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December 14, 2011

Talk Back: Purebred Health and Beloved Mutts

150x150 bulldog stockI've blogged recently about three major dog welfare issues: puppy mills and the treatment of dogs like commodities, the problem of breeding purebred dogs for appearance instead of health and welfare, and the campaign to end euthanasia of healthy and treatable animals by promoting adoption.

Many of you wrote in to echo concerns about purebred welfare and puppy mills, as well as to sing the praises of your shelter pets. In response to my post on the New York Times article on bulldogs:

I read the article on bulldogs, and I'm so glad you're standing up against irresponsible breeding. I'm a retired vet tech, and I've watched breeds change just in my lifetime—like the German shepherd, which was a healthy-looking robust dog and now looks like a slinking, crippled caricature of itself. Please keep up the good work! —Rebecca Oglesby

While I love my Bully and he is still going strong at 10 years of age, I think I could have put a child through Harvard for the vet bills I have paid over the past 10 years! I love him like crazy, but the unscrupulous breeding of this dog needs to be addressed. Especially since so many people are breeding this dog due to their popularity. —Linda Jo Harless-Marinella

Why do you say that purebred dog breeding is here to stay? I agree that it probably is due to wealth and politics. But is that a good thing given dog overpopulation? My wish is that all breeding be outlawed until supply and demand even out and euthanasia is something of the past...I work at a shelter and see litters of puppies brought in routinely—it makes no sense at all. —Paula Banks

I remember a documentary I saw about dogs where they mentioned this problem, and one speaker had a wonderfully straightforward and elegant solution: simply breed dogs to be good pets. It's really quite obvious if you stop and think about it. Stop breeding for trivial physical characteristics and start developing dogs who are friendly, active, and healthy. Who cares what kind of ears they have or which way their tails curl?... —David Bernazani

And here are a few of your comments about your adopted dogs:

We have a three English setters, all rescues and two of them saved from being put down...The love they give in return is something no one can really describe. Blessings to you and all who work in the world to save the creatures traveling with us on this planet. —Fran Kremlick

I can't begin to express how great my two shelter mutts are...my corgi mix, Reuben [is] like my child, my best friend, my therapist. I cannot imagine life without him...Reuben is small, black, calm, and very intuitive. Harvey is big, white, hyper, but a big teddy bear really. These two truly bring joy into my life. My husband I are expecting our first (human) child, and I can't wait to see the baby's two furry big brothers playing and protecting this latest addition to our family. SHELTER DOGS ARE THE BEST! —Sara Davis

Finally, in response to our Purebred Breeders puppy broker investigation, one reader pointed out that plenty of dogs and puppies are waiting for homes at local shelters:

I watched the [Purebred Breeders] program this morning and was disappointed to hear a family paid $2,000 for an online puppy. They could have gone to a local animal shelter to get close and personal with a dog, paid $100, adopted a well-behaved adult dog, and donated the remaining $1,900 to the shelter to help other homeless animals. While puppies also need homes, perhaps if the market for puppies dried up, the puppy mills would go away... —Dina Brandt

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