A Reminder to Adopt, Not Shop
I try hard not to get on my high horse about the choices people make about their pets. I know that we all have breeds that we like, we all have nostalgic memories of childhood pets, and we all look for pets who meet our families’ needs best. My first love was a purebred black lab named Thor, and I will forever have a black dog in my heart (and my home) because of him.
And really, I know that there are such things as “reputable” breeders, people who take the craft seriously, who produce dogs with good blood lines and minimal health issues. I know that if you have your heart set on a certain breed, it seems like the safest and most expedient way to secure yourself a purebred dog is to find a reputable breeder.
It may shock you to know that at least 25% of all dogs in shelters in southern California are purebred dogs. For almost every dog breed imaginable, there is a breed-specific dog rescue out there (probably even local to you) dedicated to rescuing the dogs who are discarded by the very people who pay hundreds and even thousands of dollars to have them bred. Reasons for relinquishment often include excessive vet bills for breed-related health problems.
People who advertise themselves as “reputable breeders,” sometimes listed as a “hobby breeder,” are actually people who see their poor female breeding dog as a cash cow. Once the breeding female has either passed breeding age or starts having health problems, you will see her in the shelter, abandoned, unhealthy, middle-aged to senior, and because of these factors, essentially unadoptable.
Case in point, our latest rescue Millie. One look at the photos of her saggy teets and enlarged lady parts, and you can see what an overbred dog looks like. It is painful to see. English bulldogs are a highly sought-after breed, whose puppies can go for up to $2,300 on Craigslist by the quintessential “hobby breeder.” We rescued Millie from the Ramona Humane Society, and our vet theorizes that she has likely birthed all of the bulldog puppies in the immediate area for the last 6 plus years.
In addition to her obvious breeding-related insults and injuries (i.e., spinal issues, enlarged lady parts, mammary tumors, and saggy teets), Millie also has several tumors that have been unattended to, including a tumor on each of her eyelids. Like many bulldogs, Millie has zero tear production. Left untreated for many years, her lack of tear production has caused vision issues. Millie is malnourished, and to date we have pulled over 60 ticks off of her emaciated body. Not to mention, her blood work results came back today, and they are not great. She is a mess.
Millie has many wonderful qualities: she is dog-friendly, a great size at around 40 pounds, spunky and energetic, but also happy to settle down, crate-trained, and let’s face it, she’s pretty darn cute. She also snores like Godzilla, is gassy, and eats like Cookie Monster. We consider this part of her charm. But it is hard to ignore the saggy boobs, the mammary tumors, the neglected teeth, and yes, the ginormous “lady parts”. It is a cruel and unfair reminder of the hundreds of puppies she was forced to birth in her ~8 years of life.
My point here? ADOPT, DON’T SHOP. If you like a certain breed, scour the shelters for that breed. You can also look for breed specific dog rescues, or organizations like ours who are willing and eager to Mutt Match for you. You can find the dog you want and still rescue a dog in need. Unless your goal is to show your dog, there is literally no reason not to survey the dog rescue world for your furry friend.
Millie has had an unfair life to date, but she has a great attitude and a lot of miles left in her. We feel fortunate to rescue a gem like Millie and give her a chance at the life she deserves. And the great thing about dogs is that every day, they hit the reset button. Every day starts out as the best day ever. Millie is no different. All these injuries and insults she has endured as a breeding dog are water under the bridge as far as she is concerned.
It is up to us humans to follow suit–to a point. I hope before we live and let live, we all take a moment to recognize the unnecessary excruciation that Millie has gone through. I hope we all understand that while she and all the dogs she has bred are cute, “they” are already out there, waiting to be saved, or even worse, being put down in shelters because of the carelessness of humans. Let’s look to save the ones who are already out there, rather than create the ones we will later try to save.
The Rescued Dog