Article by Ron Sturgeon, Founder of Reform Canine Breeders and Auctions (RCBA)
We know there are a lot of ways to try and make sure dogs being bred are treated better. We have chosen to work on the supply side of that problem, the breeders, not the sales side. Read my article about that strategy here.
Some reformers want to close pet stores and/or prevent them from selling dogs because the dogs the pet stores sell come from “puppy mills.” Forget for the moment that many who want to see dogs treated better do not agree on what makes a breeder a puppy mill or a hobby breeder or a backyard breeder (More on the definition issue). Is the problem really the pet stores? They are meeting the public’s demand for dogs and their shareholders’ requirements for sales and profits.
Isn’t the real problem the bad breeders? I bet we could agree on that.
If we succeeded in closing all the pet stores, would the breeders go out of business? Seems unlikely.
Would fewer people want to buy dogs? Seems unlikely.
Educating the public on how and where to buy a dog is also a huge task (More on education’s limits). Efforts to restrict commerce will be met by big opposition, because that solution is focused on money, not the health of the dogs. As ubiquitous as the sales and distribution channels are, can we really solve breeding problems by closing pet store sales?
Instead, our strategy focuses on the problem: the bad breeding practices. Closing pet stores and trying to control sales channels is a red herring. It keeps us distracted, I believe.
Ready to throw tomatoes at me?
Why don’t we encourage pet stores to sell dogs? Yes, I said it. Every cage would be marked with the information about the dog. Where it was raised, the health practices used when breeding, who its parents are, and WHERE to meet the parents. This is about the breeding practices for the dogs, right? Not the sales practices by pet stores. And that sign on the cage would also include the REGISTRATION INFORMATION ABOUT THE BREEDER.
And, hold your tomatoes for a moment.
The stores should be encouraged to sell dogs from the local shelter. Allow them the same profit margin they get on new dogs or even more. Why not let the pet store sell a dog for $500 and pay the shelter its rescue fee, typically around $125. That’s a big margin, one the store owners would like. And, for it to work, the marketing alliance with their local shelter has to be good for business and good for dogs that need to be adopted.
Why aren’t we fighting to close the puppy mills? First, different size breeders should be regulated differently. Some commercial or for-profit breeders are much better than others. Many in our community expect that the commercial breeders should treat their animals like pets. That’s a dream, and it would be nice. We want to see the dogs treated with kindness, humanely, and bred only with sound medical practices. And different size breeders should have different regulations. The USDA can’t possibly manage all of the breeders. Common-sense regulation should be in place. The fact is, dogs will be bred, somewhere, somehow, for profit. You can read my article about that here.
Efforts to outright close breeders will be met with fierce opposition, fueled by MONEY. And why close any breeder? We want everyone that wants a dog to have one. a healthy happy one. The breeders of all sizes meet a need, it’s why they exist, and we can’t change demand. Read my article about limiting sales and demand here. We do want their practices to improve. Really, and I am not kidding, breeders should want to register and support reform, because it’s good for business and profits.
If you are passionate about closing puppy stores or commercial breeders, we encourage you to continue that effort as you see fit. We won’t be critical of you. Your initiative is different from ours, but that doesn’t make one of us wrong and one of us right. Let’s hope that everyone’s efforts help to achieve the goal we agree on: dogs being bred should be treated with kindness, humanely, and with sound health practices.
It’s about the dogs. Too often, our discussions on Facebook become about how not to adversely affect breeders or how regulations will put breeders out of business. Why don’t we talk about how to make life better for the dogs? This really should be about the dogs, right?
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