How Breeders can be part of the Solution

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Nobody can deny that Puppy Mills are a major animal WELFARE (not Rights) issue. They also contribute to the shelter population — their breeders don’t
care who buys them and don’t take their dogs back. The owners often buy on impulse then dump their unwanteds in shelters. The vast majority of shelter
and “free to good home” Kerries the Kerry Foundation has picked up over the past few years have been purchased in pet stores or on the internet.

Responsible breeders DO have an image problem — puppy mills are giving ALL breeders a
bad name. This is NOT because the responsible breeders are specific targets of campaigns to reduce the shelter population and raise awareness about
mills, but because the term “breeder” needs an asterisk explaining the difference between a good breeder and a puppy mill. When the vast majority of
purebred puppies sold in the US don’t come from reputable breeders, reputable breeders are irrelevant when it comes to public awareness campaigns like
“Adopt Don’t Shop”. A 30-second commercial or a billboard does not have that luxury.

While the reputable breeding community at large may not be part of the problem, they are not perceived as being part of the SOLUTION. After all, this is
about purebred dogs of the breeds that the good breeders care so much about, right? The breeding community needs to PROACTIVELY and AGGRESSIVELY explain
where the purebred pet store/internet “product” is coming from — puppy mills. The public is unaware that these canine factory farms exist and unless
one literally shows the public that they do exist, it’s inconceivable to comprehend that anybody, especially somebody who breeds dogs, could treat
them so horribly! Puppy buyers are told a BIG LIE — that these puppies come from nice, warm places with lots of room to run — by the pet store clerks and slick websites.

Legislation is an avenue that isn’t working (because it’s not enforced) whereas EDUCATION is an avenue whose surface has barely been scratched. Oprah’s
show was a very good start and hit the right audience with the right message. Educating the public of the tragedy in the mills will make folks think
before they buy that pet store or internet puppy. As widespread public knowledge of this inhumane industry grows, demand for purebred pups from these
sources will decline and mills will go out of business. The public becomes more involved, demanding that animal welfare laws be enforced and the new
legislation that’s popping up to limit puppy mills is not necessary. Education is the key to fighting this!

Don’t wait for the AKC to take the lead or encourage any awareness of the puppy mill tragedy when 80% of their registration revenues come from the non-fancy
(e.g., not the show breeder). Note that there is NO MENTION of avoiding pet store pups on their website. The 2002 AKC High Volume Breeder Report, chaired
by none other than Ms Patti Strand, condoned “well run” puppy mills (an oxymoron!) which led them down the path to the notorious, failed Petland deal.
By golly, I sure would like to see the public reaction if the AKC put a video of the mills they visited and deemed “acceptable” on their homepage!
(The Time Magazine test is a good ethics check for any business — what would be the public reaction to a cover story on the AKC’s involvement in the

The AKC, by its own inaction and support of the dog breeding industry, is tarnishing the reputable breeders by their affiliation with the AKC. It’s unfortunate
that the AKC isn’t doing anything to fight the mills themselves as they could have a huge, positive impact on the suffering mill dogs. The AKC is far
behind the UK and Australian kennel clubs when it comes to taking a stand AGAINST purely breeding for profit/quantity and not for quality. No wonder
Oprah didn’t seek the AKC’s input for her show, which was an embarrassment that left them scrambling for their last minute PR effort. (I bet they breathed
a huge sigh of relief that registries weren’t mentioned! Oprah could have easily said that AKC papers don’t guarantee a puppy isn’t from one of the
puppy mills shown.)

Further, by doing nothing, the AKC has abdicated the fight against puppy mills to the HSUS, who appears to be the only visible national spokes group for
the suffering mill dogs. Like them or not, they are getting puppy mills much needed visibility. Junior Horton’s shop of horrors was raided because
of their efforts. The Pets of Bel Aire became a national news story because of their efforts. The public is becoming more informed because of their
efforts (which is why the Puppy Mill Lobby is so hell bent on discrediting them).

What can be done?

Puppy Mill videos and pictures are incredibly powerful educational tools! It’s mind boggling, jaw dropping, inconceivable,

incomprehensible when you hear for the first time that puppies are being farmed at all and usually in horrible conditions.
It doesn’t matter to the public if it’s the worst of the worst, the not quite so bad (like those shown on Oprah) or the best of the best “Blue Ribbon”
kennel — the puppy-buying public will be outraged and sickened when they see where that cute puppy in the pet store comes from. The message that needs
to be emphasized is that of the SUFFERING BREEDING STOCK, not that a pet store puppy may be unhealthy. That was the point of Oprah’s show — to raise
awareness of this enormous tragedy — the misery of dogs caged 24/7 for their ENTIRE LIVES. The key is to send the message when somebody is looking
for a purebred puppy.

Suggestions to be proactive:

National and Local Breed club websites: Since many prospective puppy buyers google the breed for information, ideally the home page of
every breed website, or at a minimum the puppy buyer page, should have info on mills front and center. Most breed club websites simply list the breeders
to call — what a missed opportunity! I checked the Cairn Terrier Club website, a breed that’s in almost every pet store, yet there is no visible mention
of mills or avoiding petstores or internet dealers. I checked numerous other breed websites — ditto. Why not put a video up and explain how factory
farmed dogs are kept? Or a video of a dog auction? Or a link to Oprah’s puppy mill show? Why not include information that compares a responsible breeder
to a puppy mill? Again, the key is to explain the conditions of the breeding stock — that’s what really kicks people in the stomach.

Kennel Club websites: here’s a good, but unfortunately rare, example of a kennel club taking initiative: The only improvement I would make is to add visuals of mills to drive the message home.

Individual breeder websites: Another opportunity to get the message out!

Online Pet stores like,
The Foundation has placed “adoptable” ads on those sites, not to place the dogs but to drive people to for information on puppy mills and how to identify a good breeder. Because these sites are supported by mills, one can’t put a link to a puppy mill
video up (I tried)

Dog Fancy Magazine, etc: The Foundation has been placing ads on those sites, driving people interested in the breed to the KBTF website
for years. Again, whatever website that’s listed needs to include information on mills and finding a good breeder.

TV–Animal Planet: wouldn’t it be great if there were a PSA about Puppy Mills and they showed the videos? Perhaps Oprah, with her new
Discovery Communications deal, will do this. The AKC sure won’t.

Newspapers: The Foundation has been placing counter ads when we spot a less than reputable seller of Kerry puppies. This has been effective
— it drives potential puppy buyers to the Foundation website and also lists the phone number of a local volunteer, who can explain to the puppy seeker
how to find a reputable breeder and how to avoid unscrupulous dealers. Every breed should do this!

Local Kennel Clubs could easily be doing this in the Sunday paper (although it’s not inexpensive). Again, the best way to educate is to drive people to
a website with information on mills and the suffering of the breeding dogs, as well as how to find and identify a responsible breeder.


The AKC recently launched a newspaper program called “Demand AKC Papers” to incent Local
Kennel Clubs to promote AKC registrations for them. There is no mention of buying from a reputable breeder or avoiding puppy millers. Most advertisers
in the local papers are typically BYBs (Back Yard Breeders) and mills and aren’t members of the local Kennel Clubs in the first place, so hopefully
the Kennel Clubs won’t fall for this! I would never have enjoyed owning such a delightful Kerry myself if it weren’t for the excellent breeders I found
in New England. I often get applications for rescued Kerry pups and since puppies rarely land in rescue, I refer the good applicants to the same
responsible breeders who helped me find my Kerry.

I firmly believe that Puppy Mills, and the AKC condoning their breeding practices, will be the downfall of the purebred dog unless the breeders stand up
and fight this war themselves. By becoming part of the solution, reputable breeders would take a big step toward improving their image and distancing
themselves from the wretched puppy mills. The ball is in their court.

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