Organic, Pasture Raised Puppies?

Watched the movie Farmageddon last night. Could not help but compare the “one size fits all” legislation that threatens local, family farms with recent legal developments in the world of small scale dog breeders. USDA regulations aimed at high volume agribusiness ( this includes puppy mills) must be reformatted for the very different business model of small, local farmers ( and dog breeders). These commercial and local businesses produce the same “product” – eggs, milk, spinach, puppies – in name only. That’s where the similarities end.

Puppies raised on a scale small enough to allow individualized handling, appropriate exercise, and healthy social lives are as different from puppy mill dogs as is fresh produce found at the farmer’s market from the trucked in variety found at the big box stores. Regulations and prices appropriate for “Big Ag” are just not scalable for small farms and breeders alike. They are not the same business model. Not the same relationship with the consumer. Not the same experience or end product. Ultimately, a different endeavor altogether .

It has never been more important for ethical dog breeders to distinguish themselves as an entirely different “industry” from high volume operations. The public are increasingly swayed by the animal rights extremist rhetoric of all breeders as exploitative. Fighting onerous government regulations on a legal level is certainly an important part of preserving our ability to breed dogs, but not everyone feels called to advocacy. There is much that breeders as individuals can do – even without traveling to the courthouse. Setting ourselves apart from disreputable breeders is vital.

Becoming more visible in our own communities as approachable and knowledgeable is an important part of demonstrating what an ethical breeder is about. Volunteering at our local shelter, nursing home or rabies clinic would serve to open up opportunities for (constructive!) discussion and connection. Offering to teach a mini segment on dog care at the local elementary school or summer camp helps the public experience hobby breeders as human, reasonable and community oriented neighbors. We must become creative in finding ways for the public to understand the difference and the value of local, qualified breeders. It is this public, these neighbors, that will be ultimately drive how ( and if) we pursue our passion.

2 thoughts on “Organic, Pasture Raised Puppies?

  1. You have some wonderful suggestions. I have been involved in legislation issues for my obedience club, but there was not much of a response from our membership when I would ask for volunteers to do the usual – write their lawmakers, call their community leaders about some new restriction on dog ownership that chips away at our way of life.

    BSL? I don’t have a bully breed, so ‘let Joe do it’. MSN? My dogs are already altered, so ‘let the breeder members do it’. Pet Limit? I have only one dog, so ‘let Mary with her bunch of rescue dogs do it’. “Vicious” dog restrictions? My dogs are friendly, ‘let that guy with the Rotties do it’. Making animal cruelty a felony? ‘Yippee, hooray, it’s about time!’ You know exactly how it goes.

    So, instead of more committee reports that get ignored, I decided that our club – in existence for 52 years – be the Local Dog Experts. We have the experience, we have breeders, dog show enthusiasts, multiple pet owners, veterinarians, nationally ranked competition obedience handlers, top national agility champions, VCD members, champion trackers, to call on for their expertise. I canned the whole committee idea – it was a committee of one only, anyway, just me. Boring and pretty useless. So now we have the new K-9 Obedience Club Outreach Program. Our real dog experts are asked to give demos to the new puppy class, go out to schools and summer camps, many of the things you have suggested are part of our efforts to be a larger part of our community. Give these people a chance to showcase their fantastic dogs and they will jump at the chance. They can brag to their heart’s content. The audience is always rapt!

    We can moan and groan about how the NON experts – HSUS, PeTA, local anti-breeder [puppy mills] zealots crusading with their “adopt don’t shop” mind set – are calling the shots and doing incredible damage to a wonderful way of life in America, taking away our freedoms and bullying us, but we are continually preaching to the choir. A small church. We are missing the majority of animal lovers through our elitist attitudes, our attacks on ‘the other guy’ because we may not like they way they do things, the silly political infighting that makes Pogo’s statement still true today – “We have met the enemy, and he is US.”

    Our club is just beginning this new program – by this time next year we will have some results to share. My dream is to host a Canine Symposium in the near future, inviting the top people in all dog fields to make presentations, share new research, demonstrate, discuss the future of purebred dogs. I would love to see a plan to turn around this war between rescue and breed enthusiasts, so that the public can get back to an understanding of what REAL rescue is, how it should be done right.

    By next year we hope to have some of these current beginner trainers still with us, because they recognized what it takes to have the kind of fulfilling relationship with their dog(s) that they hoped for when they ‘rescued’ a dog. In our part of the country, most of these ‘rescue’ dogs are shipped up from down south as merchandise for our plush, state-of-the-art Pet Stores calling themselves humane societies. Ironic, but no one asks where these faux rescue dogs came from originally. A “puppy mill” perchance? I believe so.

    While our local breed experts, the “Organic Pasture Raised Puppy’ providers are forced to cut back on litter plans because they can’t guarantee a waiting list any more. People will be tempted to ‘rescue’ instead, instant gratification, rather than wait for a well bred puppy selected for their particular family lifestyle by a caring person who knows their dogs’ health and temperaments back through multiple generations. These people can no longer promise to take back any puppy that isn’t working out, because they have a – wait for it – new Pet Limit in their community. And they can no longer ignore the regulations, because those Puppy Police fanatics are watching everyone who ever bred a litter and was listed in a show catalog, or has a web site, or – horrors – advertises in the classifieds.

  2. I have purchased a couple of dogs from breeders, and I’m looking to become a breeder myself. I noticed that with the other breeders that they didn’t offer much more than the sale of the puppy, and a one year genetic contract. No one that I purchased from ran the JHC, hereditary cataract test on there Boston terriers. Although, I ran one of both of my dogs and they are clear.

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