Monday, May 19, 2008

An Open Letter to Dog Breeders from The Humane Society of the United States

Many breeders of purebred dogs were shocked by a recent decision by the Board of the American Kennel Club to partner with Petland stores across the U.S. We were pleased to learn that AKC decided to reverse its decision.

The HSUS understands that quality dog breeders have put a great deal of expense and effort into testing their breeding dogs for genetic soundness and working to improve the overall health and welfare of their breeds. Responsible breeders are justifiably frustrated when poor quality, high-volume breeders (puppy mills) appear to get a stamp of approval when in reality these unscrupulous breeders have not worked to improve the soundness of their breeds or care for these animals humanely.

Because The HSUS has been at the forefront of the fight against puppy mills for over four decades, we understood and shared your concern over this partnership. The HSUS joined with breeders nationwide in contacting AKC and voicing our concern.

If the mission of AKC is to “…promote the sport of purebred dogs…”, the mission of the HSUS puppy mill campaign could easily be stated as “Promoting the Salvation of the Purebred Dog” since purebred dogs suffer at a far higher rate in puppy mills than do mixed breed dogs. As individuals who focus on specific breeds of dogs, this letter should serve as a personal invitation to each of you to join with The HSUS in our fight to stop puppy mills.

As any good breeder or animal welfare advocate knows, the bulk of pet store puppies come from puppy mills. Puppy mill breeding dogs suffer immeasurably as their needs are routinely ignored and compromised. A lifetime in a cage for an animal as highly social as a dog is psychological torture. Puppy mill breeding dogs are routinely forced into a life of poor quality housing (wire or concrete cages), poor quality food, poor quality water that is often dirty and algae-covered and poor quality (if any) veterinary care. Puppy mills breed indiscriminately, perpetuating congenital and hereditary disorders that are damaging to many future generations of dogs. This industry that accepts mistreatment and poor husbandry as routine is boosted every single time someone purchases one of the puppies at a pet store.

Additionally, the purchase of a puppy through a pet store removes any chance of a puppy buyer (and usually the pet store staff as well) knowing the conditions the puppies were born into, the level of care (or lack there of) the puppies received, the conditions the puppies’ parents continue to suffer under, and the genetic and other health problems the puppies are carrying due to the lack of appropriate health testing and veterinary care.

Some breed enthusiasts suffer from the misconception that The HSUS is working to stop all dog breeding. This is not the case. Our focus remains to stop the factory-style production of puppies, where breeding dogs are treated like little machines whose only purpose is to crank out puppies for profit. Our focus is on the hundreds of thousands of breeding dogs sitting in cages without hope of ever escaping to live a life as part of a family, and the millions of puppies those dogs are forced to produce to be sold at a high profit but who have a greater chance of suffering from their own host of health problems due to their poor start in life. We will absolutely work tirelessly to stop this entrenched and blatant mistreatment of dogs.

If you are opposed to cruel treatment of dogs, and if you feel that those who profess to be involved in the breeding of purebred dogs out of love for the breed should be actively fighting to protect those animals from abusive breeding practices, we again invite you to join with The HSUS in our fight to end puppy mills.

Please visit our website to learn more about our efforts and how you can join with us.

Stephanie Shain
Director of Outreach Companion Animals
The Humane Society of the United States
2100 L St., NW
Washington, DC 20037 301-258-3121
FAX 258-3081