Avoiding Unethical Breeders and What it Means to Rescue

Ian Somerhalder Foundation

While many may not have ill intentions, backyard breeders are a major contributing factor to the pet overpopulation problem in the United States. They may not be necessarily breeding in their backyards, but this term encompasses any breeder who breeds for profit or who simply just lets their pets reproduce. According to the ASPCA, a puppy mill is “a large-scale commercial dog breeding operation that places profit over the well-being of its dogs—who are often severely neglected—and acts without regard to responsible breeding practices.” There is no way to tell if these breeders have correct and informed knowledge on proper socialization, health, nutrition, or breed standards. There is also no wholly effective way to determine a breeder's true intention as the screening process for potential homes is minimal or nonexistent. Regardless of whether the breeding was intentional or not, if someone allows two pets to breed and have a litter, they are breeders.

It’s incredibly important that the public is educated with regard to the safest and most harmless ways to obtain animals as pets. For the millions of people who want to do the right thing and adopt an animal in need, it is important that they know whom they are truly supporting. While laws with respect to puppy mills have gotten tougher, laws remain lax on breeders. To tackle the issue of overpopulation and abuse of animals, we must promote spaying and neutering, not give money to breeders whose background has not been thoroughly checked out, and utilize all of the resources that our communities have to help us with the pets we have.

There are many reasons why animals end up in shelters; some of the top reasons are behavioral issues (many which could be solved quickly with proper training), landlord issues, moving, too many pets, or not being able to afford the pet anymore. We live in a disposable society where it is common to get rid of something if it is causing a problem. Adoption is a commitment and should be done responsibly, and you should always consider the cost of owning a pet and your living situation before adoption. Of course there are always going to be extenuating circumstances that leave people with no other choice but to give up their pet, but identifying these main causes as to why pets end up in shelters is important as these issues are fixable.

So what exactly does it mean to "rescue"? A rescue is an organization that takes in unwanted pets, gets them ready for adoption through the use of foster homes, and extensively screens potential homes so that the animals end up in a suitable forever home. They also fully vet, spay/neuter, and often put in way more money than they adopt the pets out for. They are a life long resource for their adopters because they want the best for the animals and their adopters. Many rescues are registered 501c3 non-profits and are composed solely of volunteers. Adopting a pet means that you acquired the pet from a shelter or rescue. Giving money to breeders is not adoption or rescuing.

There are countless ways to acquire a pet, and if you or someone you know is concerned about the countless animals being euthanized daily, make sure you are supporting organizations that are not fueling the overpopulation. The shelters and rescues are filled with amazing pets just waiting to be given a forever home. These pets are not "broken" as some may think and you can find all sorts of different breeds, purebreds, puppies, adults, kittens, and more. Some will even match you or your family with an appropriate pet that will fit in with your lifestyle. Choose the adoption option and help be a voice for the voiceless!

If you do choose to buy your pet rather than adopt, try to avoid the first three types of breeders. See below.