Category Archives: Random Barkings


What is a “professional breeder” and why do I, Executive Director of an animal shelter, support them?

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.

The Big Black Dog Dilemma, featuring Teague

People are often amazed to learn that there are many factors that can hinder even the friendliest dog’s chance of adoption.

Meet Teague, who has been waiting for a new forever home for two months. Teague is a perfect dog to illustrate many of the “less-desirable” qualities that keep him waiting while he sees newer arrivals joyously celebrating their adoptions all around him.


Teague (photo by local photographer Lance Young)

OK, now that you’ve seen Teague, see how many attributes you can think of that are keeping him languishing in the shelter day after day. Go ahead, scribble a list.

Some you can see; some you can’t. Make some wild guesses!

Done? OK, here is a breakdown of Teague’s particular problems:

1. AGE – Teague came in as a stray, so there is no way for us to know exactly how old he is. Based on his grey muzzle and his teeth, we are assuming he is at least 6 years old; he may be as old as 10, 12, ?? He still has the inner joy and playfulness of a puppy, but even the most die-hard dog lover is hesitant to adopt an older dog. Most pet lovers have felt the pain of losing a furry best friend in the past… it takes a very special person (one with a stronger tolerance for pain than I have) to be willing to open their heart up to a pet that is already as much as halfway through its lifespan.

2. SIZE – Teague is a bit over 60 pounds, which counts as a “large” dog. The most requested size for an adoptable dog is under 20 pounds – that is because many housing associations, condominiums, and apartments have firm size restrictions. The next most popular size is generally up to 40-50 pounds; people like knowing that they could pick their pet up if they had to.  Then there is a HUGE jump (no pun intended) to people looking for 100-pound-plus dogs; the Mastiffs, Great Danes and Irish Wolfhounds of the world have some really dedicated fans! That leaves Teague in the least popular weight category, 60-100 pounds.

3. COLOR – Black. Black, black, black. Yes, black is beautiful, but it is also the last color pup chosen from a litter… the last adult dog to be oooohed and aaaaaahed over in the shelter kennels. Some people think black dogs look “mean” – others just think they aren’t as pretty as the more “colorful” varieties. Because black is a dominant color gene, black dogs are also the most common color (particularly in “mutts”), so there are just plain too many of them looking for homes. They are also cursed with a general lack of photogenic charm (though our latest volunteer photographer, Lance Young, has found the art of capturing black dogs on camera).

4. BREED MIX – Notice that dusky purplish tongue? Purple tongues usually indicate that a dog like Teague has some Chow in his mix. Chows often suffer from breed-banning-overkill, along with several other “dangerous” dog breeds including Rottweilers, German Shepherds, Dobermans, and Pit Bulls. Think that covers the banned breeds? Not even close. Some municipalities, homeowners insurance, and housing authorities routinely ban perennial favorites like Australian Shepherds, Airedale Terriers, Golden Retrievers, Pugs, and more. See more of the breeds that have been singled out in legislation around the US on the URDOG site. Of course, a dog’s breed doesn’t make a dog dangerous. Bad breeding and bad treatment make a dog dangerous.

5. GENDER – More adopters express a preference for female dogs, often because they are afraid a male dog will mark, or wander, or be more aggressive than a female dog. Often, when an adopter who originally wanted a female ends up falling in love with a male, they tell me how surprised they are at their new male buddy’s affectionate, easy-going nature.

6. INCOMPATIBLE WITH SOME OTHER PETS – In Teague’s case, he is cat aggressive and cannot be placed in a home with cats. (The flip-side is, he would be a fantastic rat-catcher-dog!) Teague should get along well with most other dogs, but a majority of potential adopters looking to add to their family either already have cats, plan to get a cat, or have neighbors whose cats sometimes wander across the property.

So, there you have a picture of one of the friendliest, most loving, easy-keeper dogs I’ve seen this year… and still he waits for someone to choose him.

What can we do to help Teague find his new family? The most important thing is to pass the word around, that this beautiful, affectionate, playful dog needs a home where he can be loved for the rest of his time, whether that is 1 year or 10 years.

Watch his videos on his listing page on our website to see his playful nature. Share his information with everyone you can think of who might be willing to offer Teague a place to enjoy life. Together, we can make a happy ending for Teague.

Teague is growing depressed in the shelter, and would enjoy a cat-free foster home in the Republic area, preferably with a fenced yard, while he waits for his forever-home.

Does Doggy DNA Deliver?

You may have heard about “doggy DNA tests,” which promise to tell you the breed composition of your mutt when you mail in their cheek cells, collected using a specialized swab. But do these tests really work?

In 2004, our Executive Director Kim adopted Booduh [left], an all-out mutt. To date, Booduh has received three separate doggy DNA tests, the proprietors of which shall remain unnamed.

All of these tests delivered wildly different results.

The first test was the most basic, returning Siberian Husky and Labrador Retriever [right].

The next test returned the most breeds of all, but none of them were shared with the others. The breeds it returned were:

German Pinscher

Black and Tan Coonhound


Field Spaniel

Miniature Schnauzer

The third and (for now) final test returned the same two breeds as the first, plus Basset Hound and Dalmatian [right].

Are these services real? Do any of the combinations here add up to Booduh? What do you think?

Image Credits:
Booduh: Copyright © 2009 Sean Gillen [Source], available under CC-BY-SA 3.0 Unported.
Siberian Husky:
Copyright © 2006 re-ality for Flickr [Source], available under CC-BY 2.0 Generic.
Labrador Retriever:
Copyright © 2007 Marilyn Peddle for Flickr [Source], available under CC-BY 2.0 Generic.
German Pinscher:
Public domain
Black and Tan Coonhound:
Copyright © 2003 Scraig for English Wikipedia [Source], available under CC-BY-SA 3.0 Unported.
Copyright © 2008 Moires for Wikimedia Commons [Source], available under CC-BY-SA 3.0 Unported.
Field Spaniel:
Copyright © 2006 Pleple2000 for Wikimedia Commons [Source], available under CC-BY-SA 3.0 Unported.
Miniature Schnauzer:
Copyright © 2006 Tatian Chessa for Wikimedia Commons [Source], available under CC-BY-SA 3.0 Unported.
Basset Hound:
Copyright © 2006 Bonnie van den Born [Source], available under CC-BY-SA 3.0 Unported.
Copyright © 2002 Nevilley for English Wikipedia [Source], available under CC-BY-SA 3.0 Unported.