Do Rescue Organizations Encourage Puppy Mills? by Arden

By Kevin and Arden Townsend

Do Rescue Organizations Encourage Puppy Mills?

 (Daisy Grace and Precious’ Pawrents)


         Well, Duh.  Everyone knows the answer is “no”.   All of our pawrents are aware that these organizations actively campaign against the mills and lobby for legislation protecting animals.  Many of our pawrents do outstanding work for these organizations.  These groups take in animals, care for them – often at great expense – and work diligently to find them good, loving fur-ever homes.  For little or no material reward they save countless numbers of animals.  They should be applauded and they deserve our full support.

         Millions of unwanted dogs and cats (including purebreds) end up every year in animal shelters or with rescue groups.  And yet mills still pump out puppies (and kittens) for the pet shop trade. Without these stores, the financial incentive for puppy mills would disappear, and the suffering of these dogs would end. The best way to find an animal companion is through an animal shelter or rescue group. There are also plenty of reputable breeders that a person can go to.  In theory, there should be no reason for these stores or the mills that support them to exist.  In theory that sounds good.  So we can definitively state that rescues do not encourage puppy mills.  Can’t we?  And yet…  Reality is not theory.

About a year ago the question was asked whether or not we believed these worthy rescue organizations inadvertently support these mills.  More specifically, do their stringent rules often leave those persons wanting a fur-baby no choice but to go to a pet store?  The debate about rescue organizations came up about a year or so ago when Ellen DeGeneres adopted a small terrier mix named Iggy.  When Ellen’s family cat and Iggy had a severe personality clash Ellen found a family who was willing to take Iggy into the home.  The match was well made and the family and Iggy quickly bonded.  But when Ellen notified the rescue, they seized the dog from the new family.  Their rules stated that if the adoption did not work out in the home then the dog had to be returned from where they got it. They did not give the new match a chance.

There are other examples.  Before our pawrents got Daisy, daddy had looked on line at a few rescue sites but soon discovered him and mommy were not fit pawrents – they both worked!  (Mommy had not yet had to take a disability retirement.)  Daisy came from a pet store,   albeit one our vet said was good – but a store none-the-less.  We dare anypawdy to say they are not good pawrents.

         It is, of course, natural (and desirable) that these agencies determine whether a home is fit for an animal before they allow an adoption.  Nopawdy wants an animal to end up in a situation just as bad if not worse than the one it had come from.  Most of their rules make pawfect sense.  Others pawhaps not so much…  It’s not unusual for shelters, rescue groups and breeders to require that potential adopters or purchasers have a fenced yard, keep the dog indoors unless supervised, attend training classes, and even feed a particular type of diet. They often require that the animal be returned to them if the adoption or purchase isn’t successful. Some places will say “no” to placing a dog in a home if there is not someone home with the dog full time or if the family works 8 hours a day. Other places say no if they have children under the age of three.  Yep, you read that right.  If a person works to support their family, or if they have children, they are not fit pawrents for a furbaby.  Seems to us those are exactly the kind of families they should be looking for!

             When this happens and people really want a dog in their family they turn to breeders and pet stores. Unfortunately, reputable breeders often have long waiting lists and command top dollar.  For many families this leaves pet stores as the only option – the very stores that support the mills.  Studies show that about 10,000 dogs a year are bought from stores that get their animals from mills. We found a very disturbing statistic when researching this editorial. When poled why they bought a dog from a store about 2/3 of people said they did not qualify as a good dog owner because they did not meet the rules of the rescue groups, and they still wanted a dog in their life.  (Note that this statistic came from only one source and we weren’t able to independently verify it.  While our hearts tell us it may be somewhat inflated, our little brains tell us it was just what we expected to find.)  These are not evil people, and many of them were not aware of where the store got the puppy.  Most of them are probably good pawrents to their new baby.  Sadly, not all matches work out.  And when these store-bought animals no longer work in the home (for whatever reason good or bad), families have no alternative but a shelter.

         So, should rescue organizations take pains to ensure the animals are going to a good home?  Duh.  We all know the answer is “yes”.  And we thank them for what they do.  But are the rules of many animal shelters/rescue groups too strict for the average American family to meet?  Sadly, we believe the answer to this question is also “yes”.  Should they say “no” to a family who wants to adopt even if they have children or work full time?  These are the types of families they should seek out!  Many of you know that Precious came from a puppy mill rescue.  But did you know that if mommy had still been working they would have turned us down. Our lives are much richer because of Precious.

         In an ideal world, shelters and rescues would soon put themselves out of business by saving all the needy animals.  But we don’t live in an ideal world.  In their well-meaning effort to do the absolute best for their animals, many of these groups may be unintentionally contributing to the problem.  Maybe instead of working to find the absolute best, they should work to find the adequate?  In extreme cases, some shelters will deny a family and then later put that dog to sleep!  Where is the sense in that!? Do we choose a satisfactory-but-less-than-perfect house or should we choose a death sentence instead?




3 responses to “Do Rescue Organizations Encourage Puppy Mills? by Arden

  1. Everyone knows by now that Tyler wandered into our yard and we gave him a home. But if I would have went to our SPCA and tried to adopt a dog, I would have been turned down because my yard is not fenced in. Tyler has lived with us for 3 1/2 years without a fenced in yard. He has multiple beds in the house and plenty to eat. He is exercised playing with us in the yard and walked every day. He loves us and we love him very much. But we would have been deemed an unfit home for a dog because no fenced in yard. I would never purchase a dog from a shop, backyard breeder, or even a reputable breeder because it goes against my belief that all homeless dogs should be adopted before more puppies are brought into the world. So where does someone like me get a dog?

  2. Daisy Grace and Precious

    It is something that I know has happened in some cases where people are turned down. I really do believe that in today’s society we can make good and informed decisions about the right pup for our family. I know that Precious came from a puppy mill and she was seized in a police raid and they closed down that location.

    I know a couple who was pregnant and they were turned down at a shelter. They were looking for a puppy that they could love and grow up with thier child. The mom was not even showing, but shared that information. The person turned them down.

    Then we read a news story about a dog that was put to sleep because it was not adopted. the family was livid when they heard that. They had been turned down because they did not have a fence and both pawrents worked 8 hour days. They told the shelter that their mom had turned in her 2 weeks notice the week before and that she worked only 3 more days and then would be home full time. They were told to come back once she was no longer working and have a fence. That weekend they put up a fence and then mom had gone to that shelter that Monday to be informed that dog they looked at had been put to sleep.

  3. Before Valentine came to our home we had been working with the Animal Welfare League by our house , a Dalmatian rescue in our state, and Chicago Animal Care and control. The Dalmatian rescue site had approved our home but every dog that we knew would fit into our family the rescue did not think so… Chicago ACC would not let us do a meet and greet with Justice before we signed on the dotted line, and even after we had a codicil in hand for Animal Welfare stating we could have more than 35lbs. of canine but our limit was two they still would not allow us to have a dog unless at the time of adoption they were able to phone some one in our Associations office at the time of adoption. well the office was open9am to 2 pm 4 days a week at the time and well our schedule the office schedule and finding a dog that Justice liked just never seemed to aline.My children and Larry got together and brought Valentine home from a breeder my son knew, as they could no longer stand the depression I was falling into. She was the perfect fit. I do understand the rules but I do think there must be some common sense put in place too. It is ashame that Foster parents for human children do not have to meet the same requirements as one does when adopting a dog.

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