August 1, 2008



This woman was at the vet when I was there with Remy. She had one of her cats with her. We were chatting about the three super-cute little black kittens available for adoption when she mentioned that she had a litter at home...babies having babies was the essence of her chatter.

At the same time, there was a young man (mid-late twenties) with an adorable yellow lab puppy. The pup had been going through diarrhea and vomiting phases, which isn't atypical for pups...but it appeared that this young man was a first time puppy owner, so was concerned. This wasn't the problem; the problem was the pup is 7 weeks, and he'd had him for about a week, meaning weaned at 6 weeks. And he got him from "a guy over in ..... " Um, can you say backyard breeder?

July 22, 2008

The end of a puppy mill

After the depression induced by the information in my previous post about ANWR, I was gratified to read about a Wisconsin puppy-mill owner who has retired, and surrendered all of his dogs to the Wisconsin Humane Society. Here's the link to the article on the WHS website.

July 15, 2008

Presidential Pooches

The word on the street is that Barack Obama has promised his family a dog after the election, whether they will be living in the White House or not. The AKC immediately jumped in with potential suggestions. I'm going to encourage everyone to join with Best Friends to sign a petition recommending that the Obama family adopt a shelter or rescue dog. As one comment I read put it, "if he is truly dedicated to making a change, why not start with the family dog?"

I generally do not believe in internet petitions, and I'm not necessarily claiming that I believe in this one. But I believe in Best Friends, and I believe in rescue and shelter adoptions, so I signed.

April 3, 2008

Puppy Mills on Oprah

Apparently tomorrow's Oprah will be worth watching. She'll be doing a show on puppy mills, and why buying from a pet store is problematic. I'm hoping that she has a lot of fanatic viewers who will tell their friends not to buy a puppy from a pet store because they heard about it on Oprah. While I don't always like the idea of one person having that much influence over the mass of society, if she can make an impact on the puppy mill business, the more power to her.

Here is what the Best Friends Sanctuary recommends:

Let’s help the Oprah show have the biggest impact possible!
Actions to take before the show
Get as many potential puppy buyers as possible to tune in to Oprah’s show—target people who may not know about puppy mills, and/or may be shopping for a puppy.

Take advantage of free classifieds by placing as many ads as possible. Post notices on, local news boards, freecycle,—anywhere that people might go to look for a pet to buy. Below is a sample ad (be sure to put in the correct time):

Are you in the market for a puppy? Watch the Oprah Winfrey show on
Friday, April 4th! (insert correct time here). Friday’s episode is all about buying puppies and dogs!

Actions to take after the show
1.) Post more information in the SAME free online publications. Give people more information on how they can help, how they can avoid puppy mills, and how they can get involved with Best Friends’ campaign. Below is a sample ad:

Did you see Oprah Winfrey’s April 4th show about puppy mills?
Go to to learn how to make sure your dog doesn’t come from a puppy mill

2.) Post the above comment on Oprah’s web community here:

February 19, 2008

No, no, no, no!!! Bad "breeders"!

We all know my position on designer dogs...mixed-breeds with fancy names and high prices. Maybe shelters are taking the wrong approach. Instead of saying they have lab-mixes who need good homes, they should go out and market Labraweilers or Rottradors. How about German Sheprador Retrievers? Lab- and -(r)ador seem to go with a lot of different names.

For the smaller set, you could have the Puget Hound or the Jack Russell Cock-a-poo. Or the Pootzu? Dogs would fly out of shelters if the staff could figure out the right combination to advertise the dogs.

Okay, so why am I ranting right now? I'm reading Susan Conant's Gaits of Heaven: A Dog Lover's Mystery and was laughing at what I thought was her over-the-top deslgner dog breed called a "Golden Aussie Huskapoo." Surely designer dogs haven't gone that far yet, have they?

Until I saw today's Daily Puppy: a Standard English Goldendoodle. Hence the title of this post: NO, NO, NO, NO! I assume the "standard" goes with the "oodle", and "golden" is fairly obvious. But "English?" There is no "English Poodle" or "English Golden Retriever" that I know of. (Yes, the puppy is cute, adorable, and I'm sure very sweet, and, of course, he must be smart. But he's still an over-priced mixed breed.)

A mutt with any other name is just as sweet. Adopt a shelter dog if you absolutely must have a mixed breed.

November 21, 2007

Puppy-Mill Action Week

Caution: Link-heavy, but most of the links are to my site

John Woestendiek, writer for the Baltimore Sun and author of Mutts blog reminded me that the Humane Society of the United States has declared the week of November 25-December 1 Puppy-Mill Action Week. Their campaign is to educate people about puppy mills and encourage adoptions from shelters rather than buying pets through pet stores. This issue is one of the ones that I am the most passionate about. I should probably start a new category for my entries about breeding and adoption issues.

The writer of another blog I read posted a little while ago about not buying pets from pet stores. She received some somewhat defensive comments from well-meaning people who felt attacked for buying from pet stores. Some of the arguments are that their purchase "rescued" the dog from the store, especially when told that if they didn't buy the dog, it would be sent back. Yes, I wish I could go in and buy out all of the pets and make sure they go to good homes and lead good lives. But until EVERYONE realizes that buying pets from pet stores will only perpetuate puppy-mills, that defense will not work. Legislation, legal challenges, boycotting pet-selling pet stores, and other civil actions are the only ways puppy-mills will be shut down.

April 6, 2007

Please Help! and Shame on the AKC

Yes, it's my normal rant on dog breeding. Puppy-mills are evil and their operators should be forced to endure the same treatment. Apparently there is a bill in the MN Legislature right now that is beginning to work toward licensing and regulating breeders, basically in the hopes of keeping them honest. Please call your representative, senator, and anyone else you think should hear the message to vocalize support. If you are not in MN, please send a letter to the committee chairs telling them what a good idea you think this is. I have a draft of an email below the cut. It's too long, but it describes the issues. I'm thinking of sending it as a hard-copy letter along with a copy of Susan Conant's book Bloodlines (Dog Lover's Mysteries), which very clearly describes the evils of puppy-mills.

Here is the text of the bill.
Here is a list of the committee members. Ironically, this information is from the American Kennel Club, which urges voters to reject the bill. Shame, shame, shame on the AKC. In this case, the good that can come from this bill outweighs the bads attributed to ethical breeders. And truly, an ethical breeder should be able to afford the $75 licensing fee for fewer than 50 animals; no ethical breeder should have 50 animals or more. Period.

Action is particularly important right now, because courts have just ruled that there is really nothing illegal about a MN man's proposed large breeding facility about which I have blogged before.

Continue reading "Please Help! and Shame on the AKC" »

February 27, 2007

Spay Day USA


Click for full size

February 8, 2007

Breeding-facility = puppy mill in Minnesota

For those 1 or 2 readers who don't know me, or the remaining readers who aren't interested in my canine political agendas, this post might be one to skip. It has to do with the ethics of dog breeding, an issue that almost all of my friends and aquaintances have heard me spout off on more than once.

I first read this article in today's MN Daily, the U of M campus newspaper (in true Daily fashion, I can't find the article on their website...maybe tomorrow?). I opened my mouth to protest, and literally no sounds came out. Then I went to the Star Tribune to find more info. Apparently the issue that is throwing this facility into doubt is that of debarking.

But at what point does allowing a breeding facility for "up to 600 adult dogs and an unspecified number of puppies and non-breeding dogs" make sense?

"Writing for a three-judge panel of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, Judge R.A. Randall threw out the County Board's conditional-use permit issued to Gary McDuffee. He wants to operate a dog-breeding facility for up to 600 adult breeding dogs and an unlimited number of puppies and nonbreeding dogs."

AT WHAT POINT???!!!???? Further in the article in the Strib, we see that this joker, and I would call him that to his face, already operates one such facility:

"Neighbors, later joined by the Minnesota Federated Humane Societies (MFHS), sued the board last year, claiming that another kennel operated by McDuffee had complaints about sick and injured animals as well as bad living conditions.

'It's not illegal to breed dogs in Minnesota, and we've never claimed it is,' said Tim Shields, lawyer for MFHS. 'But you have to do it in a way that treats the animals with the care and respect they deserve, and this proposal did not do that.'"

Tell me, just try to explain to me, how anyone can do the proper research, spend the proper amount of money on health care, and maintain the proper environment for breeding "up to 600 adult dogs"? It simply cannot be done. Period. Nor can anyone "treat the animals with the care and respect they deserve" if there are 600+ dogs. Debarking should NOT be the issue in this case. Unethical, and dare I say, immoral business practices should be the significant concern.

I am so upset about this that my blood is literally boiling.

March 4, 2006

Designer Dogs

Today's Great Danes Online newsletter had a link to one of my favorite diatribes today: designer dogs. Basically, the author makes the point that Puggles (pug / beagle), Goldendoodles (golden retriver / standard poodle), Cockapoos (cocker spaniel / miniature poodle), etc., have been around for ages. Amen to that! Check out the link, and see how well you do on the quiz.

August 23, 2005

my favorite pet topic

Here is a very good editorial on backyard breeding plus pet overpopulation. 'Nuf said.

Animal shelters lament backyard dog breeders, overpopulation

(registration may be required....)

January 11, 2005



As everyone knows by now, we adopted Payton (yes, the name has stuck; he's got his official name tag now) from a rescue organization, as well as Remy and Caela before him. If you're looking for a pet, please don't be afraid to look at shelter and rescue organizations. If the fit isn't right, the animal can be returned, and the more the organization knows about the animal, the better it can place it appropriately. See my previous entry on animal adoption to know how serious I am about this subject.

Now, I'm not ruling out the idea of purchasing a pure-bred pet from a responsible breeder. A responsible breeder is someone who is in the breeding business to improve the breed, not to make money or see the "miracle of birth" or allow Daisy one last fling [a chance to be a mother] before she is spayed. Responsible and reputable breeders have done their research, and should sell any pup (or kitten, but you all know that I'm dog-centric) that does not meet the breed standards, but will be a fine companion. If a breeder offers you a "pet-quality" companion dog, but does not offer a contract stipulating spay/neuter, chance are good that s/he/they are not responsible breeders.

October 22, 2004

The Darker Side of Dog Ownership

[updated 11/21/07 to include corrected Susan Conant title...]

Every once in a while, Scott cringes when certain topics are raised in my presence. He knows my unfortunate tendancy to state my opinion to the point of unnecessary tactlessness. This may be one of those times. But, it needs to be said.

Please, if you are planning to get a new dog, do not go to a pet store (with the exception of those that work with shelters to adopt animals). Ever. Under any circumstances. Work through a reputable breeder or a rescue organization.

Having said that, here are some of the reasons:

1) Probably the most important reason is that many (definitely not all) pet stores receive their inventory from puppy mills. These are places where dogs are regularly and routinely bred simply for the sake of money. The "breeders" rarely pay attention to bloodlines, heritage, and desireable traits (such as temperament, disease resistance, etc.), and the circumstances the dogs are in are often abominable. For a very good (though fictional) description of puppy mills, read Susan Conant's canine mystery Bloodlines (Dog Lover's Mysteries). I have it, if you'd like to borrow it.

2) The second important reason come from following the logic that a strong, reputable breeder pays attention to where his/her dogs are going. When purchasing a puppy from a breeder, you should always feel like you're undergoing an examination that is stricter than anything you might find from the Department of Homeland Defense. A good breeder will not hand his/her dogs over to just anyone. And s/he will also provide a contract that states that the owners must offer the breeder first right of refusal if they ever want to get rid of the dog. We've gotten three dogs from Kodi's breeder, all with contracts, and all with interrogations, though those have become less stringent the longer we knew her (we first met Joanne when I was in Jr. high 4-H, or maybe even grade school...she helped me groom and show my first Newfie in an AKC ring, and had I met her even earlier, my occupation might now be as a professional handler in AKC).

2a) So how does the above fit with pet stores? Simple. A reputable breeder will not sell to a pet store, because once s/he has done so, s/he has no more control over the fate of the dog. What's the harm? Pet stores are for-profit entities (unlike most good breeders--a joke amongst dog people is that one of the signs of a good breeder is the size of his/her debt). The customer comes in, selects the cute little ball of black fuzz, pays the usually overpriced bill, and goes home, only to find that the little ball of fuzz chews shoes, has a very expensive inherited disease, and cannot be returned to the store from which it was purchased.

2b) Pet store dogs are almost never appropriately socialized. They are in cages or pens in the store, and while certainly fed and cleaned, they may receive very little attention in the ways of behavior, training, and other important social aspects. Just like children, puppies begin learning from the moment of birth, and often their earliest experiences after weaning can be indicative of the dogs they will become.

3) There are far too many unwanted animals already to encourage irresponsible breeding. I support breeders primarily because the good ones are genuinely trying to improve or sustain a certain breed. While designer breeds, such as the ever-popular cock-a-poos or Golden-doodles, may be cute, unique, and even hardier and healthier than any of their pure-bred associates, the animal population is simply too high for me to support new for the sake of new.

The Bark ran a very interesting article about a new organization called Woof & Co., whose mission seems to be to act as puppy brokers for pet stores. The Pueblo Collie/Sheltie rescue organization recommends checking out the following site for more information: