By Jenny Anderson
Special to Today’s News-Herald
Now that the Westminster Kennel Club dog show is over, we know a beagle won “Best in Show”. What happens next? People often turn to websites and pet stores to find this preferred breed. The problem is most pet stores and websites get their supply from puppy mills. And it can be difficult to know when a dog is supplied by a puppy mill. Puppy purchases can be risky, unless you can personally visit the kennel and procure documentation with background information. Responsible breeders are scrupulous about the care and health of their dogs, making it a very expensive proposition.
Most people are not aware that approximately 20-30 percent of dogs found in shelters are full-blooded breeds. Whenever a certain breed stars in a movie or when one stands out in a championship dog show, that particular breed tends to become the favored dog of the moment. This, in turn, tends to fuel puppy mill breeding. It’s simply a matter of supply & demand. Unfortunately the dogs do not always work out for the people who purchase them. Sometimes the expense, the activity level of the dog, or family issues cause the dog to be given up. Papers do not ensure a good match.
Too much emphasis is placed on papers. “AKC papers are given so much weight and seemingly validate the quality of purebred dogs, but they really don’t,” says Elizabeth Oreck, Best Friends puppy mill initiatives manager. “Papers just show a puppy’s birth date and parents’ names. They don’t guarantee the puppy wasn’t born in a mill. AKC papers should not be considered a seal of approval when it comes to humane and responsible breeding.”
When local shelters don’t have the perfect purebred or mixed-breed dog for a potential adopter, breed rescue groups are a great option. Did you know there is probably a rescue organization dedicated to every single AKC-recognized breed (and their mixes), with a wide range of puppies and dogs to choose from. Some rescue groups actually get their dogs from hoarding or mill situations.
Humane societies, including WAHS, have always encouraged people to adopt rather than purchase their next dog. Remember, adoption doesn’t mean settling. Our family pets have all been adopted, and we couldn’t have done better. Our son and daughter-in-law just adopted their first dog this last week, and mixed-breed Rambo has a very sweet disposition. When you adopt, you not only get a wonderful dog, you get the joy and satisfaction of saving a life, which is worth much more than AKC papers. Finding a good match is priceless.
The Western Arizona Humane Society is open Monday-Saturday, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m., with kennel hours 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Call 855-5083 for details. To find lost pets, call 855-4111. View animals found at www.lhcpd.com.