mandatory spay/neuter worked? Can you name anywhere?

          July 24, 2012
          • TerriB #

            Beaumont California

            July 24, 2012
        • Rachel #

          Well said about puppy mills and backyard breeding for the long turm solution, which I believe is what is important to focus on if we want a solution at all. The only problem is in order to make that hoppen requires laws, which will only screw over the honest ethical people and the irresponsible will remain, well, irresponsible since they obviously possess that behavior.
          So all I would add to your comment is that education of the people buying the puppies is nessessary beucause if people understood what they were supporting they would not buy puppies from irresponsible breeders and if no one buys their puppies they will cease to exist.

          July 28, 2012
          • Rachel #

            …sorry about the spelling errors…wicked tired right now but happend to get this article and I am sucked in….

            July 28, 2012
        • Mary #

          Jackie, YES YES YES! I’m in total agreement.

          February 8, 2013
      • raven lopez #

        I’m a loving caring animal lover,who loves my fur baby, i could only afford one baby at a time, I’m a disabled 34 year old women, and i will give away dog food like it’s candy to a stranded or homeless animals with a homeless owner, that i will do, i have lots of love to give and i care…… i care alot, this homeless man asked me could i have some change, i said i will buy you and your dogs something to eat ……. his face lit up like fire works he couldn’t stop smiling and thanking me, ……Once when i was 15 years old a rottie followed me home, this baby was huge i didn’t know it was following me unil i listened i looked back ….. and thought should i run …….lol nah he will catch me and drop me so i just walked faster..so the dog walked faster too ………………….. finally i stopped and turned around and looked down at him when i did he sat down and tilted his head, i saw in his eyes love,it was a beautiful thing, and very hungry so i took him home, i said wait right here and when i was walking in i didn’t close the door right because he was right behind me again :-) but i said oh well i feed him all of the leftovers we had…. and that was alot so once he was done i gave him some water outside and i fed him for 4 days he had a outside blanket and a fan and a pillow complaiments of me of course :-) after 4 days he was fat boy and i was happy, one day i had come outside and a man was there and the dog was jumping on him i got scared and yelled HEEY LEAVE THAT DOG ALONE HE IS MINE, but the dog stopped and walked up to me and the man behind him,i put out my hand and he licked me, he smiled the man says thank you soo much for watching my dog for me in tears in his eyes he took out his wallet i just stared at him and said no, i just want to thank your dog for being so sweet and loving to me, and i will miss him dearly, he just looked at buckaroo and buckaroo looked at him and i kneeled down and said buckaroo huh, that is a nice name and the dog licked my face and i hugged him ……. it was then i knew i was a lover of fur babies XoXo Raven

        July 23, 2012
      • Matt.S #

        This is enlightening for me. I’ve only been on the rescue side of this problem. Seeing things from the shelter perspective has given me a lot to think about.

        July 26, 2012
        • If you want to see the real shelter side, volunteer at the local government animal control facility. I don’t mean the local private shelter where they can pick and choose the animals and everything is happy and fun. I am talking about true animal shelter: the open door government shelter where all animals are accepted, no matter what. There you can see reality at its finest! There is no greater reality in life than an urban government shelter.

          Believe me, they will treat you like gold because all the volunteers want to go to the private shelter and see only the good and happy times. Nobody wants to see the barrels and barrels of dogs that are euthanized every day. Nobody wants to see the burned out and frustrated employees. Nobody wants to see the people with “the stare” in their eyes as they walk down the rows and rows of kennels. Nobody wants to see the people who stream in all day long with pets they can no longer keep. Nobody wants to see the trapped cats that flow in all day. Nobody wants to see the litters of underage puppies and kittens that will probably be euthanized because there are no fosters and no place to keep them.

          July 26, 2012
          • Matt.S #

            This has opened my eyes to a side of things I’d not been involved in. I’ve heard lots of numbers but this is a reality check for me.

            July 27, 2012
          • Mary Ann #

            Private Shelter where everything is Happy and fun? Did you even read this story? Yes we have to pick and choose or we will wind up like Spindletop and the rescues that sent dogs there. There is nothing happy or fun about spending hours everyday answering email and phone calls saying I can’t take this dog because I have no room and knowing it will be killed. There is nothing fun about trying to medically treating a dog and having it pass anyway. There is nothing fun about giving several dogs baths every week and cleaning up after them. There is nothing fun about trying to raise feedunds so you can continue to do rescue. I do respect those that work and volunteer in the shelter because it is awful work, but if your idea of happiness and fun is working at or running a rescue then maybe you should try doing it.

            July 27, 2012
            • Multiply that by 100 and you may come close to an urban government shelter.

              July 27, 2012
          • SeattleDogLady #

            Jackie, one of the things that I find feeds confrontation versus collaboration in these conversations is blanket statements and exaggerations. I personally have found that most things in rescue are shades of grey, not black and white. Breeders are a spectrum – it’s not a simple as placing them in “good” versus “bad” categories. Same with shelters, adopters, rescues, etc. When we draw such hard lines in the sand, it’s hard to find common ground. As far as the conversation above, while I agree that in general private shelters (usually limited admission) are less likely to be euthanizing at the same rate as municipal (open admission) shelters, it’s not appropriate to say that private = “happy and fun” and municipal = “100x” worse. I happen to volunteer at an open admission, municipal shelter. It also happens to be in a dog-friendly city with a relatively wealthy population who can afford to donate and choose to do so. Our dogs are VERY well taken care of and we do not euthanize for space. We have a volunteer program of several hundred people who all commit to weekly shifts. Most days, it’s more happiness than sadness. Contrast that with the daily experiences of a friend of mine who works at a private shelter. Their shelter focuses on pulling dogs from the surrounding municipal shelters. He isn’t putting down animals every day himself (though he has in a past job), but he literally is walking the kennels at the municipal shelter and deciding who lives and who dies – if he doesn’t take them, they’ll most likely be killed. There’s nothing happy and fun about that. So let’s not belittle the work of private shelters in our quest to do better – we all need each other.

            July 27, 2012
            • “I happen to volunteer at an open admission, municipal shelter. It also happens to be in a dog-friendly city with a relatively wealthy population who can afford to donate and choose to do so. Our dogs are VERY well taken care of and we do not euthanize for space. We have a volunteer program of several hundred people who all commit to weekly shifts.”

              That sounds like Marin County, CA. Very, very, very wealthy citizens and too much time on their hands. And it is run by a non-profit that has been entrenched in the community for decades and has the benefit of being very well run with a ton of muula!

              I don’t believe that a municipal shelter that has several hundred volunteers and does not euthanize for space is hardly normal! The shelters I volunteered in could barely scrap together 10 volunteers to space out working a few hours a week. Plus, the volunteer coordinator was also the shelter manager, office manager and head euthanizing technician. Do you think she had time to recruit new volunteers?

              Several hundred volunteers! Holy Moly, batman. Get real!

              Reality is San Francisco Animal Care and Control. Reality is Stockton Animal Shelter, and every single government shelter in California, except for Marin County, that runs from the Oregon Border to Tijuana. They are all overflowing and can’t barely scrap together the volunteers to run adoption events on the weekends. That probably takes their whole volunteer crew. I can hear them crying now for a fifth of the volunteers your shelter has.

              July 28, 2012
              • SeattleDogLady #

                Well, if it was Marin County, then I’d be MarinDogLady. It’s Seattle’s municipal shelter, and it’s run by the city government, not a non-profit (we do have a Humane Society as well, which is a non-profit, limited admission shelter, but I don’t volunteer there, nor do we typically transfer animals there). And, my point WASN’T that it was normal – I am painfully aware that it isn’t – my point was that you can’t paint everything with such a broad brush, because those generalities don’t always hold, and thus arguments based on normalized generalities tend to create confrontation, because someone can always point out an exception.

                I get that you feel passionately about the perspective you are advocating, and I’ve read through your posts and considered what you’ve shared. I’m just throwing out there that there are more effective ways to enlighten people to your viewpoint than bashing on private shelters and taking an extreme position. If you look for the common ground and accept that everything is not black and white, you may find that you have a more receptive audience.

                July 28, 2012
                • I am not bashing rescue groups. Each of my current dogs have all been adopted from rescue groups, originally from government shelters.

                  However, there is a very clear difference between the two. They are apples and oranges. That is all I am stating.

                  Please go back and re-read my posts to get a clearer idea.

                  July 28, 2012
              • Mary Ann #

                Jackie it’s apparent your angry, and your taking your anger out on the very people who are trying to make a differnce. Anger can be useful if it used to make a difference. Instead of sitting around complaining you should be out there trying to make changes in your city kill shelter just like we did. I am in Jacksonville, FL. Our kill rate was 3 out of every 4 animals a few years ago. Volunteers did not want to go into the shelter in fact it was refered to as “that hell hole”. The final straw was a report done that described how bad the conditions were in the shelter. Jacksonville is not a rich community. Budget cuts have been cut for all city agencies including Ainimal Control the last four years .Foreclosure rates are high and unemployment is a problem. In spite of this the shelter is now going NO KILL. Why? Because instead of people sitting around complaining about the death rate and conditions at AC they did something about it. It started with just a few people who started showing dogs and cats at Petsmart and other pet stores. Then they in listed others and formed a group called Friends of Jacksonville Animals (FOJA). Pretty soon they were raising money for the medical treatment for the animals at AC so they could be adopted. From there Maddie’s Fund was contacted. Maddie’s Fund agreed to help if the shelter was going to try to go No Kill. So grants from Maddie’s Fund are coming. Then Bestfriends was contacted and the shelter got a grant from them. Now this AC is on it’s way to becoming No Kill. The euthansia rate is way down, volunteers and fosters are way up. They won Animal Control of the year for FL this year for all the changes made. Are they perfect? No they have a long road a head of them. But this all started because a few people had the mind set to turn their angry into something useful. Here is something else inovated our AC Officers do once a week they go onto Craigslist Pets and call these Back Yard Breeders with puppies for sale. They pretend to be a person who wants to buy a puppy. They ask will the puppy have it’s shots or do I have to get them. When they go over to the person’s house to get the puppy without the health certificate the person gets a $250.00 fine. Does this solve the problems of BYB’s no it doesn’t, but it is certainly a lot more effective then flagging people who will repost, post somewhere else, or sell those puppies out of the back of their trucks to anyone with the money. This shelter is a perfect example of how changes can be made when people stop complaining and do something about it. I am sure you will have one reason after the other as to why changes can’t be made at your shelter, but you won’t know until you try. http://www.coj.net/departments/neighborhoods/docs/animal-care—protective-services/newsletter-issue-1-summer-2012.aspx

                July 28, 2012
                • sheltie1 #

                  I think visiting breeders and educating them about local laws is a wonderful service and even though the fine is harsh it is a lot more constructive than flagging craigslist. You sound like you’re on the right track.

                  July 29, 2012
                  • Mary Ann #

                    They are geting fines not for selling the puppies but for selling them wihtout the shots and a health certificate. Florida requires this This does discourage people from breeding them when they know they have to spend the money because CL Pets is being monitored by our AC.

                    July 29, 2012
                    • sheltie1 #

                      The disadvantage here is that health certificates are only valid for 10 days, to my knowledge, so you would be forced to find a buyer within 10 days of getting it or keep buying health certificates over and over again. Pretty soon the cost of keeping a puppy for the right home could be far more than the cost anyone would pay for it and it could go to a shelter instead of the person continuing to bother buying more health certificates.

                      July 30, 2012
                    • Mary Ann #

                      No they have 30 days

                      http://www.freshfromflorida.com/ai/main/pet_main.shtml

                      July 30, 2012
                    • Thanks! I have not read the whole thing, but after skimming it, I would love to get something like that here in California! We don’t have anything at all.

                      July 31, 2012
                    • Thanks for the clarification! That sounds like a great law. It gives the officer a reason to pay a visit.

                      July 30, 2012
                  • If you were one of those breeders that AC visited, would you appreciate the visit by a uniformed officer to your front door in the middle of the day and having their AC truck parked out front of your residential home for all your neighbors to watch? Would you appreciate the fine? Or would you prefer in the middle of the night, somebody flag your CL ad for the litter of puppies that your female is having once again?

                    July 29, 2012
                    • Mary Ann #

                      Oh I thought the whole idea was to try to stop breeders. Not to worry about a visit from AC. Which by the way our AC while answering their ads for puppies without health certificates sometimes find other violations. So if your doing what your suppose you shouldn’t mind that visit. Once again your flagging ads on CL isn’t making a bit of difference, we see it on Jax CL all the time all they do is repost or post somewhere else.

                      July 30, 2012
                    • Stopping breeding is not an answer. That is not realistic. Just controlling and supervising and licensing.

                      The trick about CL is that if your email keeps getting flagged, eventually the email is blocked completely from being used on CL. They then have to scramble with another email, and then that one gets blocked.

                      July 30, 2012
                    • Paula #

                      If CL BYB posters are blocked from posting due to flagging, I’ll wager that they will just gravitate to other venues of posting. Let’s say that CL will no longer tolerate BYB postings. Will that have made a difference in the amount of litters produced? I think not. There are so many other ways to advertise: word of mouth, a puppies for sale sign, local publications, to name a few. You might have an “empty” CL section, but litters will still be produced and puppies sold.

                      I used to pursue the Flaggers Forum and I know how much time and effort is put in to it, but I wonder if there can be a more constructive use of that time/energy.

                      July 31, 2012
                    • Mary Ann #

                      Personally I think it is great that the neighbors know what is going on. Here is an article about what our AC is doing to stop it

                      Backyard breeders, puppy mills pose danger to dogs, cats and consumers
                      Investigators rely on tips, posts on Craigslist to find illegal operators.

                      http://jacksonville.com/news/metro/2012-06-16/story/backyard-breeders-puppy-mills-pose-danger-dogs-cats-and-consumers

                      By Jim Schoettler
                      Backyard breeders, puppy mills pose danger to dogs, cats and consumers
                      Jim Schoettler
                      June 18, 2012 12:39 PM EDT
                      .
                      Just a few clicks on the Jacksonville pet section of Craigslist is all John Dolores needed to find his first catch of the day.

                      “I’m calling about the boxer and pit mix puppies,” Dolores said to a woman who answered his call. “You only want $30 a piece for them? Is there a way I can come see them?”

                      See photos of Animal Code Enforcement on the job

                      The appointment, which Dolores made without being asked for any identifying information, was set up for 10 a.m. on the Westside.

                      “That’s all there is to it,” he said after hanging up. “All they think about is the money.”

                      An investigator and supervisor for the city’s Animal Care and Protective Services division for 10 years, Dolores sensed from the conversation that he’d tapped into one of the common dangers facing dogs, cats and consumers citywide — illegal backyard breeding.

                      Dolores said pets found in such operations, along with less frequently found but larger puppy mills, are usually kept in poor conditions and are sold without state-approved health certificates that must be signed by a veterinarian.

                      The certificates are designed to protect consumers by ensuring the pets they are buying have received the proper shots and care. The certificates must be renewed every 30 days until the pets are sold. (See sample in picture section)

                      It is also illegal to sell animals younger than 8 weeks and, in cases of large breeding operations, a breeder’s license must be obtained before any sales can occur.

                      An enhanced animal protection ordinance enacted in Jacksonville 18 months ago has given the city’s animal protective agency more enforcement power over illegal pet sales. That includes the ability to levy fines against breeders, pet shops, flea markets and individuals selling animals. Neighboring counties rely primarily on state laws, with the toughest penalties levied for animal cruelty.

                      People who sell pets illegally cut costs by not getting them the proper care, said Scott Trebatoski, division chief for the city’s animal protective agency. Trebatoski said the risks include buying an animal that will eventually become sick or possibly sicken other animals in the home.

                      “They are no longer a living being to these people,” Trebatoski said. “They’re a commodity.”

                      One of the most common advertising tools has become the Internet, with Craigslist leading the way, Dolores said.

                      When Dolores visited the Westside Craigslist seller last month, he found six puppies scampering about in the backyard, including a few that made their way under a fence to greet him. The father and mother were both tied up — the mother had a chain wrapped around her neck — without any obvious sign of shelter.

                      Casey Tibbitt told Dolores she was selling the puppies for her mother-in-law and didn’t know she had to have a health certificate for each one. Dolores said it became clear to him that he’d hit on an illegal backyard breeding operation from what Tibbitt said next.

                      “This is the second time she’s done this,” Tibbitt said. “I’m not going down for her again.”

                      Mother-in-law Sherry Hue, 57, later told Dolores she had no idea the dogs were being sold and insisted she’d treated them well. Court records show she’d been convicted in 2002 of animal cruelty, though details of the case were not available.

                      Dolores cited Tibbitt for the illegal sale, since she answered the phone for the Craigslist ad, and Hue for not ensuring the dogs had rabies shots and city tags. Both citations carry $250 fines.

                      Dolores left the dogs behind with a warning that he could be back.

                      “The most important thing is to educate people on what is required to be a responsible pet owner,” Dolores said. “I’m not here to hurt anybody. But I am here to protect the animals.”

                      Illegal sales come in all sizes

                      Two other Craigslist sellers caught by Dolores after his Westside visit were selling single dogs, which he said poses as much of a problem for consumers as a backyard breeding operation if the dogs are not healthy.

                      Gary Millan said he was selling his year-old border collie, Lil’ Bit, because he was being evicted from his North Jacksonville home. The dog appeared to be thin and had just been given a bath, making Dolores suspicious of his condition before he arrived.

                      Millan, who was fined $250, said he had no idea he had to have a health certificate.

                      “I thought if you had a dog to get rid of, you could get rid of it as long as it wasn’t some vicious mean dog that could tear your head off,” Millan said. “I didn’t know it had to be seen by a vet.”

                      Dolores said if anyone, Kathy Pike should have known better.

                      Dolores found Pike working at Merrill Animal Clinic, where she was selling one of two Chihuahua puppies she said she’d rescued from a home a few days earlier. She said she sold the first dog and was selling the second — both for an $80 “adoption fee” — in an effort to recoup the money she’d already spent on them.

                      “Hundreds or thousands of people have their dogs on there [Craigslist],” Pike said. “I’m trying to find my dog a home and now I’m going to get in trouble for it?”

                      Dolores showed her the ordinance covering the sale of pets and wrote her a $250 fine for doing it illegally. He didn’t accept her excuse of not having profited on the dogs.

                      “As soon as a penny crosses hands, it’s selling,” he told her.

                      Others cited in the past for violating the ordinance also say they didn’t know the law. Kristin Woodard was cited for selling six pit bull puppies in 2011 on Craigslist.

                      “They weren’t even my dogs,” Woodard said. “I was just doing somebody a favor.”

                      Dolores said he often gives people who sell a handful of animals an initial break by limiting the number of citations they’re given, unless they are uncooperative or the conditions warrant a stiffer penalty. Anyone given a citation can appeal the fine to a special magistrate.

                      “There are some people who don’t know the law, which is why we try to educate them,” Dolores said. “And there are people who I’ve told and when they get caught again, they say, ‘I didn’t know.’ ”

                      Checking up on pet shops, flea markets

                      Violations of Jacksonville’s ordinance have also periodically been found at pet shops and flea markets. Those businesses not only need to show health certificates, but must also post the names of breeders of each pet so that consumers can research them before making a purchase. The businesses also must have their licenses posted properly.

                      Dolores and another investigator visited a handful of pet shops and flea markets last month with mixed results.

                      Six breeder names were missing from pet signs at Pampered Paws on Beach Boulevard, while one of the dogs also didn’t have a health certificate. Owner Tammy Beaver, whom Dolores and Trebatoski said has been the subject of consumer complaints in the past, admitted to the violations. But Beaver insisted she loves her dogs and prides herself on being a good businesswoman.

                      “They’re going to get a guarantee on the dogs,” Beaver said of consumers. “We’re here today and we’re going to be here tomorrow.”

                      The investigators also cited Pet World owner Lynn Lamoureux for not having a license posted correctly. Lamoureux said she made a technical mistake but it doesn’t reflect how she cares for her customers or the pets she sells.

                      “I run this business treating people like I like to be treated,” Lamoureux said. “I just want to do the right thing for the animal.”

                      The investigators found no violations at flea markets they visited on Beach and Ramona boulevards. Wilbur Brindle, a breeder who passed the inspection at the Ramona Flea Market, said he’s seen others in nearby booths and outside the market who violate the law.

                      “I think they should be put out of business,” Brindle said. “They’re selling unhealthy dogs.”

                      Giving abused animals hope

                      Dogs used for breeding in puppy mills and other abusive set-ups can spend their entire lives in such places, said Cori Menkin, senior director of the puppy mills campaign at the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

                      “We are talking about too many dogs in a cage,” she said. “We’re talking about a buildup of feces and urine and a lack of ventilation.”

                      Peggy Haynes has seen firsthand the abuse of dogs.

                      Haynes, who runs a Jacksonville animal rescue group called Pet Rescue North, was given two dogs taken from a puppy mill in Mandarin in 2009. One dog was missing a toe. Both needed significant grooming. In a separate case, she took in a dog covered in so much feces it had to be washed multiple times and then shaved. The dog initially appeared to be brown, but her hair was actually white.

                      “These kind of people have no respect for God’s creatures,” Haynes said. “Their mentality is at the bottom of the barrel.”

                      Those who work at Jacksonville’s animal protective agency couldn’t agree more, especially with all they see. Trebatoski, the division chief, said the public can help by doing their homework before buying an animal and by reporting any problems to the proper agency.

                      “It’s incumbent upon all of us to protect them from cruelty,” he said. “The more people who are aware of the problem, the easier it will be to eradicate it.”

                      With limited budgets and little enforcement personnel, authorities must rely on reports from the public to ferret out puppy mills, backyard breeders and other trouble, said Paul Studivant, division chief of St. Johns Animal Control since 1995.

                      “How many do we have? We really aren’t sure, but with 600 square miles and a lot of rural areas, they’re out there,” Studivant said. “For the animals, it’s a horrible life. We would love to do more enforcement, but we have to be tipped off.”

                      July 30, 2012
                    • sheltie1 #

                      I disagree with the above statement that if you’re doing what you’re supposed to you won’t mind being inspected. I don’t know anyone who wants cops in their house. I certainly wouldn’t want AC coming around from kennel to kennel spreading diseases to young puppies. I know several people who cared for their dogs scrupulously well and still had whole litters lost to parvo. The AC people and lawmakers know nothing about the time/effort/sacrifice/study real breeders(not the “Jacksonville” kind) go through to raise healthy, clean, well-adjusted puppies.

                      July 30, 2012
    • Susi Wilson #

      Where on Craigslist can I find the rulings that “Craigslist does not allow any “For Sale,” “Free,” “For Stud,” or “breeders/puppies” ads.”?
      I’ve gone through the Terms of Use and cannot find any mention of this. I’d really like to do some “Flagging” but can’t find the reference to justify this action.

      July 22, 2012
    • Brittany #

      I started to do that, but I am starting to notice the backyard breeders using a loophole ” 7 weeks old puppies rehoming fee of 750!!! Oh my! Since I only see that policy says ” small rehoming fee ok” I flag free ads, “for sale”. But for the breeders who uses “rehoming” I am stuck. Ideas?

      July 22, 2012
      • It is not a loophole. It is wording. Of course, they are not re-homing a litter of seven week old puppies! Flag them! You know the ad is wrong and you know the person is lying. I flag those ads all the time. Nobody can trace you to flagging, so don’t worry about somebody knowing who you flagged, even though people say they can tell who flags their ads. Flag them!

        July 25, 2012
      • Remember, also, only a “nominal fee” is allowed for any animal. Re-homing at $200 each is not nominal. They are a breeder and should be flagged.

        July 26, 2012
    • SJC #

      I got flagged repeatedly when posting a CL ad for free puppies a couple of years back. The only thing I was requiring, was for them to sign a VERY strict contract (had to prove vet and authorize me to contact vet for verification of treatment, spaying, etc) and go through an interview with me. I actually had to contact the CL website administrators to get the to “protect” my ad. So, while I appreciate what you are saying, the people doing this seem to be targeting ANYONE trying to find a home for an animal, even those of use being responsible. Luckily I found great homes for all the puppies.

      July 23, 2012
      • All you have to do is ask for a “nominal adoption fee” per CL, like $25 and under as an example. CL prohibits “free” ads, so they will continue to be flagged.

        July 23, 2012
        • SJC #

          Actually, the very first ad that got flagged did ask for money outright (I just went back and checked); “I’m only asking for a $20 adoption fee as basically a good faith gesture…” From CL Pet info page; “pet SALES are prohibited” Then further down; “It is also perfectly acceptable to advertise a pet to be given away for free”.

          Below are the last two paragraphs of my very detailed CL ad. The first few paragraphs involved detailed description of the parents, their temperament, health, etc. I had to continually repost until I could get CL to protect. I agree, strike out at those that are obviously running something dubious (though there was an online discussion on what happens to the animals if they cannot find homes? They then come to us, or worse). Anyway, can you tell me what was so horrible about my ad below that I couldn’t keep it up for more that a couple of hours? Some people are WAY too fanatical.

          “Two things I’ll require because of all the emails asking about needing a particular sex or worried about the $20 fee. I’ll need you to provide your local veterinarians info and to sign an agreement to have the puppies spayed/neutered. I will require this for a couple of reasons. One is that we don’t need any more puppies, the other is that the mother has a medical issue that having puppies nearly killed her. So the female in this group would probably have it and the males would pass it along. If you were rushing the mother at 3am to the vet as she was stiff-legged and panting, you wouldn’t question me on this. I tell you what, I’d even waive the fee altogether if you sign the contract I mentioned above and brought me something from your vet confirming an appointment to have spay/neutered and have it’s check-up. I’ll call to confirm. I really can’t think of anything more fair than this. If you are in a position to where you cannot afford to take them to the vet, you are not in a position to have animals at this time. Please don’t take offense, which I’m sure you won’t if you think about it for a minute and of course are not someone trying to get some breeder dogs.

          I just got some advice from someone who saw this post (thanks Regina). I’ll waive all adoption fees if you make arrangements with your vet to have them spay/neutered etc and I’ll bring the puppies to the vet and you can pick them up later that day. I’m really thinking that this will be my standard to ensure they are going to a legitimate home environment. So, no adoption fee if I bring puppies to vet myself. Easier than getting something in writing from your vet.”

          Oh, I probably will not know if anyone comments. My email in-box was overwhelmed and I had to unsubscribe. Shame they don’t have it to where you can select comments within your “branch” or even to you.

          July 24, 2012
      • Shame on you to give away a life for free. What is wrong with charging a nominal fee? Every life is precious, and if you should appreciate that. If you want to use CL, then follow their rules, or advertise somewhere else.

        July 25, 2012
        • SJC #

          I don’t think you actually read what I wrote down. So, “shame on you”. :o)

          July 25, 2012
    • Paula #

      Craigslist is just the tip of the iceburg. Try Pennysaver, Recycler, EBay Classifieds; in fact, there are whole magazines and other publications devoted to the sale of puppies and puppy-mill dogs. There are not enough county and city staff to put a stop to back yard breeders.

      July 26, 2012
      • Craigslist is not the tip of the iceberg. It is the iceberg. It is very easy to stop the ads by just flagging them. If the ads don’t show, then nobody knows they are there.

        I believe the backyard breeders and puppy mills CAN be stopped, and I will do everything in my power to make sure that happens. I am not whining or crying or complaining. I am doing.

        I challenge every single person on this list to stop and go to their local CL section, go to the Pets section in the Community section and start flagging all the prohibited ads. Puppy mills and backyard breeders can be stop. This is their main, easy and free source of selling puppies. Is everybody doing that, or are people going to keep complaining, rather than working on a viable solution?

        The people who are not doing this are the ones who prefer to keep their heads in the sand and keep hoping for a miracle cure. There is a pet overpopulation and those who don’t think there is are the ones with their heads in the sand. How many people here have worked in a government shelter and had to euthanize animals day after day after day strictly for space only? Healthy adoptable puppies, adults and senior dogs? I have, and it is horrible. It is 100% completely preventable.

        If the surplus of animals stopped, people would value their pets more and would not be so quick to discard them in every manner possible. I guarantee that. That is basic math and basic human nature. We are a consumable society because we have so much surplus. That is why so many people are overweight because they have a surplus of food. That is why there is so much trash, because there is a surplus of use. That is why there is a pet overpopulation because there are too many animals. Take away all the animals and the surplus disappears. Whala!

        July 26, 2012
        • Jackie, is it possible to reach someone at Craig’s List directly? I’m guessing the flagging is the only way you’ve found to address the issue w. CL (or you wouldn’t be doing it!). Just curious if it’s even possible to get in direct contact with the company to discuss this issue.

          July 27, 2012
        • Paula #

          Let’s say Craigslist is stopped. Then what? We may have to agree to disagree. Yes, it’s a start, but there is a whole other world out there other than Cl. Example: Google either Kijiji or EBay classifieds (same thing). See how many THOUSANDS of puppies and puppy mill animals are advertised. Go to some newsstands or look on-line for pups for sale, you will find additional thousands listed in English, Spanish and who knows what other languages. I do believe the prevalence of BYB s is much higher than most of us suspect.
          I am not saying this to disuade others from trying, rather, to open eyes as to what all is going on out there.

          July 27, 2012
          • TerriB #

            Ebay classified has a crazy amount of dogs listed all the time. The thought of “selling” dogs on Ebay to me is just frightening.

            July 27, 2012
            • That is exactly the reason why all breeders need to be regulated and licensed in all states. The HSUS is currently working on closing the loophole in the Animal Welfare Act to prevent pet selling online and directly to the public. Support those changes. Currently, the only breeders who are regulated by the AWA are breeders who sell wholesale, but we all know about all the breeders who sell directly to the public over the phone, online and face to face. These changes would cover these people. Support those changes if you want to see these people to be regulated.

              July 27, 2012
          • “I do believe the prevalence of BYB s is much higher than most of us suspect. I am not saying this to disuade others from trying, rather, to open eyes as to what all is going on out there.”

            I believe the problem is massive and wide spread, and that is why that group of breeders needs to be stopped!

            July 27, 2012
    • Lori #

      excellent advice!!!

      August 1, 2012
    • crosswind #

      AND spay/neuter and euthanize strays….. I love animals, but WHO is gonna adopt all these over populated pets. Animal shelters and rescuers want to save them ALL, but reality is some HAVE to be put down unless people themselves want to foot the bill. Government needs to Stop adopting out un-fixed pets from animal shelters too or will continue for 100 more years crying the same story.

      August 15, 2012
      • The problem remains the same no matter how you arrange and re-arrange it: There are too many animals being born. The supply does not fit the demand. Reduce all the reckless breeding from the beginning. Prevent the animals from being born to begin with and prevent them from going through the horrible process of loosing their home and ending up loose on the street and eventually in a shelter.

        Control, license and restrict what breeding occurs, all breeding.

        August 15, 2012
      • I want to make it very clear: The solution to the over population problem is never to euthanize animals in shelters. That has been tried for decades, and it never works. It doesn’t solve anything. It just creates space for more animals to come in through the front door.

        The primary solution to the over population is to control and supervise every single breeding of every single animal. Obviously, I am referring to dogs since cats are a totally different problem. The over population of dogs is not being caused by feral street dogs that are breeding on their own, like cats. Maybe in other countries that is the issue, but not in the US. In the US the over population of dogs is 100% a human created problem. Humans are over breeding for money only. Stop that source of dogs and the over population problem will eventually stop.

        August 16, 2012
        • sheltie1 #

          If you took away all the old, sick, aggressive, semi-feral, unplanned and imported dogs there would be virtually no dogs in US shelters. That’s why puppies are being imported by US shelters from asia and Puerto Rico. The risk of a dog in the US dying in a shelter is about 2%, which is a segment of the population which would be expected to die from health or temperament problems anyway. Not all dogs are perfect pets. I don’t think the issue of feral dogs or cats can be overstated it is certainly a problem in the southern states that people let their dogs run loose and breed, but the question of planning really doesn’t enter into this equation. People who plan their litters who would come under any kind of additional government scrutiny also plan to put them in appropriate homes and are the minutest fraction of the homeless dog equation.

          August 16, 2012
          • Sheltie1, based on that last posting alone, you are out to touch with reality. Obviously, you have not been any government shelter in any major urban city in the last 20 years.

            And, dogs are not being adopted from other countries because there are not enough in the US. I adopted a dog from Thailand in February, yet I live in California where the shelters and rescues are overflowing. I did not adopt her because I could not find a dog to adopt where I live. I have three other dogs, who were all adopted from shelters and rescues in CA and OR. I adopted her because she would have died of disease or starvation in the shelter she was in. She needed a home and I wanted to get her out of there. Thousands of dogs remain back where she is that will die of disease, starvation, horribly inhumane conditions or end up as somebody’s dinner in Cambodia, Vietnam, China or Laos. Take a look at the website: http://www.soidog.org. for a touch of reality.

            Once again, your information is incorrect.

            August 17, 2012
        • Rachel #

          Jackie,

          I hope these regulations that you wish for dont screw over breeders like myself. Breeding dogs is already a money pit for me. If I could only have so many females or had to pay rediculous amounts to breed or have unaltered dogs, I would not be able to breed, which would be a shame because I am dedicated to my breed and do not contribute to the problem. On the contrary; I rescue lots of dogs, but I am able to do this.

          I wish to see regulations which screw over only the breeders responsible for the disgusting over population of dogs; the puppy mills and backyard breeders.
          I feel the solution is as simple as having every breeder be responsible for the dogs that they bring into the world or sell. I do this, so many others do to. Make it a law so that all breeders do this and you will see a significant change.
          Instead of going back to the selter or instead of letting the owner re-home the dog that they no longer want, let the dog go back to the breeder or let the breeder be responsible for approving of the next home. Let the breeder be responsible for not only finding the first “right” home, but the second or so on, or let the breeder be responsible for keeping or euthanizing the dogs that cannot find the right home.
          This will make many who are not aware of the consequences of their actions, aware, and should make many change their ways or become educated about what dog breeding should be.
          Of course pet owners should be responsible too; I am in favor of fines or evern jail time for owners who violate my contract for sale of a dog.

          This would require only that breeders need be identified, so that their dogs can be IDed to the breeder. This would mean a buracracy (its late, dont care to spell correctly) but so what; we do this with kennel clubs and vehicles.

          I’ve seen regulations, due to outcries of outragged people, rightly oputragged people mind you, only make things worse in the long run.
          People lack ethics, make a law so people who are not ethical are required to do the right thing.

          I wish to see people responsible for their actions, not regualtions that, yes, will get rid of irresponsible breeders, but will also get rid of the breeders who are doing good for a breed and who are not responsible for the dog situation in animal shelters. Sure, they may have a dog or two that ends up in the situation, but lets agree: its the puppy mills, dog dealers and backyard breeders or others who are taking advatage of the undeducated puppy buyer or the huge demand for puppies.
          Regs that limit breeding are a solution, but not a good one in the interest of the breeders that should not be “limited.”
          Please be careful what you wish for.

          August 22, 2012
          • “Please be careful what you wish for.”

            I know exactly what I want. I have said it in this list a hundred times: no more dogs and cats being euthanized due to lack of homes. That is what I wish for, and I intend to achieve that.

            August 24, 2012
            • Rachel #

              Jackie,

              ” “Please be careful what you wish for.” I know exactly what I want. I have said it in this list a hundred times: no more dogs and cats being euthanized due to lack of homes. That is what I wish for, and I intend to achieve that.”

              Is that all you care about?? You do realize there is much more at stake and that it is possible to achieve your wish as well as keep the breeders who are good for the breed and who are not responsible for the MILLIONS of homeless dogs, many of which who are euthanized?

              I meant by my comment that in your attempt to achieve one narrow-minded goal, a good one mind you, that you may take out something else in the process unnecessarily.

              I have not read all your posts here, just the ones I was involved with, I dont have the time I am sorry.
              I was only disturbed by stupid regulations that make breeders pay heavy fees to breed; this will make breeders need to be a huge business because only the rich will be able to afford it!

              I worry in your attempt to get what you want you are going to screw over a lot of people that should not be screwed over because of this issue. People like myself. Dont be mistaken: I want to see no more euthanized dogs due to lack of homes, but I also want to continue enjoying the different breeds, particularly being involved with my own.

              What are some of the things that you suggest in order to lawfully limit the puppy mills and backyard breeders or other breeders breeding to sell puppies for profit or a living? Just so I dont jump to conclusions.

              I hope its not what I have been hearing that some are trying to push: a limit of four females. Backyard breeders will still achieve their ends (and add up the many and they are just as much as an impact as a puppy mill) yet breeders like me will not be able to function (I do not breed my females every year, I consider more than four litters from one bitch overbreeding, unless she is particularly outstanding and has a huge impact on the breed, which is rare.

              I cant afford to pay 150$ to keep an an altered dog. Breeding is already a money pit for me because health clearances are not cheap, feeding the dogs is not cheap, shots, meds, flea and tick, heartworm, gear for sledding, membership with clubs and not to mention showing already makes it so I SPEND money to breed my dogs.

              I would not mind paying for a licensing fee or for an identification. An ID that must be permanently on any dog I breed or sell so that the dog can be IDed as mine. This way my dogs come back to me, and, by a law that I would agree with, they are my responsibility, not a shelter’s and not the irresponsible owner’s or the owner who cannot have the dog and has no options.
              What if all dogs went back to the breeder? I know they dont, but what if we figured out a way to make this happen? What do you think would be the effect if THE BREEDER had to euthanize their dogs because they decided to sell 60 puppies a year for five or ten years or because there is a problem?

              Basically, the people responsible do not have to deal with the consequences, the consequences which so strongly outrage people like you and I, and so they all claim “we are not responsible.” Make them responsible! Make them have to deal with it by law! Lets see what happens; I bet a huge effect will occur in the direction we want to see.

              I would love it if by law a breeder needed to use a standardized contract (that can also have other things in it that the breeder feels like adding) to include but not limited to a return home policy and should the buyer be irresponsible by not contacting the breeder when they dont want the dog anymore that they should pay a heavy fine or go to jail. If the owner violates the contract in any way they should be persecuted by the law. This would help eliminate this source of the problem.
              I would like to see the law take breeder’s contracts more seriously that way breeders can take these irresponsible owners and rake em in court, that way buyers will be “scarred” to violate a contract and they will take it seriously when they decide to buy a dog.

              But the heart of the problem, I am sure you agree, are the breeders. There will always be a supply if there is a demand even if it is illegal; we see this with anything.
              But we can at least make it illegal so that breeders who have no way of having their dogs traced back to them are illegal, and so that un-IDed dogs whose breeder cannot be traced are illegal.
              Most breeders will comply with the law because most are simply unethical not criminal: they do what they do because it is legal, because “it is a right” since no law says otherwise.
              Most owners will seek a legal dog.
              We will always have people who suck, but at least they wont have a pretty image like they do now (they do not fool me or you though!).

              August 24, 2012
  3. Dina #

    Thank you. As you have so succinctly pointed out, there are some things in life worse than death. I’m 64 now. I accept the fact that life does not go on forever. Some living things die earlier than others. Their spirit never does die. This whole no-kill movement has to be re-thought, if this is the end result of people feeling the terrible guilt of giving an animal a peaceful, painless death. Especially ones for whom life has become an unbearable burden.

    July 21, 2012
    • Annette #

      Exactly… Live in a 6×6 cage? Little/no interaction? Or ending up at a ‘sanctuary’ or rescue who does not care for them and/or care.. Unfortunately, there are worse things than death…

      July 21, 2012
  4. Cindy Abraham #

    You make an important point that animals don’t have the perspective of time that humans do. They don’t know that they are young, middle aged or old in relation to a total lifespan. Humane euthanasia can also be a form of rescue, as heartbreaking as it is to us as animal lovers. Better that a life end gently, than to end painfully.

    July 21, 2012
    • So true Cindy. Thank you.

      July 21, 2012
    • I disagree. I think animals are aware of their lifespan. They know when they are young and puppyish, when they are healthy adults and when they are old. Animals pay attention to what is happening to everything around them.

      August 15, 2012
  5. Jennifer #

    Thank you.

    July 21, 2012
  6. AJ #

    Thank you for writing this and sharing. I agree with absolutely everything you’ve written, and have been frustrated with those “rescuers” sipping the “no-kill kool-aid” for a long time now. For me, as a pittie advocate, it is also intertwined with helping to save the pit bull image. If we know in our hearts that a pit bull dog is unadoptable due to abuse or neglect or just plain lack of socialization, we owe it to that dog to give him a “peaceful death,” as you describe. For, if we don’t and instead we shove this dog off to a sanctuary or put it in a home where he will fail, we are perpetuating the horrid pit bull image if the dog attacks another dog, another animal or, worse yet, a human. It is very difficult to see to see this big picture as an animal rescuer, but the narrative you have told is so true.

    July 21, 2012
    • Amen! Bravo. As a fellow pit bull rescuer, could not agree more. We need to do what’s best for the dog, the community, and the “breed” (type, whatever).

      July 21, 2012
    • Kris R #

      I have difficulty with the term no-kill. What exactly does that mean? Typically a shelter that says it is no kill DOES, at times, have to euthanize. Animals can decompensate in the high stress environment of a shelter and can become fear/cage aggressive – this makes them a dangerous risk, and most shelters do not have the resources to deal with it. Thus, it must be euthanized. Also, other shelters claiming they are no-kill simply do so by only accepting highly adoptable, healthy animals, usually by appointment only. They may be no-kill, but are certainly not part of any no-kill movement, as they are simply passing along that dirty deed to some other shelter (or worse, leaving the owner to keep the animal where it is neglected, abused or killed).

      Also, with regard to mandatory spay/neuter…if we only allow ‘authorized’ breeders to breed, how do we ensure that they are breeding for health, not conformation (as most of them do now). Ever see a German Shepherd Dog from 30 years ago and compare it to one now? They look more like frogs or rabbits now because we liked the look of the sloped back so much we overbred that trait – now the dogs have severe hip and spine issues. Or Great Danes. They have a shortened life span because we’ve overbred them for size in such a short time that their hearts cannot keep up with their body demand. Or when you are bored, google “bulldog skull comparison” and take a look at the images. We’ve overbred the brachycephalic head to the point where the dog is hardly able to breathe – and often cannot be born naturally (without assistance, such as a c-section). The AKC and other kennel clubs ENCOURAGE conformation breeding without thought or regard to function. If breeding is left to these types of breeders, what will the future hold for dogs as a species? I hate to think of a world without its mutts – which, by the way, are some of the healthiest ‘breeds’ out there, both genetically and temperamentally.

      July 22, 2012
      • Doglover #

        I couldn’t agree more! The species is doomed if left up to “official breeders.” Many of dogs health and mental issues today are a result of breeding for certain “desirable” traits. Mutts are amazing dogs and sad would be the day that they were no longer around. Not sure what the solution to the problem is, but I doubt it will be solved by adding more laws.

        July 22, 2012
      • Amen. One of the most “responsible” (whatever that means) breeders I know breeds for temperament and health first and foremost; raises the puppies in the bedroom with her; breeds 2 litters a year; does tons of early stim and socialization; all puppies go home with basic manners started and potty trained …. and she breeds (GASP) Goldendoodles. Which automatically would paint her a villain to many many “rescuers”. I’d much rather have her dogs out in the world, than those American show ring GSDs.

        July 22, 2012
      • Kris
        All so true

        July 23, 2012
    • Matt.S #

      I’m also a Pit Bull Advocate, and don’t think all dogs, breed aside, can be “rehabilitated”. Unprovoked attacks are one thing, I just get nervous when people get too “needle happy”. How do we decide that a dog is too damaged? How much of our time and resources should go into that assesment? I honestly don’t believe I have all the answers, but I do have what I believe are reasonable and neccesary quiestions.

      July 22, 2012
      • Janet #

        Agree. We have to ask the questions, and struggle with the answers. I recently had to make that call on a dog we had taken into rescue but had unprovoked attacks, multiple, on the foster family. We had already tried to place the dog in multiple foster families, each we thought “might” be capable of dealing with the dog, but none could. So we, I, made the decision to have the dog humanely euthanized. if we had other resources, perhaps we could have saved her. But we didn’t. And her size, strength and unpredictability make her dangerous. She died being stroked by the foster Mom – the one person she had grown to trust. Is that responsible? Humane? Necessary? I don’t know, but I made the call.

        July 22, 2012
        • Matt.S #

          I don’t pretend to know all there is to know about the different approaches people take with this stuff, but for what it’s worth, I give you & the foster mom credit for the effort you made and the courage it takes to make that call.

          July 23, 2012
      • Definitely necessary questions, and ones that should be revisited on a regular basis to make sure we don’t get stagnant in our beliefs/policies. In our rescue, we ask ourselves “when (not if) this dog gets loose, is there a reasonable probability it would kill or maim another dog”. Management fails. We cannot in good conscience adopt out a dog with a severe bite history.

        As a trainer, I wear a different hat – when a dog is in a committed family already, there’s a lot more that can be done. There are obviously still dogs who are too far gone, but there’s a lot more hope.

        July 22, 2012
        • HERMAN'S HOPE #

          That sounds like a resonable policy. I like the “when(not if)” part, that makes sense to me. I’m a passionate advocate for pit bull type dogs, but as I said, I don’t believe all of these dogs with bite history can be safely brought back into society. That’s NOT a breed thing, just a painful fact as I see it with any aggressive dog. It’s the “too far gone” individuals that I wrestle with the descision for. Your rescue’s approach is sensible.

          July 29, 2012
    • Kenneht Hadley #

      No Kill Shelter is to me, a code word for Scam, and Con. When a shelter becomes too full to take animals then it is a; Kill Shelter via the fact that the ones they can not take will meet a horrible death.

      July 22, 2012
  7. EmilyS #

    so very very well written, compassionate and thoughtful
    I hope one lesson people take is that this “warehouse” model (in which a rescue houses 100+ animals) is just not sustainable, emotionally, logistically, financially. Too often it leads to just exactly these situations you describe.

    The focus needs to be on 1) people who want to rescue an animal take responsibility themselves for housing and then finding a new home and 2) SMALL operations with a facility for a SMALL number of animals and a network of foster homes.

    Shipping dogs off for someone else to take care just doesn’t seem to work

    July 21, 2012
    • Thanks Emily – I agree.

      July 21, 2012
    • animalandpeoplelover #

      I agree with you, Emily. *Warehousing* animals in a so-called “sanctuary” isn’t logical or sane, IMO. That model has become the new “fashion” in the parrot world—hundreds of birds that were pets that enjoyed human companionship are put into artificial environments with other birds that they might not even like (or be afraid of), or alternately kept in separate cages (even if large) and denied interaction and human companionship. And the (hoarding) “sanctuaries” are given donations to reinforce their mode of operation of not putting birds in homes—NOT in the best interests of most of the birds.

      November 24, 2013
  8. Thank you for a beautiful, thoughtful essay. Over the years I’ve grown suspicious of “no-kill” shelters: in practice, this often means that they won’t take a chance on a dog whose issues (mental or physical) might not be solvable. And with due respect to those to believe the problem is irresponsible breeders — really, it isn’t. The problem is that too many of us don’t have the courage to make the hard choices ourselves, so we’re happy to foist them off on someone else, even when we know deep-down that the need far, far outstrips the financial resources available. I seriously think we (collectively) need to stop guilt-tripping ourselves and each other. Many pets will never be rehomed, and not every home is — or needs to be — “forever.” And for many of us, the sky is not the limit for medical bills. Does that mean we shouldn’t have pets? I don’t think so.

    July 21, 2012
    • Kim Hankerson #

      Well said Susanna.

      July 21, 2012
  9. This is a very timely article for me personally as I am going through the process of convincing my elderly neighbors that the best outcome we can hope for for the family of feral cats living under their porch is to let them be humanely euthanized. They have been feeding these cats for several weeks now and desperately want to save them, but can’t afford the bills to feed and provide vet care for the existing mother and four kittens, not to mention future generations–and that’s if they could be caught to go to the vet in the first place. Our local “no-kill” shelter already has almost 300 cats. You couldn’t pay me enough to warehouse any animal I’m responsible for there. I am desperately trying to convince my kind-hearted neighbors that the kindest thing to do is to consider quality of life, not just life.

    July 21, 2012
    • Ugh. There just aren’t any easy answers at all, are there? If your area has a local “friends of feral felines” or other feral cat resource, they may be able to trap, spay/neuter, and release the cats for your neighbor (at no cost to them). Then it’s up to someone to care for the small feral colony for life. Like I said – not easy stuff.

      July 21, 2012
      • Our version of “Friends of Felines” charges $35 per cat, plus a “suggested” $10 donation fee–out of reach of either me or my neighbors for all five cats, and doesn’t solve the problem of paying to feed and care for them for the rest of their lives. And I just don’t believe that allowing cats to remain feral is the responsible thing to do, if for no other reason than that they become a nuisance and even dangerous for other pets in the neighborhood. They become vectors for rabies and other diseases. Brewster and Bert have both eaten cat poo and it scares me to death to think what diseases they might pick up. Bert in particular loves to roll in the poo, so she’s had several baths in the last few weeks–not bad for her, per se, but certainly no fun for either of us. :)

        July 22, 2012
        • Got it! Just wanted to be sure there wasn’t a local group that could provide more assistance. And ewwww Bert! Only one poo-roll per month please – that’s the max! : )

          I don’t want to belabor the issue with you Noelle (I understand your neighbor’s limitations), but just in case anyone is reading this and wondering: I’m actually a fan of TNR (trap neuter release) IF there is someone who can manage the colony responsibly. When the cats are trapped and fixed, they’re also given vaccinations, so they’re pretty safe to have around. Rabies in cats isn’t common and feral colonies don’t pose a health risk: http://www.alleycat.org/page.aspx?pid=937

          July 22, 2012
        • Monica #

          Noelle — actually, it might not be as bad as you think. As a kitten catcher and re-homer myself, I’m offering this is as an alternative to killing animals that have not earned death. The key, IMO, is to trap one each month if that’s all that can be afforded, get the vet work done, and then release them back to the rest of their family. From there, let them manage their own lives and live on their own terms if you can’t find better circumstances for them. In a year, trap them again for final vaccination, and you’re done. This would solve the problem of them being “vectors of disease” for life: they honestly do not need vaccination every single year. The idea that they absolutely must be kept by people is emotional, not reasonable. Consider: if it were truly reasonable, then we should view every bird, squirrel, possum, raccoon, etc. that crosses our yards in the same way: as creatures that MUST live under human management or not at all. That’s an unreasonably presumptive idea, I think. So take the next 4 months or so to gradually catch and alter them, and then let them live on their OWN terms if you can’t find good homes for them otherwise.

          July 22, 2012
          • Hi Monica, these are all really good points and a reasonable scenario for some to take on, but not all – perhaps this is more than Noelle’s elderly neighbors can take on for the next year. I’m thankful there are dedicated trappers out there like you. The cats are very lucky to have you working on their behalf.

            July 22, 2012
            • My friend who works with feral colonies mentioned to me once that there is a theory that (after sterilizing) leaving the feral colony actually controls the feral population, because of territory (more won’t show up).

              July 23, 2012
          • shannonfitz #

            I agree, great points. Also want to mention that truly feral cats (as opposed to lost or stray pet cats) are basically wild animals – they don’t want to live inside with humans. They’re terrified of humans and forcing them to be “pets” can actually be cruel. The best one can do for these cats is, as you say, TNR, vaccinate and let them live their own lives.

            There’s a big difference between a cat that was raised around humans, then was lost or abandoned and became feral, and a cat that grew up feral and has never lived in a house or been socialized to humans. The first cat can be ‘tamed’ and become a pet, the second cat likely never will.

            July 26, 2012
  10. Adrian #

    Truest words I have read in a long time. In March, I had to put my dog down due to him attacking me. People begged me to send him to TX to Spindletop or another “angry dog” sanctuary. I knew I wasnt going to sentence my best friend to a life without parole sentence of sitting in a cage 24/7. And now after seeing what became of the place, I can not imagine the range of emotions I would be feeling right now. He died peacefully with me holding his paw. I can live with myself much better knowing that rather than he starved for months and wondered why I deserted him in such a place. R.I.P. Ace

    July 21, 2012
    • I’m so sorry for your loss Adrian. And I’m thankful Ace knew that he was loved until his very last moment. Peace to you.

      July 21, 2012
    • SeattleDogOwner #

      Adrian, thanks for making the hard choice that many can’t. I went through something similar and it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. You did the right thing for the big picture, and more importantly, you did the right thing for your dog.

      July 22, 2012
  11. And I’d like to add that, although my Bertie Sue was rescued from the euthanasia list at our local shelter by the rescue I ultimately adopted her from, I hold no grudge against the shelter at all. At the time, she was aggressive and needed special handling that the shelter didn’t have the resources to provide. I’m just grateful that the rescue was there to act as the go-between for me and my sweet girl, to help a special-needs dog find the right home. As bizarre and uncomfortable as it is for me to admit, if Pals Animal Rescue hadn’t been available, humane euthanasia would have been the best outcome for Bert.

    July 21, 2012
  12. Thank you so much for a wonderful article and for saying something that really needs to be said. I have in my lifetime of animal welfare work come across “sanctuaries” where usually the animals are housed in kennels with no real contact, and who becomes increasingly un-adoptable as madness sets in from months or years of no socialization or enrichment. It is the dirty little secret we don’t talk about while we speak of no-kill and vilify people who have to do the very hard job of euthanasia. Believe me, not every shelter worker who is in charge of that is a cold blood killer. Most I have met are deeply troubled about what their job entails and then receive no support from our community. In a perfect world, all pets would be placeable and there would be enough homes but that is just not the case. Until we address every facet of the issue and learn to work together to educate, rescue, evaluate, place and yes, sometimes unfortunately having to euthanize, we will just keep turning our wheels and not really get very far.

    July 21, 2012
  13. Thank you for such an honest, well-written commentary on the challenges facing homeless or displaced pets. Having been involved with a dog rescue organization for over 18 years, I’ve seen many sad situations, thankfully far outweighed by the “happy endings.” I’m not sure the general public understands all that goes into responsibly finding a new home for a dog or cat, and how much ongoing support is often needed to help adopters weather the early challenges.

    I personally have a very hard time subscribing to the concept that “any home is better than no home” and I’m saddened by the lack of support that sometimes afflicts the so-called “kill-shelters,” who are in reality often doing the best they can with extremely limited resources. I completely agree that while it is painful and emotionally difficult to acknowledge, there are times when giving an animal a peaceful death is the kindest thing we can do for them. Your post is refreshing in that it refrains from pointing fingers at “the other guy” and recongnizes that we all share in both the problem and the solutions, whatever they may be.

    July 21, 2012
  14. MG #

    As a high level Animal Control Officer with 32 years experience before retiring, I cannot thank you enough for this wonderful piece that puts some of the responsibility exactly where it belongs. It is so common today to hear about the glories of “no-kill shelters” and “sanctuaries” when too often conditions at such places are sub-standard and the term “no kill” often just means they don’t kill the dogs right there but send them somewhere else to be euthanized. Unfortunately, many people want so badly to believe that a certain animal will get a good home that they don’t do as much research as they should.
    I do however feel that many people might like to look at the bigger picture. Back when I started, there were an estimated 14 million dogs and cats euthanized every year in the USA. It was nothing to have to euthanize entire litters of puppies and kittens ( how we used to dread spring! ) and countless adult dogs because there were just so many unwanted animals. Now I am not going to try to convince anyone that seeing that number drop by one half to two thirds is an acceptable end to attempts to address the problem but that does represent a lot of work that is headed in the right direction. In my state, we are now importing thousands of dogs from other states and other countries to meet the demand for pets.
    I do disagree that this is a simple issue that can be stopped by ” stopping backyard breeders” and introducing mandatory spay/neuter laws. In the first place, it is extremely difficult to legally define what constitutes a “backyard breeder” or a “puppy mill”. It’s kind of like pornography, I know it when I see it but defining it is extremely difficult. We used our animal cruelty laws here to obtain search and seizure warrants and we put laws in place that would allow the court to give us legal custody sooner than if we took the case through the criminal courts. ( The suspect would still be prosecuted in the criminal courts of course but the animals would no longer have to be held as evidence. ) I believe that the approach used here worked very well in that we euthanized the overpopulation, we educated people on spay/neuter and responsible ownership, we instituted a state run spay/neuter voucher system for pound animals which now also is available for some low-income recipients and we vigorously pursued
    cruelty cases including sub-standard breeders. There was never any need for mandatory spay/neuter laws which paint every breeder with the same brush. As someone who shows purebred dogs, I can say that the work and dedication of thousands could be lost by such ignorant laws which obviously are not well thought out. I would also encourage people to read the study by Dr. David J Waters on longevity in Rottweiler bitches when they keep their ovaries past the age of six. While both my bitches are spayed without ever having produced a litter, I waited a good long time to do so and will not stand for the government telling me what is best for my dogs. After all, spay/neuter is really an invasive medical process that is pretty much used for our convenience.
    I had to learn the hard way many years ago that there are far worse things than euthanasia and like any ACO, I still feel the pain of what we had to do because there were no other options. Nowadays, everyone likes to think they are great “rescuers” even if they shop for exactly what they want on the internet, give a credit card and take delivery of their new pet and they look down on euthanasia for any reason. I would ask that people take the time to consider those who must do the really dirty work day in and day out so that others may feel good about themselves. Many of those people are paying and will always pay a heavy price for having done the things that needed to be done.

    July 21, 2012
    • Thank you for reading and sharing your experience in the field. I’d also like to second that things are getting much, much better for animals in this country. We just hit a bump in the road here and as a whole, the entire animal welfare community needs to look at how we can help create a better quality of life for the animals we rescue. I think we’ll get there – I have a lot of hope!

      July 21, 2012
    • The obvious fact lies in that there are too many animals being born every day. There aren’t enough rescues, foster homes, sanctuaries, shelters, and good homes, etc., to house them all. That is the base of the entire problem. It is simple. That is the problem.

      Until all the reckless breeding stops (and 90% of them advertise on Craiglist) then the problem will continue year after year after year.

      American feels that animals are their property, so “nobody can tell me what I can and can’t do with my property.” I have lost track of the breeders and breeder groups who say “I want to have the right to own and breed dogs.” And because nobody wants to tell these people the real truth, except for HSUS, who tells the truth and they are lambasted constantly, dogs will continue to be stuffed and stored in sanctuaries and no-kill shelters and the open door shelters will continue to euthanize thousands of healthy adoptable animals every day.

      That is the problem. It is very simple. The free-for-all breeding must stop.

      July 21, 2012
      • Yes, but we also need something to replace it with. As it stands, the only dogs being bred are a. show dogs who are not always appropriate for family homes, b. puppy mills, and c. accidental litters and backyard breeders. If we shut down the puppy mills and spay/neuter all the other dogs, where will our pets come from? Our shelters are overrun with pit bull type dogs and guardian breeds and genetically f’d up dogs because many of the people NOT spaying and neutering are criminals and low-lives.

        Spay/neuter is part of the solution, but it isn’t the solution. Need to have a more expansive view of the issue. Need to shut down puppy mills and discourage/prosecute/legislate against irresponsible and criminal breeders, but at the same time we need to protect and encourage people who breed for *health* and *temperament* (few and far between, more so every day) or else there will be no family pets left. The world doesn’t need just show dogs, it needs healthy, stable family pets ….. of which there are less and less every year.

        July 21, 2012
        • (First sentence should read “most of the dogs” not “the only dogs” to be accurate)

          July 21, 2012
          • Breeding needs to be by registered, licensed and experienced breeders only, and it needs to be state by state. Everybody on this list has heard of the term “pet quality” dog. To review, that means that the dog is not quality show ring material and the breeder determines that. And, those dogs would come with a mandatory spay/neuter contract. Many breeders already do this same thing. Breeders would be regulated by state breed groups. This exact same thing happens in Europe already. In order to breed animals in certain countries, you need approval from the designated group. The dog has to be of breeding quality, as determined by the group. We need to get past the motto, “I have the right to breed my dogs as I choose.”

            Of course, everybody knows that there will be people who won’t follow the laws and dogs will be bred, but that number will be few and far between with the threat of fines. Nothing compared to the reckless and mass breeding of every pit bull, husky, chihuahua and german shepherd that exists to just make a quick buck.

            Plus, since these will be state laws, just like now, dogs can be brought in from other states with excess animals that may not have the breeding laws. Everybody here has heard of the van loads and plane loads of chihuahuas being flown from CA to other states because CA has too many chihuahuas and other states don’t have enough.

            Plus, there is always other countries who have an excess of animals and not enough adopters like Mexico and SouthEast Asia. In February I adopted a wonderful dog from Thailand. She was one of hundreds of dogs sitting in a massive livestock facility running loose waiting to die there. You think our dogs here have it bad. In Thailand there is not a single animal welfare law in the whole entire country, and, they don’t believe in humane euthanasia. Instead, the dogs just die of distemper, parvo, injury and/or starvation and their bodies are thrown into a spare room to be buried in a distant part of the shelter. Take a look at the website: http://www.soidog.org. That is the private shelter group who helped me get June out of Thailand, and they are pros at international adoption. They are begging for adopters.

            In my lifetime ( I am 49), I would love to see the problem of not enough dogs in shelters and rescues to adopt, rather than the current massive excess year after year after year. Maybe people will be more willing to keep their current dogs longer instead of discarding them at a year old and then getting a new puppy! Wouldn’t that be a good problem to have? The sooner we stop this massive overbreeding and killing of our dogs, the sooner we can get to the problem of not enough dogs in shelters.

            Please, lets start by everybody on this list to go to their local Craigslist ad and start flagging all the “Free,” “For Sale,” “For Stud” and breeder/puppy ads. Rehoming fees should be less than $50. All this is stated in the CL rules and regs. This is THE primary spot where backyard breeders sell their puppies. Let’s make a start somewhere.

            July 21, 2012
            • “Pet quality” is not the same as “quality pet”. I do not want a “pet quality” Border Collie going out as a family pet. Just because it won’t make a good show dog does not mean it will make a good family pet. We need breeders who are breeding for what 99% of people want – a dog that does well in their home, with their family. Who can go on walks, go to the park, live with their kids and their other dogs. These dogs are getting harder and harder to find.

              Yes, regulate breeders, that’s great. But we need to be breeding family pets – not just show dogs.

              July 22, 2012
              • Until there is a shortage of animals needing homes, nobody needs to be intentionally breeding “family dogs.” There is no such thing. It is not the dog, it is the people who have the dog and take care of the dog. Dogs are still dogs: they are predators that need a lot of care and training just to start. The problem is not the dogs, but the people who don’t want to do what is necessary to care for the dogs properly.

                If somebody adopts a border collie to a family, the problem starts at the beginning. Border collie are not family dogs, as most herding dogs are not family dogs. As most sighthounds are not family dogs, and most tiny dogs are not great family dogs.

                I repeat: The problem is not the dog, but the parents who refuse to train their kids to not abuse the dog and keep their kids under control. I have seen so many CL ads that say, ” We need to get rid of our dog because the dog is growling at the kids when the kids play rough with the dog and chase the dog around the house.” When I try to talk to these people and ask them to teach the children not to do these things, they are nasty and outright refuse to tell their kids to do anything. They say, “I would rather get rid of the dog rather than control my kids.”

                I repeat: the problem is not the dogs and breed and breed and breed until a “good family dog is achieved,” the problem is people who refuse to be good guardians to the dogs.

                July 25, 2012
            • John #

              And, if the pet on Craigslist is being rehomed, PLEASE DO NOT FLAG unless it fails to meet the Craigslist guidelines. There are honest folks following the rules, and as some earlier posters said to flag them all, that would be considered a violation of the rules of Craigslist.

              July 23, 2012
        • Annette #

          completely agree. Breeders who breed and screen for health and temperament are a very GOOD thing… I have rescues, always have, but I do have a dog I purchased as well, and I know she’s healthy to do the things I want/planned to do with her. We do a lot of performance events, and she’s genetically healthy enough to do so!!

          July 21, 2012
          • Nobody will EVER see a show quality breeder or truly responsible breeder advertising on CL. They don’t have to. These people have the dogs sold before the litter is born, and have a waiting list for homes. I know a lot of people who are show breeders and responsible breeders, and many are friends. The difference is very obvious.

            CL is for people who are backyard breeders and puppy mills. Nobody I know who is a show breeder or responsible breeder has ever been on CL.

            July 25, 2012
      • MG #

        Sorry Jackie but I must strenuously disagree with much of your argument. We must understand that there is much diversity in the USA and while there may be overpopulation in some areas, in others there is no “overpopulation” problem at all. In our state ( as well as other states in our area ), puppies are snapped up like popcorn at the movies but we still have an abundance of “undesirables”…….ie: aggressive dogs, unhealthy dogs, dogs with behavior problems, dogs on those ridiculous “insurance lists” etc. It has little to do with breeding but rather with perceived “damaged” animals. The problem is not “simple” and to pretend that it is, is to indicate a very parochial view of a far more diverse problem. Believe me, I have been to many different parts of the country and the world and the situations are far different in many areas. While we have done a lot to strive toward fixing the problem here, there are still “dump bins”and roaming starving dogs across the USA so I do understand that many people are speaking from their own sad experience which may be strictly limited to their immediate area.
        As far as the “anti dogs are property” blather that is parroted constantly, there is a legal reason for opposition to this. Any state that has good solid animal cruelty laws and enforcement offers excellent protection for dogs to be considered property. To be honest, I absolutely consider my dogs to be my property through and through because that guarantees my right to constitutional protection that my dogs cannot be taken from me without due process of law. Organizations like HSUS have been investigated for fielding personnel that seize animals yet have NO police powers altho they impersonate police officers complete with badges and uniforms. And let’s not forget Anne Marie Lucas of Animal Precinct ( ASPCA ) who was “let go” due to abuse of power in illegal searches and seizures.These people are an embarrassment to law enforcement and the constitution of the United States of America. To be honest, if HSUS was so dreadfully concerned with animals that are warehoused in sanctuaries, they would donate more of their millions of dollars in supporting shelters but unfortunately they consider this sort of thing beneath them. I’ve dealt with their new regime and I’ve met Wayne Pacelle and frankly, it goes back to the fellows like John Hoyt et al in their fancy houses with the big lobby in Washington etc. If you want to drink that Kool Aid, have at it. I will NEVER allow such people to dictate to me how I will keep my dogs. I am making my 10th trip to Finland in November to study my breed and I will not let people who can’t even pronounce the name of the breed, tell me how they should be kept.
        And if anyone thinks I am someone who breeds lots of dogs and am drinking the AKC Kool Aid, not so! I have been in purebred dogs for 40 years and altho I have had some major successes including breeding and owning a Westminster Kennel Club Best of Breed winner I have only produced 18 puppies ( all accounted for, all health tested, working and conformation tested and none sold for more than $600. Oooh! BIG profit). I have some big issues with the purebred dog world also but I do know that banning the breeding of dogs in general is a poorly thought out, knee jerk reaction to a far more complex problem.

        It is easy to blame breeders for all the ills of the animals world and I will never sit here and say that all breeders are great any more than I would say that all rescues are great. I do however strongly advise that those with a simplistic solution to the problem, do a bit more studying. This is a highly noxious weed and cannot be solved with merely cutting off the obvious thorn.
        I will apologize in advance if I seem brusque or rude as that is not my intention.( except for my comments re: HSUS ) I do understand that many people are responding to their own individual experiences as am I.

        July 21, 2012
        • Pam #

          Could not have said it better. Those who want complete spay/neuter of all animals really do not realize that in 10 to 12 years, there will be no pets in this country. The HSUS is the big push behind this and has the $$ to lobby in congress for laws. Instead using the money (raised using deceptive practices) to push stupid laws to eliminate all pet ownership in this country.

          July 22, 2012
          • Read my posts. I never said “spay/neuter all animals.”

            July 22, 2012
          • Read the HSUS website. They do not want to ban all dogs. They want to stop backyard breeders and puppy mills and keep responsible breeders. It is all over their website. You might want to try reading it sometime. People say those things about HSUS to make them look bad. Read their website and learn the truth.

            July 26, 2012
        • “Puppies” are snapped up almost everywhere. Unfortunately they then grow up into dogs that are dumped back into shelters. Ugh, anyone who thinks mandatory spay and neuter will lead to a “pet shortage” needs to seriously re-think their math. And I was so glad to have finally put that terribly illogical “Dog Star Daily” article out of my mind. She should have titled it: “It’s ok, dog breeders, you’re not really hurting animals, it’s everyone else!”

          July 22, 2012
        • shannonfitz #

          “banning the breeding of dogs in general is a poorly thought out, knee jerk reaction to a far more complex problem.”

          Exactly. What will help fix the problem is a thoughtful, realistic, solution-oriented approach to the various aspects of the problem. Knee-jerk emotional reactions and finger-pointing are not helpful.

          July 26, 2012
          • Go forth with your ideas. Everybody is waiting.

            July 26, 2012
          • Nobody said stop breeding of all dogs. That is ridiculous, so those comments can stop.

            July 26, 2012
            • TerriB #

              It isn’t ridiculous to everybody so you should learn to accept that there are opinions other than your own.

              Yesterday I met a woman while I was out walking my dog. She had a poodle that she was walking. Seems she got this AKC registered poodle from a “top, well known breeder, one that you have to be on a waiting list to get a puppy”. Not a breeder who lists on CL. The dog she had was given to her as it was done breeding and ready to move on as a pet. The dog was 10 years old and had been given to her at age 8. I kept wondering why a reputable breeder would give one of their dogs away like that and as the conversation went on I knew why even though the woman thought they were just being nice. That 10 year old poodle, one that had bred several litters for them, was blind. It had cataracts when she got it – they told her that was common. Seriously. That momma was a “blight” on their upstanding reputation – couldn’t have people knowing that their line had a genetic defect like cataracts.

              Yes, I believe in 100% spay and neuter. I’d like to think any of those poodle pups that go blind by age 10 will still be loved and cared for but I have a feeling not all of them will be.

              July 27, 2012
              • I have heard that exact same story hundreds of times for twenty years. That is very common. Show dogs that completed breeding and showing and the breeder only has room for dogs that will make them money, so they sell them. There are large scale show breeders and there are small scale show breeders. All need to regulated and licensed.

                July 27, 2012
            • Rosebud #

              Someone was kind enough to share the HSUS link with me with some statistics. I will share them directly from their website:

              78.2 million owned dogs in the United States
              86.4 million owned cats in the United States
              165 million dogs and cats owned as pet.
              Average life span? 10 years?
              16.5 available homes annually for a new pet.
              We kill 3.6 million animals in shelters annually.
              3.6 million (mostly feral cats) are available for those homes.
              2/3 of animals killed in shelters annually, are feral cats, which in far too many communities, are considered, “unadoptable”.
              21% of dogs and cats ARE ADOPTED from a shelter. So approximately 1 in five Americans is “adopting”.

              39% homes own at least one dog.
              33% homes own at least one cat.
              78% of all OWNED dogs are spayed or neutered.
              88% of all OWNED cats are spayed or neutered.
              (Sounds pretty damn responsible to me. Remember, these are HSUS statistics. Well, they really are APPMA statisitics, but they are so reliable that HSUS uses them.)

              As a percentage, 3.6 million is 2.18% of all owned animals. And assuming that all 3.6 million could be moved into new homes (if shelter policies allowed…) 13 million pets would still need to be bred, unless you do not believe that we should own pets.

              10-11% of euthanasia is owner requested, due to illness, accident, old age, etc. Shelters can perform this service at a much reduced cost as compared to a private veterinarian, and many citizens do take advantage. (This is not a HSUS statistic, but is obtained from those shelters that DO actually track this…including my local shelter)

              Are there unethical, irresponsible breeders? Yes. But breeders do not surrender animals to the shelter. OWNERS DO! And many responsible breeders are now faced with having to place their older animals, because of LIMIT laws.

              Forty years ago, we owned half as many pets. And over 13 million were killed in shelters (we called them pounds then) and no one blinked an eye. Look how far we have come. The far majority of Americans DO spay and neuter. The “kill” rate, while still unacceptable for many healthy pets, is just over 2 per 100 dogs/cats owned. And shelters will always be necessary for quarantine of biting animals, of strays or injured at-large animals, and quite frankly, for owner-requested euthanasia services. It’s easy to point a finger at breeders and make them the source of all evil. But, where do you propose the “other 13 million” healthy, sound dogs and cats come from after the 3.6 million shelter animals are placed, ? Potential homes exist for the 3.6 million. 1 in 5 Americans adopt. If 25% in stead of 21% of Americans adopted, there would be no animals in shelters. If shelters adopted placement friendly policies, more people would adopt. You wonder why puppy mill/internet breeders are so successful? Because they market. Shelters that do so, have also found great success. Shelters that invite fostering, and volunteering, are also very successful. This is not a one-dimensional problem, and those supporting the spaying and neutering of all pets are short-sighted, indeed. Perhaps they wish to not see any breeding of purebreds? But then how does one determine who and what should be bred? Are we supporting the breeding of mixes? It’s very easy to point out the problems. And a one-dimensional solution, while easy, is also not realistic, not possible, and if it was, would result in the extinction of a species, unless we are blessing the random breeding of strays, capturing those, and adopting out to the very few families that could afford the skyrocketing price. Shelters in the Northeast and the Pacific Northwest, already have long waiting lists, months long, for pets. Why are pets NOT available in their areas? I thought the whole idea was for shelters to be empty. Their’s are. So why can’t people access pets through breeders in those areas?

              There is a problem. Is the problem as profound as many make it out to be? Has the problem improved over the decades, and why and how? Have we bothered to take that information into account? And until we can approach that problem from all the dimensions that affect the problem, we will not solve the problem. And holding breeders accountable for all evils in the animal world, is not a solution. And not considering animals “property”, will do them far more harm, than good. The “state” cannot apply a one-size fits all, to the individual decisions that arise around an animal’s care. While it sounds great for those animals whose owners DO NOT provide care, it will do IRREPARABLE harm to responsible owners, who may now be forced into decisions they cannot afford, or are forced to make life-ending decisions when they would prefer to continue on. It’s great when those laws are applied to the “bad” people…but they apply every bit as much to the “good” people, and those decisions will be taken from their hands as well. NO ONE can make decisions for my animals better than I can. I can only do that as their OWNER! The same applies for responsible breeders. Applying devastating regulations on them in hopes of controlling the “bad”, will only affect the “good” as well. And if the discontinuation of all breeding is the goal…then you have your solution. At a very great cost.

              July 27, 2012
              • If you could sit down side by side with your dogs, and have a verbal conversation about whether they would like to be owned as property, or have you as their guardian, and be their leader and care for them, similar to a child under 18, what do you think their choice would be? We know your choice, but if your dog was given 100% choice, do you think they would make the same choice as you, or would they have their own ideas and thoughts? Would they like to remain considered the same as your bed or your chair or your car?

                I know my dogs would not, and I know my cat certainly would not. They like to be considered as a being with ideas and thoughts and feelings. Once I figured that out, everything changed, and I could no longer be their owner, like a piece of furniture. That is why I am their guardian and their leader, just like a child under 18.

                Take a look at the website: http://www.martawilliams.com. It will change your life, if you want to change.

                July 27, 2012
        • animalandpeoplelover #

          Well said! Common sense instead of emotional hubris.

          November 24, 2013
          • One very funny aspect of human beings is their ability to say that their beliefs are “common sense” and the other person’s beliefs are solely based on emotion and no substance. That is the oldest argument in the book, and also the weakest. It is the person’s attempt at patronizing. Very funny indeed!

            November 25, 2013
  15. Melinda Jenkins #

    Thank you so much for being brave enough to write this. I have had to make this decision and it was very difficult but in the end was the best possible thing for the animal. Bless you, for being able to do this and for giving people a slightly different perspective.

    July 21, 2012
  16. C. Wolfe #

    I often resolve to put all my energy into trap neuter and release or spay/neuter in general but then a pregnant cat shows up on my doorstep or one has her babies under the house and I am back on the roller coaster. I take a lot of criticism for using craigslist to find homes but I don’t have other venues so I do home visits and charge adoption fees and hope, no, PRAY for the best. I have a mama in my spare bedroom right now, she is spayed, shots, disease free and I will not put her to sleep. If I can’t find her a home, I will make her an outside cat like the beautiful orange cat that has been living on my deck for two years. But I could never do that with the foster dog I have had for over a year. I don’t have any answers and I appreciate your viewpoint.

    July 21, 2012
    • Thank you for your compassion and hard work. I happen to think that Craig’s List can be an excellent resource for adoption. The families are already on there, looking for a pet, so why not meet them where they are and redirect them towards adoption! I hope you find homes for the sweet souls you’re caring for. They were lucky to find you and my heart is with you all.

      July 21, 2012
    • SeattleDogOwner #

      Don’t let people tell you that just because you use Craig’s List to provide exposure for your animals, you’re a bad person. If you are properly screening applications, who cares where you found them? I’m not sure who decided that “only bad people are on Craig’s List” and “good people are (where? not sure where you are supposed to market to be “good”)”, but I STRONGLY disagree. Many wonderful people who simply don’t know better go to Craig’s List to find pets and can provide great homes. Interview applicants, check references, do home checks – this is far more important than deciding that one marketing channel is ok and another is not. If rescues aren’t marketing there, and all the backyard (and other) breeders are, then the only option for people will be to purchase from them.

      July 22, 2012
      • 100% agree! Meet the adopters where they are and if they’re on CL, go there and direct them to your wonderful adoptable animals!

        July 22, 2012
        • Here is another typical CL Pets section “wanted” ad:

          “trade for a pitbull puppy (north highlands)

          Date: 2012-07-25, 7:13PM PDT
          Reply to: ndhs8-3163416048@comm.craigslist.org [Errors when replying to ads?]

          hi me and my family really want to get a new dog but dont really have the money, we do have this train that a lot of people have wanted it works and has exstra pieces we would be willing to part with it, the puppy would be love and we would more then willing to have you bring the puppy here to make sure you are giveing the puppy to a good family, was hopeing for a girl but a boy would be good to
          916-628-4935
          if you can send pics of the puppy you would be willing to trade”

          There is a photo of a cheap child’s train set set up on their front porch. Do you think these people can be educated? Do you think they want a pit bull to breed in the future? Do you think they have money for vet bills?

          July 25, 2012
          • In my experience, yes they can be educated. Most people want to do the right thing and it really helps if the resources are available to them and presented in a non-judgemental fashion (something animal advocates are not very good at doing).

            And no, I don’t assume they want to breed the puppy. Why would I assume that from this ad?

            The money for vet bills is an issue, I agree. Ideally, I would hope that they could get a dog from a shelter, so that it’s already fixed and has it’s shots (and that way the puppy would have already received basic care) and then they also have a resource for future behavior support, if they needed it.

            July 26, 2012
      • Rosebud #

        The problem is every tool can be used for “good” or for “bad”. And in trying to wipe out the bad, you will also wipe out the good. As Americans, we seem to be developing a mindset that when something bad happens, wherever it may be…that everything related to that, must also be bad. This is like making baseball bats illegal because a few people use them in violent crimes. We can’t see the “good” that something can do, because it has the potential for harm. Well, here’s a news flash…just about every single thing in our life has the potential for good or for harm. It’s in how the individual person CHOOSES to access that “potential”,. Trying to control everything through legislation is pointless. As much as we would like to legislate morality, it cannot be done. And in the meantime, while we myopically look at the “good” it could possibly do, we completely forget to consider the harm it is capable of. There are good people and bad people. They are involved in ALL facets of our existence. We can legislate enough laws to control them. And what we forget is in legislating them, we legislate ourselves.

        July 27, 2012
        • Rosebud #

          Sorry, meant to say, we CAN’T legislate enough laws to control them.

          July 27, 2012
          • I think you can get away from people either being “good” or “bad.” There is no “good” or “bad” or right or wrong. I don’t think taking sides or putting people on your designated sides will do any good. Nobody is right or wrong or good or bad.

            The only thing that matters is the millions of animals loosing their lives every year, and that needs to stop. That needs to remain the focus here and not categorizing people into designated zones for the sake of argument.

            July 28, 2012
        • Legislating ourselves in regards to pet overpopluation have proven to not work. That is why shelters and rescues are overflowing. I thinks decades of euthanizing millions of animals every year has proven that and the only victims are the animals and the winners have been the breeders.

          People still choose to do what they want because there is nobody telling them they can’t. Without consequences to their actions everybody will do their own thing. That is what laws are for: to control people’s behavior when they can’t control their own behavior, and to protect the rest of us.

          For the most part, the people who don’t want laws to regulate breeders are breeders, and the groups that register all the puppies. That makes perfect sense to me. The people who don’t want helmet laws are the people who don’t want to ride with helmets. The people who don’t want speeding laws are the people who want to drive very fast without the consequences. People who didn’t want drinking laws in the 1920’s were the people who wanted to drink. People who don’t want burglary laws are the people who want to rob people, Etc, Etc.,Etc………

          July 28, 2012
  17. This is such a valuable page. I often see very sick and damaged dogs up for adoption and I wonder what their reception at a new “home” will be. Death with someone holding you is the most any adult can ask for; we ask for no less for our animals. Please be aware of ALL solutions to pain and suffering and neglect. The Rainbow Bridge should be on the list.

    July 21, 2012
    • C. Wolfe #

      I’m going to say something I know will not be popular. I get irritated (if that is the right word) when a plea is sent out from a high kill shelter that has an animal brought in that is terribly hurt and the rescue community goes into overdrive raising funds to get it into emergency care, meanwhile other dogs and cats are left to be put to sleep and thousands of dollars are spent to repair a dog that will languish in foster care for a while after it has been fixed up. I’m not talking about an otherwise healthy dog that has heartworms but dogs and cats that are horribly hurt and suffering. Let them go, spend that money on spaying and neutering or just helping dogs in general. I wonder sometimes who they are really making all this effort for, the animal or themselves?

      July 21, 2012
      • You are not alone in that thinking! I also hate to see a rescue group raise hundreds and hundreds of dollars for serious vet care that will require the animal to go through weeks of treatment, possibly painful, while other animals lose out on a foster home or spot in a good shelter. I am willing to foster and get scrawny, flea-bitten mamas with puppies back into good shape so that they become good pets, but I regret seeing groups investing in very ill or damaged animals.

        July 21, 2012
      • I absolutely agree. People raise thousands and thousands of dollars to help one perticula dog that honestly, it would often be much more humane to PTS because it will be in pain for months and months and possibly never end up having a real quality of life.

        July 22, 2012
        • YEP, that you see on TV where they go to great lengths, animals in rehab a long time getting over excruisating pain while every day they are putting healthy adoptable dogs down – its a money maker in itself – same with some of the rescuers, they take one in they spend lots of money on and then show pictures at the ed tables, meet and greets, to get more money. But it is a way to open people’s eyes to the suffering of what we were put here on earth to take care of.

          July 22, 2012
          • Rosebud #

            The reason those animals are “advertised” whether nationally, locally, or on-line…is because they make money. More money than is generally needed for their individual care. Not all, not most, but many. So again, it’s left to the individual to do their research. Seriously injured animals capture the hearts of the community. Quite frankly, if their prognosis is good, even if the recovery is difficult, and there are funds raised…that is EXCELLENT! Our little local rescue, always manages to find some funds somewhere for the truly sad cases. I don’t think those cases should automatically be considered for euthanasia. And yes, much of the funds that are raised could help numerous other animals, potentially. But until the HSUS comes to the same conclusion, then I cannot pass judgement on any other community, shelter or rescue that raises funds off the plight of these animals. At least their money is actually being used to help that animal, or other animals coming into their care. Unless the long-term prognosis is grave or poor, I see no problem in spending funds to rehab a salvageable animal, if support can be found. BUT KNOW WHAT YOU ARE DONATING TO AND FOR!!!!

            July 27, 2012
      • Rosebud #

        A large metropolitan shelter in my area, will not release healthy pets to rescue unless the rescue pays the full adoption fee. They don’t want rescue to potentially be money on animals that the shelter might profit from. So, the only animals that rescue in our area can access without the adoption fee, are either injured, sick, or out of time. The problem with the high euthanasia numbers in this country, can be tracked back to insane shelter policies. Some shelters are fabulous. Some are overwhelmed. And some are just stupid and/or cruel. While you’re swiping at breeders, you might want to look at your local shelters. I have a local shelter that is the true definition of No-Kill, as an open-admission municipal shelter in a community of 300,000. They have an 87% placement rate. There is a difference between “no-kill” and “No-Kill”. Educate yourselves on the difference. “No-Kill” is no healthy, adoptable animal being killed in an open-admission environment (meaning you can’t turn them away) . “no-kill” is animal warehousing, with ZERO animals being euthanized, and with the shelter being able to “cherry-pick” which animals are accepted. Find out what your local shelter’s policies are.

        July 27, 2012
        • “A large metropolitan shelter in my area, will not release healthy pets to rescue unless the rescue pays the full adoption fee. They don’t want rescue to potentially be money on animals that the shelter might profit from. So, the only animals that rescue in our area can access without the adoption fee, are either injured, sick, or out of time.”

          A few points:
          1. Government shelters don’t make profit. They can’t. They are built in non-profit as a government agency. They can cover their expenses, and why should they not be able to do that? They have a lot of overhead and expenses and employees to pay. Nobody benefits if the shelter can not run properly.

          2. Government shelters should get first choice for the animals coming into the shelter. If they want to adopt an animal from their shelter, they have first choice. If they say, “no” to an animal, then rescue should have second choice. That is the way many rescues run, and why not?

          3. If the rescue wants to work with the shelters policies and procedures, that is their choice. If the rescue agrees to pay the full adoption fee, then they agree to that. Rescues can choose what shelter they want to work with. They are not forced to do anything.

          4. Rescues should be “back up” for the shelter, not competition. They should work as a team. If rescues want to take in animals directly from the public, they can do that, and the shelter is not involved.

          July 28, 2012
  18. Karen a Opalka #

    wow, that was a GREAT article. thank you.I’m sure you feel so bad and I feel so bad FOR you.
    I’m not as involved as you, but do have a new rescue from the South…..thanks for writing this

    July 21, 2012
  19. Thank you. It takes a LOT of bravery in this community to say these things. But we all need to start saying them if things are going to get any better. “There are worse endings than humane euthanasia.” Indeed. I am firmly of the opinion that keeping a miserable dog (animal), or one that had nothing but misery ahead of them, alive is *selfish*. We don’t do it for the dog. We do it so we feel better. The dog doesn’t know they are being put to sleep. It is so much more humane to give them a hug, buy them a cheeseburger, and let them go in peace.

    July 21, 2012
  20. Matt.S #

    This is heavy stuff. thanks Jessica.

    July 21, 2012
  21. Mara Corter #

    We really must do a better job of educating pet owners about the over-population problem and help to provide spay/neuter services. Something must be done to curtail the notion that fixing a male dog will break his spirit or that having another litter of kittens is a good way to educate one’s kids (and besides they’re so cute.) Effective PR campaigns would be a good start!

    July 21, 2012
    • Corridor Rescue in Houston is trying to do that very thing – they are going out into the community that borders the “Corridor of Cruelty” and educating by talking to people. They are offering to help people build fences to get dogs off of chains, they are providing spay and neutering and help with dog food for low income families. They are also going into the elementary schools and talking to them about animal care and responsibility, trying to break the cycle of animal abuse and neglect. I know it is a small drop in a very big bucket, but it has to start somewhere.

      July 21, 2012
      • Foster #

        Yes!! in a way I think we as rescues become so disconnected from the community because we feel like we are cleaning up after them. Maybe more of an effort to not only help the animals but the people as well via community outreach and programs that provide fencing, low cost spay/neuter and shot clinics. We should try to focus on helping those that have dogs keep their dogs and provide support in areas where they are lacking.

        July 22, 2012
        • shannonfitz #

          Like ^

          July 26, 2012
  22. Matt.S #

    I know there’s a real problem here. It’s just hard to think about sometimes, but as animal welfare advocates, especialy those of us involved in rescue, it’s our responsibilty.

    July 21, 2012
    • If you want to see the problem, go to any Craigslist page for any metro city in the US. There will be pages and pages and pages of breeders selling their puppies on a single day. These are not show breeders. These are people out of their homes. A third are Chihuahuas and other small dogs, a third are pit bulls and other bull dogs and a third are huskies, german shepherds and wolf mixes.

      The problem is staring everybody in the face every single day, but nobody wants to acknowledge it.

      These ads are all prohibited by CL.

      If a little bit of effort were put in each day by each person by flagging all these ads, nobody would have to have all those expensive and fancy “No-Kill” conferences and seminars every year. The time has come to stop talking and start doing.

      July 21, 2012
      • c. Wolfe #

        I flag daily. I encourage others to do so also. Sometimes I think it is a waste of time but most of the time I feel I am doing something.

        July 21, 2012
        • Great! Never a waste of time to prevent another animal from ending up abandoned on the road, being euthanized in a shelter or being warehoused in a sanctuary.

          July 21, 2012
          • buddy #

            The other side of the coin iabout Craigslist s this: Please be careful you are not flagging “my” 501c3 rescue organization’s dogs because you think $150 is too high an adoption fee, after we have spent many times that much to help it overcome medical problems caused by its previous owner’s neglect! It’s happened to us an unfortunate number of times. We thought it would be a nice addition to the other well known pet adoption websites.

            July 21, 2012
            • If somebody is an official group, please, please, please, make is over obvious what your group’s name is, including an official website. I have heard of people saying they were a rescue with no name and they really were not, just to sell their dog.

              If I don’t see an official name with website and phone number to call (not text), I will flag that ad. Also, I have flagged rescue groups ads by mistake because they did not make it obvious that they were rescue, and I am usually doing this very fast. So, make it big and bold and obvious that you are a rescue group.

              If you are an official rescue group, put a link to the animal’s information. If you put a price, you run the risk of getting flagged. Just put the rescue group’s name and contact information with the animals information, but no price. If you are an official rescue with multiple animals, you don’t have to list prices.

              July 21, 2012
            • John #

              DO NOT POST on Craigslist then. You are prohibited from asking for that 150.00 fee. Blatant violation of the rules, non-profit or NOT. Sorry that I am sounding gruff about this, but I WILL FLAG you.

              July 23, 2012
      • Matt.S #

        I think I know where you’re going with this. The problem, as I see it, with banning ads is that it doesn’t adress the “demand” for these dogs. As long as people continue to see companion animals, ie. cats & dogs, as just another “thing”, the “supply”, some unfortunately see it as, is unlikely to become less than the “demand”. The fact that some people choose to look at these ads tells me there is still a HUGE problem with how the public views these precious lives.

        July 21, 2012
        • Actually, you don’t understand at all. I see absolutely nothing wrong with CL and posting ads for animals available for adoption. It is a wonderful resource for people looking to adopt. Posting on CL does not mean the group or person is low grade or cheap. The ads are free and a lot of people look at them. It is a great place to look to adopt from a shelter.

          People who may look on CL for a pet would be bombarded with the ads for all the breeders, thinking that is all there is. Once those breeders are not there, the shelters can show through with all their animals available for adoption (and many, many shelters and rescue groups do take advantage of CL and adopt A LOT dogs that way), which are exactly as the breeders: pit bull puppies, chihuahua puppies, malamutes, german shepherd puppies. The shelters have exactly the same dogs available for adoption as the breeders, but the public won’t see that. They just see all the breeder ads.

          So, people go to CL to look for pets (DEMAND) and see all the shelters and rescue groups and don’t see the breeders, they will go to the shelters and rescues to adopt. (SUPPLY).

          The demand will always be there: people will always want animals. The difference is: What people don’t see they don’t know about. If they don’t see all the breeder ads, they don’t know they are there. They still want a dog and they see the ads from shelters who have cute puppies, just like what they are looking for.

          Get it?

          July 21, 2012
          • Jot Nirinjan #

            If Craigslist were the only place in the world to find dogs, you’d be right. But it’s not. People sell backyard bred puppies in parking lots and flea markets, and if someone wants a particular breed, they can easily type in “beagle puppies” and find breeders. It takes talking to people, changing the demand from “I want a purebred beagle puppy even though I know nothing about the breed” to “I want to adopt a puppy based on personality” or “I want a beagle from a beagle rescue”. Changing the demand, changing minds, changing people’s relationship to pets.

            July 21, 2012
            • Nobody said that CL was the only place to find pets, but it is major dominate spot because it has very easy access and it is free. To clear out all the backyard breeders and puppy mills from CL would be a major and significant step to reducing all the reckless breeding. The reason why these ads have become so common is because the access is so easy. Reduce that access and ease.

              July 22, 2012
          • Matt.S #

            Yes. Thanks for the clarification.

            July 22, 2012
        • Amen, amen, amen! PLEASE take a look at http://www.dogstardaily.com/blogs/who-killed-these-dogs
          It’s not JUST over-population. It’s ignorance of the people who jump onto Craigslist or walk past an adoption event at the pet store and grab a cute puppy without knowing exactly what to expect. Sure, we all had puppies as kids. Sure, all our friends have dogs. But that doesn’t mean we understand how to introduce a new puppy or adopted adult dog into our home successfully. As a trainer, I’ve had countless friends tell me “Oh, we’ll just see how it goes” when I encourage them to enroll in a puppy group, and then seven months later, they are either asking for help with their out of control adolescent, or I see them advertising their dog “free to a good home.” DAMN! I thought you WERE the good home!!! But you weren’t willing to spend some time educating yourself and teaching your dog what is expected of him.

          July 21, 2012
          • Matt.S #

            I agree that training is often lacking and that’s a problem. Ignorance is also a factor. In a conversastion I had with a frutrated shelter worker, the shelter had a dog returned after a few days because the adopter “didn’t know the dog would have to go out so much”.

            July 22, 2012
          • Of course, it is not just over population, but that is 85% of the problem. Take care of 85% of the problem and that would be a good start, don’t you?

            July 22, 2012
            • Jason K #

              Jackie, you may have valid points, but it’s not helping you to pull random #’s/percentages out of you-know-where. You don’t know the breakdown of the problem. There are many facets. You certainly are identifying some of them, but you’re are trying to oversimplify the issue with made-up numbers.

              July 23, 2012
          • That is kind of like saying, “There should be no shelters because it is too difficult to pass up all the cute dogs and cats” Of course, there should be shelters and adoption centers. As an adult human, you should have the ability to make adult decisions. It is not the fault of the shelter or adoption fair to be there. However, if there were no excess dogs or cats, then the adoption fairs would not have to exist and the shelters and rescues (other than the required government shelters) would not have to exist.

            Wouldn’t every single private shelter and rescue LOVE to not have to exist, and the only place that had to exist were the government shelters that takes in lost and stray animals and are required by law? Would that be utopia? That is my utopia, and it is realistic if all the reckless backyard breeders and puppy mills were wiped out. I guarantee that if those two entities were stopped, the animal surplus would disappear.

            I would love to support a responsible breeder one time in my life. But, in reality, as long as there are homeless animals, I can’t buy from a breeder. My mind can not wrap around the thought of a homeless animal being euthanized because I decided to buy from a breeder. I would love for the day to come when I can buy one of my favorite breeds, but for now, my conscience can’t make that decision.

            July 25, 2012
            • A friend of mine has been a long time breeder of some dynamite working Irish Terriers. I practically drool every time I see her dogs, but then I shake my head and remember all the dogs stuck in shelters, and I adopt a dog from a shelter.

              July 25, 2012
  23. Jot Nirinjan #

    I think it’s also important to not beat yourself up about it. We can only do our best. You go to an adopter’s home, you check it out, you talk to them, their application looks great, their resident dog looks great, they get along well, everything seems perfect. And then later on down the road something happens, the adopters were not as perfect as they seemed to be, and the dog comes back to you to be rehomed – or, you find out the facility is not perfect, and the cats have already endured awful conditions and have been killed. And we absolutely must ask ourselves how these situations could have been avoided, no question about that. But sometimes, the answer is that we had no red flags, and sincerely felt we were making the best choice for the animal. And no amount of shaming ourselves into “we should have known better” will make that animal come back to life or suffer any less than they did. Doing your best does not mean never making a mistake. Just wanted to bring some compassion for ourselves back into this – it’s absolutely heart breaking to feel that we let them down in some way, even if in truth there’s nothing we could have done differently. But the sooner we realize that heartbreak is a part of the work, the sooner we can objectively look at our decision making to ensure that we ARE making the smartest choices, and not waste any time beating ourselves up for not being perfect.

    July 21, 2012
    • SeattleDogOwner #

      Agree. You go back, you look at your process, you see if there are any improvements you could have made, hindsight being 20/20. The reality is, there may not be! You may have done everything right, and the people just weren’t what you expected. Or their life changed (in a major, unplanned way). Or the dog changed. It’s not realistic to think that every placement will be perfect forever – it just isn’t going to be.

      What concerns me is when rescues get so set on never making a mistake that they screen out EVERYONE. Knowing how involved I am with animals, my sister in law set out to adopt. She and her husband are financially stable, own their home, have a 6 year old who has spent much time with grandma’s dog, and she has a flexible schedule where she can spend lots of time with the animal. TWO different rescues decided she wasn’t good enough for their puppies. I don’t know why, but I can tell you any dog would be lucky to have this home as their own. After spending hours with each rescue and then being told no, she bought a dog. How sad is that? Same thing almost happened with another friend. Again, pretty much same scenario. Works from home, financially stable, owns house, two children with dog experience, and wanted a pit bull. The breed rescue turned her down! Seriously, this woman treats her dog like her third child. I won’t give to that rescue anymore because they have dogs languishing in foster for months and months (if not years) and they turn down an amazing home.

      You have to find a happy medium.

      July 22, 2012
  24. Thank you very much for a thought provoking article. Many years ago I read a book I think it was titled “The Troubled Dream of Life”. It was about death and how the view of it has changed. Just because we can go to extreme measures to keep a loved one alive, doesn’t mean it is always the best for them. The book dealt with people, but I have always kept it in mind for my own wonderful and loved dogs. Thanks again for the dialogue.

    July 21, 2012
  25. Marie S #

    As always, so eloquent, compassionate and right on point. Thank you for putting these thoughts into such articulate words. I feel very strongly that there are worse things than humane euthanasia. You haven’t failed as a Rescuer.

    July 21, 2012
  26. As a fellow animal rescue blogger I want to commend your honesty. I have felt for a very long time that when you rescue or adopt an animal you must take the responsibility to do the hard stuff. In several of my blogs I’ve described the heartbreak of rescue and fostering a sick or dying animal and having to make the hard choice that the animal cannot make for itself.

    I have seen both sides of animal rescue and sheltering as I’ve worked with rescues that are fanatically against euthanasia of any kind and I’ve volunteered in a kill shelter. The shelter I volunteered at gets anywhere from 70-100 animals per day and currently have over 600 animals in their care and some are in foster care and I’ve seen volunteers beg for adopters and I’ve seen animals linger at the shelter for months and months, becoming more unadoptable all the time.

    The thing with rescues is they can say “no” to requests to take in an animal, and many of the no-kill shelters also turn animals away if there are any behavior or other problems. It’s easy to demonize the county and state shelters, but they take them all – what is the solution to 100 new animals per day? There is no way around the problem, there are simply too many homeless animals and the ONLY solution is mandatory and enforced spay and neuter as part of animal ownership and the regulation of animal breeders.

    Right now there are 4 pitbull mixes that were dumped down by the river near my town. A few of us are feeding them and we’ve put out shelter for them, but what do we do? Where do they go when we are able to trap them? I have 8 dogs, I know my limits, I cannot take on anymore. We can board them as we raise the money and hope for an adopter or we can try to get them into a no-kill shelter, but what if that doesn’t pan out? We’ve sent out pleas to rescues, but not one response and now after what happened at Spindletop refuge, I am terrified of putting them in someone elses’ hands. There are no easy answers.

    Thank you for this blog.

    July 21, 2012
    • I would like to clarify that responsible rescues do say No when they have to – that’s how they keep a Spindletop situation from happening. I have great respect for the many wonderful dedicated rescue groups that are out doing the hard stuff.

      Also,one of our volunteers who went out to feed the river dogs today found a dog that had been hit by a car and another dead dog in a bag. Neither were part of the 5 original pits we are trying to save. Unfortunately out here dogs are dumped continuously – there have been over 50 in this one area over the last year including a litter of puppies that had been mutilated. The police department and DA are working with us to catch the animal dumpers, but the process is slow.

      It feels never-ending, but as a rescue community and animal advocates, banding together and talking about solutions is a good start. We are all not going to agree, I go back and forth myself on so many issues, but we all start from the same place of concern for the animals.

      July 21, 2012
      • I have so much respect for them too and am thankful they do the hard stuff. They have my appreciation and respect. And I agree that if we work together, we really can get to a place where fewer animals are suffering.

        July 22, 2012
  27. Dora Ponce #

    Very well written. Thank you.

    July 21, 2012
  28. This was wonderfully written. Thank you. Not every culture views death the way many people in the US do. Honestly, a painless death is NOT the worst thing you can imagine. I adore my dog but there simply isn’t any way I could imagine warehousing her in a crate or a cage for the rest of her life…any more than I could imagine staying in one myself. It would be far crueler. But watching the infighting amount various rescue groups who are fighting to get these dogs back…it’s a terrible situation created by the reluctance to make the hard decisions, I agree.

    July 21, 2012
  29. Labeling one’s shelter a no-kill or sanctuary is as much or more about marketing than philosophy or practice. It’s a red flag for me and as professionals we need to educate our clients that it should for them as well.

    July 21, 2012
  30. Teri #

    Amen Jess..well said

    July 21, 2012
  31. Kim Hankerson #

    We had the same situation happen in our area (Southeast GA) with a rescue called “Loonie Farms”. This rescue was even named a “Hometown Hero” by a local TV station. I sent a few dogs to this rescue when I was seriously injured in a car accident. I sent loads of hay to them, offered help through other rescue organizations, offered low-cost spay.neuter options, etc. In the end, this rescue became a killing field. Carcasses of dogs, cats, horses, etc. I feel the very thing you do. Why didn’t I see this coming? Could I have done anything different? My heart breaks every time I think about this. I cannot ever forget the smell, the death. I thank you so much for your blog. It should be a real wake-up to people who want to “rescue” for the glory of it. I now have 10 dogs permanently living with me. They are the old, the severely abused, the unwanted. They will stay with me forever. I will love them to the end. I have stopped taking in animals myself. I am still active in the rescue world. But in a different capacity. I cannot ever bear the idea that I contributed to the mistreatment of animal, even if it was indirectly by sending it to a “reputable rescue agency.”

    July 21, 2012
  32. Battynurse #

    Wow. So very well said. Fantastic post.

    July 21, 2012
  33. Very good read! My thoughts exactly….leaves a lot for people to think about. Thanks for writing this.

    July 21, 2012
  34. Blanche #

    This was so very well written and so very well thought out. I’ve seen some God awful treatment of animals in the name of “no kill”. Do I like euthanizing animals? No, I don’t. But 25 years in rescue has shown me that not all can be saved and sometimes the most loving thing I can do for an animal in my care is make the hard decision to give them peace and comfort in the only way left and that is a dignified and peaceful death with me there while they leave their bodies.
    I tell any animal that I have to euthanize that I won’t shift the responsibility for them to someone else as someone else shifted it to me.

    July 21, 2012
  35. you. are. awesome.

    July 21, 2012
  36. Kim Willis #

    Thank you very much for this thoughtful piece. We have a pittie we rescued from a chain in a vacant lot 4 years ago. We did reach out to Spindletop initially but ultimately kept him local in our rescue group. I found that I really didn’t trust anyone else to manage this very powerful but wonderful dog. He is now a part of our family. I believe in no kill rescue but only in a reasonable way. This means limited intake and realizing that sometimes an animal is too damaged to rehome. I also maintain some feral colonies and have seen others do that irresponsibly as well. One case in particular an acquaintance did not personally feed a colony daily and the other person who would feed was giving the cats rice. They went blind from taurine deficiency. I was absolutely horrified. Again, thanks for saying what needed to be said.

    July 21, 2012
  37. Suzanne #

    Excellent read!! I’m so glad I saw this. I was beginning to think that I was all alone in my beliefs. No Kill Nation will only happen if we reach a supply and demand balance that doesn’t include selfish humans. In other words, it’s unlikely in our society. Winograd be damned. That’s not to say I don’t have hope for improvement. Thank you, for all the animals whose lives may be touched because of your sage advice and compassion. This should really be called How I Succeeded as a Rescuer… I’m blessed to work at an open door, unlimited stay facility. We offer refuge for all animals from mice to horses. Our euthanasia rate is 3% because we work our butts off. That 3% who humanely and respectfully die are just as lucky as the 97% that live in my opinion. No kill is a huge misnomer created to make people feel better, it sure isn’t helping the animals. Thanks again. Great blog!!

    July 21, 2012
  38. Really great essay, with so many thought-provoking responses. I adopted a 3 year old mixed bree dog (9 pounds) 4 months ago from a deplorable foster home that was affiliated with a rescue group (which I had found on-line,) the owner of which was arrested on animal cruelty charges shortly after this adoption took place. My dog has severe anxiety issues and is extremely fearful of people, noises, sudden movements, etc. We were making progress, then there was a terrible week in May when he became very destructive to himself and my home……holes in the drywall, window screens broken, etc when I was gone. Crating didn’t work because he would escape one way or the other, and eventually hurt himself in the process. I was beside myself and had decided that, given his abandonment history (and the fact that he has a heart problem), euthanasia would be the kindest thing to do for him…..but I was overcome with guilt. I talked with two vets, who both agreed that it would be kinder than relinquishing him to a shelter and an unknown future. However, my vet suggested we try fluoxetine (Prozac) first. He has been on it for about 2 months, and is a different dog. I am now confident he will live out his days with me, and I am so thankful. He is truly a sweet little guy. Through all this experience, my eyes have been opened to the problems and pitfalls in the rescue world. I agree with an earlier writer that the main problem is overpopulation caused by backyard breeders. When I hear someone saying they are going to breed their dog, for whatever reason, I kindly and calmly explain to them the reasons I believe it is irresponsible. I don’t know if anyone listens or changes their minds, but I have to try! Blessings to all you animal lovers and to the animals you love. Life is so much better with them. :)

    July 21, 2012
    • I pretty much cheered when you said you got him Prozac — I was reading thinking “please say you tried meds; please say you tried meds!” Good for you, and for your vets for suggesting it. It’s amazing what a difference it can make for some dogs.

      July 21, 2012
  39. As a rescuer of over 800 dogs, turned “Sanctuary” because of gradual accumulation of ones that I could not in good conscience adopt OR euthanized, I understand where you are coming from. I have too many dogs now and spend most of my time, money and energy in making life good for these dogs. I have always said I would never “warehouse” dogs, as I have seen so many do. BUT something has to be done about the continuing production of unwanted pups. My ideal would be for every dog bred to be as free of genetic and health and temperament problems as possible (breeding carefully and with the good of the future puppies and owners more important than the money the dogs will bring). I also believe that anyone who sells OR places a pet must screen homes, have an application and also a contract which requires that the new owner MUST contact them if they can no longer keep the animal.

    I do not think that “no kill” as a rule is a good solution. All too often, I see those turn into horrible places where dogs are far, far worse off than anyone can imagine…packed into tiny cages or rooms, fighting and going mad, as one previous commenter stated. That is no life for any animal. Death is NOT the worst thing for an animal. I long ago realized that here in Appalachia, I absolutely cannot stop animals from dying. Everything dies anyway…sometime. The best I can hope for is to stop suffering so that is what I try to do. I have stopped taking in dogs as of 18 months ago but did take in a “biter” that I honestly felt could be saved (not like me, as I usually am very realistic about the dangers of “problem” dogs to society, and eventually themselves…a disturbed dog cannot live a happy life). I also have had to take back 2 former residents (as I always say I will…although I will usually try to place them elsewhere…this was an elderly dog from 7 years ago).

    I come from a background in purebred dogs …but from a breed where dogs are sold only after applications and screening and contracts stipulate that the puppy may and MUST come back to the breeder at any time during its lifetime if the owner can’t keep it. Most are also microchipped to the breeder (or rescue, as in some of the truly responsible rescues I know). The only way we can help the animals ultimately is to make all breeders AND rescuers responsible and to learn to say “no” to some of the many people who should not have pets.

    Sharing one’s life with an animal should be a privilege, not a right. It involves money, emotion, time and energy that not everyone has. And this, IMO includes cats AND dogs. It is not fair to society or other living things to allow any animal to run at large. Society just isn’t set up for that any more.

    July 21, 2012
    • If you know you have too many, then you are not in good conscience doing what is best for the dogs. Euthanasia is sometimes the best gift you can give. Each dog deserves a home of their own, not to be kenneled or caged until you reach breaking point. Not judging, just telling you why its okay to say goodbye.

      July 22, 2012
  40. Deanna Lettington #

    Very well said.

    July 21, 2012
  41. I don’t see one answer, to the problem, as it is more than one problem.
    I do see all people falling prey to fake rescue groups that never get shut down. Loads of un-fixed dogs roaming around. And a lack of responsibility on the part of many owners. etc,..
    I also saw a law come into play that would sick the USDA on small breeders, and saw many animal rescuers complaining about it. Too much for one day, but not enough to give up.

    July 21, 2012
  42. This happens A LOT more than people realize, I have see it working in the so-called ‘rescue’ business. Pet overpopulation is NOT a myth as many No-Kill advocates will have you believe and that is an attitude that hurts animals not helps. Less born = less suffering, it’s that simple!!!

    July 21, 2012
  43. My comments here are as much, probably more, about the comment section than the actual post, which was indeed heartfelt. I believe there is a place for sanctuaries, but it’s certainly inappropriate to use them as an alternative to adoption for pets who are healthy or who have treatable/management health or behavior issues.

    What is really concerning me is the large number of people here who don’t seem to understand the data on dog and cat homelessness in the United States. If we can’t correctly quantify and identify the problem, we will never be able to solve it.

    Contrary to what several said, are NOT too many dogs for the number of available homes. There really aren’t. We kill around 3.5 million dogs AND cats every year in this country for being homeless, but every year, EVERY YEAR, 17.5 million people get a new cat or dog. All we have to do is grow the market share of shelters a tiny, tiny bit, and gain 3.5 million of those 17.5 million homes, and we’ll have found homes for all the dogs and cats who are either healthy or have treatable or manageable conditions, who are currently being killed.

    There is no secret to what we need to fix this problem, either, despite a number of people who seem to be focused on programs that have been proven not to work to reduce shelter intake or killing.

    What we need highly targeted free/low cost, ACCESSIBLE spay/neuter, not universal mandatory spay/neuter laws, which have never, not one time, reduced shelter killing, and almost always have increased it, everywhere they have been implemented. The reasons for this are primarily economic. Free/low cost, ACCESSIBLE, highly targeted spay/neuter, on the other hand, has reduced shelter intake and improved quality of life for pets and their families everywhere it’s been implemented. If we care about animals, we should do what works, not what we think SHOULD work, but doesn’t.

    We also need to demand that animal shelters, public and private, do a better job with their tax or donor dollars. They need to utilize basic good business principles to provide good customer service, adopter-friendly hours, and modern return-to-owner and owner-retention programs and policies.

    We need to do a better job marketing our available pets. Shelters and rescue groups that use best marketing practices have much, much better adoption rates than those that just wring their hands and post bad photos and ineffective messages.

    We need to utilize good PR practices so our community members will foster, volunteer, donate, and serve on the boards of our organizations, instead of constantly pointing the finger at “irresponsible pet owners.”

    And we need to revolutionize how we deal with unowned/community cats so they don’t keep coming into our shelters, getting sick and being killed, or just being killed, period.

    We all need to stop wringing our hands and making wild and idealistic plans for the day when everyone will love their pets JUST LIKE WE DO, and be practical and data-focused. We need to start by making sure public and private shelters and rescue groups DO THE MATH to figure out what our community’s needs are, how to reduce that need by using those programs I just mentioned above, and how to calculate and, if necessary, improve, the capacity for humane care of their community and their organizations.

    Here is where I absolutely differ from the author of this post, because this does not, EVER, require a choice between death and the “fate worse than death.” It requires planning, skill development, follow-up, business sense, and coalition building. All of which are hard, but easier, I think, than realizing that you’re needlessly accepting a world view that isn’t supported by the data and results in the loss of the lives of healthy and treatable pets.

    July 21, 2012
    • Thanks Christie – all terrific points and a comprehensive solution to this complex problem.

      July 22, 2012
    • Everybody has been trying the “free and low cost spay/neuter” for a long, long time. It has proven to NOT work. Shelters and rescues are still over flowing to the streets. The current methods do not work. Something new HAS to be done, or the same downward spiral will continue and more Spindletops will continue over and over.

      The reason why I am so adamant about this is because I have worked in shelters for many years, including several years as a field officer. All of my dogs have been adopted from shelters. I have euthanized healthy, adoptable animals, and I have euthanized litters and litters of puppies and kittens. I remember promising one six month old puppy that I was euthanizing that I would do everything under my human power to stop the endless euthanizing of healthy, adoptable animals strictly for space.

      So far, I have been able to keep my promise to that puppy. I am doing everything under my human power to try to stop the endless euthanizing of healthy, adoptable animals and that begins with the reckless breeding by backyard breeders and puppy mills.

      If you can’t keep a promise to a puppy, then life is meaningless.

      July 22, 2012
      • Jackie, there has been quite a bit of success with targeted spay neuter (not mandatory s/n) in recent years. But that’s the thing – it needs to be targeted and accessible. It’s a challenge, no doubt, but there have been in advances in the way certain animal welfare orgs approach these problems in recent years, in terms of owner support, and it is making a difference (though it’s always slow going).

        Here some info about different decline rates in shelter intakes after targeted s/n services were provided: http://www.maddiesfund.org/Grant_Giving/Targeted_Spay_Neuter.html

        July 22, 2012
        • Try to explain those numbers to the thousands of animals still being euthanized every day in shelters all over the country. Do you think those numbers matter to them? That is like saying, “Look at the 200 animals we saved today. Look at the 300 animals we prevented from being born today, Don’t look at the 10,000 being euthanized today.” Does that make sense? Those 10,000 have voices and somebody needs to listen.

          July 22, 2012
    • I am going to say this is a strong email with answers yet they have been tried and don’t work either. SPCA offers free spaying and neutering to certain zip codes. There is the old mentality in Texas – the good old boys don’t want their dogs joy of breeding to be taken away HA but that is the mentally of a lot I have talked to. and then there are those who just don’t want to take the time to carry their pet in until it is too late and then they deal with getting rid of the offspring. We do need to have laws or only a few will abide and it won’t cut the numbers enough. And for educating the public about they can get their dogs from shelters…….ha on that too. We organized a group to advertise at the cost of $1800 per month in the local newspapers about the care of animals and a list of rescue groups. Reports back were maybe they’d hear from one or two people from that ad. You can’t force a family to take on a pet they don’t want – saying there are x number of homeless pets and so many more homes wanting pets…….they aren’t going to take in a pet just because it is homeless. Not all dogs fit in every home – all the way from dogs who don’t do kids to working dogs that don’t do apartment living good………

      So what sounds like what will work along expecting more out of the public is a weak link. Put in place with the spaying/neutering requirement will go a long way when it is harder to just pick up a free puppy while visiting Wal-Mart. WHen the public has a harder time getting a pet like applying to rescue or a breeder – that organization can do the educating or require their reading up on the pros and cons of ownership………but first the “supply” will have to be cut down by pet owners spaying and neutering.

      July 22, 2012
    • SeattleDogOwner #

      I agree with much of what you are saying – we can do more to correct the imbalance, and shelters need to take more market share. But I disagree that it will completely solve the problem. I’m not going to get the person who wanted a Shih Tzu to take a Rottweiler mix instead. The family who wants a yellow lab to play with their kids isn’t going to take the chihuahua. I find it frustrating when the no kill movement implies that we just need to connect the 3.5 million dogs to the people looking for them. Right now, we have certain breeds being over bred, and there just aren’t enough homes for them. So today we need to do all things you said, AND acknowledge that there isn’t a home for every dog. And in those cases, I agree with the author of the post – there are fates worse than euthanasia, and there are times when the right decision is to humanely euthanize.

      July 22, 2012
    • I think these are all great points… all of the things you mentioned are absolutely essential to ending the homeless animal problem. I am curious, and I don’t mean to be attacking here at all, I know that emotion is not well conveyed in text on the internet… but I really wonder why people say that there is NO pet overpopulation problem but also that we need to reach out with more accessible/free spay and neuter. How do those two things connect? If there is no overpopulation problem, wouldn’t our problem be marketing of adoptable pets, and not lack of free spay/neuter? There may well be a good answer to this, but I am genuinely curious to hear your thoughts because you sound like an intelligent and reasonable person with great insight on this.

      July 22, 2012
  44. Lacy M #

    Beautiful… Thought Provoking.. Heartwrenching… TRUE… It opened my eyes as an animal rescuer. I am teetering on the edge at the moment myself.. having to say no, no, no, to people calling me and knocking on my door because I know I can’t take in even one more soul without causing all the others to suffer.

    July 21, 2012
    • Lacy, thank you for rescuing animals. Saying no is the only way to ensure that you stay within your limits and can continue to responsibly rescue. It’s so hard, but saying no sometimes is a compassionate answer. I’m really thankful for people like you who are doing this difficult work.

      July 22, 2012
  45. Mary W. #

    Thanks for such a wonderful article. I got my current two cats from a ‘no-kill’ shelter. It was way overcrowded. I refer to them as my $1000 kitties as they were both very ill with respiratory infection, coccydia, and ringworm, which they gave to my dog, and that is what the vet bills added up to. By law, I could have taken them back for a refund because they weren’t healthy, but how could I take them back to such a place? My point is that by allowing the shelter to become overcrowded, more animals were getting sick, making them less adoptable and more likely to die in a miserable way. That’s not much of a life.

    July 21, 2012
  46. Kimberly #

    Thank you for this post and letting me read your mind. I don’t think that a lot of people realize when they adopt a pet how much of a responsibility it is to love and care for them. They, like us, need medical care and honestly I don’t think most expect it to be as costly as it can be. Adopting a pet is supposed to be a life time commitment not a temporary one. I know there are special circumstances where this might not be possible, but as you said “no kill” doesn’t always mean “no kill” these shelters get overwhelmed and they have a hard time saying no because they hate to see an animal go somewhere they might get euthanized. But the truth is there are so many back yard breeders and puppy mills that half of these pups don’t have a chance in any shelter, especially the breeds labeled as “aggressive”. In my opinion before people decide to get an animal they should have to go through a class of some type to see if they are really ready to own a pet. I do realize that maybe this isn’t possible, but it’s something to think about. Another thing people should think about if they have circumstances where rehoming their pet is a must, maybe they should just euthanize it, at least the last thing that pet would know is love, instead of fear. Once they go into a shelter that isn’t no kill, I know they know when they’re being taken back what is going to happen to them. I just know they do.

    I foster and do transports and somehow, sometimes I feel it isn’t enough, but I know that I’m doing what I can and I know that every time I foster a dog, I help save a life. In fact I adopted my last foster, she’s a former puppy mill dog that is estimated at being 4 years old, she had been in a cage her whole life and never had a chance to experience love or life. When I began fostering her, I was totally prepared to hand her over to the right home, than she went in for her spay and because of the number of litters of puppies she had, she had to have a blood transfusion and almost died. I knew at that moment i couldn’t let her go, she was mine forever. She has bonded well with my other 2 dogs and become part of the pack. I wouldn’t trade her for anything in this world, and I’m so happy I’ve gotten to be the one to experience all her firsts.

    July 22, 2012
    • Unfortunately I don’t think it will ever be mandatory to take a class before adopting pet any more than making people take a class on paraenting before they get pregnant but it would be an eye opener for a lot of people who might change their mind BEFORE they adopt. And yes it is kinder sometimes to let go than think someone is oging to give their castaway a good home. I have talked with many a person who wants to turn in a 7 or 9 year old ferret – it is kinder to put them down than to place them in any home. Ferrets bond strongly and the older they get the harder it is to adjust to a new home, new everything, the food, the water, the smell of the detergent used on their blankeys, the sounds, the smells in the home, the time schedules………life expectancy is 6 to 8 years and many times a ferret of that age will shut down, waste away, refuse to eat, develop ulcers and helibactor…..no matter if the rescue or home force feeds and gives meds………why put it through that so there are times it should be consider to PTS rather than try to get someone else to take over the responsibility. This would go for dogs to, so much they have to adjust to, it isn’t just a simple rehome situation.

      July 22, 2012
      • Kimberly #

        I agree. Many dogs feel lost and abandoned when they are put in shelters or even re-homed. I think the other they get the worse it is for them. Everyday people re-homing senior dogs and saying it’s because they’ve become too much to handle or whatever the excuse they decide to use on that particular day. I don’t agree with it and never will.

        July 22, 2012
  47. Tracey F. #

    This is a beautiful post. I’m not directly affiliated with any rescues, but every one of our animals is a rescue, and I’ve worked with rescuers to save “un-adoptable” pets in the past. That being said, I still have an intense interest in animal rescue, and try to help where I can. My question is, can someone define “humane euthanasia”? I know that when you take your animal to the vet to be PTS, they are given a sedative that (we are told) makes them unaware of the pain of dying, yet I’ve heard that animals in shelters aren’t given that same kindness. In fact, a couple of years ago there was a horrific tale going around the internet about what really happens when an animal is put to sleep in a shelter. How is the terror of those last moments better than prolonged suffering, as both lead to painful death? I’m not trying to start an argument here; rather I’m trying to see if there are things we as a community can do to make humane euthanasia available for ALL animals that unfortunately need to be put to sleep. As I see it, it would be easier to find funding and lobby for/create laws to demand kinder treatment of those animals to be put to sleep rather than the current alternatives.

    What can we do to help?

    July 22, 2012
  48. Jennifer #

    I Georgia there is a place called Boggs Mountain Humane Shelter and it’s nothing like that at all. This is a supposed no kill shelter but it’s exactly what they do. Within hours healthy loving dogs that owners cannot care for in one way or another are told they will find homes for them and with an email to boot that they were adopted BUT they are euthanized after a few hours. A local TV station went undercover there and went back in a few hours only to find that 2 of the dogs they looked at were no longer there & all records of them destroyed! Ain’t that some crap! I know this is about rescues and such but these re supposed no kill shelters http://www.myfoxatlanta.com/story/19059474/investigation-exposes

    July 22, 2012
  49. This makes me want to give up completely. I am a walker, twice a week go to the city animal shelter and take a picture of all the animals, edit them and put them on an email address for only approved rescue groups, some 500. I cannot follow up with all the animals that are pulled and what happens to them. I have to trust. And it makes me feel guilty when we hear of things like SPindletop because I know some have gone there. But how many more have gone to rescues that saw them to the adoption stages, vetted them, made them well, did the things rescue groups are supposed to do. If it becomes my responsibility to trace down on all the dogs I report on, one I wouldn’t have the time and two I couldn’t help but just a few period and I am in no position to take the dogs in personally. I am ferret rescue, housing from 30 to 70 at a time, its a full time, part time job and a hobby…….I walk the shelter and report to be able to have some break and still do good things. IF I have to be responsible for all those I report on……….well, I just couldn’t do it. It’s hard enough to look into those faces and see the loving animal and know that the chances of a rescue taking that one is close to nil. I know my limits and I have to rely on others knowing theirs, I cannot be their caretakers, nor would they rescue any I report on in fear with their busy schedules they would have to report to me constantly as to what is going on with that dog. I don’t know the answer but I do feel that each of us has limits and we do what we can. In everything there is bad apples or things that go wrong. If we cease doing anything because of the bad apples, then wheels of progress come to an end..

    July 22, 2012
    • I’m so sorry this has left you feeling hopeless, although I think many of us felt that way in the wake of what happened this week. I think you are doing your part and I understand what you’re talking about here, having done many adoptions. I don’t mean to discourage anyone from making a call to a rescue or pitching in to care for animals while they wait for a new home. What I’m advocating for here is that we all commit to providing a better quality of life for the animals we rescue and sometimes, sadly, quality gets in the way of quantity. We all need to work together, as one big team, to overcome these challenges. Keep up the good work – the animals are lucky to have you on their side!

      July 22, 2012
      • At 68 sometimes I think I can’t take another step as something has to give and its usually my personal stuff BUT just got an email from one on our email list telling HOW to go before our representatives and push for change – maybe its just one or two voices at a time but if more get on the band wagon, there maybe some changes. We are not the only country with this problem but we are considered a leader so by our making changes not only are we solving our problems, we are doing a greater thing. I don’t think I have the time to do this but I am going to add my voice. Spindletop was the straw for me that broke the camel’s back.

        July 22, 2012
  50. Lover #

    I took my 14 lb. chi rescue to be fixed. It was going to be $580. People need education around caring for animals. Where do you take them, what do you do if you can’t afford it?

    I believe vets should provide some of these services at cost, or near cost, to encourage healthy futures for our animal populations. It’s a sad story but there are too many pets, and the demand for pets is lower than those already here … stop breeding animals, stop selling them, and force people to care for the kennels full of dogs and cats waiting for their turns in a home.

    July 22, 2012
    • I agree that spay/neuter services need to be made more afforadable and more accessible. In my experince, people WANT to do the right thing for their pets, but sometimes they need a little help.

      July 22, 2012
      • Take a look at your local Craiglist Pets section. A lot of people don’t care an iota about spaying or neutering their pets. They just want to breed and make the money. Then, after breeding, they sell the dog or take them to the shelter. Just read these sections for a couple of days and you will see what I am talking about.

        July 22, 2012
    • SeattleDogOwner #

      That’s incredibly expensive for a spay. Have you searched for low-cost spay options? I know there is sometimes a wait, but in my area, you can get a spay for $100 (or less, if you show financial need). I agree with you that we need to provide reasonably priced access to spay/neuter for it to work.

      July 22, 2012
  51. Greta Kaplan, CDBC, CPDT-KA #

    Jackie Phillips, you’re right that stopping indiscriminate breeding would go a long way toward reducing the number of animals in shelters. However, “simple” is NOT the same thing as easy. As someone asked, who is going to police this? It’s a VERY DIFFICULT “solution” and the truth is — it’s not going to happen in any significant way any time soon, certainly not all at once. Your continued posts insisting that it’s very simple and the rest of us benighted souls are too stupid to see this are not solving anything. Your solution is functionally unworkable at this time. You’re basically trying to shut down discussion because you believe you have the answer. It’s not helpful.

    Jessica, thank you for the wonderful article. I have pointed several friends to it who don’t understand my opposition to no-kill shelters.

    July 22, 2012
    • At least I am offering solutions I know would work. Do you have any solutions? Has anybody here offered any solutions? Instead of just whining and moping and crying, which does not solve any problems, get out from behind the screen and start to solve the problem.

      It is very workable.

      1. Anybody can go to any CL Pets section and start flagging all the “Free,” “For Stud,” “For Sale,” and breeder/puppies ads. Even you can do it, if you choose to do. If you choose not to, then you continue to contribute to the problem.

      2. Initiate breeder rules and regulations and enforce them.

      3. Initiate mandatory spay/neuter laws for people who are not breeding.

      Do those three things and the over population will slowly decrease to a very workable number of animals who need new homes, compared to the people who are looking for new pets.

      Of course, breeders won’t like those solutions because breeders are used to do exactly as they choose for too long, and look at the mess we are in, and the animals are paying for it with their lives.

      What are your solutions? Those are mine.

      July 22, 2012
      • Christie Keith posted some excellent solutions that really address this issue from all sides – I hope everyone takes a sec to read her comment.

        July 22, 2012
      • MG #

        Sorry Jackie but we have accomplished a severe drop in animals euthanized here in the NE without instigating any of the “solutions that you know would work”. In fact, as stated before the animal population is decreasing to a very workable number of animals in this area. What I find curious is that you stated in a previous post that the numbers of shelter animals in your area is increasing at an alarming rate according to your numbers. If that is the case than I can surely understand your concern but if we could substantially decrease our numbers here without your drastic “solutions” why can it not be done where you are?
        We did not need the Animal Nazis of HSUS who while impersonating police officers conducted “raids” on breeders nor did we need HSUS conducting highly publicized raids and then dumping the dogs on the extremely limited resources of many of the places where the animals were seized while HSUS walked away.
        To be honest, I think we have both endured a lot of the crappy end of the overpopulation issue and I have respect for you. I do not however have any respect for the phonies at HSUS or the notion that mandatory spay/neuter or prohibitively high “breeder licenses” are the solution. They haven’t worked yet and most likely won’t in the future.
        Once again I will state what has worked here in the NE. Education, supported spay/neuter, enforcement of licensing and enforcement of strong animal cruelty statutes. You state that you have the answers yet you state that your numbers of shelter dogs are rising. Ours have consistently been going year after year without your draconian suggestions. Just food for thought.

        July 22, 2012
        • MG #

          Last sentence was meant to say “Ours have consistently been going down years after year”….. I can supply the statistics if anyone is interested.

          July 22, 2012
      • John #

        Jackie, If the posts meet the Craigslist criteria, ie: free, or rehoming fee under 50.00, YOU are VIOLATING the Craigslist regs by flagging it.

        July 23, 2012
  52. kathleen #

    Ok

    I want to stand up for no-kills and sanctuaries – yes of course there are bad ones and fraudulent sanctuaries and ones that get over their heads but there are also lots of amazing sanctuaries that are well funded and run well – I think a lot more than you know. To think that euthanization is the answer to this problem is ridiculous – everyone who loves animals wants to give all animals a chance at life.

    Yes the answer is neutering and spaying all animals – in fact why do you we need any breeding of any animal at all if you think about it – lots of pedigree animals in the shelters. Also maybe vets can stop charging astronomical fees for spaying and neutering and set up more free clinics – should only rich be allowed to have pets?

    Lets make a big campaign to only adopt not to buy an animal – let’s make all mixed breeds feel valued and precious – make mutts fashionable maybe?

    and yes lets work towards the goal of “no-kill” shelters and finding homes for all animals that have been abandoned – it’s not their fault – they don’t deserve the death penalty.

    If you can’t have a pet for some reason – go and help out at your shelter and remember
    an adopted pet is the best pet you will ever have because they know you have
    rescued them.and will always love you for it

    July 22, 2012
    • Kathleen, I want all of us to do the work you describe and I’m so thankful that many people are doing wonderful, hard work to create successful, compassionate shelters, rescues, and sanctuaries. Despite how some folks might intrepret this blog, I’m not against no-kill. I’m FOR quality of life and personal responsibility. The animals deserve that too. Thanks for reading and for caring so much about the animals.

      July 22, 2012
    • Yes, and I want to add to that, some of the or most all the rescuers don’t have the facilities that a real home has – it is to be a TEMPORARY place to stay that there isn’t a limit of 3 days before they are put to sleep – so they are caged and don’t have a big yard to run in in the meantime. The idea is to save them, treat them, spay neuter, heartworm treatment, whatever, and THEN look for that home that will love them and give them what they need. Maybe they will stay a month or two at the rescuers but is that not worth a life time of family life afterward. The thing is to remember is TEMPORARY and cleanliness, in other words humain treatment while waiting for that home. When it gets where cages can’t be cleaned, there is NO time out for the dogs to run and play, when you can’t vet them till another dog is adopted out, then there needs to be guards up for that yet how. One person might be able to take care of 10 where another could only handle 5. One size does not fit all. As for sanctuaries. Yes, if there is a way to make a real home for them, no kenneling in a sanctuary – no innocent dog should live out its
      life housed 80% in a kennel, that isn’t life.

      July 22, 2012
  53. Thank you for a wonderfully written article. You give us all a lot to think about. The world of rescue is heartbreaking and amazing at the same time. But we do need to REALLY think about the welfare of the animals first and foremost. And it’s never easy. But again, thank you for taking the time to write this and share it with us.

    July 22, 2012
  54. Janice #

    I agree. It’s really starting to bother me how the concept of “rescue” has become so trendy. There are so many new “rescues” popping up in my town that I can’t keep track of them all! Sad part is that I only know of 3 who have proven themselves to be responsible longterm to the animals they “save”. What do the others think “rescue” means?! Rescuing an animal to go to what exactly? Seems to me there’s alot of self-absorbed clueless people involved. Too much irresponsible knee-jerk psuedo rescue going on and not enough realistic, responsible, careful, measured decision making and longterm commitment. Truly being responsible and thoughtful in rescuing animals means that sometimes you have to make brutal gut wrenching decisions. To those rescuers who are actually behave responsibly
    , thank you thank you thank you! To those who are not, SMARTEN UP or get the hell out.

    July 22, 2012
  55. I myself run a rescue (not a sanctuary). A sanctuary is a place where animals can live out their lives out of cages, if there is a cage then its not sanctuary but instead another form of prison. Rescuing is about understanding that you can only save the ones you have and until they find a home others will die, no doubt about it. I would be letting the dogs I have rescued down if I said yes to everyone. So I give them the best chance at having a new life and hope the ones I turned away make it to doggy heaven on a gentle road instead of a harsh one. Its the owners and breeders at fault. A no kill shelter is a shelter that lets animals rot in cages until they go mad with shelter shock and even then they may not put them down. If people won’t donate, so what, we didn’t need their money anyway.

    July 22, 2012
  56. Dijana #

    We can only do what we are capable of. Resciuing and rehoming is hard work and can drain you immensely emotionally and financially, however, knowing that you have rescued a dog who’s life was miserable or has ended up in the pound because it was all too hard for the owners is a pathetic excuse. When you find a new home and keep in touch with the new owners and help as much as you can is extremely rewarding. Good dogs have good owners. We need to stop breeding of animals purely for profit, it is usually these furbabies that end up in pounds. They have purchased a pup, paid their money and have had no support whatsover and then dump or suurender their dogs as it is all too hard. That BYB breeds again, claims the pups are pedigree and has no interest in the welfare of the pups at all, it is all about the dollars.

    July 22, 2012
  57. Amy #

    Thank you so, so much for this article. Only yesterday I had my DINOS Sushi put to sleep as he was too anxious to function in the world. The guilt I felt for failing my dog was immense (in part because nobody talks about putting down an anxious dog in dog training circles) until the vet explained that due to the neglect he had suffered during his formative months he would never be able to cope – his brain simply wasn’t wired correctly. I am a firm believer that euthanasia NEEDS to be discussed when talking about dogs and other animals, particularly those who have been damaged. It isn’t their fault, or our fault and they aren’t ‘bad’ – but there certainly are fates worse than death. I must admit I couldn’t read the full article as things are still a bit raw, but the bits I did read were, as usual, wonderfully eloquent.

    Amy

    July 22, 2012
    • You are not alone – many would think you can just make a dog like that feel safe but that is not the case. I helped take one of the most beautiful Min Pins I have ever seen, beautiful shiny coat, in good health, great carriage, wow. But it lived a life of fear, it jumped out of its skin when it turned around and saw the couch, the sliding door was worse, a person moving, the tv…………that is no life to live. BIG bucks were spent on him trying to get him over it – with the trainers, medications were given, it was a year later we had to do what was best for the dog. So what you did is not unheard of and it is for the dog as that is pure hell to live like that. THANK YOU for doing it, that may sound odd, but thank you.

      July 22, 2012
  58. Quite insightful EXCEPT for your turning of your own finger at both Tiger and Spindletop in the process.

    July 22, 2012
  59. jennie #

    Sad but very true. We can not rescue our way out of the pet over population problem any more than we can kill our way out of it. Spay/neuter and time may bring the end of this horror.

    July 22, 2012
  60. Kim Hunter #

    Thank you for writing this

    July 22, 2012
  61. I’m very sorry

    July 22, 2012
  62. This is so incredibly well-stated and I applaud you for looking at all of the angles, which so many of us just don’t seem to be able to do. Not for lack of trying, I think it is just such an emotionally laden topic that it can be hard to see the forest for the trees. Thank you.

    July 22, 2012
  63. Pamela Waldron #

    Very, very well said. Having both rescued parrots and pit bulls I am very cognizant of this dilemma. Sanctuaries always start out very well-meaning but this economy has taken well meaning hearts having to use their brains first sadly and say “enough” to be able to sustain those already in their care. To me..true love is making sure that the end is not thrown to chance. The quality of life outweighs the quantity..

    July 22, 2012
  64. gail #

    thought provoking. How are there so many breeds of dogs, how did that come to be? Was it by human interference? Why is it your right to choose what breed of dog you want? I think it is our moral responsibility to end this nightmare of murdering animals because of our thoughtlessness and greed. We have to start somewhere and banning the sale of animals in pets shops you would think would be easy. Compulsory spaying and neutering of animals that are not from LICENSED and controlled breeders.

    July 22, 2012
    • Yes!

      July 22, 2012
    • If it worked, I’d be all for it, but mandatory spay neuter hasn’t been proven to work. Here is a list of reasons why: http://fixaustin.blogspot.com/2011/01/why-we-join-national-consensus-against.html

      July 22, 2012
    • MG #

      Dogs have an incredible genetic diversity which allows for the many, many different breeds that have been developed over the centuries. Dog breeds have been developed by humans to serve a purpose be that purpose hunting, guarding, herding, companionship, etc. I suppose if you want to consider this “interference” you may but I find it fascinating. Frankly, having seen “purpose bred” dogs doing their jobs in the USA and various parts of the world, I see every reason to be able to choose what breed of dog one wants as long as certain conditions are met. The potential owner must be made to thoroughly understand what the breed is and the behaviors desirable as well as undesirable that can be expected. That owner must be willing to provide a PROPER environment for that animal including exercise and attention required to keep the dog mentally and physically fit. These are things that responsible breeders do. To eliminate the choice of dog owners to choose what breed fits their lifestyle is to do an extreme disservice to the owner and the dog. Do you really think that an elderly grandmother should be required to adopt a young exuberant Rottweiler if that is all that is available? To point the finger at all purebred dogs as as an example of “our thoughtlessness and greed” really misses the mark.
      I do agree that pet shops should be banned from selling dogs and cats as there is no such thing as a responsible breeder that will sell to a pet shop and this is in the Code of Ethics of just about every purebred dog club in America. I must say that licensing of breeders is more of a sticky wicket due to legislating specific physical conditions and such. Once again, we go back to the incredible diversity of purebred dogs and the needs of Min Pins are far different than those of Central Asian Ovcharkas. I would think this would have to be enforced by already overworked law enforcement personnel as the “breed warden ” set up discussed at one point is really more voluntary in order to get the dogs registered with the governing body . Countries that have very strict breed warden systems also have indiscriminate breeding of unregistered dogs. We are not alone in that in the USA.

      On that note, it is a lovely day here as the heat has finally broken and I am off to hike with my nordic friends. Fenced areas are only so good for the stimulation these hunters need in the woods and forest. Hope we don’t run into any OLDS!!!! ;-))

      July 22, 2012
  65. kristina nethercott #

    this is the most moving animal piece i’ve ever read. i’m a rescuer, a doggie foster home and they have a great life here with our family until their furever home. i wish i could save them all too, but i do one great one at a time. well written, heart wrenchingly sad but wonderful all the same.

    July 22, 2012
  66. jen lindgren #

    Heart-wrenching article, as such hard work is put in by some many people for these animals.It is such a complicated web. The positives in these negative situations at least brings light and hopefully needed change in all areas: legislation, social awareness, financial responsibilities. However, after learning in the past few years the % of animals in shelters put to sleep, I have made it clear to family and friends that if anything were to ever happen to me, and if no one promised to keep my animals to the end of their lives, to put them to sleep and bury their ashes with me. I would much rather end their lives before they are stressed out by being locked up before they are PST and discarded.

    July 22, 2012
  67. Dear Dogwalker, Very heartfelt and thought-provoking blog-post.
    Christie Keith – LOVED your very informational response. I also want to talk about the NO KILL movement — it is NOT about collecting and warehousing and hoarding animals – it is about providing low-cost spay/neuter clinics, and requiring transparency and accountability of our municipal shelters and utilizing modern business and marketing methods to move the \”product\” of an animal shelter. There are dozens of recognized open-admission shelters and communities all across the country achieving and sustaining a LIVE RELEASE or SAVE ratio of over 90% of all the animals coming in their doors!!!!!!!!!!!! If shelters would learn how to achieve these high SAVE RATIOS, it would eliminate the problem of rescuers-turned-hoarders and these out-of-control sanctuaries.
    ===> Before bashing the incredible potential and the wonderful successes of the NO KILL movement, research what it\’s really all about – check out http://www.NoKillAdvocacyCenter.org. or http://www.facebook.com/NoKillRevolution

    July 22, 2012
    • No Kill done right – with quality of life for each animal a top priority – is an awesome thing. I think we’re all working to get there. But a note on the public’s misunderstanding of “no kill”: I used to work at an open admission shelter with save rates in the 90% range, but we didn’t call ourselves no kill, because we did sometimes euthanize. Sadly, some members of the public refused to donate to us, for the sole reason that we were only a low kill adoption center and not “no kill”. I hope more people come to understand that the term no kill isn’t as important as the actual work the shelters and rescues are doing. Low kill and high kill shelters that are working their butts off to achieve higher save rates, while also providing quality of care, need support from the public to achieve thier mission. Blindly supporting orgs that call themselves no kill, without knowing the quality of care the animals are getting, is a problem and I hope more people learn what no kill is really about, as you say in your comment. Thanks for being a part of the conversation!

      July 22, 2012
      • Joe #

        notesfromadogwalker, I found your assessment to be spot on. I gave to a No Kill organization before learning all I could about it. And since the person who referenced the No Kill Revolution Facebook page, let me offer this page to you. http://www.dirtysecretsandlies.com/ Whether these animals are fosters of the organization or personal animals, I do not accept this as a means to care for animals that are rescued.

        How are these 2 pages related? The person behind the NKR page is the same person responsible for the animals in the pictures on the second site. Since then, I have learned to ask more questions and see all the animals in the care of the organization.

        July 22, 2012
  68. april #

    Thank you for stating so eloquently what I have felt for a long time. Being in animal rescue is hard and there are no easy solutions. We CAN do hard things, for the animals sake we have to. People in the Houston area had heard many horrible stories about Spindletop over the years including a fire that killed many of the animals several years ago. I’m glad the remaining dogs are safe, hopefully the authorities will make sure Spindletop never takes in another dog but it will take vigilance on their part. Hoarding, greed, and mental illness are not un-common in animal ‘rescuers’. Stories like Spindletop come up several times a year on the rescue lists, sadly they are quite common.

    July 22, 2012
  69. Mary Ann Packer #

    As an animal lover and one involved in rescue/transport, I truly appreciate what you have written so eloquently and obviously with much thought. Indeed, it is extraordinarily hard to bear the difficult in this life. Thank you for sharing from the heart.

    July 22, 2012
  70. Jessica, this is possibly one of the best articles you have ever written. Tragic, heartbreaking but true. Life is all about making choices, some that are difficult and some we don’t want to make. But being a ‘rescuer’ means being honest with yourself about the situation, the dog and the often harsh reality life hands us.

    Unfortunately maybe people become swept up in the ‘heroic’ and ‘glamorous’ side of rescue and lose site of the responsibilities that come with it. We sadly see this happen over and over again and although I fully believe all of these people are well meaning, in the end the fact that they were not fully prepared to take on the full responsibility of rescue hurts, dogs, people and the animal rescue community as a whole.

    Great message!

    July 22, 2012
  71. Everyone needs to read this. Thank you for sharing so eloquently, a thought provoking example of human failure. We all must do better. Animals in our care should never suffer at our hand. They are innocent.

    July 22, 2012
  72. This is a fantastic post! I found you through a fellow blogger and I’m glad I did. I’ve been having alot of the same thoughts and feelings that you have, and wasn’t sure how to voice them. Thanks for doing that. I guess once again someone else did the hard work for me?

    And for the record, I totally agree that there are things worse than death.

    July 22, 2012
  73. Paula #

    I am a breeder of a particular breed. All my pets have health clearances and titles, usually at both ends of their names. I am active in rescue.

    That said, the problem lies within low socioeconomic strata. Families and individuals acquire dogs, and cats and fail to neuter or spay. Their animals through lack of vigilance breed without thought and those animals are then passed on to friends and other families without intention to spay and neuter.

    Education and aggressive spay / neuter at low cost or free is one way to reduce shelter drop offs of entire litters, or pregnant animals. Those of us reading this blog are not the problem, but as economic factors become larger and dollars dry up, we have to help in any way possible to be a part of the solution.

    Spindle Top had an incredible reputation. We let those dogs down by overwhelming one woman’s resources. We could avoid the problem in the future with full transparency by legislating an annual report of animals in, animals out. I can hear the breeders and rescues screaming from here. Until we can know how many are in any rescue situation we can’t help. In every situation there is a maximum number of occupants to utilize existing resources. 150 dogs cannot be properly housed or fed in 50 runs. It’s in our best interest and the animals best interest to know that number and abide by it. No one wants to say no to an animal in need. Yet, say no we must. Until we educate, stop senseless breeding by benign neglect, we will to my horror, always have animals that have to be destroyed.

    God bless rescuers, and god bless responsible pet breeders who do the homework to breed healthy companion animals with spay / neuter requirements in their contracts. God bless those people who breed and place pets responsibly in good homes.

    Good article. Well thought out, thank you.

    July 22, 2012
    • Mary Ann #

      I too agree with you. We have crossposters who send emails everyday pleading with us to take dogs and the phone does not stop ringing. There are days when I feel I just can’t do it anymore, because I have to say no. I have been told by several people I was heartless because the dog is going to die. Our director has stopped answering the phone if she doesn’t know the number and deleting emails before she opens them and she has been in rescue for 25 years. We do a lot senior and blind dogs. We do have a program where we have LOCAL forever fosters and we pay for all of the medical at our Vet. Our director has said and I have heard this from several other older rescuers, the dog you rescue is your responsibility for the rest of dog’s life. Meaning if the dog gets returned by an adopter at any time during the dogs life we take it back. I know they were not talking about boarding because it wasn’t done to a dog on a permanent basis when I first started rescue years ago . Unfortunately there are a lot of newer rescuers who are not following the guidelines set up by older more experienced rescuers. We don’t use boarding. But I hope that the rescues that have used this boarding facilty have learned you can’t just put a dog into boarding and never see it again or send someone closer to physically see the dog. The dog needs you to be the rescuer you promised you would be. I don’t think anyone of us would do this to our own dogs so why we would we do it to a dog that we rescued.

      July 23, 2012
  74. Euthanizing – no, killing – an animal who is not hopelessly sick or suffering is the ultimate failure on the part of any owner. There is no worse fate.

    July 22, 2012
  75. Any post that creates as much “conversation” as this one has should be considered a GREAT POST! LOL What I find somewhat amusing is the fact that everyone is bitching about suggested options to this problem, but when the same thing being said about the ANIMALS we refer to as HUMANS (and face it, WE are “animals” too!) what primal wailing occurs! We humans have overpopulated the planet and it’s ability to sustain us – but having declared ourselves higher on the food chain we seem to have no problem beeding whenever WE CHOOSE, using up resources without any effort to renew them or use them less, and we HUMANS are the ones responsible for the overbreeding of horses, dogs, cats, ad naseum while we pick and choose which animals of the planet we have the RIGHT to hunt & kill, maim in traps, wipe out entire species because they are “in our way,” and dictate to every other living creature on this planet that we can treat you any way WE choose (entertainment, hunting, capture and keep at “pets”), decide where they can live and create imaginary boundaries that if crossed mean we can kill them, ad naseum. I think the time has come that we need to look to ourselves as the creators of most of these problems and perhaps it’s time we start looking at our own actions and see if we can change our OWN thinking about what WE have the right to do or not do before we start dictating to all the other living creatures on the SAME PLANET!

    July 22, 2012
  76. Shirley Zindler #

    Beautifully and powerfully written. I have been involved with shelters and rescues for nearly 30 years. Certainly our goal is a long wonderful life for those in our care, but sometimes that is not possible. A gentle euthanasia in the arms of someone who cares is better than many of the alternatives for those who aren’t adoptable.
    I’ve been told ” I love animals too much to do your job.”
    My answer: “I love them too much not to.”

    July 22, 2012
  77. Well said. Many years ago my parents gave away our St. Bernard when we found out public housing wouldn’t allow dogs. The people that pulled up looked and talked so nice…3 weeks later our dog was dead after being starved and beaten to death (found that out later). My whole family has never gotten over the guilt of his last days. I totally understand what you meant when you said sometimes it’s more humane to euthanize. That event shaped my life, and I have rescued pound dogs ever since..my heart breaks for all the people that do the good work even though there seems no end in sight. What a shame that animals always pay for a human’s lack of responsibility and common sense..yet we must keep on.

    July 22, 2012
  78. Sara S #

    I’m kind of afraid of reading any of the comments, because any time someone mentions euthanasia as a preferable alternative to suffering, the crazies come out and call you a death monger. In an effort to make sure that the crazies aren’t the loudest voice in response to your piece, I am going to make an exception to my “no comments” rule. You are exactly right and I agree with you 100%. Thank you for posting this. It is so well-written and reasoned. I will make a point to refer people to it as much as I can.

    July 22, 2012
    • Sara – thank you. And I avoid comment sections too, for the same reasons, but I am so impressed with the thoughtful, calm, and caring responses to this blog post. Who would have thought it could happen?! ; )

      July 22, 2012
      • I followed a Facebook link to get to your post, and I must say not only do I applaud your message as well as the thoughtful, well-developed way it was delivered, but I have found the comment section to be full of similar responses–people who speak logically, clearly, and (dare I say it) with standard English usage and punctuation! It’s been a pleasure to find a huge set of comments that make sense. A few garbled jabberings have shown up, but for the most part, this has been an intelligent discussion. So let me put in ONE more vote for EDUCATION as the key. Spay-neuter is an important element, but the most important thing we need to do is get people to understand the degree of commitment involved in getting any pet and get people to learn how to train their animal to be a good fit for their family. Educate. Educate. Educate–the people AND the animals.

        Thanks for getting the discussion going.

        July 22, 2012
        • Hi Becky, aren’t these comments nice? It’s been really uplifting that such a polite, caring crew has shown up to comment on the blog. I’m impressed with everyone here, even if we have different opinions.

          I’d like to throw one more phrase out there with your Educate. Educate. Educate. and it’s Accessible. Accessible. Acessible. I have had the great pleasure of volunteering at pet owner support days in underserved, low income communities and I am just blow away by how many families will do the right thing (s/n, train, microchip, etc.) if we bring the services to them. And that goes for adoption too – we need to make adoption more accessible with better hours, better locations for adoption centers, and a friendly (but still thorough) adoption application process. We can do it, I know it! Thanks for being a part of the conversation.

          July 22, 2012
    • Matt.S #

      Well said. Thank you Jessica for this thoughtful post.

      July 22, 2012
  79. Pam Boyd #

    Ok, I got it. But I have to ask, how much are you doing to adress the cause of the problem – ie, donating or volunteering with a low cost spay/neuter cynic? Spreading the word about s/n far and wide. And I will not give in and say that sanctuary owners are not doing something wrong when they get overwhelmed and keep taking animals that are neglected and treated cruelly.

    July 22, 2012
    • Hi Pam, since you asked – for the last decade I’ve volunteered at animal shelters and with rescues and advocacy groups. I’ve been a foster home. I’ve worked at a shelter full time and then, after leaving, went on to volunteer 20-30 hours a week doing things like offering free dog training classes, owner support, fundraising for surgeries and medical funds, educational seminars for shelter workers, etc. I wish I could do more and hope to start fostering again in the near future. It’s just never enough though – I wish I could do more, as I’m sure we all do.

      July 22, 2012
  80. SeattleDogOwner #

    GREAT article. Well written and something that needed to be said. This year, I finally had the opportunity to go to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. Probably one of the best sanctuaries out there – 500 staff for 1800 animals. Thousands of acres. Heated/cooled indoor/outdoor runs. 3 full time vets. 14 vet techs. Dogs being walked every single day. And you know what? There were still animals there that were very unhappy. We met one dog who was surrendered (abandoned on property) by her people due to her medical condition. She’s about 11. She’s probably had $15k worth of medical treatment there, and she will probably live a while longer, but I bet she would have been happier spending the last 3-6 months of her life with her family, versus living 2-3 more years in the sanctuary. Nothing against Best Friends, they are AMAZING and giving her everything they can, but for this dog, the quality of life just isn’t there. She wants to be in a home, and the reality is, she may never get adopted. She’s an old dog with medical issues at a sanctuary that is a four hour drive from the nearest airport.

    Again, I’m not saying that Best Friends (and others like them) are inherently bad. I’m simply saying that I no longer blindly accept that being alive is the most important thing. You have to look at the whole picture, and I think that’s what you’re advocating. And looking at the whole picture means making really hard, really crappy choices sometimes. So thanks for putting into words what many of us wrestle with.

    July 22, 2012
  81. I saw this post on a Facebook friend’s wall. I have worked as an Exec Dir in an open admission shelter and a limited admissions shelter. I have fostered and rescued. I have read the “authorities” on the no-kill movement.

    You eloquently put into words what I have been preaching. So many people want to look the other way. The shelter in my community did an excellent feature series of life in animal sheltering including the realities of euthanasia, photos included. A member of the public called the shelter Operations Director and told her, “How dare you take away my security in believing that all those needy animals find loving homes.” I wonder how many people have their heads in the sand.

    Thank you for writing this and sharing it. I will be passing it on.

    K Durham
    College Station, TX

    July 22, 2012
    • Thanks for sharing your experience. It mirrors my own – I used to work at an open admission, but very low kill shelter. It wasn’t unusual to get a phone call asking, “Are you a no-kill shelter?” and I would say that we were not, but we had a placement rate in the 90% range. People hung up telling me they only donate to and adopt from “no kill” shelters. The public really doesn’t understand who they’re supporting or why – but they want to believe that organizations who euthanize are “bad” and those who don’t are “good.” But nothing in life is that black and white and pretending it is doesn’t help the animals at all, does it? Thanks for the work you’ve done on behalf of the animals and for being a part of this conversation.

      July 22, 2012
      • I just made a presentation to a county of county administrators on the “no-kill” movement. My opening statements were about the fact that there really isn’t a definition of “no-kill,” and that the public is very confused. Those that are of the vitriolic, hateful part of the “no-kill” movement are causing discord between groups that heretofore had worked together. The “no-kill” label is a travesty that I hope soon finds its way into the history of animal welfare.

        July 22, 2012
  82. Dave #

    The worst case was the no kill shelter in Co. They were taking money for saving dogs, and the turning around and destroying them. Sometimes you do things with best intentions only to become corrupt by hiding things that have become overwhelming and then not asking for help. The theme becomes It will only be one, or temporally done until I find a solution, but it continues on. A rescuer is a precious person that has taken on a great responsibility, when the direction goes in a way that seems to be not the way originally planned, the need to be able to take criticism of the staff, back up and look at the big picture is required. They need to be honest with themselves and directed toward the goal. We ask a lot from these people. My hat is off to all

    July 22, 2012
  83. DS #

    Thanks dogwalker for this blog. This is very insightful. I applaud you for writing something that goes against the extreme no-kill belief of keep an animal alive no matter how much suffering and misery they go through is better than death. I’ve been dealing with the Caboodle Ranch hoarding case for a couple of years now and most of their cats came from rescuers like you who thought they were doing good by the cats. Many regret it and take responsibility like you. However, there are many who still believe they did nothing wrong and refuse to admit that the suffering and deaths that occurred there amounted to animal cruelty by neglect. There is nothing you can say to them to get them to take responsibility. I, however, do put more blame on these hoarders for the suffering they cause because they are the ones who say yes over and over. In many cases, these rescue hoarders actively solicit for animals. Contrary to what you see on Animal Planet, many rescue hoarding cases are not a matter of good intention gone bad. You’d be surprised at how many of them hoard for profit as with Tenth Life cat sanctuary and Caboodle Ranch cat sanctuary. CR was taking peoples money and denying the cats vet care while the director used donation money to buy personal assets such as land. He used donation money for vacation trips, personal clothing (not uniforms), gifts, etc. The list goes on and on. People worshipped him and he loved the status of being a ‘savior for cats’. He let it all go to his head. It became about him and not the cats. He is soon standing trial for criminal animal cruelty and scheming to defraud. Anyone interested in following the CR case, visit http://www.caboodleranch.net

    July 22, 2012
  84. I agree that it is so fantastic to see other people who share my thoughts. I think there are many of us who have been “in the closet if you will behind this issue. No one wants to euthanize a dog but it is a necessary and painful decision that has to be made sometimes.

    I don’t believe we will ever be no-kill in the true sense of the word. There will be people who are unreachable and will not be educated. There will be families living in poverty who breed and sell puppies to feed there families and pay bills and there will be criminals who used dogs for fighting and breed as much as they can to make money from a lucrative “business.”

    I rescue mostly bully breeds. I allow for the breed history and do not fault a dog for animal aggression as long as dog is able to be re-directed. But I cannot,and will not adopt out a human aggressive dog. Not only is it dangerous, but that dog reflects on a breed that is being killed in the thousands. To place that dog risks lives and can, and most likely will, be used as “evidence” to destroy countless other loving bully breeds. So what is the option? “Sanctuary” where that dog who already has a high prey drive sits and goes kennel crazy? What do I know about him/her? What do I know about the background, the genetics, the parents personality to help evaluate the dog. How many other dogs can I help with the amount of resources I will spend on that one?

    The questions are difficult no doubt but that is MY responsibility to ask them and make the difficult decision to euthanize a dog if that is what is truly the “best outcome.” I know there are people who will hate me or damn me for that decision but it’s not about them, it’s about what is best.

    This is not a problem that is going away and I believe that our voices need to be heard also. We need to come out of that closet and talk about what no one wants to. I thank the author of this blog for doing just that.

    Perhaps one day there will be a low-kill solution but not until we focus in education, low to no cost spay and neutering, pets being bred to supplement peoples income, cultural differences, no pets allowed housing and legal avenues for abuse and abandonment.

    In the meantime, I stand with rescuers and shelter workers who hold these animals as they are euthanized and stay up at night agonizing over those heart-wrenching decisions. I know I have had many sleepless nights myself but I also have had many wonderful placements that keep me going.

    July 22, 2012
  85. Tery #

    Jess, another piece of good sense, thank you.
    I euthanized a dog I could neither help nor re-home… felt terrible for years but given the same set of circumstances today, would do the same. I still keep asking myself the question though. Resonsibility is hard, especially hard when what you need to do is uncomfortable and socially unpopular.

    July 22, 2012
    • Matt.S #

      I recently chose humane euth. for my dog rather than see him suffer for a few years. I made the right call. Some people turned on me for it, even tried to cut me off from dog forums completely. I know I did right by my precious angel, Herman, and thats all that matters. A vet told me of death threats against someone in a similar situation, all for choosing the humane alternative to pointless suffering.

      July 22, 2012
      • I know how much you loved Herman Matt. Anyone that thinks your choice was anything other than loving is a fool.

        July 22, 2012
        • Matt.S #

          Thank you! That is more meaningful than I can say. I’m tearing up as I write this. When Herman’s health issues became to accute to ignore, I paniced. I sent “urgent” pleas to rescues and even asked friends to help me find someone who could help him. Eventually I came to my senses and realized that whatever happened, we would go through it together. I pulled back the pleas and got up the courage to give my lil’ angel one last gift; a painless and loving goodbye in the arms of his daddy. He even took a treat moments before he passed. Herman NEVER took treats when he was stressed! His pain has ended and I can find a way to work through my own pain. Thank you again!

          July 22, 2012
          • Matt.S #

            I just wanted to clarify what I meant by “Ignore”. I wasn’t ignoring his medical issues. What I was, perhaps, ignoring was the painful fact that for all the money, effort & time I was pouring into treating Herman, I couldn’t fix it. I just didn’t want to face the fact that I couldn’t bring back his quality of life. I was in denial. I needed to stop “ignoring” the thought of life without my angel. A part of me died with Herman. I still believe that when I released him to Jesus I did it FOR him, not to him. He’s waiting for me right now, and we will meet again. Run free, Herman.

            July 23, 2012
  86. Thank you for this brave and eloquent post. I agree. I am not active in official rescue, but I have gotten all my dogs from rescues, shelters, or off the street and have saved a few others and gotten them back home or in a couple of cases, rehomed to a good home. I picked up a beautiful black lab in 2007 (I didn’t know about the difficulties finding a home for a black dog then). I thought it would be a matter of hours or days to find her owner but it never happened. She had a great temperament. The dog was not compatible with my own and I ended up boarding that dog, going half and half with a saintly woman who volunteered to help with the cost and had a deal with a vet clinic, for about 7 months. She spent the weekends at our homes. We took her to adoption events and finally a woman came and fell in love with her. We checked things out and she went to a good home. She was actually in my neighborhood and I saw her a few times, obviously a beloved dog. But that’s not the story. About 18 months later the adopter’s son, who also loved that dog, emailed me a distress call about a dog he had taken in off the streets. I was ticked off to say the least. Why me, once again? But I pitched in and tried the usual suspects to help him find a home for her. At one point he said he would just go release her in a “nice neighborhood” so she would “have a chance.” She was of a breed mix that would probably face immediate death at most local shelters. That’s when I personally came to the conclusion that sometimes euthanasia, accompanied by a caring human to the end, would be more humane than all the buck passing that goes on. I didn’t have to make that decision that time; he did find her a home. But I gird myself for that eventuality whenever I am making the decision to help a dog in need.

    July 22, 2012
  87. Renate #

    Sorry, but I disagree. Killing an adoptable animal is the ultimate failure of any shelter or individual. Killing for convenience or lack of space is the ultimate betrayal of trust, There is nothing loving about injecting a pet with poison or throwing it into a gas chamber, then dumping it in a landfill. Animals have a right to life. A dead animal can never be loved or love, bring joy or help to someone, or even save a life. It will never snooze in the sun or play with a leaf. Its chances are gone forever. Whereas even a pet that has been abused or is sick and injured, or “warehoused”, can still have a good life. Life has opportunities, but death is forever, the end of all. If anyone thinks death is a good thing – you are deluding yourself. You have stepped over a line where animals in need are no longer something to be helped and cared for, but a product to be disposed of in any way possible. That is true warehousing: check them in, then check them out, whether in someone’s arms or in the garbage can. That is what is wrong with most shelters or pounds, whatever they call themselves. And I guess it happens to individuals as well, probably part of a burnout. I suggest you have a look at the No Kill Equation, following its 11 steps, all of them, is very effective in saving the most lives. I hope you are not jumping on Peta’s bandwagon, they believe the only good pet is a dead pet and wax quite lyrical about the joys of killing. Try to remember that death is final and it is NOT the best thing you can do for an animal in need.

    July 22, 2012
    • I am not remotely burned out on rescue but rather have faced the reality of the situation. I don’t think anyone here is advocating the idea that we should be gassing animals nor do I see anyone espousing the “only a good pet is a dead pet” ideology. However I have seen people in rescue shamed into silence by those kind of comments. I worked with an open admit shelter and watched what people went through when they had to euthanize animals, not only sick and injured, but otherwise healthy ones. I feel so badly for the pain experienced by those people.

      There is no room at this point to try and quiet these points of view and yes, death is better than going kennel mad from being warehoused for years on end. I would argue that given the choice most people would opt for a way out rather than spend their lives in confinement. I can give you plenty of examples of “sanctuary” that actually were hell holes.

      We have a responsibility to the animals entrusted to us to make decisions as to what their quality of life will be, whether they are dangerous and therefore not placeable, what that means for them in the long run and what our resources will allow. I agree that too many rescues pass the buck to avoid making the hard decisions and that is why so many of these refuges become overrun.

      I know that death is final. I have held more than my fair share of animals while they took their last breath. I have also seen dogs suffer horribly at the hands of “well intentioned” people who can’t seem to see the abuse they are taking part in. I won’t let a dog sit in a kennel for years on end nor will I pass the buck to someone else. I feel that it is unethical.

      I don’t lie to people. I don’t tell them my rescue never pts a dog. I let them know that we evaluate, work with behavior issues and do our very best. I also let them know that some dogs are not placeable fro reasons such as aggression or severe medical issues and that I will be there for them until the last breath. I have found that the people who support me know that my decisions are made out of being realistic and loving a dog enough to not sentence it to a life in a kennel. I receive a lot of support for that honesty. I also let my local shelter know that we support them and are in this together. The public in general has no idea what “no kill” actually means nor what it can mean for a dog who can’t be placed in a home. But it’s a good fundraising word.

      We wont have any solution if we shame each other into silence and I am happy that this subject has come up and we are speaking about it.

      July 22, 2012
      • Amen. And thank you for everything you do.

        July 22, 2012
      • SeattleDogOwner #

        AMEN.

        July 22, 2012
      • Matt.S #

        Best. Reply. Ever! THANK YOU!!!

        July 22, 2012
  88. Thank you for talking about this! Although I’m not ready to write about it in depth yet, last fall I euthanized my dear sweet beloved and very emotionally disturbed dog after realizing that even after years of working with the behaviorist and other resources I was no longer able to keep him safe. Many people suggested that I send him to a sanctuary, but my goal was for him to feel safe. The vet anesthetized him first, and he fell asleep with his paws wrapped around 2 of his favorite toys, head on the pillow his grandma made him, leaning into me. He was happy and knew he was loved – two things he would not have had in a sanctuary environment and that he valued highly. It was one of the most beautiful and painful things I’ve ever seen. I knew I had done right by him, even if it still makes me cry just to think of it.

    July 22, 2012
    • I’m so sorry you had to go through this Julie. I think you made a really brave choice, having already done so much to try to help your dog, and your boy was lucky to have been loved that way.

      July 22, 2012
    • SeattleDogLady #

      Julie, thanks for sharing. I went through a very similar experience earlier this year. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. I considered the same options you did, and arrived at the same conclusion. My girl left this world knowing she was loved. We spent our last time together doing all the things she loved. Her memories will only be of the good. Others have said it’s not right to make the choice of death, but ask me if I want to die now, having lived a wonderful life to date, or be banished to a cage with limited contact for the rest of my life, and I know what option I’d take. I believe you did right by your dog right up until the end.

      July 22, 2012
    • Matt.S #

      You had the heart to make a painful choice motivated by your love for lil’ guy. Don’t EVER apolagize for that!

      July 22, 2012
  89. Megan #

    Thank you so much for putting this into words that touch the heart … I think you’ve struck the nail on the head by asking us to take responsibility. I dearly hope your words will influence people to think deeply about this. Maybe once we’ve learned to treat our animals with true respect, we can learn to treat each other the same way.

    July 22, 2012
  90. Renee #

    Thank you for bring this to light for so many that don’t know what doing real rescue is like!

    July 22, 2012
  91. I feel like a lot of people are missing the point of this. The point is to not euthanize dogs when they hit an “expiration date”. The point (at least to me) is to evaluate how likely it is that a dog will find a home and how much it will suffer in the meantime, waiting. In a perfect world, there is a home for every animal out there with special needs. Unfortunately, the number of special needs animals vastly outnumbers the willing homes.

    Take my dog for example. A breed that is hard to place regardless, coupled with leash reactivity towards dogs and then more recently, people. In our darkest days, he was highly unpredictable (a debatable term, for sure). I was told by a vet that I should turn him over to a rescue that could find the “right” home for him. If I don’t love my dog enough to see him through these dark days, how could I hope to find that perfect home to do it for me? With no prior attachments to him? Chances are he would have ended up locked up or abused had I let him go to anyone else. I guess there is that chance he would have found the perfect home. But in weighing the odds, I know that if it ever gets to a point where I, with a (new) vet’s and a behaviorist’s help, can no longer manage him, he’s going to pass with me next to him. With me loving him and him feeling safe and secure. There is no greater love than letting him go with me next to him. It might hurt ME, but it’s a sacrifice that I have to make to be sure that nothing else hurts him. I owe him that much. I’m not willing to put him out of sight out of mind so that I can sleep easy at night, knowing that someone else will ultimately have to make a hard decision that should have MINE.

    July 22, 2012
    • I guess not a “lot”, since it seems the comments are more receptive than I thought. Which is a relief. That’s what I get for skimming and exaggerating. ;)

      July 22, 2012
    • SeattleDogLady #

      Excellent comment. I had a conversation with another person involved in pit bull rescue last week, and we were lamenting the current state – so many dogs, fosters are full, rescues are full. She shared a conversation she recently had. An owner called her, looking for help re-homing her dog-aggressive, resource-guarding dog (aggressive towards humans when resources are involved). Her feedback to that person was that the kindest thing they could do for their pet was to take him to their vet, love him, hold him, and put him to sleep. I agreed. While I acknowledge it is theoretically possible that someone would take that dog into their rescue, it’s far more likely that it would end up in a shelter ultimately being euthanized, having spent its last days wondering what happened to its family and going crazy from kennel stress. Even if a rescue did take it in, the resources expended to find a home that could safely manage that dog take away from resources that could be applied to finding homes for several dogs with solid temperaments – meaning those dogs will be euthanized in the meantime.
      I don’t know what the family opted to do. I do know that if I ever reach a point where I can no longer safely manage my own behaviorally-challenged dog, I would follow the same path you outlined.

      July 22, 2012
    • Janet #

      Kristen, thank you for your struggle and your honesty. Your compassion and willingness to stand with your dog to the end will be what he remembers, if that day does come, which I hope it does not. Passing that responsibility on to someone whom your dog did not love or trust would be much more difficult for your dog. Again, I hope that day does not come and your dog passes, with you beside him, of old age and/or an age related illness. You are a strong person.

      July 22, 2012
  92. great and i don’t believe in letting them live as you say to live, or worse, rescues who get in over there heads, and don’t ask for help because maybe greed steps in…

    July 22, 2012
  93. I have also worked in both a shelter and with a small rescue. And unfortunately, I sent one cat to Tiger Ranch that was going to be put down at our shelter. Luckily, she got adopted out from TR but I was still sick when that story broke.
    My friend and I started our own rescue after we were sick and tired of the politics of the shelter we worked at. We only take a few dogs and cats at a time and we keep them until we find them a home. If the adopter EVER has to return the animal for whatever reason, we always accept responsibility and take them back.

    July 22, 2012
  94. I have been involved in rescue for 20 years, 15 of the last years specializing in senior dogs and cats. Recently I opened a sanctuary where senior dogs and cats can spend the rest of their lives being cared for, we do not do adoptions. We have pulled from kill shelters some of which were hesitant as we are a sanctuary and I know some people have concerns when they hear sanctuary. I can understand how some sanctuaries can get overwhelmed with the number of animals needing to come in, BUT taking in an animal that you know you can not care for or will not have the funds to care for them properly is criminal. I hope that people will not think that these two sanctuaries are what all sanctuaries are really about. All of our animals are loved dearly and when we lose one it takes a piece of our hearts with them. And by the way, taking the feral mother cats to Tiger Ranch was an act of kindness. You had no way to know what was going on there. You were only concerned for trying to save these animals that noone else was able to help. You should be proud that you cared enough to try and help them.

    July 22, 2012
    • Hi Adrianne, I just want to thank you for the good work that you do. I know is not easy and I’m so very grateful there are loving, responsible sanctuary owners such as yourself. And I love the tag line on your website.

      July 22, 2012
    • Matt.S #

      Thank you for what you do. Dealing with the fallout of others misconduct, and the unfair effect on your image sounds frustrating.

      July 25, 2012
  95. Lori #

    Almost 7 years ago I wanted to adopt from a rescue. What I constantly heard was “we’ve had this dog in foster care for (you fill in the number) years.” Yes, I want dogs to go to good homes, but it seems as if some fosters cannot let go of the dogs. There is a pocket pittie locally that has been in foster since she was around a year old. She is now 3. It’s hard for me to believe that not one family that has shown interest in this little dog was not the right family. I finally paid $25 for an oops baby. One of 9 mixed puppies and believe me, I feel a lot better for “rescuing” my baby because I knew that only bad would come to the others that I could not take, then going to a “rescue” that will not let go of the dogs they claim are trying to find homes for and begging for more foster homes. After being in foster for 4 years, that is not longer a foster dog, that dog is part of the family.

    July 22, 2012
  96. John #

    I could not have said it better myself. Sometime the kindest thing you can do for an animal is the hardest thing to do as person. As someone that has had to both euthanize many animals and also stood by the bedside a few people as they have died, if I had my choice I would rather die in the hand of a caring shelter employee.

    July 22, 2012
  97. There is no fate worse than death. Death is irreversible. Many dogs live in horrific condition for years and then get rescued and live their remaining life in peace and happiness. There will always be bad places like Spindeltop, but they are a very small minority. I know of several excellent sanctuaries where dogs have better lifes than if they lived in a home. To say that all rescues/sanctuaries are bad because of places like Spindletop is like saying all parents will murder their children because some do exactly that every year. This kind of knee-jerk reaction is no different than those that propose BSL when there is a pit bull incident. It is part of our human condition to have this knee jerk reaction, but when we take a step back and think about it rationally, it does not make sense. There will also be places lie Spindletop, just as there will always be parents who kill their own children, but that does not mean that most rescues/sanctuaries are bad. If you look at the percentage of place like Spindletop compared to all the rescues /sanctuaries in the country, it is an incredible small percentage that are bad. Time to be rational.

    July 22, 2012
    • SeattleDogLady #

      I didn’t interpret the article as saying all sanctuaries (or rescues) were bad. I think the author was asking us to consider that being alive isn’t the same as living a quality life, and asking us to recognize that just because there is SOMEWHERE to send the animal, it may not be the right thing for that animal. Knowing what you know now about Spindletop, IF you had no other options, would you send a dog there, or humanely euthanize it?

      July 22, 2012
    • Renate #

      I agree Nicole. Death is final. Where there is life, there is hope. Quality of life can always improve if it is less than ideal. Physical or mental injuries or sickness can and will heal – while there is life. Feral cats can and have been relocated and even socialized. But once death has been dealt, all chances at happiness are gone. A dead animal may not suffer, but it will feel no joy either. But for some reason, killing apologists just don’t get that. Instead they keep making excuses for the killing of millions of adoptable animals by pounds. I am not talking about the hopeless cases, but all the healthy or saveable animals. Neither am I talking about individual pet owners that have made a painful decision, provided they have at least tried to get help first. I have no use for statements like “they died with love”. A few minutes of holding a frightened animal or stroking a semi-conscious one, while injecting them with poison, or worse, does not constitute love in any shape or form. That is the reality in kill shelters and pounds. there is no love involved, just convenience. A place which kills more than 80% of its intake and can’t be bothered to check for microchips because they don’t want the responsibility for notifying the owners, is very far from anything resembling love. A blog like this has just handed them a wonderful excuse, or even a weapon. The mentality that killling for convenience is OK, or even “loving”, needs to go. But I doubt that it will – it is just too handy.

      July 28, 2012
  98. Anne D #

    This is powerful, nuanced, compassionate, aggrieved… a thoroughly thought-provoking piece of writing. Thank you for being honest. Not everyone is.

    July 22, 2012
  99. To say that feral cats are better off dead, than living their feral lives is ignorant and inhumane and is tantamount to animal abuse. They are living their lives and what gives you the right just to take them and kill them. Research shows that feral cats live as long and are as healthy as house cats. I highly recommend that you read http://www.nathanwinograd.com asap for the facts. Feral cat live out their lives on their terms and do not want to be killed. They have survived and thrived like that for thousands of years and will continue to do so. Killing is never the answer and it is very disturbing to see how many people think it is. As long as that mentality reigns, nothing will ever change in this country. In many European countries, it is illegal to kill any cat or dog for any other reason that severe illness, and once you take the killing of the table, you suddenly see responsibility from all involved, i.e., spaying/neutered, no back yard breeding, etc. The US is still in the dark ages. The killing must stop.

    July 22, 2012
    • So what should I have done with this colony of cats that were producing litter after litter of kittens, living under a trailer of a construction zone and about to lose their shelter? I’d love to hear your solution to the situation I described in my blog. Especially since you just called me an animal abuser. Nice.

      Im all for TNR, when there is a colony to return them to. And no where do I state that all feral cats are better off dead. I am familiar with colony management and support the good work of feral cat groups.

      But there was no way I could watch the homeless cat overpopulation continue to grow with each litter this colony produced while living on “their own terms” in a large urban area. Then I’d be contributing to the problem of overpopulation in my city. So something needed to be done. There was no colony to return these cats to after we paid to have them fixed and vaccinated. No shelter to bring them to that wouldn’t kill them. No rescue with open homes. They suffered living in their foster home, though we had hoped they might adjust, as their kittens did. And the sanctuary we finally found for them tortured and neglected them.

      Looking forward to your solution, based on your real life experience – not someone else’s book.

      July 22, 2012
      • Rose Smith #

        As with many things in life, no single answer is the only answer. In some situations feral cats are happy. Example: Ocracoke Island, NC. Residents feed the cats, locals pay to “round them up” periodically and spay/neuter and provide medical treatment. Many of the homes and businesses have food and water outside for them year round. The cats thrive and are happy. Most don’t want to be petted and won’t let humans within 30 feet of them. However, contrast this with the situation in the many summer cabins outside Pigeon Forge, TN. The cats there breed rampantly. There is no periodic capture for medical reasons, no spay or neutering. Every summer well-meaning tourists may feed the cats and dozens of kittens, but come late fall there are few humans left in those lovely cabins on the mountain. By November there is little water as everything is freezing. No food. Minimal shelter – if any at all. By December frozen cat and kitten carcasses are being scooped up by the maintenance people and disposed of. By January only the hardiest and most fortunate cats are still alive – just barely. And by early spring those few are reproducing litters every 60 days or so – some of the moms are hardly more than kittens themselves. (Most often litter’s conceived during late fall and winter die of exposure long before spring.) By July the mountain cabins are inundated with cats and kittens of every size and color. Some few will even allow human contact – but no one takes the cats or kittens home. No one provides medical treatment. (No one, that is, except for my brother….) At any rate, the cycle just keeps repeating itself. The bears have learned that the cats and kittens are easy prey and a tasty meal and move into the residential areas earlier and earlier every fall – looking for the weaker cats and kittens to fatten them up for their long winter nap. I don’t believe those cats and kittens are better off feral. They suffer summer heat, starvation, disease, parasites, over population, winter cold, being eaten by bigger cats or bears or coyotes, they have only one thing to focus on – survival – and it is survival of the fittest. The smaller kittens are the first to go. The constantly breeding females are the next to go as they are seldom healthy because they are perpetually pregnant or nursing. We used to enjoying sitting out on my brother’s back deck and watching the sunset over the mountains. Now it’s not so enjoyable as we sit there and listen to the pitiful mewing of starving animals. We put out hundreds of pounds of food over the summer and pay our maintenance people to keep food out all winter long – but it’s never enough. We’ve trapped/caught a few of the weaker ones and found homes for them. But with hundreds of these homeless cats and kittens breeding and re-breeding we could never have enough cages or enough homes. Because most of the cabins are summer/fall vacation homes, no one really cares (except my brother….). So little is done. The homeowner’s association will not spend money or resources. Nicole apparently feels that any life is preferable to death. Tell that to the last little kittens of the season as they slowly freeze to death, starving, huddled under a step or next to an AC unit, that a peaceful death would not be preferable. Tell that to the little momma cat who never sees an entire year of life because she has given birth 6 times in her short life and is finally just to worn out to deliver the last of her babies. The “Pollyanna” view that feral or sick animals should be allowed to suffer in the hope that “the sun will come up tomorrow” (I know – I mixed my metaphor) is heartless and unrealistic. Until humans become more responsible and humane – sometimes a soft, safe death is far preferable to a slow, painful, lonely death. Of course, that’s just my opinion, having buried so many little bodies over the past 6 years.

        July 22, 2012
  100. Trina #

    Brilliantly and beautifully written. My favorite part: ‘All animals deserve love at the end of their lives. Sometimes the most loving thing we can do is to provide a peaceful death. And a peaceful death comes from a human taking full responsibility for the life of that animal.’ All rescuers should read this. If you save a life it is your responsibility forever…Chinese proverb.

    July 22, 2012
  101. Laura Lanza #

    THANK YOU FOR YOUR THOUGHT PROVOKING BLOG. This was the best I have seen in a long time. I so hope others will think about what you have stated.

    July 22, 2012
  102. Susan #

    An absolutely thought provoking article. People need to think.

    July 22, 2012
  103. I have homed old, sick and unsocialized animals, when the time comes I take them to the vet and have them euthanized in my arms. I grieve for them, but I am glad they knew love and understanding for the period of time they were with me and I am honored to know them. I also like to send $$ to spay and neuter programs.

    July 22, 2012
  104. I have many thoughts on this topic, and I think you managed to put the essence of my opinions into words in a way I never could have. I just want to say THANK YOU for this. As an employee for a shelter that is trying as hard as we can and still struggling with the reality of the situation that the dogs and cats coming into our shelter are facing, this really gave me a bit of encouragement. Sadly, there is no magical solution, no instant equation or movement that will fix the homeless animal problem, and sadly the blame often gets placed on the ones who are working desperately to fix it. The way I see it, shaming and blaming only makes people who get in over their heads (like the owner of this refuge) scared to reach out for help or admit there is a problem. There is a way to chip away at the problem of homeless animals, but it is only by animal welfare organizations coming together with each other and the community, and educating people instead of forcing them to comply with certain rules. There are people who will soak up knowledge like crazy when they are offered it, and who have the potential to become responsible pet owners, and advocates for responsible pet ownership, if only they had the resources. It is heartbreaking for people like me to hear people who say that workers at a shelter WANT to kill animals, that they are CAUSING the problem in some way. I can tell you, from an \”animal killer,\” that it crushes each and every one of us every single time an animal has to be put down, and we struggle to put ourselves out of business every day. I could say so much more… but I will leave it at this… that it has been a particularly heartbreaking week for myself and clearly for many people involved in animal welfare, and this article has really reminded me why I do what I do, and seeing the comments has brought a bit of hope that the blamers and guilters are not the only voices out there… So thank you.

    July 22, 2012
    • Thank you for doing the hard work Gabrielle. Compassionate, thoughtful shelter workers like you are my heroes.

      July 22, 2012
    • Denise #

      That is ridiculous to put the blame on shelter workers. I give you all so much praise and can’t even imagine what you all go through. You didn’t create the problem. Not like those dogs are in a shelter because of you. People dump their dogs on you and expect you to fix their problem. I wish more people would take responsibility for their own actions. As I said in my comment below, it’s sad but I don’t know how heartbroken some former pet owners would be to know what happened to their dogs when they hear of such places. I know there are some exceptions where people had no choice and it broke their heart to do so but that can’t be said for majority. Just the thought of my dog having to spend just 1 night at a shelter kills me and THAT is what would break my heart. I could never walk away knowing he is so scared and confused after being abandoned and for me not knowing what would happen to him. The situation in the article is very different and very understandable. I’m talking about those who give up their own pets.

      July 23, 2012
  105. Mary #

    If the over abundance of dogs is due to puppy mills and backyard breeders then why are most of the dogs in shelters and rescues mixed breed? I think most of these animals end up there due to unintentional matings that occur when people don’t spay or neuter their pet. Some of the problem could be resolved if vets made that service more affordable too.

    July 22, 2012
  106. Certainly it has been a week for thinking any many places across our country when it comes to the responsibility of animals. As the director of a southern rescue, thanks for saying what so many are afraid to let spill from their lips……THERE ARE MANY THINGS WORSE THAN A PEACEFUL DEATH…..often when I say this people are shocked that such words would come from a rescuer, but it is beyond true. I’ve shared on my page and hope that it will be shared a thousand times more.

    July 22, 2012
  107. 100% agree with everything you wrote. As I say to my volunteers “Being a live is NOT GOOD ENOUGH! Quality of life is what is important”

    July 22, 2012
  108. Rose Smith #

    Thank you for being so brutally honest. Having been involved in various animal rescue efforts over the past 40 years I have to admit this was difficult to read. I, too, re-homed a very special dog, believing with my whole heart that I was allowing her to have a much happier life than I was able to provide. I did a follow-up visit – unannounced – about 6 months later and found horrid, squalid conditions. The happy home I thought I had found for my rescued pup was in fact an overpopulated scam. I went to the authorities and did my best to legally reclaim my dog… When that didn’t work I literally stalked the place in hopes of stealing her away. The people running the place finally moved and my precious dog was gone… For the past 6 years whenever I think of that dog my heart hurts. I should have kept her. I should have made changes in my life so that I KNEW without a doubt that she was cared for. But, as you so articulately described, I was desperate and believed someone else could and would care for her better than I would. I passed her on down the line. I now have a big, beautiful Pit I rescued with the goal of re-homing. After spending thousands of dollars on medical treatment for a dog that was very, very sick, I found myself seeking help – seeking someone, almost anyone, who would take this sweet but sick boy and give him a good home. Instead I found Jasmine’s House. The people there came and met us and offered me the opportunity to be able to keep our much loved boy. With their help our precious dog has been able to stay with us. He gets his medicine. He gets to sleep in bed with me every night. He has a big yard to run in. He’s happy and safe and brings such joy to our lives. We’ve even found a possible “pet share” situation so that when I am hospitalized our dog has someplace safe to go that he is familiar with and he will feel safe and loved. I guess my point is, this very difficult situation so many of us find ourselves in isn’t an easy fix. We all need to be as diligent as possible. So for all of you who try and make a difference, thank you. While sometimes our efforts fall short, we have to keep trying. God bless.

    July 22, 2012
    • Thank you for the hard work you’ve done Rose. I’m a big fan of Jasmine’s House and I’m thrilled that you could come together to develop a long term plan to support this dog with his quality of life in mind. That’s the kind of personal responsibility I’m talking about. It’s not easy, but you did it! As for the dog you rehomed, there is just no way to know without a doubt that the places we send adoptable pets will be ok. It’s always a risk. It doesn’t mean we should stop trying (as some people have misunderstood my blog to mean), it’s just a reminder to us that rehoming animals isn’t always an easy task – we need to consider their long term happiness and be aware of our own limitations in order to continue to rescue responsibly. Thanks for being a part of the conversation.

      July 23, 2012
  109. thank you so much for your posting. I am a trapper of feral cats and have to abort thousands of fetus, sad but it has to be done. for ever kitten/puppy being born one if not more are being killed in a shelter ever day.

    FCAT

    July 22, 2012
  110. robyn #

    I drove by this place twice aday to work never did i hear the dogs or see them for four years, I seen horses goats and job wanted signs… I have three dogs2 part, one full pitbull… I love my dogs thats why we moved out of Houston cuz of there breed…..I think in the begain she was for the dogs, some where she lost it and became a hoarder ….I want you all to open your eyes and see where your placing your pets, rescues too …..All those dogs are in my thoughts

    July 22, 2012
  111. I cried as a read this.. it is all too true, heart-scathingly on point. I have felt all of these feelings, the desperation of sparing a deserving animal that needle then nothingness when they had their lives ahead of them- then the greater sorrow of finding out the safe place found for them was not so safe. That is a fate worse than any broken heart- a guilty heart hurts far worse. Please, think through your commitment to any animal you touch- ensure that their life will be better for it.

    July 22, 2012
  112. Denise #

    Great article! It’s sad that the situation is so bad that one even has to make that decision. One thing that stood out to me was the part about heartbroken families who thought their dogs would get a loving home. I’m not do sure all are heartbroken. I do understand there are some people who really did not want to give up their dogs but they had no other choice. Someone loses a home or I’ve seen some cases where a person gets real ill. However, I don’t think the majority who give up their dogs have a good excuse. Most shelters say how the main reason an owner surrenders their dog is because they are moving. That is not an acceptable reason for me. I would not even look at a place if they did not allow pets and for me it’s not even an option. I’m sorry but I can’t imagine giving my dog up for anything. Problem is too many people discard of dogs too easily. I’ve heard of many who give up puppies because they’re peeing on the carpet. Most of those people if you ask them what training they’ve done with the dog will also tell you none. I have to agree with a previous comment that said others think of dogs as objects. Once they’re not convenient anymore or they grow tired of them they just get rid of it. People do need to get educated on caring for a dog before they decide to adopt or purchase a dog/cat. Others would be surprised how little some know before making this decision. They think all a dog needs is food and a roof over their head and they don’t need that much time. That’s also why you hear of people giving up their dogs because they don’t have time to care for them. One lady recently have up a dog bc she’s hardly ever home but she knew this before getting the dog so that’s not an excuse, don’t buy a dog then. Whenever someone I know is thinking of getting a dog, I break it down for them and let me tell how much they didn’t even consider since they make statements like “well besides food, a few toys and accessories what do I have to buy” I let them know about shots, flea and tick medicine every month, heartworm preventative, shampoo, conditioner, ear cleaner, nail clippers, grooming accessories or groomer fees if it applies, vet fees bc like people they do get sick and accidents do happen. Just one emergency cost me $4,000 once. You can’t just hope they’ll never get sick. No matter what though you need to take them to the vet at least once a year. If you go just once you’re lucky. Then the personal time you put into dogs. They need to be walked and not just to use the bathroom but for exercise and stimulation. So many who complain about over active dogs and destroying their home, you’ll find they don’t walk their dogs often. it’s extremely important that anyone thinking about getting a dog knows all the responsibilities that come along with it.

    I don’t think there is one answer that will solve this problem. There are several things that need to happen to fix this huge problem. It would be ideal if pet stores and puppy mills closed down, that alone would be a huge improvement. One day I pray that will become reality but this won’t happen anytime soon sadly. I hear too often of sanctuaries or rescues where things go bad and just got out of control. That is why they need to be checked in on at least twice a year. For some reason they don’t seek help when and just let the problem get worse and worse. Now while I understand how hard it can get for them, if they don’t say anything then how can anybody help? They need to just say “listen I can’t take in anymore, we are beyond capacity and don’t have the funds or staff to personally care for them all” then maybe some people will realize they have to see it to the end that this dog/cat gets the ending they deserve like you said in the article. Perhaps, if you were told that from the beginning you would’ve made a different decision and from reading your article I can tell you would have. Another thing is the public needs to be more informed about what is going on. So many have no clue that gas chambers are used or how many are euthanized every year. When I tell many they are shocked. Those of us who always stay current with all news regarding animals are surprised to find out there are people who still don’t know these facts but it’s true. Many still don’t realize how 98% of dogs at pet stores come from puppy mills. Pet stores are getting clever and fool the public. They put up signs saying their dogs come from a breeder and will tell them how the breeder is USDA licensed. Of course, we know that puppy mills are commercial breeders and are USDA licensed but many don’t. They think they’re this illegal place so they can’t be licensed. Only 20% of pets come from shelters. That’s 80% of people still buying from pet stores and breeders. 80% that could have been adopted from a shelter. We wouldn’t even have this problem if it wasn’t for that fact. In the united stated there are 72 million owned dogs, 80% of that is 56 million. That is 56 million dogs that could have been adopted from a shelter but weren’t. 56 million dogs that either have to live their lives in cages or had to be euthanized. These pet stores should not be allowed to deceive people in believing their dogs come from a breeder. Less people would buy if they knew where they really came from. Problem is educating everyone who is thinking about getting a pet.

    I don’t

    July 23, 2012
    • Denise #

      Some things I forgot to mention, sorry i have a lot to say about this topic. First of all, I wanted to let you know that you are NOT at fault for what happened to those cats. Please stop blaming yourself and thinking you did anything wrong. The sanctuary is 100% at fault. You did the right thing, you brought them somewhere that you believed they would be cared and loved for and living out their lives in a much better environment. That was exactly what you should have done, and if it was a good sanctuary then it would’ve been the perfect solution. If you rescue animals then the goal is for someone else to give them the end they deserve, which is a loving home or in this case sanctuary. You can’t let this discourage from doing it again in the future. The lesson you should take with you is that unfortunately not everyone can be trusted. However, there are many amazing rescues/ sanctuaries out there. Just check them out, develop working relationships with them where you know for a fact they can be trusted. I understand how this can devastate a person and place blame on themselves but your actions were all correct, you did everything you were supposed to, they are the ones who did everything wrong. The answer wouldn’t have been euthanasia for those cats but instead a good and trustworthy sanctuary. I know some say they had good intentions and it got out of hand so can’t really blame but I do. Same as hoarders who get in way over their head. I can’t imagine caring for any animal and having to see them go without food, seeing them matted and dirty, having health issues that are not addressed. I don’t think most people can watch a dog live its life like this day in and day out while it’s in your care.

      Also, I want to talk about no kill shelters.
      I know most of you know this already but by some comments, it seems like some believe all no kill shelters are the same. Not all take in more than they can handle. One of my local no kill shelters keeps it at a very manageable level and unfortunately do have to say no sometimes. However, they don’t just tell a person they are full and turn them away. They try to help them in other ways. Just recently for example they helped a dog they couldn’t personally take in but posted about him on their FB page. The owner wanted to surrender the dog bc she worked too many hours and had no time for him. The poor dog spent most of time in a crate and was in bad condition. They couldn’t just turn their backs on him and after they posted about him, he was adopted within a few days. It wasn’t the first time they did this either. If they are at capacity but someone wants to surrender a dog, again they’ll post asking if someone can please foster this dog or even foster another dog of theirs so they can take the new dog in. They also have a great volunteer program. There are those who work in the shelter on a frequent or daily basis but they also have many that come on just to walk the dogs and buddy systems where people get paired up with a particular dog(s) they take them on many outings such as the beach, on long hikes, dog parks and etc., and also have sleepovers. There’s also volunteer dog walkers who come just later in the evening so they get out more often. Even after their business hours, I see them walking the dogs around in the evening and still with them in the shelter past 10pm. Theres a fenced in backyard they get to play in and in the summer they have doggie pools for them too. They do many adoption events throughout the city and even have seen them on tv shows to show their adoptable dogs. They work with training schools and take them to get certified plus they get out of the shelter while attending those classes. I hate the idea of dogs living in cages too and wish they didn’t have to spend one day in them but seeing the amazing endings makes me feel better about it at times. Not all are like this so I understand that but I don’t think it should be about shelter vs. shelter. Instead it should be about shelters/rescues/sanctuaries working together because they all want the same thing.

      As I said above, only 20% of owned dogs come from shelters so the solution would be to increase adoptions from shelters and decrease sales from pet stores and BYB. 56 million dogs currently in homes were bought from either a breeder or pet store. Considering around 4 million are euthanized in shelters every year, if all or most of those 56 million came from shelters then there wouldn’t even be a problem with over population in shelters. Some counties are banning the sale of pets. In NJ one county has recently done this. So now all those per stores either have to close or they can adopt out pets if they want. People need to fight for this in their states/cities/counties. Fight against puppy mills and report specific mills about their horrible conditions to try and shut them down. Stricter regulations on the sale of animals on the Internet. Sorry for the long post.

      July 23, 2012
  113. Solution to the problem: how about if we quit having shelters and rescues? Then everyone just finds a new home for their pet that they don’t want or can’t keep on craigslist, charges a high enough fee the animal isn’t regarded as disposable, and the animal goes directly from an old home to a new home? Think long and hard before you discount this idea. It is a lot simpler than the other suggestions being proposed. I wrote a three page explanation on my bad experiences with rescue and shelters and my good experiences with craigslist that brought me to this conclusion that got deleted, but you can fill in the blank with Spindletop or any other horror stories that come to mind. More people read craigslist than petfinder or any other animal site so it is an underutilized resource. Having the previous owner interview new potential owners and do the transfer would be far kinder for the vast majority of animals needing new homes.

    July 23, 2012
    • Denise #

      Sheltie1-that would be assuming that most pet owners care enough to do all the work. Sadly, many want to get rid of their dogs and quickly. Look at owners who leave their dogs behind when moving in an empty apt or home. People who leave them on the side of the road or crazy incidents of throwing them out the window of a moving car and etc.

      July 23, 2012
      • sheltie1 #

        I was talking about normal people, the vast majority of whom have some sense, not cruelty cases. Of course full access to craigslist as an option would mean less reason for people to run out of ideas and make bad choices. I don’t think the options of craigslist or a shelter or a rescue would mean anything to somebody whose idea of placing an unwanted pet is just throwing it out the window.

        July 25, 2012
    • I live in Brooklyn, right near Prospect Park—there is a huge issue with people abandoning dogs in the park, by either tying them up and leaving them, or just letting them run loose. And this is IN a major city with many shelters, many rescues. People fail their pets, all the time, in every way imaginable. Until you can address stupidity and callousness, their WILL ALWAYS be a need for shelters.

      July 26, 2012
  114. Kerri #

    I believe that euthanizing a healthy pet in your arms (as a pet owner) is betrayal at it’s worst (as is dumping your pet at the shelter). I know many sanctuaries that provide wonderful lives for the pets who reside there. Everyone including “rescuers” need to stop looking to the quick fix which of course is euthanasia. At one time Spindletop was a well respected rescue. When the flood hit them they should have asked for and received aid. My understanding is that they had asked for help but instead of receiving the help they needed, the HSUS failed to provide aid and then raided them for publicity and donations. There is more to this story than is being told – I am not saying Spindletop is right. Things could have been handled better by many. This attitude of mercy killing healthy pets (let’s all be truthful – shelters are full because people don’t want to be bothered with unwanted/stray pets – the animals certainly are not checking themselves in for euthanasia!) is very dangerous thinking. It’s not about killing them to “protect” them. That sounds like cult thinking! In the case of Spindletop there was a failure – most likely several failures which lead to the tragedy there but out of the ruins has emerged 298 dogs that live and have a shot at a happy life – a life they would have no chance of had they been euthanized.. Rescuers see tragedy everyday and the thing to do is to pick up and go on and learn how to trust again – just as shelter pets do!

    July 23, 2012
  115. Linda Hoffecker #

    Excellent article and I, too, have been guilty of placing some feral cats with a ‘one woman’ rescue.It was not even a bona fide rescue; just a woman with a big heart. She had a great idea but didn’t know when to say ‘no’.. Being that she was driven from some other state to her present residence in the country should have been a clue but all looked ‘fairly good’ when we checked out the facility. I heard later on that it was filthy, and many of the cats were sick.. You could not find the cats searched for anywhere. I’ve lived with this guilt so long but tried to make it up by never making the same mistake and being a more responsible rescuer, even if it means……………sigh.

    July 23, 2012
  116. Matt.S #

    I believe shelters are part of the solution. That said, “shelters” are not always what they seem. For all the sometimes justified skepticism, many are places of genuine refuge and hope for discarded animals, run by compassionate people. Hats off to the dedicated shelter workers out there.

    July 23, 2012
    • Thanks for your response Mel. I’m not against the no-kill movement, I’m all for rehoming animals to shelters, rescues, and even sanctuaries, if they’re run well. This essay was about my personal experience – In the case of the two cats I wrote about, I had exhausted every option to help them and the santuary was a last resort. It turned out that these cats paid a terrible price and lived in hell at this facility. I regret that.

      My essay was really about taking personal responsibility for the lives we save and not blindly passing the responsibility to someone else (which in some cases can contribute to an animal’s suffering, as it did with the cats I blindly sent to sanctuary) – it’s about considering quality of life for the companion animals that are in our care or that we chose to save, doing the hard work to ensure that we provide this level of care long-tem, and understanding that saving an animal goes way beyond just keeping it alive. I think that when no-kill is done right, it focuses on these issues too.

      July 23, 2012
    • Mel, I’m interested why you stated on your Facebook page that I didn’t post your comment. Not only did I post your comment, I responded to it. No need to spread rumors about “zero respect” – it’s time we all have an honest conversation, even when we don’t agree!

      August 9, 2012
  117. Ellen #

    The only way to end this entire nightmare is to have people be responsible, and spay or neuter their pets. And to educate people about adopting, instead of buying and contributing to puppy mills. And for people calling themselves “rescues” to be held accountable for what they do. We have four dogs, all adopted from the local SPCA, and all fixed. We’ve also fostered dogs. Everyone needs to step up, and help. Instead of saying it’s someone else’s problem.

    July 23, 2012
  118. Jay Miller #

    Amazing article!!!!

    On a side note, Leah, owner at Spindletop was also a former breeder of pit bulls. Many dogs recently had puppies so this leads me to believe she is still breeding. They found a dog at Spindletop that had obviously recently given birth however, no sign up puppies. Back yard breeding at its finest! So this part of her sanctuary has nothing to do with feeling the need to say yes to people in fear the dogs would be euthanized. She was supposed to be an advocate for these dogs however, she added to the problem but not spaying and neutering these pets. This is the part that is most shocking to me. Its so upsetting that someone that is supposed to know this breed so well is adding to the problem.

    July 23, 2012
    • I think we’ll have to wait until all the facts are out to understand what happened there. What we do know for sure is that the dogs are in good hands now and being treated fairly and with compassion. Very thankful for that.

      July 23, 2012
  119. I love this article – very thought provoking and painfully insightful. I think you hit the nail on the head. But for the fans of MSN – if we can’t get poverty level people to stop breeding more children to abuse/neglect/molest, I find it hard to swallow that we can control the animal population by sterilization. How on earth would you regulate that? And once we hand that power to government, do we really want to see what rides it’s coattails, and how they manipulate it to apply to unrelated and scary things? The solution is as the article says, make better choices. We have to make better choices for those who cannot, and follow through our obligations.

    July 23, 2012
  120. jasmine #

    What a thought filled article. Thank you. We made the horrible mistake of trusting a “rescue” without checking it out personally with a closer visit before trusting them with a loved pet that needed a lot more care than we could give. We were told not to worry they had a vet on call and would take loving care of him. This so did not happen. I was so lied to and the animal suffered for it. They just wanted a pet for their child for Christmas!! Instead the animal died and I am made to look like a horrible person on their website! Gets them lots of donations. All I can say is if you have to give an animal to a rescue or new home please do a home visit or two or three. Please!!

    July 23, 2012
  121. You are absolutely correct. I know of a few no kill shelters that have dogs sitting there for 6 or 7 years. There is also a faction of rescue people that do nothing but post. They do not foster, transport or donate. They simply clog up rescue boards asking to ” PLEASE SAVE THIS DOG”. They dont fact check. The dog may already be adopted or have been put to sleep.
    There are other factions that will not donate to high kill shelters. They want to punish the directors. This does not help the dogs and cats at all. I myself am not able to decide what animals should be to put to sleep so I stay away from any type of function that might require a decision on my part. For example: Deciding a dog is too aggressive to adopt out and should be put down. I understand a rescue having to make that choice, but I cant do it.

    I speak from experience, I have an aggressive dog. Aggression cant really be “cured” and the best you can do is try to to avoid triggers and manage the dog as best you can. I even had to hire a lawyer to protect her from our landlord. She is with me for life. But I cant say by adopting a dog I am a dog rescuer. There has to be a greater effort put forth by us all.

    When you say owner support, what are the parameters of that support?

    July 23, 2012
    • Hi there, owner support can mean many things, depending on the type of organization that’s offering it. Some examples might be: offering free or low cost training classes, a free behavior hotline, being able to take the animal back if the adoption was not the right match, educating owners about proper management and safe introductions to other pets and kids, partnering with other groups to offer accessible, free or low cost s/n and vaccination serivces in areas that are underserved, being a resource for renters looking for pet friendly housing, etc. Anything that helps pets stay in their homes. It may not be possible for every organization to provide all of these things or to offer lifetime support, but it’s something to work towards and it can be done – especially if groups work together.

      July 23, 2012
      • rockjdog #

        good point but I am not sure a rescue or rescues can be a one stop source for after-care. What about trying to start an organization that works for several different rescues. This organization would not be in the business of rescuing and placing pets. It’s only function would be to supply the after care you mention. spay/neuter, housing tips, behavior and so on. The rescues would supply the adopter info and animal evaluations etc. Then each component could become an expert in the area they practice.

        July 23, 2012
        • Great point! It’s not easy to be a one stop shop and many cannot do so, which is understandable. I think success, in terms of owner support and increased adoptions, comes from working together with other animal welfare groups, community members, and local businesses. There are quite a few advocacy and education groups that I know of who choose not to rescue animals, as you mentioned, so that they can focus their resources on providing support services instead. I think that’s awesome and I hope more people will consider this option as a way to make a difference for animals in their communities.

          July 23, 2012
        • There is a great organization based in Maryland that is doing pretty much what you suggest. Their mission is to provide support to dog owners to help avoid dogs being given up due to behavior issues, as well as to make sure the adoption is successful. Their name is Your Dog’s Friend (http://www.yourdogsfriend.info/index.html). I haven’t seen others specifically like this but hopefully they are out there….more are definitely needed, I agree.

          July 23, 2012
    • Matt.S #

      It’s frustrating to be sure. As for those that “clog up the the rescue boards”, I’m conflicted on that. One the one hand you have a valid point about people with no training, experience or resources for basic owner support assuming that good intentions are enough. Too much goes into a successful rescue that they probably don’t understand. On the other hand, when someone from a rescue encounters “PLEASE SAVE THIS DOG” messages, how about trying to contact them and ask if they would like to volunteer in a some capacity within a rescue you’re affiliated with? After taking a break from the rescue scene due to family situations, I offered to volunteer for some rescues and nobody cared enough to take me up on it, or even get back to me in some cases. I hate to admit this, but some “rescues” are more about personal clicks that develop when something becomes trendy, and like it or not, in some circles rescue is trendy now, which is a whole different topic. Suffice it to say that for all the begging for both money AND volunteers, not everyone really wants to be bothered with anyone who has more time than money. I think reaching out to people with good hearts is one way of growing a rescue.

      July 23, 2012
      • Hi Matt,
        Yes many rescues are like that. I just do not get involved in the politics.I am no good at politics and even if I tried to be a part of a click I get caught up in who slighted me, who does not like me…etc. I do whatever I can, transport, donate, try to do whatever is put my way. I just say to myself it is about the dogs, screw the personalities. Principles before personalities, you know?
        Where abouts are you located? Have you tried working with shelters? They never turn away dog walkers or people to sit with the cats.

        July 23, 2012
        • Matt.S #

          I’m in Minnesota. thanks for asking. I was just very recently recruited by a local recue and am back at it. I was an independent advocate for a while, donations, visiting the local pound to asess a dog if I could, to ask friends with rescue experience to look at if I thought they were “adoptable”. My first experience with rescue was 20+ years ago when I joined a club for people with White German Shepherd dogs. I learned how to do basic sit, stay, down, type training and even fostered. That group has since moved out of state. i’m learning on the fly now with different parts of rescue and trying to absorb as much as possible.

          July 23, 2012
          • Matt.S #

            I have taken two dogs through certification as therapy dogs. That was very rewarding! seeing people in hospitals and nursing homes respond to the dogs in a way they would never respond to humans. I was blessed by that and learned alot.

            July 23, 2012
          • Matt:
            You are a hero, please keep up the good work!

            July 24, 2012
            • Matt.S #

              Thank you for the kind words. It’s a blessing to have supportive people like you, especially people with the experience you have! Thank you for what you’re doing for these precious lives.

              July 24, 2012
  122. Julie Dykman #

    Very difficult things to consider – such a strong advocacy for spay and neuter – PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE let’s reduce the number of animals without homes. The kindest thing that can be done for your new puppy or kitten is making certain they do not reproduce. Then, of course, we need to shut down all puppy mills. Thanks for listening.

    July 23, 2012
  123. I think another thing that needs to be addressed is licensing rescues. There are far to many that rescue and don’t see things through. Pulling an animal off the street or out of a shelter is not rescuing if that animal is then put into boarding or its medical needs are not addressed. I have seen a lot of actions by rescues lately that is truly concerning. Because most states don’t regulate rescues there are new rescues popping up everyday. What do they like to pull? Puppies. Why? So they can balance their books and charge incredibly high adoption fees.

    July 23, 2012
    • jasmine #

      Oh, I so agree with this one!! I see this one so much here. There is a group here that does this. They “rescue” dogs off the street or off chains than put them into boarding for years, ask huge fees to adopt them, and beg for funds to pay for the cost to pay for boarding and feeding them. And when there are medical bill they post these horrible tales, not always the truth, to get money to pay the vet. And when that doesn’t work then they ship them to other states, to shelters that they don’t check as well as they should. And they love to get small dogs and puppies to take to adoption events to adopt out for mega bucks. But if someone is adopting out a pup on their own and asking a fee, that person is a puppy mill???? Even if the puppy is a rescue or oops. They do some spay and neuter, but mostly just so they can get the service reduced for their own foster animals. And the ones that suffer, that poor dog that grew up on a chain that will never make a house dog and so will never get adopted, and so will live in a cage for the rest of its life. Or the aggressive pit that cant be with other dogs or cats or be safe with kids so it cant be adopted and it will have to be left in boarding for life or go to another rescue. I know some will get upset with me, but some dogs don’t get rehabilitated to become that loving lap dog that we all love. Some times the kindest thing is to let them go. Not to let them live in a cage for the rest of their lives wondering why.

      July 23, 2012
  124. puppy foster mom #

    Beautifully written — honest, straight to the point, & oh so true! Thank you for writing this & sharing it. I’ll be passing it on to the shelters & rescue groups that I volunteer with. I’ve held all my pets when they were PTS to cross the Rainbow Bridge, & I’ve held puppies with parvo when they needed to be PTS too. Yes, it hurts like hell, but it’s the right thing to do.

    July 23, 2012
  125. Joanne Kinnear #

    I volunteer at a dog shelter and this was a hard read. The woman that runs the shelter has to make tough choices all the time – from which dogs to take in to turning down people she doesn’t think are able to take care of a dog. She does it responsibly and we are fortunate to have over 200 volunteers working in shifts to take care of about 30 dogs, work at fund raising events, run the website and follow up on the adoptions. It is truly heaven to work there and be a part of this wonderful group of people. That being said, about 10 years ago I also volunteered at another dog “shelter” for a few months. It was a horrible place – overrun with rats, dogs never being walked or let out and the roof caving in during the winter. Having had no experience in shelters I thought due to lack of funding that this was the norm. Sadly, because of an outbreak of leptospyrosis all the dogs were euthanized. All this to say that I have seen both ends of the spectrum and although it is hard to admit and I am not sure I could make the tough decisions, I agree with you. I don’t know what the answer is but while I can, I will do my very small part to help.

    July 23, 2012
    • Thank you for doing the hard work to help create safe, humane care for shelter dogs. It’s not easy, but when we all do our small part, and do it well, it makes a huge difference.

      July 23, 2012
  126. Theresa #

    Very interesting post – unfortunately, it’s true. It’s also interesting that the human race has the uncanny ability to relieve its guilt by holding everyone else more responsible! I think people do realize that rescue work is hard and very complex but they stop themselves from thinking about it further because they fear they may learn that there is no easy solution. We are all responsible for this INCLUDING the breeders and anyone who sells animals…

    July 23, 2012
  127. Mary Mann #

    You are exactly right. I share your understanding. I understand dogs and cats live in the moment. I have been through this wringer. You wrote my pain. I applaud you.

    July 23, 2012
  128. Finally, someone else, saying what I’ve been saying for years! It’s not easy to talk about these things. I’m a 30 year seasoned animal rescuer/advocate who has seen rescue go from high kill shelters to the concept of no-kill. The problem is that unless we balance out the concept of no-kill shelters with a moratorium on breeding animals, all we are doing is pulling animals from one place and stashing them somewhere else. Some get adopted, but many more don’t and are warehoused for the rest of their lives.Aggressive spay/neuter programs has helped, but has failed to keep up with the birth rate. In advanced European countries, like Germany, you don’t have an overabundance of dogs or cats. Breeding animals is a privilege, not a right, and the country places limits on how many breeders of any particular breed is allowed, and licensing requirements are rigid. The only answer to this killing and warehousing, is to stop this indiscriminate breeding. It is not a “hobby” when we are playing with the lives of other beings, nor should it be a right.

    July 23, 2012
    • Madison #

      Here, here!

      July 23, 2012
    • Thank you! I have been saying those same things for years and years, but all I get is deaf ears and angry breeders. Can you provide some samples of how European countries are doing the controlled breeding? Can you post some links to the websites or webpages? I want to hear more. Thank you!

      July 23, 2012
      • Unfortunately the Euro-countries have not provided the best models for managing pet populations. Pit bulls and their mixes are heavily restricted and banned in much of Germany and banned in the UK (Lennox is a recent well publicized example of a dog destroyed in Belfast for his appearance) and the NPR just reported that in France, an estimated 100,000 animals are abandoned before their owners go on long holiday. http://www.npr.org/2012/07/11/156609037/in-france-the-abandoned-dog-days-of-summer

        In the US, one of the biggest reasons pit bulls and their mixes end up in shelters is a housing crisis that refuses pit bulls. Loving families may have the very best intentions when they bring a new dog home, but it can be next to impossible to keep a dog longterm in areas where breed bias is high, especially if you’re low or middle income and/or brown skinned and/or English is not your first language. I think the Spindletop tragedy has been the biggest reminder yet to illustrate that even when people love their pets very much, they’re often forced to make impossible surrender decisions.

        Without a doubt we need more spay/neuter resources for pet owners, but the housing crisis that so many pet owners eventually face will still be filling our shelters for a very long time if we don’t directly address it and look for creative solutions.

        July 23, 2012
        • Thanks for reminding us that there is still much work to be done in Europe as well. There just aren’t any simple answers, are there? As you’ve said before, this problem (and the solution) has many, many layers.

          July 23, 2012
          • Look at the thickest bottom sludge layer and that is all the excess breeding that the system can not support. The current system is imploding upon itself due to all the excess animals.

            July 23, 2012
    • Matt.S #

      Without intending any offense to our European friends, the fact remains that this is not Europe, and trying to recreate Europe here is unlikely to work. We have a a huge problem to be sure, and while I congradulate our European friends on any progress they’ve made there, the “European Model” doesn’t neccasarily translate well to the U.S. I’m not against learning about & from any system that may work here. I’m just focused on what’s going to work here & now.

      July 23, 2012
      • Why do you think that something that works in Europe or any other country would not work in the US? People with pets are the same in every country. They all want the same thing. Many cites and states in the US do have types of breeding regulations. Texas just recently passed a wonderful commercial breeding regulation law. Many cites do have mandatory spay/neuter laws.

        I think we need to stop thinking that America is supreme and first in everything and that we can’t learn from other countries. Rather than re-inventing the wheel, let’s see who is doing what and go from there.

        I think the basis of the problem is that Americans believe that we are free to do as we choose with our animals and everything else and nobody can tell them any different. We are not free to abuse and discard and bring animals into a world that can’t support their existence. We are not free to breed and breed and breed animals without a way to take care of them. We have proven we don’t have a way to take care of all the animals that are being born, so something else needs to happen. The current ways are NOT working.

        July 23, 2012
        • Matt.S #

          I certainly didn’t mean to imply that nothing from any other country was worth considering. I just see other flaws in every system, and other differences ie. population differences, both in numbers and resources, need to be considered.

          July 23, 2012
          • Everything is considered, but the main consideration will be the lives of all the current animals being born and yet to be born that our current system can not support and take care of.

            July 23, 2012
    • Denise #

      I wish the US would follow the same rules and regulations. Does this also prevent people who aren’t even real breeders but families who decide to breed their family pet for money. For example, I have a neighbor who has 2 dogs and when she goes into heat they try to get her pregnant. They even approached me and asked if she can mate with my male dog. Actually, I have people come up to me ALL the time asking me this and I’m shocked. Many have one dog and some say they just want to do it one time at least. There are some when I meet them for the first time, and as soon as they see me they ask the sex of my dog. If they have a female they ask me if we can breed them together and if they have a male they are disappointed. I recently had someone ask me this but they had a male and told me that their dog was 10 years and he never had sex and they would like for him to have sex at least once. They weren’t the only ones who said that very thing. Not just my neighbors but I’ve had someone drive by and stop their car to ask me about this. These are regular people who want to do it at least one time and really have no clue what they’re doing. I let them down and right away and point out how the only question they asked me was the sex of my dog. They never ask for his history and if there are any health problems. I explain how even if he were able to reproduce that I would never do it including the fact that he has patella luxation on his knee which is genetic and he only had one testicle drop while the other remained in abdomen, again genetic. They just seem to only care about his apricot coloring.

      I don’t know how these people can be stopped, even if they do it just one time they are still contributing to the problem. I am shocked how often I am asked. The craziest thing I’ve seen is two neighbors who did this out in the open in my buildings outdoor fenced in area with benches and a little park area. Neither even lived here, but they met here with their dogs, let their two dogs in the closed in area while they watched and waited. Their kids were there too. Once it was over they shook hands and went on their way with their dogs.

      July 23, 2012
      • I know of a local sheltie person who told me that she believes that all her females are better, more focused dogs for sports after having a litter of puppies, so she allows all of them to breed. FYI, She also helps with rescue of the breed. Does that make sense?

        July 23, 2012
        • Denise #

          That’s the problem, too many people out there are misinformed. This is a huge problem and We need to bring more attention to what is happening to animals. We need to see more programs such as, One nation under dog. More media attention so the public can be educated. People need to be encouraged to adopt. Also, the negative view of shelter dogs need to be changed. Too often I have seen discussions of this and read terrible things said about shelter animals. They discourage potential adopters. There also needs to be more funding for shelters. They are understaffed and don’t have the funds for necessary changes to the shelter. Some don’t want to go into a run down shelter to pick out a family pet. The shelter workers get blamed but it’s not their fault for those conditions. It’s been proven that shelters which were renovated saw a higher adoption rate. City run shelters need to do more fund raising or whatever to make these changes. Why not community projects to help out, get everyone involved. Get large groups of people to come paint the shelters, have artists volunteer to make it more appealing. Every little thing helps.

          July 23, 2012
  129. Madison #

    It is a hard thing to explain that while you want with every fiber of your being to be able to save every abused/neglected/needy animal you come across that sometimes it is more humane to help them pass on. But you did it so well, saying the things that are so hard for some of us to verbalize. Thank you.

    July 23, 2012
    • I think the most humane thing to do is to prevent the unwanted animals to be prevented from being born to begin with and avoid having them go through the terror of being in a bad home, then being discarded or abandoned, then ending up in a government shelter (I have worked and volunteered in many government shelters so I know what I am talking about and not bad mouthing), being euthanized in a cold room, ending up in a dirty barrel and dumped into a large garbage truck.

      July 23, 2012
      • Yes, but that doesn’t work for the dogs who are *already here*.

        July 23, 2012
        • We have to start somewhere. If we enact breeding regulations and penalties for not complying, remember the gestation period is only six weeks for dogs. It won’t take long.

          For the animals who are here already, then do what is being done currently and improve upon those. The crux of the problem is at the base of all the animals being bred that the system can not support.

          July 23, 2012
  130. MG #

    We do have licensing here of rescues that import animals for adoption. Interestingly, this legislation has been a tooth and nail fight for a very long time with much vocal opposition and lobbying from most of the animal welfare groups. I find it odd that years ago when we passed a far more sweeping inspection process for anyone that holds a kennel license ( any “group of dogs kept for show, sport or sale” ) we received a lot more cooperation from the breeders in the state. They signed on to an inspection of their premises including their homes if need be at any reasonable hour by State Animal Control. Failure to allow inspection can result in a $1000 fine. This was done through communication and trust. With today’s climate of ignorant people blaming ALL breeders for the current overpopulation, I seriously doubt that such trust and communication would happen again. While I trust the officers I used to supervise, who knows what the next wave will bring? All of this hard line mandatory S/N and “there’s no such thing as a responsible breeder” is doing nothing more than drawing lines in the sand.

    July 23, 2012
  131. “Breeding animals is a privilege, not a right, and the country places limits on how many breeders of any particular breed is allowed, and licensing requirements are rigid.”

    This is what must be done in this country!

    July 23, 2012
  132. MG #

    If you Google FCI international breeding regulations, you can see the dictates of the FCI. Of course, there are also many individual kennel clubs under the umbrella of the FCI as well as breed clubs with various regulations.

    I have made many trips to various parts of Europe and especially Finland and I truly admire the way dog breeding is done in many cases. What I like even better is that it is the FCI and the various national clubs and breed clubs that dictate breeding practices NOT people that know nothing about purebred dogs or that have an agenda. I only wish AKC would get with the program and stop repeating “We are just a registry” .

    July 23, 2012
    • Thanks for the information. I wish AKC could be different, also. There is a lot of untapped potential there. However, they are not the best group because they have too much stake in puppy fees and breeders producing dogs.

      I do agree that the breeding regulations should be by third party groups, not by government, not by shelters and not by breeders. A portion of all breeding fees goes to support this group. I think the groups should have reps from a variety of backgrounds and interests, not just purebred dogs or breeders. Everybody has an interest in making it work.

      Thanks again.

      July 23, 2012
  133. Mia Hess #

    Thank you for this article, should be required reading to anyone with a heart for animals and wanting to help the homeless, helpless ones. I’ve always said, and gotten slammed for saying it, you can’t save them all.
    A good responsible breeder, like the ones I’ve dealt with over the last decades, have been with me from silly puppyhood through old age and unto death. They are the ones you never hear about, just all the idiots out there and millers. JMO.

    July 23, 2012
  134. MG #

    Terri, I am well aware of the genetic problems in some breeds and it is insulting for you to imply that I think that people who breed genetically impaired animals are responsible breeders. I know that you are SO convinced that you are on higher moral ground than anyone who actually breeds an animal so I take that into consideration as an excuse for your rudeness. Frankly, I would like to know how many animal related laws you have been instrumental in writing, how many times have you testified at your state legislature, how many animal cruelty warrants have you written and executed, how many seizures you have organized, how many judges have you stood before and presented the best case you could,how many large animal rescue facilities you have been in charge of…………..
    Two million healthy animals euthanized is not an acceptable number but there are many of us who were working in the trenches when that number was 14 million annually so perhaps you might want to think about the fact that there were some of us who really helped make a difference and we did it without turning into little Nazis like you who think you have all the answers.

    July 23, 2012
    • TerriB #

      I have not stood before courts nor have I written any legislation but I have trapped, tamed, fostered, stayed up all night, fed, bathed, and housed many a litter of feral kittens, three of whom still reside in my home, and I have taken, as my own pet, a dog that a rescue could not adopt out.

      Maybe my contributions are not as grandiose as you seem to think yours are but I’d like to think that I made a difference. I’m pretty sure the cats and dogs I personally took care of were grateful.

      July 23, 2012
      • I think we can stop at this point saying one person did more than another. We all want this problem to stop, so we will have to work together and not against each other.

        July 23, 2012
      • MG #

        I don’t believe anyone is saying they have done more than anyone else but I will not be talked down to and have it inferred that I am part of the problem or that I support poor breeding practices or that I am too ignorant to know how many animals are euthanized every year. I too have had rescue dogs and cats and was fortunate enough to have a long career based in trying to help make things better. When people talk about the animals they have rescued, it is fine but I am accused of being “grandiose”? As long as fingers continue to be pointed like this, there will be little or no communication or working together.
        It was a great article which I intend to forward on and I thank you for it.

        July 23, 2012
  135. MG #

    Sorry but there is a genetic component to temperament in dogs. It isn’t the only factor but it is there. If it weren’t how could people blame all breeders for dogs with bad temperament?

    July 23, 2012
    • A breeder can’t be blamed for the temperament of their puppies. They can breed two dogs with great temperament and get lousy puppies and vice versa. I personally have seen dogs with horrible temperament come from the best breeders, and I have seen dogs with great temperaments come from terrible situations.

      I hold breeders responsible for breeding genetically sound and physically healthy dogs and dogs that meet a standard that is agreed upon for the benefit of the dog. These things happen on one side of the birth canal. Temperament is such a gamble because so much affects it, including environment and training on the other side of the birth canal.

      All of my dogs, mixed breed shelter dogs, have come from pretty rough and difficult situations, and they all have outstanding temperaments. However, I also choose them because they did have outstanding temperaments at the time I saw them and evaluated them, and they were all under one year old at that time of adoption, except for one dog, who was already an adult. Yes, I did evaluate them and look for very specific things such as attitude and focus, even after coming out of extremely difficult situations. I prefer a dog that says, “World I am coming! Look out!” even after being through the worst of times. That is what I look for in temperament. I won’t take a dog that is hiding in a corner and fearful. I want the dog that is hitting the door and trying to get everybody’s attention and the photographer’s attention. The rest is training, which I can do.

      That is why I don’t consider temperament to be genetic. Temperament in individual to the animal, and why I rarely ever get dogs as puppies. I believe the best time to evaluate temperament is with a dog around nine months to a year and in a shelter. I want to see an adult temperament and I want to see it in full bloom in the worse situation, and how is the dog handling what is being thrown at them. I don’t want a dog that is in the best situation all of his/her life and then when I apply a little training pressure to them, they collapse in a heap on the floor. Of course, I don’t mean physical pressure. I mean “expectations” pressure. I use only positive rewards and high expectations in my training.

      I don’t believe in seeing the parents and grandparents in order to evaluate temperament. I think the dog in front of me is the only basis of temperament I want to see and judge. I would want to see the parents if I wanted the dog to look a certain way, since I think that genetics is the one and only true way to determine what the dog will look like and not how they will act.

      July 25, 2012
  136. MG #

    You’re welcome, Jackie. I used to do the Breed Suitability Tests and other work with my Rotties and am trying to get to some moose trials with my Bear Dogs to prove their ability in the woods. I also do conformation to show an “all round” dog. They are all tested for the genetic problems specific to the various breeds even if they are not bred. ( I haven’t had a litter here or stood a stud dog since 2001 so I’m not exactly flooding the market. ) I am not uncommon in this and therefore get quite annoyed when we get lumped in with some idiot who is putting two dogs together with no information or knowledge of anything or worse yet someone who knowingly breeds dogs with genetic problems to win a ribbon and is referred to as a “breeder”.

    There is a growing disillusionment with AKC from many breeders, judges and exhibitors especially as regards their registration of puppy mill dogs. I think that many of us would not be opposed to some sort of oversight but I can’t see it happening in today’s climate of mistrust and the “holier than thou” attitude of those who short sightedly wish to see a ban on all breeding. It would also be rather unproductive to have such people in any regulatory capacity as they generally have no more understanding of dog breeding than I do of auto mechanics.
    Anyway, if I come across any more articles on the European countries, I will pass them on. I do know that in Scandinavia, they have very few mixed breed dogs due to their various breeding programs and they are quite proud of that as they are of their low numbers of shelter animals.

    July 23, 2012
    • I already found all the information on FCI. It is all there on the internet for anybody to see. Thanks! I am going to contact them directly. There is actually something called “International Breeding Regulations.” I think those can apply to the US.

      July 23, 2012
  137. Matt.S #

    I don’t have the experience with cats that I do with dogs. Part of my role right now in the rescue group I volunteer with is to recruit fosters for dogs And cats. I’m learning first hand how big the cat overpopulation problem really is. I’ve heard the numbers, but to see it from a new angle, it’s overwhelming. I have so much to learn and it’s not easy to form educated opinions on things like TNR. How is this handled elsewhere?

    July 23, 2012
    • Hi Matt;

      Check out the work that we have done at http://www.mrfrs.org. We were founded because of a colony of 300 feral cats on the Newburyport Waterfront and now we don’t have any feral cats in this area. Good TNR works. We have an open admission, no-kill shelter(what does this mean?-we operate on a target area model servicing 10 towns with a population of about 100,000). No-kill does not mean no euthanasia. We have a free roaming shelter with about 50 cats at any given time. We have foster homes and care for life cats in homes. We adopt out FIV and Felv+ cats as well as older kitties with kidney issues, thryoid etc. We place about 800 cats and kittens a year. Of that number about 300 of those are kittens from outside our target area. We get very few kittens from inside our target area as we have been very aggressive with TNR and low cost spay/neuter. In 2008 we launched our Catmobile a mobile spay/neuter clinic that offers affordable spay/neuter for owned and feral cats. We just launched our second Catmobile in March. We cover much of Massachusetts and Southern, NH with this vehicle.

      MRFRS did operate a sanctuary for many years and the cost per cat was about $4000 a year. As the cats age they need more medical care. In our area a dental for one cat will cost $1200. So it became very expensive for us. Several years ago we worked to find placement for these cats and got out of the Sanctuary business.

      How do cats end up in Sanctauries? How do they end up at Shelters/Rescues? All good questions. Much of it has to do with lack of affordable vet care and spay/neuter services. People in general do want to do the right thing and get their pets the care that they need. But it isn’t affordable. 80% of cats in shelters come from folks in the lowest 20% income bracket. Cats are the pets of the poor. So we need to look at this and acknowledge that the cat owning community needs access to very affordable cat care. Therefore that is what we are doing with the Catmobile. Let’s look at the source and see what we can do to prevent cats from entering “the sheltering system” in the first place. Once a low cost spay/neuter program is implemented in a community the results are felt very quickly.

      I hope this is helpful information to the group.

      Stacy LeBaron
      President, MRFRS

      July 23, 2012
      • Thanks for sharing your work with us Stacy. I’m so thankful for your good work and agree that there needs to be more accessible, affordable resources for pet owners in low income, underserved areas. And your Catmobile sounds awesome. The cats of New England are lucky to have you on their side!

        July 23, 2012
        • Matt.S #

          Agreed!

          July 23, 2012
      • Matt.S #

        THANK YOU!!! This is very helpful!

        July 23, 2012
      • TerriB #

        If I could love this I would. Thank you for helping the cats and the people who own cats! “Poor” people is such a broad term that includes so many different people. The elderly for one – who cannot afford expensive treatment or who do not have transportation for such treatment and yet a cat is the perfect pet for them. A mobile affordable vet is such a great idea and, from your results, money well spent!

        July 23, 2012
  138. Candace #

    I guess I have never looked at the big picture like that….very thought-provoking. I have always rescued my animals, and no matter what kind of animal they turned out to be, I have always seen it to the end. I never have given up any of my animals, because it is so true….no one will care about them as much as I do, I can be OK with their quirks and personality issues, and adjust my life around to fit with them. I have had some interesting doggies, but I loved every minute of it. They are like a child….you have made the commitment, you should see it through to the end… And I also truly believe that you never leave them alone if it comes to euthanasia…it’s very hard to watch, I know, I’ve done it too many times in life,(always because of old age/illness) but you have to put your feeling aside and think of them first!! They need you there to make it a more peaceful event….such a great blog!!

    July 23, 2012
  139. I just found this ad while flagging ads on Craigslist. Do you think this nutcase cares about spay/neutering? Do you think this person cares about being educated? Do you think he/she will get their next dog from a shelter? Do you think they care about all the dogs being put to sleep in shelters? Do you think they care about all the dogs in rescues? Do you think this person cares at all? This person is one of millions of people breeding their dogs for whatever purpose they have in mind. This person needs to stop! This person is the problem!

    Please go to your local Craigslist Pets section in the upper left “Community” section and flag away. CL does not allow “for stud” ads, which this is.

    “german shepherd (manteca, ca)

    Date: 2012-07-23, 12:32PM PDT
    Reply to:

    yes, hi am looking for some one who wants to breed german shepherd ?? i have a male am looking for a gilrfriend hes ready very smart pure breed no yoke i will post pic of him soon ,let me know what you have?? oh my dog weights 70 pound champion line breed black /TAN this dog is the husky body style is all muscle hes one year and 6 months am just looking some that wants to breed germanshepherd no mix dog pleased!! than you.”

    July 23, 2012
    • Some people can’t be educated … but we can always try. Here is a message our rescue got from a guy who bred two blue pits to get more blues to sell – idiot, right? Then ended up with 6 puppies he couldn’t get rid of and didn’t know what to do with. We got the pups at 4 months old, and they had NO socialization and were basically just kept in a shed. We saved the pups and educated him. And now his dogs are fixed and he’s a rescue advocate. Identifying info removed.

      “I believe you did beautifully with the *** pups. In fact your organization along with lots of info from N. has opened my eyes to the problems that breeding creates. You see I got head over heels with pups and in a financially strapped situation. And N. helped me see that I couldn’t 1. Handle the situation anymore and 2. How many pitbulls are on euth lists everyday and 3. Gave me some really good information that once looking into made me cry like a little child that had disappointed their parent. The list can go on and on but the end result is my thoughts aren’t on the slaving of these beautiful dogs anymore for the money, because the money isn’t as important as the love was… and will never be. In fact id like to take the time too tell you personally you gals are angels for dogs, because the *** pups were mine. And I was too proud to admit I needed help and N. being the most excellent person she is for these dogs helped me not only admit I couldn’t handle it anymore but peeled the skin covering my eyes too help me see a bigger picture. I’m glad that my pups had her and you in their corner when I failed. My males are fixed and I’m never breeding again. I still have the *** puppies -> dad, mom, brother and 2 sisters from a different (prior sp.?) litter. And can afford to feed everyone well now (including myself) because of her and you. I’m never going to buy/ breed again. I’m now well informed and have learned a very very important lesson. And even though I don’t plan on getting another dog anytime soon (atleast 8 years from now) I will foster to save a dog not add to the list that dies. Again thank you very much with those pups. I’m forever in yours and N.`s debt for saving all my dogs. Bless you”

      It never hurts to try…. and sometimes it helps immensely.

      July 23, 2012
  140. I have so been there so many times as a wildlife rehabilitator and later working in an animals shelter and also as a pet owner over the years. As a rehab volunteer, I worked in an understaffed and underfunded facility that was all hands on experience. After a year I felt I could become, and was not discouraged from, being the scrub jay species manager and manage the distribution, documentation and care of baby scrub jays into their adulthood. When few people came forward to help, I took it all on myself and through my inexperience, had bird pox infect my entire population of 30 birds that I was caring for at home. The policy at the shelter was for them to be euthanized, which they were. I eventually burned out from the stress of working there and have thought about it over the years; what I know now and what I would do differently.

    Then I worked for a shelter in New Mexico, which when I was hired was a “low-kill shelter” only resorting to euthanasia for the dangerous and sick. Well, overpopulation had it’s way, and when I left 2 years later, they were euthanising 4 or 5 dogs (pit mixes usually) every Wednesday near closing because the cremation service came on Thursday before noon.

    I also had to make the choice that no one wants to make when they have to move. I had 3 dogs and could only find a place where I could take only 2. I had to choose who would go with me and who would go to the shelter. Fortunately, the shelter was transfering dogs up north to a very reputable shelter that had the policy of foster-to-adopt, so that most of their dogs did not get warehoused. I had a pit mix, a shepherd with lupus and an older black lab. Well, the black lab was the most adoptable; the pit mix would have been euthanized at the shelter and never would have left and no one would want to spend the cost of upkeep and care for a dog with lupus. I have missed her ever since and there isn’t a night that goes by that I don’t think of her. Did I make the right choice. In hindsight, I shouldn’t have let myself get pressured into it. All I can hope for is that she got a good home. And at some point I will forgive myself.

    July 23, 2012
    • Hi Lorna, my heart is so heavy reading your comment. You did the best you could at the time and I have no doubt it was a choice you did not make lightly. Thank you for sharing your experiences – it’s so hard to be honest about the challenges we face and the choices we make (that we might regret), but I think that thoughtful, respectful dialogue will help the animals in the long run.

      You mentioned housing as an issue for you – so did Donna in her comments here. I think it’s an important element we typically fail to address when we look at the problem of homeless animals in our communities. I hope that, along with spay/neuter, TNR, and other resources, the animal welfare community directs it’s attention to working for more pet friendly, affordable housing options (for all breeds). Thanks again for sharing.

      July 23, 2012
      • Denise #

        Pet friendly housing is a huge issue. I know too many people who would love to adopt and can give any pet a great and loving home but they are not allowed to have pets. I had a friend with a weimaraner dog who was looking to move and not one place would rent to her. Even places that allowed pets had restrictions on size of dog and allow only pets up to 25 pounds. There would be more fosters available and pets adopted if more places were pet friendly.

        In this economy they should be encouraged to change their policies. They should not turn away potential renters and buyers with pets. I have no idea how this can be changed but something has to be done about it.

        July 23, 2012
        • Take a look at my website: http://www.rentingwithrex.com. There is a lot of helpful information about renting with dogs including,

          1. Finding a place to rent where you can have your dog
          2. Renting to pets can benefit me as a manager
          3. Moving with your dog
          4. Keeping your landlord and neighbors happy
          5. Keeping your dog healthy
          6. Preventing or stopping unwanted behaviors
          7. Fun activities to do with your dog
          8. Tools available to help you train your dog
          9. Acclimating your dog to living in an apartment
          10. You are elderly or disabled and you have a dog
          11. Renting an apartment with your dog.

          July 25, 2012
  141. First, I have to thank you for writing such a thought provoking piece. I haven’t stopped thinking about this article since I read it. It really does beg the question, “What do we do?” I think as a society, community members and dog lovers need to advocate for stronger laws and penalties against back yard breeders and puppy mills, as well as calling for more incentives, rewards, and guidelines for spay/neutering. I also think we really need to push the end of BSL. I think of how many of my own friends (and even myself) would own a beloved pit bull (another in my case), but can’t because local laws prevent it. It is so hard to find a home to rent or an insurance company that does not discriminate against breeds. I have not been able to move with our pit, because we can not find a place that does not discriminate against certain breeds. This must end, we must encourage people to research, look past what is now ignorance, and allow these beloved pets into our communities.

    July 23, 2012
  142. Émilie #

    Hello, I volunteer in a no-kill cat shelter in Quebec City and your text touched me and made me think, a lot. With your permission I would like to translate it for the benefit of my fellow volunteers.

    July 23, 2012
  143. How is this to motivate you to spay/neuter your unaltered dog:

    Unaltered Dog:

    $150.00 – 1 year license
    $250.00 – 2 year license
    $350.00 – 3 year license

    This is Stanislaus County, CA.

    July 23, 2012
    • I’m not sure if it would motivate anyone, especially if they cant afford the surgery in the first place. However, if the tiered license fees are offered in conjunction with free or low cost surgeries, offered in accessible locations, it would be very motivating and probably pretty successful! Without the affordable surgeries offered in conjunction, it winds up targeting low income families who might feel like they need to hide their dogs (which means less overall vet care and socializing) or surrender them to shelters since they can’t afford to comply.

      July 23, 2012
      • Nobody is targeting anybody. It is all part of the research necessary to getting a dog. Maybe these same people get the dog for “Free” thinking that was the primary cost of getting an animal. Then, all the other expenses come up. Whala! Abandoned dog at seven months because “we did not realize all the fees necessary to have the dog. We got her for free from my neighbor.”

        If they did their research, they could get an altered pet from the shelter for $100 and all those basics, including altering, is included. No targeting there. Just sound sense and research. Then the fees are great.

        If you are low income, everything is a challenge, not just caring for a dog.

        Maybe these same people are also breeding their dogs and makes hundreds of dollars, so this is more lucrative than neutering the dogs.

        July 23, 2012
        • sheltie1 #

          I know poor/disabled/low income people with dogs, Usually they get a hand me down dog from a friend or family member in equally bad circumstances. One got a hurricane Katrina dog whose family couldn’t keep it. I don’t think anyone should have to pay exoribant feeds for pet licensing. I also don’t think someone who sells a puppy to put food on the table and pay the mortgage is a bad person. It is also a labor of love for most dog breeders.

          July 26, 2012
          • If somebody is selling dogs to make a living and “feed their family”, then they are an official business and should follow the rules and regulations of any other business. They should be licensed and be required to be inspected like any other business. What is the difference between a pet shop selling animals who must follow rules and regulations and a person selling dogs from their home? Home based businesses still are licensed and regulated and need to follow strict guidelines, especially if selling animals is involved.

            July 28, 2012
            • sheltie1 #

              Because people who raise dogs in the home treat them as their children, and keep the puppies in their bedroom, and having regulation and inspection makes just as much sense as having a cop come into your bedroom to check if your infant is nursing and it you changed its diaper today. It is not like having a pig farm where its ok if the mother is out in the shed and a bar is in place to keep her from rolling over on an offspring and killing it. Dog breeding is a hands on/in person/24-7 role it is not something that you turn the key at the end of the day like living over a barbershop or a candy store. There is no reason to enforce commercial regulations(all surfaces impervious to water/able to be steam cleaned, etc) on something that people do in upholstered areas of their home where they live, sleep, and go about their private lives. The government has plenty to do without harassing and invading the homes of dog breeders.

              July 29, 2012
              • Sure they can. Home based businesses can be inspected at any time. If you run a home based business, you can be inspected at any time, as any other business. Double especially if you are raising and selling animals, or if there are complaints from your neighbors.

                Home based businesses are not excluded from basic business practices. If you have a home based business you are required to follow strict rules and regulations what can and can’t be done at your home. Also, you must be zoned for certain businesses. Most home based businesses are excluded from having regular traffic coming and going, except for certain businesses like child care, etc. But, most cities, especially urban and suburban cities have strict zoning laws.

                Animal control gets the majority of their calls from neighbors complaining about noise, smell and traffic.

                July 29, 2012
  144. Sharon Stone #

    This is the most well written and honest thing I have EVER seen about rescue. I have been in rescue for a number of years and have seen too many people fall into the same trap that Spindle Top did. Rescue is, or should be, totally about quality of life and NOT just about living. Thank you so much.

    July 23, 2012
  145. I just got this report from HSUS. They are reiterating the basis of this post:

    A Rescue in Name Only: Nearly 500 Dogs Rescued from Dire Circumstances Last Week

    http://hsus.typepad.com/wayne/2012/07/nearly-500-dogs-rescued.html

    July 23, 2012
    • Glad to see some of the big groups commenting on this past week’s events. Thanks for sharing Jackie!

      July 23, 2012
  146. This heartfelt blog has moved me to tears.

    Thank you for the rescues you have done even if the end was death. I truly believe in what you said if you have a pet it is a forever pet if you can’t care for it or find it a good home then you need to be courageous for it. Forever means to the end and as you said “Sometimes the end is providing excellent life-time management, sometimes it’s rehoming them, sometimes it’s finding a good shelter or rescue that has a committed staff or volunteers, but sometimes the end is death. Putting them to sleep, in your arms, can be the greatest act of love you give to your pet. You are giving them an end with dignity.”

    I also thank you for talking about the hard fact that sometimes death is acceptable. We have never been taught to accept death as good care but sometimes it is all there is to do. We talk about it with our geriatric cat and it hurts to think we might do that but we owe her a loving dignified end since we rescued her in the beginning.

    With tears I close.

    July 23, 2012
    • Matt.S #

      That’s one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever read. Your statement about “being courageous” is so well said. I know first hand how painful that choice is for anyone who faces it. Putting aside your own pain to for the sake of the animal is courageous. Thank you for writing this.

      July 23, 2012
  147. Won’t let me comment where I want to — but anyone saying temperament is not genetic does not know what they are talking about. Temperament is a mixture of genetics, early experience, and learning history. Genetics play a HUGE role. It’s baffling that anyone would believe otherwise.

    July 23, 2012
  148. I found this:

    http://www.fci.be/uploaded_files/Letter%20of%20understanding%20FCI_AKC_16072008.pdf

    AKC has agreed not to be a member of FCI.

    So has Canada and Britain.

    July 23, 2012
  149. Swykdosha #

    Very wonderful post. I have to agree with all you’ve said. You make some excellent points that many people are not willing to face.

    An acquaintance of mine knows of a dog that the no-kill staff couldn’t touch; he was terrified of everyone and would lash out aggressively to keep them away. They had rigged up a pulley system to open the door in his run to let him into the outdoor portion of it and close it, so they could clean or put food and water in the indoor side.That poor dog lived his life in a shelter run, perpetually stressed, with no socialization. That is far more cruel to me than humanely ending his suffering when they should have.

    July 23, 2012
  150. I have rescued for 20 year and I have taken a dog to Spindletop. The last Pit I rescued could not go there; Leah said “no room.” So, I kept her. Nina is almost a year old now, and the best dog ever. Mostly I have Jack Russells, so NeeNee thinks she is a super sized Jack Russell. So sometimes, sanctuaries do say ‘no.’ NeeNee is the lucky one.

    July 23, 2012
  151. Mark Weatherington #

    I guess I am fortunate in that I have never had to surrender a loved pet, or a stray animal, to a shelter. I haved loved and cared for my own pets to the very end, and then made the decision to euthanize, hopefully in a manner befitting the love and dignity my pets, and all animals, deserve from me. It is, however, very unsettling to come face to face with the realization that despite people’s best efforts, some animals end up living out a life that’s worse than death. And on the other side of that coin, there are also rescue groups out there that adopt out animals with health conditions they do not disclose to the new owners, all in the name of their no-kill policies, because disclosing the health problems would make the animal unadoptable. Our responsibility as current, and potential, pet owners does not stop with the end of our beloved pets lives, it also begins with researching WHO we are adopting from. Rescue groups, breeders, and shelters with questionable adoption policies and ethics in my opinion, are just as bad as those with questionable end-of-life ethics. Ultimately, the buck starts, and stops, with us.

    July 23, 2012
  152. Lisa James #

    THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU! When I try to say something like this, I am ‘the monster.’ Where I am, if a RESPONSIBLE person calls up and says there are cats all over, the person who caused the problem (feeding them) has moved, etc., and the cats are STARVING, kittens are starving, they are told, we will do TNR – RETURN them (to where they will NOT be fed) – and the person admits that – I can’t afford to, I don’t WANT to, I have no INTEREST in feeding them, they are told – well, then we won’t help you. So HOW is the TNR advocate a ‘lover’ of cats who ‘cares’ so much? It’s her way or the highway – she would rather see cats breeding and starving and kittens dying, then to humanely trap and euthanize the adults so KITTENS are not born only to starve to death. I’ve done PLENTY of trapping. I’ve seen fox tails in eyes, ear mites so bad, they’ve scratched the back of the ears raw, broken bones, abscesses from cat fights, BUT I don’t DARE say PTS – because then I’m a ‘monster.’ We are ALL going to die. The average feral lives TWO years – so what is the point of NOT helping if they aren’t ‘guaranteed’ those TWO years of life – which is not a quality life in most cases? Where’s the dialog about this? It’s ‘verboten.’ There are quite a few in the rescue community who feel like me but we are AFRAID to say anything. Yeah, I’m the monster, I guess . . .

    July 23, 2012
  153. I have a small dog sanctuary at my home, emphasis on “small.” I can’t do numbers, I won’t warehouse, I specialize in Beagles and hounds; right now, I’m not taking in any more dogs – I respect the pack dynamics – more dogs would cause disruption and chaos. And yes, every day, every day, I get emails wanting me to take in more dogs – and I feel horrible when I don’t, but I can’t.
    You wrote an important entry here – thank you, thank you. Everyone should read it. I don’t say “no” because I don’t care; I say “no” because I do.

    http://silverwalkhounds.org

    July 23, 2012
  154. Janet #

    When I started in rescue in 2000, I decided I had to work at a shelter to truly understand both sides. The shelter was a tough gig…especially here in western Kentucky. It taught me so much about animals and their behavior that I never could have learned otherwise. It taught me more about people than I ever could have dreamt in my worst nightmare. But in the end, I realized you can’t save them all …not yet at least. The problem is too big. But I see a shift. More understanding. More humanity sprouting up and pushing against the inhumanity.

    There is a worse fate than death …I’ve seen it and helped release them from it.

    It’s knowing when to hold on for dear life and letting go for the same.

    July 24, 2012
  155. Christine #

    Thank you for this post. As a hands -on rescuer, you’re absolutely right on all counts. We have to look at the big picture and there is distinct difference between being alive and living well. There are just too many homeless pets and not enough sanctuaries, AND resources to care for them. The number of homeless pets only increases. It’s never stabilized. We do pass the buck. Sometimes euthanasia is the most humane solution after exhaustive efforts are made to seek permanent loving home through our immediate friends and family that we know are highly responsible.

    July 24, 2012
  156. Beautifully written. It so eloquently speaks what I have been trying to say for years. There is not always room for “‘just one more”.

    July 24, 2012
  157. Thank you so much for writing this article. I do rescue work – and its frustrating to find people believe they’ve ‘rescued’ a dog or pup when in fact they are passing along 100% of the responsiblity to me – the anxiety of hoping and waiting for the dog to be rehomed, the cost to care for the dog till it finds its home – at $2/day for up to 12 months, and the time for training. If its a true rescue – you need to provide for the animal until it finds its forever home. Yes, the rescue or sanctuary may have the land and experience to care and look after the rescue that you may not have – but we dont have magic money to cover the care – and Im sure that financial strain leads to the downfall of sanctuaries that you write about. When you shift an animal to a rescue or sanctuary – you are shifting the financial responsiblity of $500-$1000 /year/animal to that site. As well as the emotional pressure that people place on individual rescues to take on one more animal when they really truly dont have room. I’ve found my balance and know that I wont sacrifice quality of care by going too far beyond the comfort zone for myself and the dogs Ive committed to helping, and I also absolutely believe that its better for a dog or a pup to live a good short life, than to live a long terrible life in a concrete cage. That said, praise to all the individuals who are doing sanctuary work for the dogs with complicated temperaments that take so long to find a forever home. I think the real problem is that 1 out of 5 people that adopt or buy give up on their commitment and turn the dog into shelters when they reach the difficulty 6-24 months of age. When the going gets rough, they give their dog to a shelter – I think they should be the ones to have to take the dog in to be euthanized so they know the reality of their action and failure to commit to the life care of the puppy they adopted. We shelter them from the brutality of what they’ve done to their family pet.

    July 24, 2012
  158. Missy #

    Well written. Well thought out. And it gives a different perspective. Ironically this came to me when I had to help an owner make a choice concerning their aggressive dog. They hoped to have us (a shelter) place it, “maybe on a farm”. But the reality was very different for it. In the end, with kindness and compassion, the owners chose euthanasia for him, and stayed with him til the end. They made the responsible decision instead of the easy decision. Thank you for writing your thoughts and sharing them.

    July 24, 2012
  159. T.Miller #

    Shelters and rescues seem to be the dumping grounds (aka the ‘easy way out’) for neglectful pet owners, when in reality these places should be left for truly ‘hardship’ cases.
    PLEASE~ when you take on pets, BE RESPONSIBLE! Don’t think of it as a ‘pet’, look at it as a “LIFE”. Train your animals! You’ll be happier, THEY will be happier!
    If you still have to give them up, TAKE THEM BACK TO THEIR BREEDER. You should have signed a contract with whomever bred the pet stating that the pet goes back to them if it needs re-homing. Any one who has had pets born on their property ~regardless if it’s purebred or not~ has the responsibility to take those offspring back. Shame on anyone who breeds animals for money only.

    July 24, 2012
    • I think you are preaching to the choir here.

      Please go to your local Craigslist Pets section in the upper left of the Community box and tell these same things to all the people who are “getting rid of” their pets, who “want pets for free or low cost,” to the people who are “studding out” their males, and to all the backyard breeders who are selling their litters of puppies. If you can get these people to change, that is the crux of the problem.

      July 25, 2012
    • sheltie1 #

      People who use craigslist to rehome a pet should be thanked for keeping their pets out of the shelter/rescue/euthanasia system. It takes a lot more effort and responsibility to use craigslist and is a lot kinder to the animal since it goes directly from one responsible home to another.

      July 26, 2012
      • Have you read CL Pets section lately? A very large number of ads say something like, “If I don’t get rid of this dog today, he/she is going to the pound! Please take this dog today. I don’t want this dog going to the pound!”

        How much effort is involved there? Should they be thanked for that? Does that sound like that dog is going from one responsible home to another?

        July 28, 2012
        • sheltie1 #

          I think that’s a lot better than taking the dog to a pound that will most likely kill it, if it is the south where that still happens more than northern states. Or dumping it, which people still do even with alternatives. Is it great? No. But neither is every pound situation either and the word gets out about a homeless animal so much faster and to so many more people on craigslist than any other way it is probably the animal’s best chance for a good home. In fact, I don’t think there is any doubt since I have advertised in numerous venues to try to find animals new homes and craigslist provided more leads than all the others combined. Jackie I would like to challenge you to spend your free time writing up craigslist ads for the shelter pets in your area, going in, taking their photos so the ad has a photo with it, and letting the people who read craigslist have a chance to know they are out there rather than just focusing on flagging the other ads you don’t like(which is counterproductive because the animal still is unwanted and still needs a home after its ad is flagged).

          July 29, 2012
    • Rachel #

      Yes, if the breeder was responsible for the dog and had to provide a home and means of provision for the dog, find the dog a new home or euthanize the dog because they have no room or money to have the dog, not only is that an incentive for a breeder to find a responsible owner who suits the breed, but that is an incentive to breed on a limited basis instead of to meet sales demands. I think if this was made a law, that if the person who brought the dog into the world was held responsible, there would be a significant difference. I think it can be that simple; make the breeder responsible for their dogs, no excuses unless the breeder is dead. It will not be a solution for every single dog, but for a huge percentage of them. This can easily be done by having to identify and register yourself as a breeder and provide perminant ID of your dogs so they can be traced back to you; for many breeders, especially of purebred dogs with papers and pedigrees, this is done or can already be done.

      July 28, 2012
      • sheltie1 #

        To make this possible we would have to get rid of all the pet limit laws, so breeders could take back/rehome whatever pets they produce that don’t work out without fear of reprisal from law enforcement for being over the pet limit while the pet is back in their care.

        July 29, 2012
        • Actually, no. Licenses and registered breeders would already be allowed a certain amount of animals per their license. That is common in areas that do have mandatory/spay neuter with breeder licensing.

          Any and all breeders, large and small, is 100% responsible for all puppies produced and should take back any dog at any time in that dog’s life no matter what, no questions asked. If you can’t, don’t breed dogs.

          It is nobody else’s responsible to take back all animals other than the breeder. It is not the law. It is not your client’s. It is not your neighbor’s. It is your’s 100%. No questions asked for a moment. If you can’t, don’t breed or even thinking of breeding.

          July 29, 2012
          • Rachel #

            Jackie, “Actually, no. Licenses and registered breeders would already be allowed a certain amount of animals per their license. That is common in areas that do have mandatory/spay neuter with breeder licensing. Any and all breeders, large and small, is 100% responsible for all puppies produced and should take back any dog at any time in that dog’s life no matter what, no questions asked. If you can’t, don’t breed dogs. It is nobody else’s responsible to take back all animals other than the breeder. It is not the law. It is not your client’s. It is not your neighbor’s. It is your’s 100%. No questions asked for a moment. If you can’t, don’t breed or even thinking of breeding.”

            Well said!
            I would be onboard with such a law.

            July 30, 2012
        • Rachel #

          That is a good point I did not think of. In response to that I would say that breeders then should be able to have an unlimited number of dog or be able to have an appropriate limit so as to accomodate the dogs they have brought into the world; otherwise they should not be allowed to breed or should move to a location where this is allowed.

          For instance, my town allows me to keep as many dogs as I want and breed them; I dont need to be licensed at all. (unless I am keeping more than 3 “for a fee.”

          If we could hold breeders responsible for their dogs this would eliminate a lot of problems here because breeders would need to breed on a limited basis, based on what they can handle.
          It would also be a huge insintive for the breeder to find the right home for their dogs, a home that has the best chance of success for keeping the dog.

          Unethical breeders today do not have to deal with the concequences (sorry, terrible speller) and so they are unlimited in the amount of puppies they can sell since it is a huge incentive if a profit is being made because of sales demand.

          July 30, 2012
          • sheltie1 #

            As long as people buy a puppy to get it out of a situation they do not like or because they feel sorry for it, there will be circumstances where they won’t want to send the dog back to the breeder. Because they didn’t like the breeder in the first place. If you’re a good breeder and you offer training advice and answer questions, people will contact you and be more than happy to give you back the dog if they can’t keep it. That’s the root of the problem–bad buyers who don’t do their homework and demand excellence and accountability from breeders. If bad breeders got bad feedback and people refused to buy their puppies, they would have to quit. It is the buyer’s choice where they spend their money.

            July 30, 2012
            • “Under the principle of caveat emptor, the buyer could not recover from the seller for defects on the property that rendered the property unfit for ordinary purposes.”

              Caveat Emptor does not and will not and should never apply to breeders. Breeders are 100% responsible for every single animal they sell, no matter what. In fact, many states have “puppy lemon laws.” Here is a list of the states that do:

              http://www.malteseonly.com/lemon.html

              “That’s the root of the problem–bad buyers who don’t do their homework and demand excellence and accountability from breeders.”

              Producing and selling quality puppies is not the responsibility of the buyer. It is the full responsibility of the breeder. The responsibility starts with the breeder, and there should be laws to protect the buyer from irresponsible breeders since the buyer is paying the breeder. Not the other way around. The breeder is not paying the buyer. It is the responsibility of the breeder, in their screening, to weed out homes not suited to their puppies.

              July 31, 2012
            • If there was a law that made the breeder responsible for taking the dog back or approving of the next home it would not be up to the buyer; reputable breeders do not leave the choice up to the buyer for things like where th