The Westminster Dog Show is underway this week, so it’s a good time to remember that you don’t have to go to a breeder to find great dogs; you can find purebred dogs, as well as mixed breeds, available for adoption through shelters and rescues.
Not all breeders are bad; in fact, those registered through the American Kennel Club (AKC) must meet high quality standards. However, the facts remain that millions of dogs are turned into rescues and shelters every year, and of the four million that go into shelters, more than one million don’t come out – meaning, they die. And breeding dogs add to the pet overpopulation problem, which adds to the number of dogs euthanized every year.
It’s estimated that between 5 and 25 percent of dogs placed in shelters are purebred. Recently at my community’s humane society a long-haired, tri-colored collie came in because its aging owner could no longer take care of it. And, last fall two shih tzus were brought into the kill-shelter in my town, which is operated by the city; both had been used as breeders – one was 12 years old and not spayed. So, although good breeders do exist, so do bad breeders. That doesn’t mean the dogs are bad, they are just not as well-cared for, and many of them end up in shelters and rescues. In fact, the mission of National Mill Dog Rescue (NMDR) is to bring into rescue those dogs which are used in what’s known as puppy mills – backyard breeders whose priority is profit and who often shove these creatures into tiny cages. Through NMDR, these adorable animals, from small Maltese to large German Shepherds, are socialized, loved on, given medical care, and made available for adoption.
Other rescue groups, such as Big Dogs Huge Paws that specialize in rescue and re-homing the larger dog breeds, such as Great Danes, Mastiffs, and Newfoundlands, and English Springer Rescue America, with chapters around the nation, take in specific breeds that need new homes. Even the AKC endorses breed-specific rescues – learn more at http://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/rescue-network/contacts/.
If you’re thinking of adopting a dog and aren’t sure what breed is right for you, watching this week’s Westminster Dog Show is a great way to learn about the various breeds. You can also review breed traits, personalities, and behavior patterns by reading up on the different types of dogs at this website: http://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/. One of the most responsible things a person can do before obtaining a dog, whether through adoption or purchasing from a breeder, is to learn what type of dog best fits your lifestyle and desires. Do your homework before bringing a dog home!
The most popular type of dog in America is the Labrador Retriever; it is also among the top five most common breeds found in animal shelters (or lab mixes); black labs are also among the least likely to be adopted because the coat color tends to blend in with the dark surroundings of many animal shelters. And though Labs are popular, not one has ever taken Best in Show at Westminster. Neither has the Golden Retriever, Dachshund, or Chihuahua, all of which are also very popular breeds. Perhaps one of those will win this year. Stay tuned!
Wondering where to catch the dog show of dog shows? Visit http://www.sportingnews.com/other-sports/news/westminster-dog-show-2017-tv-channel-schedule-online-stream-coverage/n9nwcw6efxf16ki6f5eeqk5g to learn which TV stations are carrying this special event.
And remember two important things the next time you’re looking for a specific dog breed as a companion: (1) do your research on dog breeds and (2) adopt, don’t shop! One of the best ways to find a certain breed of dog, in addition to the earlier-mentioned resources, is to go to Petfinder.com – you can search for a specific dog breed, even sex and age, that is available through a local, regional, or national rescue or shelter.
Gayle M. Irwin is a writer and public relations professional who volunteers with various animal rescue groups. She enjoys sharing her books and her passion for pets and the environment with others.