I live in upstate New York and most of the dogs in this particular area are breed specific (mainly labradoodles, labs/retrievers, poodles, bully breeds) and many people seem to acquire their dogs from online breeders. There are many east coast Commercial Breeding Operations (aka. Puppy Mills) that supply consumers to the area of Upstate New York. The dog breeding business is very lucrative while at the same time almost a million healthy, adoptable dogs, primarily mixed breeds, are being killed yearly at shelters in the United States. Adopted shelter dogs are neutered/spayed so they are unable to carry on their “mixed breed”genetics to offspring. Hence the dog species gene pool is being narrowed by breeder’s genetic selection to satisfy consumer demand. Inbred and dysfunctional dogs are quickly becoming the majority of family owned dogs.
Breeders are producing and selling breed types based on product demand and genetically selecting for physical traits, often with no regard to the other genetic behavior traits that go along with the physical selection. Breeders are also “enhancing” genes in sport dogs so they perform with more drive. The problem with manipulating gene traits is the chaos it creates in the gene pool. With the lack of consumer education we are seeing a lot more Guardian, Scent & Sight breed dogs living in cities. This type of environment doesn’t make any sense to these dogs and causes a lot of turmoil. Animals have become a commodity and the breeding practices that supply the demand are causing fallout hence creating a steep increase in behavior and aggression issues.
A few hours drive from my city, is a known Puppy Mill area. Within the past year seven Commercial Breeding Operations in the area were listed in the ‘Horrible Hundred’. This is a list composed yearly to distinguish some of the most horrific, filthy, unhealthy large scale breeding operations known in the country. These facilities are typically in lower populated counties and hidden away.
Commercial Breeding Operations ship dogs wherever there is a consumer willing to pay. In fact it’s an easy search online to find sites that guarantee the “No PuppyMill Promise”, but also advertises special promotions just after Christmas, so they can unload all the leftover puppies. Need Shipping? No Problem! There are transport companies that offer comprehensive guides making it easier for the consumer. I’ve seen numerous one star reviews in which the puppy purchased was delivered via air or ground transport really quite ill. One disturbing factor in some of the reviews was that there was little to no concern for the dog’s suffering- instead the reviewers were infuriated about the extra cost of the ensuing vet bills and were trying to get the Commercial Breeding Operation to pay. Another big complaint was that the reviewers had not received documentation on “bloodline” so they were unable to register their puppies with the AKC.
The solutions are complicated and the issue clearly goes beyond just those seeking to profit through cruel breeding operations and false marketing. As a society we need to change the way we see dogs and stop falling for the false ideal of a “bloodline” dog. Many experts are looking towards the newer research on “World Dogs”. This is a newer phenomenon of the dog species that are populating a number of countries worldwide. The World Dog may be the species to “re-balance” the scale as we seek ways to redefine homeostasis for the human/dog relationship. Regardless of where it comes from the answer will involve seeing dogs as they truly are recognizing their needs as well as our own.