Some of my family have been dog breeders. My Grandmother bred a variety of dogs and my own Mother was a dog breeder for a while. She also showed her Shitzus in both Texas and Missouri and earned a share of ribbons, plates, cups, even a Shitzu wind chime, which my Aunt Sharron, who has also bred Shitzus, inherited upon my Mother's death.
I often hear dog breeders described as "puppy mill" owners. But, quite often, it is those very dog breeders to whom pet lovers across the country look when they want a companion animal.
Currently, I own a Boston Terrier. He's about 4 years old and we've had him for three or four months. He was given to us by a friend who said he wouldn't have given him to anyone else.
Who would you go to if you wanted to purchase a pure bred, registered dog like a Boston Terrier? More than likely, you'd look in the newspaper and aargh! There, in the classified ad section, you'd find what you were looking for, not just a pet, a member of your family. A dearly beloved family member. Your new family member would have been bred by a dog breeder. Your new little (or big) joyful ray of sunshine wasn't an accident, he was a planned event and, more than likely, his sire and dam were bred so that their owners could sell the puppies, sell them to someone like you. Someone who wanted one of "those" so bad they were willing to pay a price to have the honor of owning a pure bred, registered dog.
Scooter isn't the first pure bred dog I've owned. I've owned a Poodle, a Doberman and an Afghan Hound. My very first dog was a Chihuahua, her name was Bambi Joy. My Dad accidently ran over her in the driveway as he was leaving for work one day. She used to sleep on my robe on the floor at night. After she was killed I'd drag that robe into bed with me at night and my Dad would come in and drag it out, scolding me for carrying it there.
My last dog died either late December, 2007 or early 2008. If you think it's awful that I don't know the date of when my beloved Spike died, you'd need to know the whole story. For one, it was his time and that made it easier to let go. He was about 17 years old when he died and he was a joy every single day of every single year, but I had my hands full with my Mother at the time. I really didn't have the time to stop taking care of Mom to grieve the loss of Spike and, like I said, it really was his time. I was at a City Council meeting when he passed but my husband was home with him. He died just moments before I got home. Spike was a Silky Terrier/Schnauzer mix. I adopted him from the Humane Society and I would have, likely, gotten my next dog at the Humane Society if we weren't given the gift of Scooter.
Anyway, I was reading Sarah Overstreet's column in the Springfield News-Leader this morning and there it was:
"People like the Trogolos throw out lifelines to dogs facing death by needle or years caged in no-kill shelters. And while the Springfield City Council snoozes, low-life pet owners let their dogs have litter after litter, thinking that someone else will come along to take the animals off their hands."
I haven't talked to Sarah Overstreet about the issue and if I did, perhaps she'd say she wasn't talking about responsible dog breeders who take care of their animals and prize them, maybe she was talking about people who don't really care about animals at all. Maybe she was talking about the kind of people who have a female dog and let her roam the neighborhood when she is in season, to get bred by a male dog who is left to roam the neighborhood too but, what I do know is the legislation the City Council considered earlier this year and was referred back to the Community Involvement Committee, at the request of Council woman Collette, would effect those breeders who you would go to if you wanted to purchase a pure bred, registered dog. Under what has been discussed and considered, dog breeders would be penalized and regulated just as if they are some "low-life pet owner" who takes no responsibility for their animals, letting them run loose and, in turn, letting the puppies run wild in the neighborhood as well, only to be picked up by animal control, taken to the Human Society or another shelter in the area, or missed, altogether, to later add to the stray animal population themselves.
I'm not sure what is the answer is to the stray animal population, but it doesn't seem to me that regulating and penalizing responsible dog breeders is the answer to the problem. There needs to be some sort of penalty to those who are irresponsible pet owners that doesn't penalize dog breeders who are responsible and care for their animals.
I guarantee you that dog breeders are NOT letting their in-season dams run the neighborhood to be bred irresponsibly and I will also guarantee you that breeders who have, often, paid a hefty stud fee are not abandoning puppies so, why should they be treated by the same standards as those who are irresponsible? Why should they be regulated and restricted? They know the capability of their animals better than the government. They should be allowed to make decisions which should be determined based on the welfare and capability of their individual animals, not by a government agency which has never seen the animals and simply wants to encourage responsibility.
Education might be a good start. I understand the Health Department wants to make it a priority issue this year. I'd like to think there are other ways to call attention to problems besides bringing them in the form of a council bill for public hearing. I just think the city/Health Department should look where the problem is, not where it isn't.