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Are you a backyard breeder?

    I had a conversation today that has enlightened me. I couldn’t understand why so many people insist on having litters of puppies, and think that it’s completely acceptable. It makes me angry, and frustrated, and sad. But I have now realised that people may not understand what exactly a backyard breeder is.
    A backyard breeder is essentially anyone who is deliberately breeding animals and is not a registered breeder. A registered breeder is usually someone passionate about a particular breed, and knows everything about them, their care, their standards for show, and networks with others interested in the breed. Obviously there are exceptions, but so far every registered breeder I’ve met is utterly fanatical about ensuring the health and welfare of their animals, and ensure puppies go to the best homes.
    A backyard breeder is someone who does not have their dogs checked or tested before breeding them; it is worth noting there are some backyard breeders out there who think that because their dog is a purebred, and have papers, that they aren’t backyard breeders. Irresponsible breeding is the same regardless of whether it is with purebred or mixed breed dogs.
    Others think they aren’t backyard breeders because they’re not doing it for money; they just want little Sparky to have a couple of litters, because puppies are soooo cute. Other reasons I’ve heard include that they wanted the kids to have some great memories, and they will totally find great homes for them. Or that the parents are great hunters, or so attractive, and their excellent heredity will get them good homes.
    I would like to be able to say they are fooling only themselves. But unfortunately I think they’re fooling some of us as well.
    I believe we’ve accidentally created this image that backyard breeders are just miniature puppy farms, where litter after litter are churned out for profit. And sometimes it is like that, but more often, backyard breeding is simply irresponsible breeding, done by irresponsible people.
    I will state that I know accidents happen. There are people out there who were genuinely just about to get their pet desexed because it was the right age, and it was a combination of terrible timing and Milo the fence-climbing kelpie down the street, and boom, you have five puppies. I know accidents happen, I’ve been in a cold sweat waiting to see how many lines show up on the little white stick myself. The difference is accidents (which suck but are a part of life) versus deliberate breeding.
    If you deliberately breed your pet, you are part of the problem. In fact, you ARE the problem.
    The worst part is, I doubt a plea to reconsider will impact on anyone’s decision. To irresponsibly breed is essentially a selfish choice, done so that the breeder can satisfy their own self-centred desires for cute little puppies or for money. They coo over them, and then eventually hand them out to friends and family, and then people they meet off Facebook in an effort to rehome them. Or finally, after slowly coming to the (obvious) realisation that there are no homes out there, they surrender them to the pound, so the rangers and vets are forced to do what those irresponsible breeders in their cowardice could not, and euthanise those animals who never did anything other than be a victim of the great lottery that is life.
    And what of those dogs that did find homes, with friends or family or that guy from Facebook? Well, sometimes it does work out, and they have great lives with families who love them. And sometimes (and sadly far more often than you would like to admit) they end up in the pound, frightened and confused. Sometimes they end up chained in a backyard for their whole lives, kicked and hit if they bark or try to escape. Sometimes they’re kept to be bred themselves, chained to concrete, for litter after litter.
    These people who bred those oh-so-cute puppies have no idea of the misery, the suffering, the fear and the pain they played a part in. They are blissfully ignorant of the damage they inflicted onto helpless animals that they should have been protecting, since they were the ones responsible for those puppies coming into this world.
    If you want to breed puppies, please contact me. And if you have the balls, I’ll take you to the pound and show you all the dogs that are due to be put to sleep because they were the result of irresponsible breeding from people just like you. And you can be the one to look them in the eyes and tell them that they need to die, probably in fear,
    because there is nowhere for them to go. And if you can still go home and decide you want to breed your dog, at the very least I’ll know that you’ll know that you’re a backyard breeder. And that you can’t deny it any longer.