People are sometimes shocked to learn that I personally support and encourage professional, registered breeders.
The first thing to understand is the definition of a professional, registered breeder. This is not a “puppy or kitten mill,” nor is it someone who just couldn’t resist letting their wonderful, adorable dog or cat have just one litter before spaying, nor is it someone who makes their living by breeding random dogs and cats into cute combinations.
This is what I consider to be a professional, registered cat or dog breeder:
1. REGISTERED with a national breeder organization such as AKC or CFA
2. SPECIALIZING in a recognized purebreed (or two), and breeding for conformation and health
3. RAISING all the puppies and kittens in a safe and stimulating home environment, with healthy, vibrant, happy sire(s) and dam(s) on site, and available for potential buyers to meet
4. PLANNING for every single litter well in advance, with the primary goal of maintaining the breed’s standard, and usually having a waiting list for the puppies or kittens; the professional breeder never has more litters than they can properly socialize and care for at any one time
5. GUARANTEEING the health of their litters, by spaying/neutering any dogs or cats that carry any sort of genetic health or conformation problem, and beginning vaccination of every litter at the proper time. All adult dogs and cats receive regular examinations and veterinary care.
6. SCREENING all potential buyers to ensure they understand the mental, physical, and emotional needs of the breed they are considering, and that they have the commitment and means to care for their new pup or kitten
7. PROVIDING all paperwork and pedigree for several generations, along with a contract of sale
8. NURTURING every litter until at least 8 weeks of age, and preferably 12 weeks of age
9. MAINTAINING contact with the owners of each littermate
10. ACCEPTING back into the home any pup/dog/kitten/cat that originated with the breeder, at any time during that animal’s lifetime, for any reason
This level of commitment to a breed requires a lot of effort, and a lot of money. Ask any registered professional breeder, and they will be the first to tell you, they do NOT “get rich” by breeding; it, much like volunteering for an animal shelter, is primarily a labor of love.
How do you know you are NOT dealing with a professional, registered breeder?
- Are you getting a puppy or kitten from a box outside a big box store, or on a sidewalk somewhere? You are NOT dealing with a professional, registered breeder.
- Does the breeder refuse to allow you to meet the parents or come to the home where the pups or kittens are being raised? You are NOT dealing with a professional, registered breeder.
- Did you find your puppy or kitten from a handwritten flyer at the grocery store? You are NOT dealing with a professional, registered breeder.
- Does your breeder seem to specialize in several different breeds, including “designer” breeds like the “Yorkihuapoo” or “Dachspitterrier”? You are NOT dealing with a professional, registered breeder.
- Did you get your new pup or kitten without any sort of contract or without receiving any sort of written return guarantee? You are NOT dealing with a professional, registered breeder.
- Does the breeder not care at all whether you plan to spay/neuter, or whether the pup or kitten is genetically proven to be good breeding stock? You are NOT dealing with a professional, registered breeder.
I’m sure there are dozens of additional red flags, which I invite both professional breeders and those who may have been taken in by a puppy mill or backyard breeder to share in the comments.
Without dedicated breeders using their own time and resources to maintain (and better) breed standards, our world would eventually consist of primarily 40-50 pound black and brown short-haired dogs, and the basic Domestic Shorthaired Cat in various colors. I believe we need professional registered breeders to ensure that the chihuahua and the mastiff, the border collie and the Labrador retriever, the Persian and the Bombay, remain a part of our world.
Those who are deliberately breeding without providing proper care, without maintaining breed standards, and without screening and following up with every single home… those who are doing it to make $200 each on puppies you feed last night’s leftovers to, mixed with whatever the cheapest dog food you could find, without vaccinating or health-checking… you know how I feel. Shame on you.
What about those who are not deliberately breeding, but through ignorance or poor timing have an “oops” litter?
If you cannot raise your litter by the standards a professional breeder would have (see above), and cannot take the time and effort to find every pup or kitten the absolute best possible home, then please, please, ask a shelter or rescue to take in your litter and find them homes. At Forget Me Not, we take in “oops” litters from all around Ferry County; we will provide food during the time the litter is with your mother cat or dog; we can often take the litter *and* the mother in, returning the mother after the litter is weaned; we spay/neuter, vaccinate, deworm, and microchip every pup or kitten prior to placement; we search for homes far and wide, and will take back a pet if its placement doesn’t work out.
All we require is that you allow us to spay the mother animal after the litter is weaned.
There is a need for professional, registered breeders… and until there are no longer any UNprofessional breeders, no more backyard breeders or puppy/kitten mills, and no more “oops” litters… there will also be a need for shelters and rescues.
The above article reflects the views of the author, and may not reflect the views of the board, staff, or volunteers of Forget Me Not Animal Shelter.