Laws that try to control breeders are posing a serious threat to the survival of responsible dog breeding.
by Cat Matloub, Esq. - Head of Partnerships, Community & Legal Affairs at Good Dog
Legislation that dictates the way dog breeders run their breeding programs, such as proposals that force breeders to sell their dogs from their own homes, does not allow breeders to prioritize the safety or well-being of their dogs. When the government enacts invasive legislation like this, it puts breeders, their families, and their dogs at risk of assault, theft, and other crimes. Responsible breeders are often unfairly blamed by the public and animal rights extremists for dog abandonment, leading to threats of, and actual acts of, violence against these breeders. Additionally, violence and terrorism by animal rights extremists have been on the rise since the 2000s, and proposed legislation that has an anti-breeder sentiment makes breeders even more vulnerable to attacks from these groups. Even with extensive screening and research, breeders have no way of knowing who they allow into their homes.
Anti-breeder policies like this are especially scary for breeders who live by themselves or have small children in their homes. In Kansas, a breeder was murdered in her own home after posting a litter of available puppies online. A breeder in St. Louis had his puppies taken at gunpoint, while another breeder in Newark had three puppies pass away after being stolen. There are countless other examples of violence and theft against breeders in their very own homes.
Puppy buyers typically want to see where the breeder keeps and raises their dogs to decide if their source is ethical. Puppy cams, extensive screening processes, proof of health testing, proof of pedigree, and video can all help a puppy buyer determine if their source is responsible without putting a breeder directly in danger. Some breeders feel comfortable allowing their buyers into their homes, but legislation should not force a breeder to run their business a certain way. Especially if it potentially puts them, and their dogs, in a dangerous or vulnerable position.
Responsible breeders often invest a lot of money in their breeding programs, including in the rigorous health testing of their breeding dogs and litters, puppy raising practices, and breeding to produce healthy, socialized dogs. Anti-breeder legislation risks pushing these good sources out of the system, thereby creating a dangerous black market for pets.
Although shelter dogs are in high demand in northern parts of the United States, the National Animal Interest Alliance states that dog overpopulation is largely a thing of the past, and the number of dogs entering shelters has dramatically declined in recent years. A decrease in the supply of dogs means it is becoming difficult for people to find a pet suitable for their lifestyle. If buyers are unable to connect with breeders or suitable shelter dogs, they have no choice but to turn to unethical sources. Sketchy online puppy producers and storefronts that produce unhealthy dogs in an unethical manner thrive in a market where well-meaning but uneducated puppy buyers have no responsible source to go to for their dogs.
The public’s interest in getting puppies of a particular breed or crossbreed is a constant. Anti-breeder legislation in any form will not cull the general public's demand for puppies from breeders. Instead, it will eliminate accessibility to dog breeders while providing little supply for this growing demand. For people who want to get a puppy from a breeder, this type of legislation eliminates their freedom of choice and narrows their ability to seek out the responsible source that is right for their lifestyle.
Though anti-breeder legislation aims to positively impact the dog world, lawmakers typically lack the knowledge and understanding that would enable them to bring about change. For this reason, the proposed legislation often fails to consider the steps breeders take to ensure they are producing healthy, socialized dogs, such as health testing, socialization, quality of care, welfare, environment, and intention. There is no general or cookie-cutter way to regulate dog breeding. Each program needs evaluation on an individual level, so lawmakers find it difficult to create legislation that accomplishes their goal of bettering the dog world and only targets unethical puppy producers.
If anti-breeder legislation succeeds, it will become increasingly difficult for breeders to have a say in how they run their breeding programs. Tightening up regulations and putting laws in place that target all breeders, instead of only unethical puppy producers, will only serve to push out the good sources and cause more problems down the line for breeders and buyers while putting dogs’ lives at risk. Anti-breeder legislation unfairly lumps all breeders into one category and threatens the future of healthy dogs at large.
The core of responsible dog ownership is freedom of choice, meaning potential dog owners should have the right to choose what source is best for them. Anti-breeder legislation makes this decision for the dog owners themselves, either leaving them with a dog that isn’t a good match for their lifestyle or forcing them to turn to disreputable sources.