Animal Rescues with Breeder, Broker or Auction Relationships
Michigan: How to stop the cycle
Rescue groups are encouraged to collaborate with shelters to save two lives (not one) – the one the rescue takes and the second animal that the shelter now has room for. –Deborah Schutt
The 2012 Michigan Rescue Certification Program was thoughtfully designed to improve the welfare of homeless cats, dogs and other companion animals in Michigan. This will require rescue groups to build new relationships with shelters and adopt best practices. Working together always benefits the animals and larger goals may be achieved.
One larger goal we can all agree upon is to stop large-scale and careless backyard breeders across the country. New laws and enforcement will not alone end puppy mills—reducing the demand and profits will. If the operation is profitable, it will continue and more animals will be bred for sale. It is recognized that in the short-term it is difficult for a rescue organization not to respond to a homeless animal in need of placement, however, relieving breeders, and brokers of what they consider “excess stock”, supports the operation and perpetuates continuation.
Going forward Certified Michigan Rescues will not obtain dogs and cats from breeders, brokers, flea markets/fairs, pet stores or auctions. This includes other “middlemen” rescue groups who are working with breeders or attending auctions. Whether a breeder is downsizing, retiring or have unwanted animals, rescues should not obtain animals for any reason unless the facility is closing.
Avoid Enabling Breeders: If rescues keep making regular visits to breeders helping them off load their retired animals, rescues are actually participating in the business. Unfortunately, there are bad rescues participating in the industry operating as a rescue with continuous supplies of puppies and adult dogs directly from the millers. The only way to ensure profits are not involved is to not be a part of the business.
Seek Help from Authorities: Rescues that come across a bad breeder need to first investigate and file legitimate complaints with the local authorities. Know the laws. If the local animal control or police do not respond, a rescue should keep escalating the complaint until they did their best to close the operation down. Puppy Mill Awareness has a long list of ideas.
Some breeders do turn over their retired animals to a local shelter or animal control. Some Animal Control Officers have relationships with breeders which is a better scenario because the officer can determine if the animals are neglected and can inspect the conditions.
Boycott Dog Auctions: Some rescue groups are only bidding on dogs that no one else is bidding on, or dogs who are selling for just a few dollars, but some rescues get into bidding wars and become some of the biggest “customers” at the auctions. In the end, some (not all) rescues are adding to the profitability of the puppy mill industry by keeping auctions going. Although some rescue groups wait outside of the auction for dogs that were not purchased with the intention of getting them for free, this would be too difficult for the certification committee to verify.
Dog auctions are a tragic embarrassment to Ohio and it’s humane-minded citizens. We have been asked if people should “buy” or “rescue” these dogs. We are asking for an all-out boycott of this event. We have studied the numbers from past auctions and believe that the dogs being offered at this auction are not mill cast-offs but were, in many cases, purposely bred to supply AUCTION BUYERS, including rescue groups. Buying at the auction will simply mean that it will be profitable. If it is profitable, it will continue and MORE dogs will be bred for sale at future Ohio Dog Auctions. That said, we do understand compassion for the dogs being sold and know that there will be some who will buy. We understand both sides of the situation, and hope that in the long run, not buying will produce the best outcome to end these auctions altogether. - Mary O’Connor-Shaver, Coalition to Ban Ohio Dog Auctions
Start with shelter dogs: We all agree that there are plenty (thousands) of dogs, both in and out of puppy mills, who desperately need homes and can be rescued for free, so no one should ever be paying a breeder for an animal. The focus should be on saving as many animals as possible. If a rescue is equipped to foster and rehome animals, they need to start with shelters and other sources first.
Save More Animals: Many rescue groups feel “a life is a life” and not rescuing an animal from a breeder is punishing an innocent animal. Rather than putting yourself in the position having to turn away, rescue groups are encouraged to collaborate with shelters to save two lives (not one) – the one the rescue takes and the second animal the shelter now has room for. Collaborations with shelters supports and leverages charitable contributions and tax dollars – to save more as opposed to profits for individuals at animals expense.
Educate the Public: Energy needs to be focused on educating the public and reducing the demand for pet shop puppies and online retailers. The public is learning about puppy mills and eventually they will go out of business. Rescue groups can do their part in providing literature and information about puppy mills through their network and events.
Support Adoption Campaigns: Many large organizations with a marketing department, like the ASPCA, HSUS, and Best Friends Society are kicking off effective social media campaigns promoting shelter dogs. Rescue groups can leverage these campaigns and also support local efforts in Michigan through the Puppy Mill Awareness of SE Michigan Meetup.
Support Stronger Laws: Michigan’s Puppy Protection Act (HB 5230-5231 and SB 891-892) was introduced to protect dogs in large-scale breeding facilities. This important bill would establish long overdue guidelines for housing, sanitary conditions, enclosure space, exercise, and veterinary. The bills would also place an upper limit on the number of intact breeding dogs that may be housed in breeding facilities, to prevent our state from becoming a haven for inhumane puppy mills. Rescue groups should contact their representatives and ask for them to pass this bill.