How to kill a shelter dog

How to Kill a Shelter Dog

It’s really simple: Buy from an irresponsible breeder. I need you to hear this: If you buy from an irresponsible breeder, you are killing shelter dogs. YOU.

What’s an irresponsible breeder? Any breeder that does not breed as a caretaker and devotee of her particular breed, as shown by showing/trialing/titling (i.e., the dogs have a reason for existing and a measure of quality other than “because they’re cute”), health testing, and being involved in a community of her peers.

Where do you find irresponsible breeders? Flea markets; swap meets; newspaper ads; generic sites on the Web that list a bunch of breeders on the same page. They’re the guy at your office that let his girl dog get pregnant. They’re the friend of a friend who bred her miniature Australian Shepherd “just once.” They’re your cousin who thinks she can make some money by breeding her Chesapeake Bay Retriever to another registered Chessie. They’re the people with the plastic sign at the end of their driveway: “Yellow Labs: $250.” Some of them even have gorgeous websites and professionally produced graphics; many of them are wonderful people, members of churches, clean housekeepers. They don’t look like puppy mills or evil people. But hear this: I don’t care if the breeder is your best friend and you think her dog is just awesome and your kids love the puppies and there was a rainbow in her driveway when you came over to see the litter. If she is not a responsible breeder, go to any vet’s office and ask to see the big bottle of Euthanol and take a good hard look at it, then go to your shelter and pick out the six dogs that are going to get that needle because your friend bred her dog.

Learn to recognize the birdcall of the irresponsible breeder: “We focus on breeding happy, healthy pets.” “You don’t need a show breeder; you just want a pet.” “We don’t want our dogs ruined by the stresses of the show ring.” “I am going to breed her once and only once, just so I can keep a puppy.” “This mix offers the best of both worlds-the nonshedding poodle and the easy-going Lab” (or insert the two or three breeds of your choice). “Our pets are our babies – we breed only for temperament.” “Mom and dad vet-checked.” “Champion lines.””Family-raised adorable pets.”

Learn to recognize the website of the irresponsible breeder: Dogs pictured lying down or playing. Males and females are called “mommies” and “daddies.” Puppies are often shown with props, or with hats on, or on a satin background. A special place in hell is waiting for those websites that show all the breeding females obviously pregnant or lactating (because, presumably, they are never NOT pregnant or lactating). There are no show pictures (where the dogs are “stacked” foursquare) or groomed pictures. The dogs have no achievements aside from looking cute. There’s usually a focus on external qualities: the biggest puppy, the smallest puppy, particular (often “rare”) colors, desirable hair textures or lengths.

So how does your purchase kill a shelter dog? Buying from an irresponsible breeder does several things: one, you’re buying a dog that you could have adopted instead. Irresponsible breeders don’t offer you anything that you can’t find at a shelter; they do not breed only the best to the best; they don’t warranty health or temperament; they don’t test and prove their dogs to demonstrate that their breeding stock looks, acts, or performs the way that breed should. So they are competing directly with the shelters in terms of putting dogs into people’s arms, and when people can buy a puppy instead of adopting an older dog, they virtually always do so.

Second, irresponsible breeders don’t just produce the puppy you brought home. That was one of a litter of perhaps six or eight. You gave them a pretty big check for almost no work on their part, so they’ll do it again. Maybe they’ll get a couple more bitches and make it a part-time job. So yeah, you may take this dog home and love it and never give it up, but your purchase encouraged the breeder to make thirty or forty or fifty more dogs. Can you guarantee that they all ended up in good homes? Can you be sure that they didn’t end up in shelters? The purebred dogs in shelters are the result of irresponsible breeders – yup, the same one you just handed a check to. It’s as simple as that.

Irresponsible breeders are going to keep on breeding until they cannot sell puppies. The market must end. That’s why it’s YOUR responsibility, not just theirs. The first time they have a litter of seven Labs who are all still chewing on kitchen cabinets at age one, having consumed several thousand dollars worth of food; the first time they have to raise an entire litter of Maltese until the patellas start to fail on all the dogs; the first time they get some of the pain and none of the dollars, they’ll reconsider doing this again. Until then, they will keep making puppies.

So what now?

There are exactly two ways to obtain a puppy or dog: adopt from a rescue, shelter, or pound; and buy from a responsible breeder who SHOWS (or trials) her dogs, who HEALTH TESTS (not “vet checks”), who INTERVIEWS YOU and who has standards for where she places her puppies-which means she may tell you no-who REQUIRES A WRITTEN CONTRACT including a puppy-back clause so your dog never ends up in a shelter or rescue, and who is open to PEER REVIEW and a member in good standing in her community (as shown by participation in a club or recommendations from other good breeders in the area). These are the qualities that set her apart as a responsible breeder, and they’re what keep your purchased puppy from adding to the statistics of homeless dogs.



(Edited Christmas of 2011: This post continues to be passed around and gets comments almost two years after I wrote it. That’s amazing and humbling to me and I appreciate every person who takes the time to read it and think about it. I realize that it’s a short post and a strongly worded one – if you’d like to have a more holistic idea of what I think about breeding in general, here are some links:)




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  • Reply Kerri January 8, 2010 at 5:09 pm

    Great post!  I linked it to my blog as you covered everything I would have said anyway.

  • Reply Every potential puppy owner should read this. January 24, 2010 at 5:49 pm

    […] potential puppy owner should read this. I enjoyed this. Its spot on IMO. How to kill a shelter dog | ruffly speaking the best way to affect the bad breeders, imo is to eliminate their […]

  • Reply Laurie April 21, 2010 at 2:42 pm

    I loved this post – is it okay if I share it on my blog as a guest post?
    .-= Laurie´s last blog ..The Best Toy Ever (Guest Post by Buddy the Foster Dog) =-.

  • Reply Angel April 21, 2010 at 4:02 pm

    Hi. Is it okay if I link to this from Facebook? I have a cousin who wants to breed her dog for many of the stupid reasons you list. They even got a male puppy and plan to use him as the sire. Maybe reading this will help her to realize how terrible an idea this is.

  • Reply Angel April 21, 2010 at 4:06 pm

    Oops. Just saw the link to post on FB, lol. Thanks for the info!

  • Reply John D June 6, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    There’s no such thing as a “responsible breeder.” Buying a dog from a breeder kills a shelter dog, full stop. Shelters are over-run with dogs and people’s materialistic desires for purebred dogs leads to shelter dogs being put down.

    • Reply SRL May 16, 2011 at 2:50 pm

      You said it perfectly.

    • Reply sugar September 27, 2011 at 12:03 pm

      Before parroting the animal rights propaganda, you should probably do some research. Try googling “Nathan Winograd”, who has devoted his life to dogs. While you’re at it, google “NAIA– National Animal Interest Alliance” and read the research.

      • Reply rufflyspeaking September 27, 2011 at 12:31 pm

        Are you replying to me? Or to one of the other commenters? Because I’ve read everything Nathan has ever written (and have been subscribed to his blog for years) and I am pretty sure he and I are on the same page on this. People SHOULD be adopting, NOT purchasing, unless they have a legitimate reason for getting a dog that cannot be answered by a rescue. It’s the unwise purchasing that creates the illusion that there are too many dogs in shelters for the homes that are open to them. As for the NAIA, while I appreciate their stance on things like spay/neuter I am adamantly opposed to their positions on animals in circuses and a bunch of other things. I appreciate the suggestion to google them but I promise, nothing I write is because I don’t know the research.

        • Reply sugar September 27, 2011 at 10:12 pm

          I was replying to John D. You obviously are very informed, to be able to write such a wonderful article!!

    • Reply DB December 26, 2011 at 10:04 pm

      John D….
      The majority of dogs in shelters are NOT purebred dogs. They are mutts that are bred by irresponsible people. Reputable breeders insist that a dog they have bred be returned to them if the owners can no longer keep the dog: regardless of the age. If a dog is in a shelter or rescue it was put on this earth by an irresponsible breeder.

  • Reply How to kill a shelter dog - Dogs - City-Data Forum June 6, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    […] they could have chosen a better title, but the info in this article is wonderful and right on. How to kill a shelter dog | Ruffly Speaking (Cardigan Welsh Corgis, rescue dogs, and bossiness galor… I sent this link to a co-worker who needs to read this. Of course, I created a new e-mail […]

  • Reply Anna June 6, 2010 at 4:24 pm

    Thank you. I am so tired of seeing ads for kittens and puppies on some well-known “garage sale” web sites when our local shelter is over-capacity. They also have more kittens right now than they can handle because some people didn’t see the sense in getting their cat fixed. Another benefit of the shelter pet is that they are more likely to be vaccinated, fixed and sometimes even microchipped. I appreciate your article telling it like it is. I came across one irresponsible breeder who told me “If all the dogs get fixed, where will the children get their puppies?” Obviously from dim ladies like her. Thanks again.

  • Reply john June 6, 2010 at 4:28 pm

    buying from responsible breeders is just as bad. sure the litter won’t end up in a shelter (hopefully – you don’t KNOW this), but as you mentioned above, you’re buying a dog that could have been adopted.

    as long as dogs can be adopted, there is no such thing as a ‘responsible’ breeder.

    • Reply MIA June 7, 2010 at 2:39 pm

      John in a perfect world everyone would adopt, the other thing is what would happen to all the wonderful breeds out there if there were no responsible breeders? The greeders won’t stop breeding? Who’s going to keep healthy dogs available for those who want them?

      All my dogs are adopted and always will be but I appreciate the work and cost reputable breeders do to keep healthy dog lines alive and available to those who want a purebred pup.

      • Reply Maria M Adams August 28, 2011 at 3:07 am

        Sadly, I have to agree with what you said about Breeders. Though it pains me to admit, there are many breeds that would be lost without them, and that would be a travesty as much as killing good dogs in need of homes. I just wish there were regulations on this sort of thing so that the shelter dogs would have more of a chance against unregulated breeders. Too many pets and too few people to do something about it… but we can keep trying by teaching those we know how to be responsible! :)

  • Reply LabMum June 6, 2010 at 5:41 pm

    I found this on Facebook and have posted it on Doggyspace too. I love the fact that it is also everything that I would say as well.

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  • Reply Abbey June 6, 2010 at 8:46 pm

    Great post! I do have to argue that there are responsible breeders out there. Here’s a great post from one French Bulldog breeder that is fully aware of what happens to the breed they love is irresponsibly bred:

  • Reply Breed a smaller but well formed chocolate June 6, 2010 at 10:22 pm

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  • Reply Yvonne Lord August 24, 2010 at 5:29 pm

    I have been asked by one of my members to print this post in our Westie News, the quarterly magazine of the Canadian WestHighland White Terrier Club.

    Also, to give credit, I would need your name, and it would be lovely to have a photo of you (preferably with a dog! of course)

    I see you have given permission for crossposting, so I am hopeful that you will do the same for hybrid (print and online) publications.

    • Reply rufflyspeaking August 24, 2010 at 5:40 pm

      Of course you may crosspost and publish. My only requirement is that the entire thing be published – without the last paragraph it makes it sound like I don’t believe there are responsible breeders, which I certainly do! My name is Joanna Kimball, and you can credit it to Joanna Kimball, Blacksheep Cardigan Welsh Corgis, and either or I don’t have a good picture of myself to add – maybe someday!

  • Reply Yvonne Lord August 24, 2010 at 5:33 pm

    I very much object to the comment that there are no responsible breeders. Shelter dogs die because people BUY puppies on impulse and without commitment.

    It is like saying that gunsmiths are culpable for misuse of their guns and disregards the role of the folk who pull the triggers… or in this case, get tired of the dog once it isn’t cute anymore, or because it actually needs to be taken care of and trained.

    • Reply rufflyspeaking August 24, 2010 at 5:44 pm

      I don’t think that dogs fit into the gun metaphor all that well, though I appreciate your point. Guns have a standard of manufacture that means that any of them can do its basic job reasonably well. Dog breeding is more like counterfeiting – you have the people who do it right and have “sterling” behind the bill, and you have people who are handing you something that LOOKS right, but has nothing to back it up. The fault is on the part of both the manufacturer AND the buyer, one for doing it in the first place and one for knowing that it’s bad but taking it anyway. Because the latter vastly outnumbers the former, if the consumer stops accepting the “bad bill” the manufacturers will have to stop making them. That’s what will shut the process down. Not regulating or trying to control the manufacturer, because as long as there’s a market they will continue to fill it.

  • Reply you might be an ass... September 3, 2010 at 11:02 am

    Here is why you MIGHT be an ass.

    Going to the shelter is a good idea. You might not be an ass, but you may want to rethink your position on some of these things.

    My wife and I got a kitten. Yes, we adopted from a shelter. She was too young to be fixed. One very early AM, as my wife was walking out of the bathroom, she didn’t see the kitten, and stepped on it. Enter a 3AM trip to the ER vet for me. One where by the time we were seen, the kitten was fine, and given a clean bill of health $450 later. This bill caused us to have to put off our scheduled trip to the vet to have her fixed.

    So, of course, she went into heat and got out. When she came home a couple of days later, no longer screaming to get some, we figured we were screwed, and had to wait for her to have kittens, but they never came…

    Circumstances added up. An unforeseen custody battle for my son. Finding my wife’s kidnapped as an infant daughter. Expenses came hard for a couple of years, and fixing the cat who never seemed to get pregnant went to the back burner for almost 2 years, at which time we figured she had been injured in such a way that she just couldn’t have kittens.

    Jump to ten years after her birth. She gets loose while not obviously in heat. Shoot, she hadn’t even heated in 7 years. She comes back, and a couple months later, we are looking for homes for the kittens. Being in better financial shape, we had her fixed. But we had a hell of a time placing kittens, all because asses like you were fighting to keep us from trying to find homes for them…

    We have been able to keep in touch with all the owners. All the kittens seem to have the same great disposition the “mommy” had. Yes, we called her mommy from that day on. So sue us.

    Princess Isabella the boom chicky kitty lived a good long life until we had to put her to sleep almost 2 years ago. She went with her entire human family around her.

    The cat I had before her, as a single man, was one I found as a stray, and pregnant. I had similar problems finding homes for the kittens, but I loved that cat very much. Queen Cleopatra the lovers was lost to cancer a long time ago, and it still bothers me.

    Am I irritated right now? Sure. Our dog of 19 years, a purebred adopted from the pound, is having his first signs of discomfort in his long life. He has been wandering the house all night whining and barking from some unknown pain. We can not find an ER vet in this state within less than a hundred miles, so he has to suffer until we can get him to the vet first thing in the morning.

    I found this blog looking for a shelter that might be open with a vet on call, and it just ticks me off. Animal mills are one thing, but some poor sap in an uncomfortable situation trying to find homes for unwanted and unplanned for pups or kittens is another. My black Lab mix is from a “responsible breeder,” according to your standards, who trusted the wrong kennel, and they allowed a “mommy” to get with other, unfixed, males, when she went into heat almost a month earlier than expected. Rather than aborting, she charged for the cost of fixing and having shots. She ALSO made double sure the homes were good. Prince Henry Ford the rider is the most awesome dog ever.

    So, I am going to go back to rubbing the little dog now. It seems to calm him a little.

    Try to remember that not everyone that doesn’t meet your standards is in the wrong. try to realize that you aren’t a god…

    • Reply rufflyspeaking September 3, 2010 at 11:18 am

      First of all, I hope your dog is OK. I can try to help you find an ER vet if I know where you are.

      Second, imagine that you have a completely different experience. Imagine that, like 99% of all cats, your cat gets pregnant easily and fast. She has seven kittens when she’s a year old, all of which are adopted within days. Next time she has six kittens, and you figure you might get $25 a piece for them. And you do! Those six kittens pay your electric bill that month, for virtually no effort on your part. So now not only are you not inclined to get her fixed, you’re kind of scouting the neighborhood to see which of the boy cats is the most attractive and will make the most appealing kittens.

      Over the years you make a whole bunch of kittens available that are not offering anything that shelter kittens are offering. You’ve removed the market for shelter cats by filling it with your cats. That’s how shelter cats and dogs die.

      What DID happen is that finding the kittens homes was an extremely unpleasant experience, so you are disinclined to ever do it again. You cleaned up your mess, which is the responsible thing to do, and you never, ever want to do it again. This happens all over the place (hopefully – we’re certainly not there yet!) so the people who used to look in the penny saver for kittens find themselves at the shelter instead. The few who want purebred cats know they have to pay through the nose for them. Now we’re actually in a sustainable situation, where the supply of kittens comes closer to meeting the demand.

      I DO want kittens who are competing with shelter kittens to be really, really difficult to find homes for. A few good people with a legitimate oops will have a hard time, but hundreds and thousands of people with zero conscience and/or the intention to make a little money off of no-brand moggies will abruptly cease production because they’re left with six kittens in the house and nobody will take them. All of a sudden it becomes cheaper to spay a queen than let her have kittens, and an enormous problem begins to be solved.

      • Reply KellyK June 16, 2011 at 3:42 pm

        I’m impressed with how kindly and thoughtfully you responded to this, Joanna.

        I really like “clean up your own mess” as it relates to breeding, because it sums everything up so well. We wouldn’t assume anyone who makes a mess is a bad person; that’s just being human. Your cat got out and got pregnant, you dropped a blueberry pie on a white carpet, you got in a fender-bender. Stuff happens because we aren’t perfect, and you do your best to fix it.

        I don’t see you arguing that no one should take “oops” dogs off the hands of the accidental breeder, just that they shouldn’t do it in such a way that *encourages* those accidents to become deliberate. They shouldn’t pay money for them (though can cover vet bills for the dog they’re getting), and ideally, they should know enough about the situation to be reasonably confident that the dog is getting fixed. Taking a puppy from the second or third accidental litter is probably a bad idea too, because even if they aren’t profiting from the mistake, they apparently haven’t been motivated to correct the problem.

        That is, helping other people clean up their messes is fine as long as you’re not enabling them to make more messes. In that situation, you’re basically adopting a dog in a way that cuts out the shelter or rescue as a “middle-man.”

    • Reply SunKisst December 27, 2011 at 1:07 pm

      There are always exceptions to every rule.
      Instead of seeing black and whites and getting defensive…let’s see the shades of grey..and realize that both have the best of their four leggers interest at heart.

      I have found myself in the same spot as far as not being able to spay my female dog–who has an enlarged heart with an arrhythmia and two un-neutered males–I had planned on breeding. But my female didn’t pass health testing and I am afraid to put her under anesthetic to get ‘fixed’. Although, just recently someone had suggested they may be able to do it with an epidural. I am checking into that…but…that is neither here nor there.

      Accidents do happen, and I don’t think they are condemning the person who has been extremely diligent in the same cast. At least I hope not…but how many times have you heard-‘I wanted to do it as a family project’ or ‘I thought she should have one litter’?

      The one part I don’t agree about though is the showing. It will be along time before I show another dog. I have always thought it was just a ‘pretty show’ and should be backed up by health testing (for a couple of decades now). And this belief has only been strengthened when I started showing three years ago–yes and newbie to confirmation–but have been around the rings in OB 1, OB 2 (who also did agility before it was even accepted into trial-scented, therapy dog and weight pull- oh even ‘hang time’ a little) with an English bulldog 10years ago with a friend who is VERY educated in dogs.
      Along with my experiences the last couple of shows….just disgusting…so much back biting, phony people and two facedness…just too much money wasted on diploma tics and not based on the quality of the dog!
      And this is my my opinion based on the experiences that I have had.

      I would rather see the health test results along with results in obedience, agility–ect.

      All any of us can do is try to make our pets healthier (and future pets-via health testing), be responsible, learn and love.

  • Reply Lab Breed Question December 6, 2010 at 4:36 pm

    […] a pet.*|*Ruffly Speaking That was a great article. And so is this one from that same source: How to kill a shelter dog*|*Ruffly Speaking And don't worry, it's not an article about euthanasia techniques. Duke and Freckles at their […]

  • Reply Corinne Boughner January 29, 2011 at 5:51 am

    Great Post!
    I shared it on my facebook with a link to your page. hope that’s ok!?

    • Reply rufflyspeaking January 29, 2011 at 5:52 am


  • Reply SRL May 16, 2011 at 1:18 am

    John D has it spot on. A purchase from ANY breeder kills a shelter dog, hands down. You can keep telling yourself that you are a special case, a cut above the rest, but you are still making a profit at the expense of millions of shelter dogs that get euthanized in shelters. Dog breeds exist because of our human desires of vanity, NOT for any benefit by the dogs. Your dog does not know if he a purebred or a mutt, he only wants a loving, responsible owner!!!

    Anyone who claims to care about dogs would never buy from ANY breeder, and definitely would not intentionally breed them. The Humane Society says that 15 dogs are born for every human in this country. Purposefully contributing to this number when we have such a tragic amount of unwanted pups is grossly unethical.

    • Reply rufflyspeaking May 16, 2011 at 8:20 am

      Oh, honey, that doesn’t even make SENSE. How on earth could there be 15 dogs born for every human? There are only 72 million dogs in the entire country.

      All you have to do is own a dog that’s been bred for a purpose, and see him doing that purpose, to know that they benefit from being bred well. And I’m in a breed that’s incredibly rare, in danger of complete collapse and its genetic material lost forever. I am certainly not contributing to a situation where there are already too many dogs.

      Last, nobody comes to me if they were otherwise going to go to a shelter. Nobody. I won’t let them. A huge porion of my screening process is turning away people who don’t need a purpose-bred purebred, and if they can’t tell me why they need a purebred I send them immediately to a shelter. And I do a ton of rescue myself.

    • Reply K.B. May 16, 2011 at 11:17 am

      Here is the website for Toronto Animal Services. They are the “city pound” for the city of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Toronto is Canada’s largest city, with the city proper containing over 3 million people.

      Current number of dogs available? 23. 23 dogs for 3 million people. What to tell me again how my having a purebred caused one of these dogs to die? 23 dogs. 3 million people. Keep saying that until it sinks in that not all areas are beset by “overpopulation” issues, and even if I lived in an area that was, why am I limited in the dog available to me because of someone else’s irresponsibility?

      And one more thing: I know about TAS because i got one of my dogs from there. Before you try to tell me they have few dogs because they kill them instead, know that Katy was there for over 6 weeks, they spayed her, cured a UTI, and would have kept her for longer if I hadn’t had adopted her. And her adoption fee was a whopping $140.

      23 dogs. 3 million people.

  • Reply Deb Norman June 8, 2011 at 4:43 pm

    I work for a vet, so I see plenty of new pet puppies and dogs. One of the most interesting things I’ve discovered is that many rescue organizations make it so difficult to adopt a dog that people give up and go to a pet shop where no questions are asked. I know a splendid owner who doesn’t have a fenced yard but walks her dogs extensively and trains and trials in agility. She has been turned down several times on the basis of the lack of fencing. So rescue groups need to look at what they are doing; sometimes it is shooting themselves (and the dogs) in the foot. And I’m not even discussing the cat groups that would kill a cat before letting it go to a home where it would be declawed or allowed outside.

    • Reply rufflyspeaking June 8, 2011 at 7:33 pm

      I totally understand what you are saying. I always find it hugely ironic that we wouldn’t be approved to adopt from most of the rescues around here because we have unaltered dogs and don’t vaccinate yearly. There’s no question that we need to figure out how to meet the needs of the dogs while getting more of them into homes. The fencing thing I have a bit more sympathy for because SO MANY people will let the dog out alone “just this once” and then the dog gets killed. But an owner should be able to demonstrate that she’s got a plan and is responsible (titling dogs certainly would qualify) and have some of those rules relaxed.

      • Reply amyinseattle September 27, 2011 at 12:26 pm

        Oh, please don’t paint all rescues with the same brush!

        Not all will reject a responsible party with intact dogs or ding someone for not vaccinating yearly (actually many will ding you for vaccinating yearly as it is unnecessary). Good rescues, especially breed rescues work closely with their breed groups and value their support. Good rescues have the ability to be somewhat flexible, while still maintaining liability insurance.

        More often than not, people choose breeds or individual dogs that are just plain inappropriate for their them or their surroundings. When someone attempts to having ‘that conversation’ based on extensive experience with the breed they are sometimes called horrible horrible names. So where is the benefit for that unpaid volunteer? It’s just easier to say: i’m sorry.

        As the person responsible for that dog, a good rescue also reserves the right to say no.

        • Reply rufflyspeaking September 27, 2011 at 12:44 pm

          I think that at the heart of your response is the difference between rescues and shelters. A rescue tends to be much more selective about where it places dogs and therefore can only take in a few dogs a year because it takes them so long to place the ones they’ve got. So, unfortunately, a lot of dogs die waiting for a place in the rescue. That’s not the rescue’s fault, and a rescue as a private organization is allowed to make whatever decisions it chooses, but it does complicate the picture considerably (since a previous poster referenced Winograd, I will as well – he’d say that we can’t blithely say that selectivity is better when it leads to death). A shelter is supposed to get dogs out the door; it has a different mission than a rescue. When shelters start acting like rescues, insisting that the dogs be perfect (PERFECT) before adoption or that the adopter be perfect before they can even see the dogs, you get the opposite of what you originally intended. Instead of great dogs going to great homes, you get a very few dogs going to a very few homes and a dumpster full of bodies in the back.

          I am on Winograd’s side on that particular question. If your job is to adopt dogs out, stop assuming that you know what is in an adopter’s heart. They showed up; that makes them automatically better than 90% of the rest of the world. Considering how many homeless people are absolutely fantastic dog owners (and have incredibly happy and fulfilled dogs) I am more and more reluctant, the longer I watch dog ownership and own dogs, to place the kind of “do you rent or own? fenced yard? small children?” set of qualifications on people. A committed owner will change his or her lifestyle to match the dog. An uncommitted owner will give a miserable life to a dog in a gilded palace and dump him the moment it gets hard. The commitment is what makes them a good owner, not ticking the checkboxes on the application.

          • amyinseattle September 27, 2011 at 1:01 pm

            How disconcerting that your experience with rescue leaves you thinking that the dogs & people are expected to be perfect. I’ve never placed a perfect dog nor encountered a perfect adopter. We are all flawed in one way or another. But a little particular, yes. I want to do my level best to ensure i don’t have to rehome that dog again. But like a responsible breeder, should the dog need to be rehomed then i’d prefer to be involved in that. I brought the dog into the program and take responsibility for the dog till the end.

            And i’ve never viewed an application as being a ‘checklist’. I assume you have a puppy placement questionnaire. Do you use that as a checklist or an informational tool?

            I’m not suggesting that all rescues are awesome, all i’m asking is for the same consideration and differentiation between Good breeders and Irresponsible breeders apply to rescues as well.

            sorry to lead you so far off topic, but it appears our experiences are so different we shall not agree with each others point of view. Lovely post though.

  • Reply Andréa July 20, 2011 at 9:32 pm

    “There are exactly two ways to obtain a puppy or dog: adopt from a rescue, shelter, or pound; and buy from a responsible breeder.” This is precisely what I tell people, too. I’ve shown dogs (and am looking for my next show dog which I will hopefully be bringing home in 2013) and currently live with a rescue Pyrenees mix and a foster Pyr.

    Anyway, I do have a question about this.

    I agree that the definition of a responsible breeder includes everything you mentioned, including showing/trialing. However, I’m not sure where this leaves some breeders of my breed (Pyrs). Most of those with whom I have contact breed and compete in conformation (and some in obedience as well). Pyrs, however, are also bred to be livestock guardian dogs, and the AKC (nor any other KC, as far as I know) really has no test of this. It’s not herding (as you know), and I’m not even sure how you’d develop a trial for this sort of activity without it turning into a rather violent affair.

    You can probably guess where I’m going. People who breed LGDs have no way of being able to fulfill the aforementioned requirement that their dogs compete in their given sport, and often haven’t the time to do so, and are far removed from the nearest trials. That, of course, doesn’t excuse them from health testing/genetic screening, and carefully reviewing pedigrees, and all the other requirements of an ethical and responsible breeder, but where do you categorize them?

  • Reply How to kill a shelter dog (Post from blog by Ruffly Speaking) | | Dogs with a CauseDogs with a Cause December 16, 2011 at 2:37 am

    […] post can be found here: This entry was posted in Uncategorized by Animals For Autism. Bookmark the […]

  • Reply holly reynolds December 17, 2011 at 4:44 am

    From experience “responsible breeders” line breed for show/trialling perfection, this means the gene pool shrinks every time they breed a new generation, leaving the dogs litterally balistic, untrustworthy and unpredictable, thats IF there not brain dead, in which case the pups would just be put down and kept away from the public eye! and when people end up putting in all the time effort and money for a “perfect dog” only to have them grow up to be COMPLETELY unreasonable and unmanageable…where do you think they end up????? dead or in a shelter where they will be put down because they can not pass their personality tests to be rehomed.
    Since I have experienced this problem I have turned to cross bred dogs, and I have 1 Aussie bulldog who cant be classed as purebred or pedigree yet anyway as the breed hasnt been perfected….Ive never had issues with aggresion or stupidity since going this way. So I say KEEP THAT GENE POOL AS NATURE INTENDED IT!

    • Reply SunKisst December 27, 2011 at 8:45 pm

      there is a difference between in breeding and line breeding…they are a world apart…in breeding is backyard and meet your sister/cousin… in-line= is breeding out the health issues…not closely related…and getting better results..
      You want to breed mutts(mixed breeds) and pass them off as designer dogs? To me that is just a better marketed backyard breeder that had an ‘ooops’ or an intended oops…

  • Reply Things I Think About When I Can’t Sleep « Cinco de Mommy December 21, 2011 at 5:21 pm

    […] the pound — because I like a blank slate to work with. Also, because I don’t want to kill a shelter dog. I’ve been going through the entire AKC registry of breeds with The Informant as part of […]

  • Reply Rae December 26, 2011 at 6:48 pm

    Brilliant. Hardcore reality.

  • Reply Barbara December 27, 2011 at 12:49 am

    Buying a dog from a breeder does not kill a shelter dog. Plain and simply it is irresponsible owners, who dump their innocent and helpless dogs for completely stupid reasons, who are responsible for shelter dogs deaths. If you get a dog YOU are responsible for it’s well being. Since it is a free country we all have a choice as to where we get our pets. Put the blame where it belongs.

  • Reply Evan December 27, 2011 at 9:16 am

    I absolutely agree with what you say. I love dogs. I love them so much that I am not willing to give the entire species up to random breeding and all the health problems that can occur with ALL dogs, not just purebreds. I believe there will always be a place for people who do CERF, OFA, thyroid, vWB and other testing of potential genetic defects which cripple, blind and sicken puppies, both purebred and mixed. Just loving all the cute little puppies and homeless dogs isn’t enough. If we truly care about making the world a better place for ALL dogs, we need to look at those who are responsibly stewarding the dogs…both rescues AND breeders can be responsible or irresponsible. I look at 2 things: 1. has the breeder done health testing? and 2. do they REQUIRE in their contract that any puppy that is no longer wanted come back to them? I have directly rescued almost 1000 dogs in my 25+ years in dogs. I have purchased 5…all from responsible breeders. I am outspoken in my dog “fancy” about my perception that only 2-5% of all dogs in existence ARE responsibly bred. I hope all those who truly care about the welfare of dogs and their future will learn to work together.

  • Reply Erin December 27, 2011 at 6:02 pm

    Great post, except for a couple of things. I too came from the world or dog shows, breeding “the best to the best” and all of that. Then I learned about working dogs, not those that are bred to look pretty in the conformation ring, but those that are being bred to do the work the breed was created to perform. Not wanting to go on too long about the whole “looks vs. function” argument, I just want to point out that the web sites that show the beautifully stacked dogs with the BiS rosettes and all aren’t the only ones representing responsible breeders. While I DO agree with you on probably 90% of what you have to say, I’d just like to bring up the fact that there are those breeders that would be discounted if everyone follows your guidelines without looking beyond them. I learned about, and now own, three of a rare heritage breed, and am actively working to help in the conservation of said breed, the English shepherd. You won’t find these dogs at dog shows, you WILL find them doing what they were bred to do, guarding, herding, and hunting on the small diversified farms that helped to create the breed, and are where it’s being maintained and preserved. You will also sometimes see them in performance trials (herding, agility, flyball, canine freestyle, etc.) that allow non-AKC breeds to compete. And because it’s such a rare breed, the majority of the people breeding them, who are actively working to see this breed continue into the future, are responsible breeders. You will see the dogs “hanging out” with family members on their web sites, but you won’t see the beautifully stacked dog show winners.

    You’ll also find similar web sites for some of the breeds now recognized by the AKC, but from breeders who are working to keep the working characteristics of said breeds intact. While show dogs are pretty to look at, and in general, they are bred with the general health of said dogs in mind (reference your comment on patellae), you will also find those breeds where the show ring has made for dogs that are less healthy, and less able to perform any physical tasks, let alone those they’ve been bred to perform. There’s a reason most police departments are importing their German shepherds from Europe, for example. When we bred (and showed) GSD’s in the sixties and seventies, we had dogs from the same litter go to working cattle ranches, to local police departments, to the Air Force, and to show homes. Now, the ones that are winning in the show ring are a good thirty pounds heavier and several inches taller than back then, and so angulated as to not be able to hold up to the rigors or working all day, for the most part. Show Labradors, with their massive bones, have a hard time going all day in the rough terrain where most Search and Rescue operations are conducted. While you might find field trial dogs in the pedigrees of the dogs used for SAR, you won’t find that kind of thing in the GSD’s bred for real work (also the seeing eye dogs, both GSD’s and Labs). You may find herding trial winners in working Border collie pedigrees, or you might just see a bunch of names. And those are just a few examples.

    So, basically, what I’d like to say is, yes, definitely, do your homework. If you see puppies for sale at a flea market, pet store, on a web site that lists several breeds (ESPECIALLY if they’re all or mostly small breeds), or elsewhere where you see the red flags, keep on looking. But many responsible breeders of many breeds of dogs will only breed their dog once or twice, won’t have an official kennel name, will advertise in local papers, and some of the other examples you list. The thing to do is to ask a LOT of questions, like “why did you breed these dogs?” And “what qualities in the parents do you feel were so desirable that you felt they could add to the general population of (fill in) breed?” And, “What health checks have you done on the parents? Can you guarantee that they will be free of these genetic diseases?” (Here you want to do a little homework, and find out what genetic problems your chosen breed might suffer from, like the luxating patellae in the Maltese, or dysplasia in Labs or GSD’s, or eye problems in rough collie’s, etc.) . Go see the dogs in their homes. Meet the parents of the pups (both, if you can). And be happy if the breeder does ask you to go through an interview process, to ensure they’re finding a good home for the puppy they bred.

    Juyst don’t discount those breeders who don’t breed for the show ring, but produce healthy, intelligent, *working* dogs.

  • Reply Sara January 3, 2012 at 5:30 pm

    Very good write up! I’ve been posting it on various groups and can only hope some people will read it and take the advice.

  • Reply Jamie Lynn January 5, 2012 at 12:48 pm

    It doesn’t matter to a shelter dog whether you purchase from a reputable breeder or a pet store. Either way he/she is sitting in a cage at a shelter because people choose to buy dogs instead of adopting. The only way to help a shelter dog is to adopt one. I understand the need to put and end to backyard breeding, puppy mills and pet stores. But any time you purchase a dog rather than adopt one you are killing a shelter dog.

    • Reply KellyK July 31, 2012 at 11:30 am

      I don’t think that’s necessarily true. People buy dogs from responsible breeders because they need a specific type of dog that can do a specific task well. (Yes, people absolutely find service dogs and agility dogs and therapy dogs at shelters and through breed rescues, but it’s kind of a crap shoot. If you’re getting a dog for a purpose, it makes sense to get a dog that’s bred for that purpose, especially if you want to start training them as a puppy.)

      The only way buying from a responsible breeder kills a shelter dog is if you would have actually gotten the shelter dog instead. (And if that were the case, a lot of responsible breeders would tell you to go adopt a dog instead.)

      If someone shows dogs, their need for a show dog is not going to be met by a dog from the shelter, any more than my need for a dog that will more or less leave my cats alone will be met by most terrier breeds, or a marathon runner’s need for a dog that will go running with them will be met by a pug.

  • Reply Maddy F. April 24, 2012 at 1:15 am

    Hey Rufflyspeaking,
    This might be off topic, however, A stray dogs been around my neighborhood for quite a while
    and my neighbors seem to find him as a nuisance
    i occasionally feed him everytime i see him
    but i cant adopt him as my own
    because i already own many animals

    so what do i have to do to get him ready for a no kill pet shelter?
    do i have to bathe him, remove his ticks, etc?
    any ideas?

  • Reply Meg May 25, 2012 at 5:59 pm

    @Maddy: I know it’s been several weeks since you posted your question, and hopefully the poor dog has been taken care of by now. But I wanted to say that you should call the SHELTER with questions like that, because you’ll get an answer right away, plus it’ll be the the exactly right answer, too.

    Don’t rely on bloggers for such pressing concerns. If that was all that was keeping you from getting the dog safely off the street, then the shelter you planned on taking him to was the far and away best resource. If you didn’t know anything about shelters, your veterinarian’s office would be able to suggest one, or even shelter the dog themselves (mine does).

    I just want to let anybody reading this who might have the same issue and questions know the who their best resources are. Blogs are great for education, discussion, and asking general questions, but time-sensitive and specific questions are better answered elsewhere.

    I hope everything worked out for the best with your stray!

    • Reply rufflyspeaking May 26, 2012 at 11:15 am

      I just saw this – I am sorry; when a comment comes to a post that is old, I often don’t see it for a long time. I can usually help on the newer ones pretty fast, but I don’t go back and check older posts as often as I do the newer ones. I hope all is well.

  • Reply How to kill a shelter dog - Beagle Forum : Our Beagle World Forums May 30, 2012 at 2:17 pm

    […] to kill a shelter dog How to kill a shelter dog | | Ruffly Speaking: Dog photography and general dog nuttiness of all kind… How to kill a shelter dog Posted on January 6, 2010 by rufflyspeaking How to Kill a Shelter […]

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  • Reply Shawn February 20, 2014 at 11:49 pm

    I use to agree with you until I tried to adopt a dog. I went to FOUR rescues and 1 shelter and none of them would even talk to me. Why, because I do not have a five foot fence at my house. It didn’t matter that my current dog gets walked twice a day, goes to doggie daycare 2 to 3 days a week, has a family member who comes by the house during the day just to check-in when needed, goes on vacation with us, goes to friends houses and out to dinner with us when we go places we can sit outside, is the center of attention because we don’t have children, I am home early most days, our dog goes to the dog park almost daily, etc. But, despite all this they wouldn’t even talk to us because according to them it is never safe to place a dog in a home without a fence. I completely disagree when the appropriate adjustments are made a dog can live happily without a fence. But, like I said they wouldn’t do a home visit or anything to see how we handle our current dog. So, guess what… We went to breeder which I didn’t want to do because I actually prefer not to have a puppy but it was the only way. So, long story to say shelters etc should at least give people a chance. I’m sure some do, but five attempts was enough for me.

  • Reply gr8k9 July 31, 2015 at 8:13 pm

    YES!!! Not only for the subject of the post but that you use warranty instead of guarantee!

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