I have a very good friend who just got a puppy. We went for a dog walk the other day and I was telling her about my new business, Happy Hearts Dog Adoption Services. I was explaining the ways I was hoping to match people with their perfect dog and she started telling me about how they found their new pup.
They got her off of Kijiji.
She knew what I would think of this because she said it quietly, as if she really didn’t want to tell me, and then immediately she looked at me sheepishly and said “I know, I know, I know. We shouldn’t use Kijiji. But it was a breeder!”
It wasn’t a responsible, professional breeder. It was a “backyard” breeder. No responsible breeder is going to sell their dog on Kijiji. In addition, she knew it was a local farmer who just chose to breed his dogs and sell them. I explained to her the difference between a backyard/puppy mill breeder and a responsible breeder. One breeds for money, the other breeds for health and behavioural traits that you want in your dog.
While I am a huge supporter of dog rescue, I also believe there is a place in the world for responsible breeders. I am happy when people do their research, determine the breed they are looking for, and find a responsible breeder from where they can get their new puppy. My ultimate goal is to keep dogs in their home and have less dogs in rescue. This means that people should know the dog they are getting and what to expect from a health and behavioural aspect so that there are few surprises causing people to give up their dogs to rescue. Is it a 100% guaranteed what you are getting from a responsible breeder? No, you can never have a 100% guarantee. But the odds are much more in your favour when you adopt from a responsible breeder than a backyard breeder/puppy mill.
The problem is that most people don’t know the difference between a responsible breeder and a backyard breeder / puppy mill.
Backyard breeders and puppy mills are bringing dogs into this world without care for health and behavioural traits. This can be your co-worker who just loves her dog so much that she wants to breed her to create another one, just because she is so special. Or the local farmer’s dog who got impregnated by a stray because she runs loose on the farm and he didn’t take the time to get her spayed. In both of these cases, they know nothing about breeding or the history of the dogs, and now they have a litter of puppies for sale with no knowledge of possible health/behaviour traits. Puppy mills are large-scale breeder that have dozens to hundreds of dogs available for sale. They care nothing for the dogs themselves – they are kept in horrible conditions and the females are bred again and again just to produce pups at a profit, and tossed aside once they are no longer useful.
If you are going to go to a breeder, you must know how to find a responsible, caring breeder. These breeders are not going to sell their dogs in a pet store or on an internet sales site like Kijiji or Ebay. They use their own websites, word of mouth and their national and regional breed clubs for referrals.
But can’t I adopt a rescue with health and behaviour problems? Yes, you could. But you won’t be spending hundreds to thousands of dollars in the adoption fee to someone claiming to be a breeder. A good rescue has fostered a dog for a few weeks/months and know their dogs quite well. They will be upfront with the problems a dog may have so you are taking them into your home with eyes wide open. With a puppy from a backyard breeder or puppy mill, you are expecting a healthy, well balanced dog for the money you are spending but you are really going into it blind.
The good thing is that my friend’s new pup is fantastic! She is cute, well behaved and so far very healthy. They may have gotten lucky, which is possible of course. In our continued discussion, she said she went on Kijiji because she got impatient. They had decided they wanted a second dog, had found one in rescue who wasn’t yet ready for adoption, and they didn’t want to wait only to find out they weren’t chosen for the dog. I get it. It can be frustrating trying to adopt from rescues when you are competing with so many other people. Patience is the key when looking to adopt from a rescue. But when you have the patience to find that perfect pup for your home, the wait will be worth it!