TOP #1: Irresponsible Breeding of Dogs

Thanks for tuning into the very first episode of Theory of Pets show – a podcast for dedicated pet owners where I discuss all things pets. In this episode, I talk about irresponsible breeding of dogs and how this affects the general population of dogs as well as specific dogs that are bred. It's an important topic, and particularly applies to anybody thinking of adopting a puppy.

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Irresponsible Breeding of Dogs
(podcast transcript)

Irresponsible Breeding of Dogs

My very first podcast. A little about me and this show.

Hello and welcome to Theory of Pets. My name is Samantha Randall and this is my first ever podcast. I'm so thrilled to have you guys here and I am doing this podcast so that I can share the information that I've gathered over the years being a pet owner.

We have lots of pets in our home right now: three dogs, three cats and two rabbits. We have had everything from hamsters to livestock over the years so I am excited to start out talking about dogs and sharing a lot of the things I know about dogs because that's the animal that I've had the most experience with and they are the ones that I know the most about.

I have spent the last few years working with pets, writing about pets, researching and teaching other people about dogs specifically so I am eager about doing more episodes on this podcast and share all of my knowledge with you. I'm also doing this podcast to bring the most accurate information to other dog owners and pet owners in order to test different products and see what works. I'll be going to go through some trial and error phases and kind of do all the legwork so that you guys don't have to.

I'll be researching, I'll be speaking with experts in the pet industry and trying to learn as much as I can so that I can share that information with you and you won't have to do all of the work that I had to do.

The purpose of this podcast is just to help others to make sure that we're all taking the best care of our dogs that we possibly can. We all love our pets, they are like furry family members. I call our animals our “fur babies”.  I can't even put into words the joy that pets bring into our lives, and I know there are so many of you out there that feel the same way.

Of course we want to give our pets the best care that we possibly can, whether that's a proper diet, proper veterinary care, grooming, exercise – there are so many aspects of pet care that a lot of us don't think about on a day-to-day basis. We know that there are things that we need to do to care for our pets every day but it's like going through the motions: you do the same grooming, you feed them the same diet, you do the same exercise regimen…

But what we've learned from research recently is that there may be better diets, better exercise, and that our dogs are just as in tune with the world around them as we are and they don't like to do the same things day after day; they don't like eating the same meal day after day.

If we can change things up a little bit for them and give them the best care possible, then that would be my goal with this doggy podcast and I'm hoping that you will reach out and share your information as well. I'm going to be interviewing experts from the pet industry, other pet owners, different people who are involved in caring for animals every day, and I'm going to share that information with you all of you through this show.

Help me improve this show.

What I'm going to ask you now is if you are listening to this podcast, if you enjoy the show, after you're finished with this episode, please just jump on iTunes and give me a review.

Like I said, this is my very first podcast, and I'm going to continue releasing these weekly so that you can check them out. The faster that I can grow this, the more reach I'll have which means I'll be able to bring more experts onto the show to give us all some insights from behind the scene or helpful and accurate advice.

I'm hoping that our listeners will help me in my quest to reach as many dog owners as possible and the easiest way to do that is to give us a rating and review on iTunes. As I'm trying to work with pet experts and do interviews and Q&As, the bigger this podcast can grow the more reach we will be able to have for all types of experts in different fields. I would greatly appreciate your input on this.

Now, onto the topic…

Irresponsible breeding is why we need to rescue animals today.

For my first podcast today I wanted to talk about something that is near and dear to my heart. A lot of times when you're doing anything in the entertainment or the art industry, whether you are painting, whether you're acting, whether you're writing, whether you're doing a podcast – anything that you're putting out there for other people to see, listen or read, most usually say that you should do what you know best.

I've been a pet owner and a dog owner my whole life. We've also had cats and other animals, so I obviously wanted to get involved with that as far as my career. And now for the last few years I've been writing and doing videos and that kind of stuff, and now I am ready to jump into my very first podcast, and again I want to start off with dogs and I will explore more as my podcast goes along, but for right now we're going to stick with dogs.

The one thing that I know best about dogs is rescuing. That's what I've always tried to do for many many years. We've taken many rescue dogs into our home. As a child my family always took in rescue dogs, and that's always been a passion of mine, it's always been something that I've been passionate about, speaking with other people and educating other parents about this subject as well.

Along with rescuing comes the topic of irresponsible pet breeding, and as much as I like to advocate for people to rescue animals, I like to take it one step further and educate people and advocate for us to band together as a community and as a society to try to do whatever we can to get rid of irresponsible breeding of dogs and other animals.

Irresponsible breeding is the reason that we need to rescue so many animals. It's the reason that so many animals are taken from places like puppy mills, and it's the reason that there are shelters filled with animals all over the world. Irresponsible breeding is a topic that I feel very passionately about, it's something and I spend a lot of time talking about, educating people about, it's something that I spend a lot of time researching.

There's always information in the news about these things. All you have to do is do a quick Google search and you'll find the latest puppy mill in the news that they've taken puppies out of the puppy mill or one of the big things lately in the news has been the meat market over in other countries. Obviously that's not legal here, but they're breeding these dogs for meat and that kind of stuff.

Irresponsible breeding is an issue that affects breeders as well as potential pet parents. It particularly hits close to my heart because we have rescued many dogs, many of them have had complications due to irresponsible breeding. Currently we have a boxer named Chloe and when I try to explain Chloe's story, it's not that I can in as few words as I can because Chloe really has a strong history and it's all related to irresponsible breeding. It all comes back around to the improper breeding that was taking place for Chloe to come into this world.

Results of irresponsible breeding and the story of Chloe.

I guess I'll start with when we adopted Chloe, my boxer. Chloe was dumped on the side of the road. She was rescued by a Good Samaritan who brought her to a local veterinary office which happens to be the vet office that I bring my dogs to. Boxers are my breed of choice. We do have a lab and a beagle right now but we've had boxers for many years and I've rescued many boxers.

Whenever I rescue a dog I always bring them to my vet, that's our first stop on the way home. They get checked out just to make sure. If you get a dog from a rescue or a shelter organization, odds are they have already had a once over from a vet, but I like to have my personal vet look them over. Sometimes they see something that another expert has missed, sometimes they just get a feel for the dog, the dog's personality, and they may be able to see some of those issues that were brought to my attention from the rescue or from the shelter. I can bring that to the attention of my vet and then they'll have that background moving forward caring for my dog.

So that's always our first stop. We've had the same vet for over a decade, she knows that we rescue boxers. Chloe didn't have a name at the time, but they had this boxer brought in, she was covered in frostbite, she was suffering pretty severely from malnutrition, she hadn't eaten or hadn't eaten anything that gave her the nutrition that she needed for a very long time, and the person that brought her in they already had three dogs and they could not keep Chloe.

Now some people say “I can't believe that you would pick up this dog and you wouldn't keep it,” but that was actually a very responsible thing for that person to step up and say “I want to rescue this dog. I want to help this dog but personally we can't afford to take care of it.” Had they tried to take on Chloe's burden themselves she probably would have ended up in a shelter a little ways down the road.

Anyway, because that family wouldn't have been able to afford her and some of their other dogs may have been affected by that as well. So it was a responsible thing for them to do. They had asked the vet clinic if they would look at her and if they should leave her at the vet or if they should take her to the shelter. Our veterinarian office said “Please leave her here, she needs immediate care and she needs a lot of the immediate care. We will take her, we'll do the work and we will then try and find her home.” So they left her with the vet.

After about a week they gave Chloe lots of fluids, they got her eating some dog food and they got some of her frostbite cared for but she still had a long road to recovery. She was ready for a foster home now. I got a phone call from our veterinarian, she said “I know that you've rescued many boxers,” we happen to have had a boxer put down about three months before that and she had leukemia and so we lost her,” and our vet said “We know you lost one a few months back. If you haven't found another one, if you're looking for another one, we have this girl here, she's very sweet, we know you'd give her a good home and that's what we're looking for, and even if you could just foster her for a short time until we found her home that would be very beneficial.”

So we had another boxer at the time, we brought that Boxer who was also a female, Mattie, we brought Mattie over to visit Chloe and they got along very well, so we took Chloe into her home. A very long story short, she needed a lot of care immediately, she needed a lot of pads, she needed special creams to get her skin back to where it needed to be, she needed some special nutrition to get back on track nutritionally where she needed to be.

Chloe had been bred. Our vet estimated she was somewhere between two and three years old, and we had Chloe fixed because she wasn't spayed when we got her. When our vet opened her up she could tell from the scarring on her uterus that she had had either three or four litters of puppies already, so at two years old that's just unheard of. Most dogs aren't bred at all by the time that they hit two years old, so the fact that she had been bred that many times already means that she had been bred in every heat that she'd had in her life so far and that's very unhealthy for the dog.

It stunted Chloe's growth and some of her health issues maybe because of that. So we had Chloe spayed and we thought we were kind of in the clear, we were moving on, we were treating her skin and we are doing the things that we need to do to get her back on track nutritionally.

About six months after I adopted Chloe she had an episode after I was working at home that day and after work I went upstairs and I couldn't find Chloe. She was in our room and she was laying, she was having a hard time breathing and there was a lot of issues going on. I could tell something wasn't right with her.

We took her into the emergency vet and after a five day stay at the emergency vet clinic in our area it was determined that Chloe had cardiomyopathy which is a congenital disease, which means the dog's born with the disease, and it's an adult onset disease. So the dog is born with the disease but they don't start showing symptoms until they are an adult.

Typically, the average age for boxers to show signs of cardiomyopathy would be about the age of nine. Chloe was, as I mentioned, maybe three at the time so this was very early onset and they – again our vet is absolutely amazing, we can't speak highly enough about her – they all worked together, they contacted a canine cardiologist. I live in Maine and there isn't one in our state, so they contacted in the next state over, in New Hampshire just across the border, spoke with that cardiologist and they worked with Chloe for five days to get her medications correct. She now takes two medications, one she takes twice a day, one she takes three times a day, so that's five pills a day to regulate her heartbeat.

Now bringing this all back and tying it in, now that you know Chloe, a little bit about Chloe and a little bit about her history, Chloe was born with this disease, this is an issue that should have been tested for before Chloe's mother was bred but it wasn't. Obviously it was passed on to the puppies in Chloe's litter.

Our vet and the cardiologists and the team that works with Chloe believe that this was either a puppy mill type organization or just a very irresponsible backyard breeder who bred multiple generations of dogs with cardiomyopathy. Whether they had the original dog tested and knew about it and did it anyway, or they just didn't do the proper testing that they should have generations ago.

Maybe Chloe's great great grandmother had it, passed it down to her great grandmother, passed it down to the grandmother, passed it down to the mother, now it's passed down to Chloe and because it runs so thick in her genetics, for some reason Chloe's symptoms showed up very early. It didn't wait until she was eight or nine years old; they showed up when she was three.

So the team that worked with Chloe believe that because of these symptoms showing up so early it was a sign that this ran very heavy in Chloe's genetics. And that means that there are generations of dogs out there somewhere, generations of boxers from Chloe's family who have this disease, most of them probably didn't survive.

The cardiologist that we spoke with said that many times when a dog is diagnosed with this, because it's such an expensive disease to diagnose and it's such an expensive disease to treat (we pay about a hundred and 20 dollars a month for Chloe's prescriptions; that's not something that every family can afford), so oftentimes if a family can't afford it they have the dog put down. So if you think about that, think of all the generations in Chloe's lineage that have either lived a shorter life span or been put down because of this disease, and all of that leads back to irresponsible breeding of dogs.

I would say in my family this is our worst case scenario of health issues that have come about in a dog because of irresponsible breeding. We've had others, a lot of times they're more mild, some hip issues and things like that, but in this case with Chloe it was very severe where we are very thankful every day that she's still here with us and we don't take any days with her for granted because we know that her life is going to be cut very short because of this.

Again, this is something that hits very near and dear to my heart, it's something that as pet owners we need to be aware of, it's something that breeders obviously need to be aware of. If you are a breeder and you're listening right now, work with a qualified organization like the American Kennel Club or the American Dog Breeders Association, get those screenings for the parents of the puppies that you're going to be breeding.

Now these can be all different tasks. If you're a breeder you probably already know about them: there's eye tests and hip tests and things like that, to test for genetic diseases and congenital disease like Chloe had. If you are a breeder you need to take this very seriously. However, if you're a breeder you already know about this, you know about these risks and I highly encourage you, like I said, to do the right thing – to work with an organization that can help you through the steps of proper breeding, to do your research before you decide to become a breeder.

Adopting a puppy from a puppy mill or backyard breeders.

In this podcast particularly I want to focus on the case if you're a potential pet parent, and the reason that I like to educate people about irresponsible breeding of dogs, and speak about this. So many times people want to adopt a dog from a puppy mill, people want to adopt a dog from a backyard breeder who isn't the most responsible breeder because they feel bad for the puppies. Their goal is to get a puppy out of this environment, out of the situation and they think “If I adopt this puppy it's not going to have to live in this environment any longer.”

They think that they're doing a good thing, and that does make sense and I see how one could think about that, but if you flip it around and look at it from the other side, as we all know there are two sides to every story… If you look at it from the other side, what you're doing is, for example, if I had gotten Chloe as a puppy, I paid this breeder for this dog, I bring Chloe home, I've now given this breeder five, six, eight hundred, a thousand dollars, whatever it might be, I've paid for this puppy. I've given the breeder the money and now this breeder is going to use that money to turn around and continue to be an irresponsible breeder, to buy more adult dogs. To maybe bring more dogs into their environment, adopt another dog into their home to be bred.

You're providing them with money to give these puppies food, to feed the parents, that kind of stuff, and you might think “I'm giving them money so they can take care of the dogs that they're going to have anyway.” Actually, if you don't adopt one of those puppies there's something else that you can do to help save the puppies and the dogs that that person's caring now, and it's also something you can do that's going to help future puppies that may come out of that establishment.

Leave the establishment and go and call your local animal control officer, your local ASPCA. These people will come in, they'll do an inspection and they'll see what's going on and if these dogs are not being properly cared for they're going to remove the dogs from the home. They'll remove the adult dogs and the puppies. So by not adopting a dog you're not spending the money to continue to have this establishment continue business, and you're also going to be able to step away from the situation and call somebody that can help get these dogs into a better environment where they're going to be properly cared for.

Now does that mean that this breeder is not going to go out and start again? I can't tell you that, however, what I can tell you is that oftentimes it's a large start up to buy these dogs, to buy the adult dogs to breed, and it's a start up cost to take care of the puppies at first before you can sell them and that kind of stuff. If the dogs are removed, chances are the irresponsible breeder may not have the money to turn around and start a whole other business venture.

That's what you can do, it's something that's going to be beneficial to not just the puppy that you wanted to save but it's going to be beneficial to all the dogs that have gone through that establishment and all the dogs that may go through that establishment in the future. That's what I would recommend if you find a breeder that you think is an irresponsible breeder. Do not adopt a puppy thinking you're doing something good, walk away, call the proper authorities and they can help you with that.

Why you shouldn't spend money on adopting dogs from breeders.

Now the other downside to spending the money for this dog, again, I'll go back and use Chloe as an example: if I had adopted Chloe, if I had paid for her, I'm spending $500 on Chloe. I'm taking her home and now three years down the road we have all these issues that come up that we've seen with the cardiomyopathy and we're having all these heart tests done and we're buying these prescription pills and all of this stuff.

Now we spend over one hundred dollars a month, that's over twelve hundred dollars a year just on Chloe's medication, that's not including her food, her grooming needs, all of the supplies that we have to buy for her on top of that, that's twelve hundred dollars a year just on her medications. Now we've already spent money to adopt the dog and maybe obviously as a pet owner when you adopt a puppy you're not thinking you might have a thousand dollars, fifteen hundred dollars squirreled away somewhere in case your dog needs an emergency surgery or for when your dog needs to be spayed or neutered or that kind of stuff which is the responsible thing to do, I highly encourage that.

However, if you have fifteen hundred dollars squirreled away that's going to pay for Chloe's prescriptions for a year, that's not going to pay for any of her other vet care. The bill that we got after her five day stay at the emergency vet was almost four thousand dollars, so if you had fifteen hundred dollars saved, that's not even half of what you need for that one weekend stay at the emergency vet. So you're paying for the dog and now further down the road you don't have the money to care for the dog, what do your options then become?

With a dog like Chloe you don't have a lot of options because you can't turn this dog over to a shelter. Now you may find some type of rescue organization that can take her and it can afford to pay for her care, but it's going to be very difficult to do that if you are able to. If you are not able to and you're not able to afford her care, the dog's going to be put down. You've spent $500 on this dog, you've now loved and cared for this dog in your home for three years and you're going to have to lose that dog because of improper breeding.

So it's really a lose-lose on both ends if you pay for the dog, you're helping the breeder continue to do something that should not be happening, you are fostering that irresponsible breeding program. You're also going to be paying for it in the long run because you're going to either lose your dog early or you're going to be paying much more money than you anticipated paying to care for this dog over their entire life.

Finding reputable and responsible breeders.

If you're a potential pet parent you need to look for a reputable breeder because adopting a dog from an irresponsible breeder is just not going to work, no matter which way you look at it, it's a negative thing, so you want to look for responsible breeder. I touched on a little bit when I was talking about breeders that may be listening to this podcast right now. You want to look for a breeder that's had those proper testings done and you don't want to just take someone's word for it, there needs to be documentation of this.

There's going to be testing done on the eyes, testing done on the hips, genetic testing done for the diseases that are passed genetically, and you want proof of that, you want to see the written proof of that. You should also be allowed to tour the facility. If you call a breeder and you say, “I'm looking to adopt one of your puppies. I saw your ad online… saw your ad in the paper,” or whatever the case may be, “I saw your sign out by the road. I want to come in, I want to check out these puppies.” If there's any kind of excuses, if they give you the runaround to try and delay that or anything like that…

A responsible breeder is going to welcome you in, “Absolutely. Come on in, come see the dogs, come see the adults, come see the mother and the father, come see the establishment that we work from.” Because at the end of the day a responsible breeder is going to be just as curious about you as you are going to be about them. You want to know that they're an upstanding breeder, that they're doing what they need to do to properly care for their dog. And on the flip side they want the same thing from you.

They want to know that the person that's taking one of their puppies is an upstanding pet owner, is going to be something that's going to give this dog the love, the nurturing, and the caring that it needs for the rest of its life. So that's going to mean that they want to see how you interact with the dog, they want to know about your history. Do you work from home? Do you work out of the home? How many hours a day are you gone? Is the puppy going to be alone all the time? Do you have kids? Do you bring the dog traveling with you? Hiking? Things like that. What are you looking for?

Now the breeder is going to do this for a number of reasons. The first one being that they of course want their dog to go to a family that's going to love them and care for them.  The second being that they also want to make sure that the breed that they have is going to be a fit for your family, and you want to do the same thing. A breeder should talk to you about what you're looking for in a dog.

Adopting a dog from a responsible breeder.

For example we have a Labrador retriever. Labs are very high energy, they have a lot of energy, they love to run, they love to be busy. Labs can… they are prone to being overweight because they love to eat so they need to be in a home where they're getting a lot of exercise, they're getting a lot of activity. Labs love to be outdoors, they love to be in the water.

So if you went to a breeder who bred Labradors and you said, “Geez you know I'm gone a lot. I work 12 hours a day and then I commute an hour or two, so I'm gone for about 13 hours a day. I live by myself, I don't have any kids and a lot of times on the weekends I am running errands and I go to lunch with my girlfriends and I'm doing things and the dog's in the kennel sometimes on the weekend,” or “The dog's alone on the weekend,” or whatever the case may be. They're probably going to encourage you to look into another breed of dog, and actually if your life is that busy you probably wouldn't be ready for a dog anyway.

But you understand what I'm saying, if you have a lifestyle that a dog is not going to fit in the breeder may tell you just that, “Geez you know these dogs are really high energy, they love… they're a family dog, they love to be around kids, they love to be active, they love to be outdoors, and you just don't have that type of lifestyle.” If you lived in an apartment for example they may say “Geez you live in a little one-bedroom apartment, you can take your dog for two walks a day, that really isn't enough for a lab. Maybe you should look for a smaller breed or a breed that's going to be better suited for apartment life.”

So the breeder wants to know as much about you as you want to know about them and they should be very welcoming and very open of that. They should absolutely let you tour the facility any time, no excuses. I mean of course if the facility is closed, if somebody is gone away for the day or whatever, but if they're giving you the run around for two or three times in a row that, “Oh I can't do it today and I don't really know, I'll have to call you back with a better time,” and that kind of stuff, you want to stay away from that, you really don't want to go anywhere that does not welcome you in with open arms.

They should also when you go into the facility you should be able to see. Most of the time you can see both parents, traditionally even if a breeder studs a dog. If they have the female and they stud out for the male they will either have the male visiting there so that you can meet the dog or they'll have a history on the father so that you can know about that. They should have some pictures, maybe some videos, and definitely the history on the father.

Now the mother of course should be on site taking care of the puppies, that's something you want to make sure happens, and you should be able to interact with the adult dogs as well. You want to see the histories for both parents. The breeder again whether they have both dogs on site or not should have a very detailed history for both of the parents. They should also be working with a vet, that's where that history should come from.

They should be working with a vet that knows the history of the parents and have seen the pups multiple times. If you're going in to get a dog and you know you can't adopt till they're at least eight weeks old, but go in to check out the puppies when they're six weeks old, these dogs should be seen by a vet already two or three times in that six weeks. They should have had certain shots already and they should have been checked out by a veterinarian.

So you want to be aware of that, ask who the vet is, see if there's any documentation from that. If they don't have a lot of information give the vet a call, stop by the office and just say, “Hey I'm interested in these puppies.” They'll give you five minutes of time to talk to you about what they know about the pups and about the parents.

Also one of things you want to look for when you go to the facility is that there shouldn't be more than one breed of dog. If they're breeding Labradors and Boxers and Chihuahuas all at the same place that may be a sign that there is some type of a puppy mill or a very irresponsible breeding program going on. Usually for a small facility there should only be one litter at any time; one breed and one litter at any time.

Sometimes bigger places if they're a larger breeding facility they may have eight or ten adult dogs and they may have more than one litter at a time, but you need to judge that based on the size of the facility. And when you go in and you tour you'll be able to see oftentimes if they have more than one litter at a time, they'll have somebody helping to come in and help with those other dogs, it's not just a small little facility with two or three adults, they've got a lot of adult dogs and they may have more than one litter but often times it's one litter at a time and certainly one breed at a time. Responsible breeders usually pick a breed and they stick with that breed. So that's something to look for.

Again, if you find a dog that's in a situation where they're not being properly cared for, if you want to adopt a puppy and you can… some of these triggers you're noticing that maybe the breeder isn't as responsible as they need to be, do not try and help one of those puppies by adopting them. Step back, call the animal control officer, call the local ASPCA and do something to help all of those puppies and their parents. That is my advice for anybody.

Do you have any questions or suggestions for improvements?

If you have any comments any questions, if you have a story to share, if you have a dog like Chloe or if you're a breeder and you'd like to share some information that I haven't shared, please feel free to do that. You can check out our website which is the I should have mentioned that in the beginning as well.

Don't forget to leave me a review on iTunes, I am trying to help as many dog owners as I can, reach as many potential pet owners as I can and get this information out there to help educate people. So the faster that my podcast grows, I will be able to reach out to more pet parents and more potential pet parents, as it grows I'll also be able to reach out to bring in more qualified pet experts for interviews and question and answer sessions that will help the pet owners that I reach with my podcast. So please go to iTunes and give me a quick review and a rating, it only takes a second and it will be a huge help for this show.

On website, under each episode post, you can also find my show notes and I'll have all of the basic information here, it's all listed here in bullets so you can see it nice and easily. If you would like to send somebody else there or you would like to help me educate pet owners about the importance of responsible breeding, I would be happy to speak with you about that.  Any questions or anything like that again, visit, find this specific episode (TOP 001), you can find the show notes, and if you still can't find the answers that you're looking for there is a comment section, you can leave a comment or ask any questions, there's also a place where you can record a question.

And next week when I come back with a new episode, for next week any questions that stick out on there, any that are asked multiple times or anything like that I'm going to choose a couple of those questions and I'll answer those on the air next week. So if you record a question you may be on next week's podcast so give that a try as well.   I hope you guys really enjoyed my first podcast, again I'm so thrilled to share all of this with you and I hope you guys tune in next week for my second episode. I will see you guys next Sunday.

Samantha’s biggest passion in life is spending time with her Boxer dogs. After she rescued her first Boxer in 2004, Samantha fell in love with the breed and has continued to rescue three other Boxers since then. She enjoys hiking and swimming with her Boxers, Maddie and Chloe.