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Breeders vs. Rescues

Worldwide Pet Overpopulation Epidemic, who's at fault?

Close Up - The face of a brown with white Bulldog puppy that is standing on grass behind cage

No one can argue the fact that there is a worldwide pet overpopulation problem. In the USA there are 45 cats and dogs for every person born. Only one out of ten dogs born ever get a home. Only one out of 12 cats born ever find a home. According to the ASPCA, animal shelters take in 7.6 million dogs and cats with only 2.7 million animals adopted each year. Eight hundred dogs & cats are KILLED each HOUR. In Nashville, TN alone, there are 300-500 dogs and cats euthanized (killed) everyday within a 50-mile radius; there just are not enough homes out there for the amount of dogs and cats available for adoption. Can you imagine how many dogs and cats are killed worldwide daily? A pound in Nashville is reported to kill 95 of every 100 dogs that go in there—it's a vicious cycle.

In most cases even when a shelter calls themselves a "no-kill" shelter it simply means they give the dogs they don't want to a shelter that IS a kill shelter. So does that make it a true “no-kill”? No, not in my book, because the animals are not safe just because they end up there.

So where does the problem really lie? One would think it's 100% the fault of breeders and those whoops litters. But no, that is not the route of the problem, not by a longshot. Breeders are the effect of the problem, and the massive pet overpopulation is the aftermath.  Yes, breeders, as a whole, are breeding more litters than there are homes for, yet, they are selling them. So why is that, why are breeders selling their litters when there's a worldwide pet overpopulation problem? Because people do not look at the purchase of a puppy or kitten as a lifelong commitment. Puppies and kittens are so cute, most are purchased on impulse. Who could, after all, resist that cute little face?

How many of you reading this article know someone, including yourself, who has purchased a dog or cat, only later to "get rid" of it for reasons you didn't anticipate. Your cute little puppy grew up, it digs holes in your yard, it barks too much, it chews your furniture, you feel sorry for it because you just can't give it the time it deserves, you can't afford its vet bills, you’re tired of dealing with its medical problems, it bites or growls at people because you didn't raise it to see humans as "Top Dog", it pees and poops all over your house, there are pet hairs all over the house, it's ruining your furniture, it's got a ton of energy and gets destructive/neurotic because you don't have the time to spend with it, you’re tired of putting the time into it, tired of cleaning the litter box, tired of walking the dog... the list of excuses for not keeping your pet goes on and on.

So what does one do? They take the dog and try to find it a new home. However this is not all that easy, as most are looking for cute innocent little puppies and kittens.

Yes, the problem lies with the general public who do not research and buy these pets without thoroughly thinking it through. Without doing their homework on the type of pet they should get, and without taking the time to learn what a dog really needs in order to be that perfect dog. They later "get rid" of their pet, passing them onto rescues or pounds. Later, most will end up "testing out" a different type of pet. The vast majority of people who adopt a puppy or kitten do not keep the animal for life. If this were to turn around and most people were to actually keep their pets through the good times and the bad, as they do their own children, the demand for these animals would go down. With less of a demand, breeders would not breed as many litters. Breeders are only breeding as many litters as they do because people are buying them. The demand for a cute little puppy or kitten is great because people do not keep the animal for life. Animals are recycled. If a breeder had a litter and could not sell the puppies, they would not keep having litter after litter. People are buying them, so breeders are breeding them. In a perfect world, breeders would breed less and force people to adopt from an animal rescue, but this is not a perfect world. The solution lies with the general public educating themselves; supply and demand, that's the solution. Lessen the demand and the supply will, on its own, lessen. The power lies within each and every one of us.

Another contributing factor to this huge problem is government intervention. The state-run dog pounds make it way too easy to unload the responsibility of owning a pet onto someone else. Most people can "get rid" of their dogs in one day. Almost anyone can take their pets to the pound.

It is very easy to "get rid" of a dog or cat at a local or state-run kill shelter (dog & cat pound), but it's not so easy to adopt a dog from one. Some years back my husband went to a state-run dog pound near his work and tried to adopt a dog. He was told it was the dog’s last day, yes it was going to be killed the next day. My husband told the shelter he wanted to adopt the dog. Upon doing his paperwork he was told he could not adopt the dog because he didn't live in that county. He explained he worked down the street, didn't live in the county but worked there. No, that was not acceptable, he was not allowed to adopt the dog. The pound was going to kill the dog, but would not adopt it out to a man who lived in the next county over. These state-run pounds have all kinds of rules and restrictions in place for adopting a pet, but not for dumping one. Yes, they will take your pet, and they will also kill it for you. Know if you take your dog or cat to one of these pounds chances are extremely high it will be dead in a month. The majority of cats and dogs that are taken to these state-run kill shelters are not adopted out, but are killed. One might as well save the taxpayers some money and kill the animals themselves. Sound harsh? Yes, it is, so don't take your pets to the pound. You took on this responsibility, now you must deal with it without dumping your problems onto someone else.

Another example (true story): a family was having a rough couple of days with their dog. The dog was getting into the trash and chewing things up inside the house (a sign of not enough exercise). The wife decided on a whim to take the dog to the pound while her husband was at work and the kids at school. Later that same night when her family returned home, she had a change of heart and decided she did not mean to take such drastic measures. The husband went to the pound to get their dog back. The pound would not return the dog. They had given it up and no longer owned it.

For more examples, read Trying to Save Buddy, an SPCA Dog from a High Kill Shelter , SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) and A Senseless Death, a Misunderstood dog.

What needs to change... the attitude of the general public. When one decides to buy a cute little puppy or kitten, the decision should be looked at as a 10-15 year commitment. If one cannot, or does not, wish to commit this amount of time to a dog or cat, do not buy a puppy or kitten and then pass your problem off to someone else when it grows up and the situation does not work out as you envisioned it would. Just like when one decides to have a human baby, things will not be perfect. The child will not be perfect. They will be expensive and press us to the end with issues to deal with. Dogs and cats are not disposable and they are not all the same. Chances are, a type of dog that will fit into your lifestyle will not be the type of dog that will fit into your neighbor’s lifestyle. Sometimes there IS NO type of dog that will fit into your lifestyle, and if you want a pet, it's time to consider something else, something less demanding. This research should be done before you adopt a pet, it should not be a trial and error experience. With the internet so readily available, there is no excuse for not researching BEFORE adopting a pet.

It should be made harder to dump unwanted animals off at these state pounds, putting more responsibility on the pet owner. Maybe then people would think twice about buying a puppy or kitten when they were not sure if they were ready for the responsibility of owning one for life. These state-run shelters are hurting the pet overpopulation problem more than they are helping. The world would be a better place if there were not an easy place to dump your pets after you got tired of them. Let private no-kill rescues work with people who think they want to dump their dog. It needs to be harder for someone to dump an unwanted pet and never look back.

If you would like to try owning a dog or cat, but are not sure if you are a dog/cat person, start with a full-grown homeless dog or cat rather than adopting a puppy or kitten. Grown cats and dogs are easier to care for than kittens and puppies and you will not be contributing to the overpopulation problem should you decide it was not something you should have taken on. There are millions of wonderful dogs and cats that need homes.

People who adopt a cute little puppy or kitten without researching how a dog thinks, the type of pet they are getting, the care, time and responsibility it will need, and end up "getting rid" of your pet after it has outgrown that cute puppy or kitten stage, using one of the many common excuses for not keeping a pet—it is you who are the problem for the world’s pet overpopulation problem. Take the time to learn natural dog behavior BEFORE you decide to adopt.

There are millions of excellent dogs and cats in pounds and rescues. These animals are not "reject" animals, but animals that were unfortunate enough to fall into the hands of people who decided they didn't want the responsibility, those who did not research the type of pet they were getting and those who didn't treat the dog like a dog, but rather a human, which always causes behavior problems, sometimes major ones. Each and every day these animals are killed, simply because there are not enough homes, not enough rescues, not enough manpower, to keep them all alive, because each day more pets are brought in. Each and every one of us who want to adopt a pet should look into rescue first, and if you don't see what you are looking for going the rescue route, and would rather get a puppy, so be it. However, go into it with the mentality of keeping the puppy or kitten for the remainder of the pet’s life; do not be the cause of our world’s pet overpopulation problem. If you do not know if you can commit to a pet for its entire life, ‘til death do you part, do not get a pet.

Please, do your homework. Before you adopt a cute little puppy or kitten, think long and hard... are you ready for the responsibility?

Understanding Dog Behavior

SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) (Read these stories)

Written by Sharon Maguire © Dog Breed Info Center ® All Rights Reserved


"Hello, I am writing to provide feedback to Sharon Maguire regarding the article "Breeders vs. Rescues". While I very much appreciate the spirit of the article, and I used to agree entirely with what you are saying, I have recently become extremely frustrated by how hard it is be permitted to adopt a rescue dog. I live in a beautiful rural area, and rescue organizations I have contacted say I'm too far away from them to do home visits, which precludes them from considering me. One group I contacted might have considered me despite the location, but refused me on the grounds that my one-acre treed property doesn't have a fence around it, despite the gorgeous walking-areas that our current dogs get to enjoy (on leash) all the time. I have volunteered to photo-document or video-document my entire home and property, but they won't yield. If 4 million dogs are being killed in shelters each year, and a loving family with lots of dog experience, a beautiful large country property, and the time to give to the dog, is being refused adoptions simply due to our location (or lack of a fence), I have to say that I gravely question whether these rescue organizations have lost sight of the big picture. I am being FORCED to go the route of buying a breeder or pet-store dog, thus creating an extra life that will cause another dog elsewhere to be killed, simply because of the lack of flexibility and big-picture thinking of these organizations. I fully respect their desire to assure a dog is being given to a good home, but rescue organizations seem to put up extensive roadblocks, and loving, potential adoptive homes are being refused. I am becoming very disillusioned by the entire process, and I will soon give up and go out and buy a cute puppy in the pet shop window, which I most certainly will know likely comes from a puppy mill. I will feel terrible about it, knowing I could have saved another dog's life, but was prevented from doing so due to the self-absorbed red tape of many rescue groups. Anyway, I just think any article about rescues should be fair and mention how challenging the adoption process can be. And BTW, both of our daughters -- human ones, that is -- are adopted. We had less red tape, and were never turned down, in proceeding with two human adoptions than we have faced trying to achieve one rescue dog adoption... something is gravely wrong there!!!"

Thanks, Adrian


"I have read your article about breeders vs. rescue and the feedback that is already listed. I have to second what the person that wrote the feedback says. I"m in Illinois, near Wisconsin, and I tried very hard to adopt/rescue and I finally found a central midwest maltese rescue, or some name similar to that and I paid my application fee, I was willing to pay the crazy $400 adoption fee, I had my home inspection, my references were called on the phone, all was going well, I met the little guy I was going to adopt and fell in love, spent a long time with him, then spoke to the woman that runs this so called business, she wanted to set up a day I could go and pick him up, then all of a sudden she stopped answering my calls, didn't reply to emails, and last I heard, she changed her mind and wasn't placing him in a home just yet. She was also looking at other applicants??? Never given any kind of a reason, just stopped communicating all together! I have a fence, I have someone that is home ALL the time, I have owned this same breed previously for it's whole life, so, yes, sometimes it gets so aggravating, it's just easier to call a breeder! I still feel I "rescued" my puppy because no one else wanted him, due to missing some feet.... But I'll take care of him for life and carry him every second if I have to. I just hope the one that I THOUGHT I was going to get, actually found a good loving home, as I still think of him all the time."

  • Understanding Dog Behavior