In June, Ty Marshall applied to expand his kennel operations in Vulcan, Alberta. This proposed plan would have resulted in 200 dogs being housed and 50 puppies being born per week. Thankfully for the many dogs and families who would have suffered much stress and heartache, this application was denied. However, due to our weak animal protection laws, The Calgary Humane Society and AARCS had to return seized animals back to Ty Marshall shortly after this victory. A victory that happened because a large group of individuals took the time to speak out and fight against a puppy mill being opened in our backyard. We all know that dogs deserve better. There are many areas to this case that require change to happen, but to start, the greatest issue is that bad breeding is still legal in Alberta.

At dogma, we believe that we must lead by example and education is the key to driving change. We will never support an organization that sells animals, except for responsible rescue groups and breeders. Many of us at dogma have been a part of the rewarding, but heartbreaking, work of an animal rescue group. We have seen the many animals that struggle to be adopted each year and far too many that must die due to over-population or behaviour problems that deem them unadoptable. It is a massive problem and we want to see more families adopting dogs, however, we fully support responsible breeders and there are many amazing ones throughout the world. But how can you know what is a responsible rescue group or breeder? I will outline some of the key traits to help identify an animal rescue group or breeder that is part of the solution by ensuring proper matches so that their pets can integrate successfully into our families.

Responsible breeder:

  • Only focus on one breed
  • One or two litters/year
  • Does not breed extremely young or old animals
  • Screens for health concerns
  • Will not breed dogs with behavioural concerns
  • Bred animals live in home and are considered part of the family
  • Never sells to a pet store, dealer or on an online directory like Kijiji
  • Provides detailed health records and breeding/pedigree information
  • Will take back the animal at any time for any reason
  • Will have a contract that covers information such as spaying/neutering the pet
  • Has a thorough screening process for applicants to ensure it is a good fit for both
  • Has a thoughtful and well-educated process for the rearing and socialization of their animals
  • Is available pre-and post-purchase to help families and ensure the transition is successful

Responsible rescue organization:

  • Registered as a not-for-profit organization
  • Never sells animals online through a directory like Kijiji
  • They know their limits and will not over-fill their facilities/foster homes
  • Performs thorough health and behavioural assessments on the animals
  • Will vaccinate, spay/neuter and address known health concerns with the pet before you take it home
  • Has a thorough screening process for applicants to ensure it is a good fit for both
  • Provides detailed health records and honest details on the animal’s temperament/behavioural traits
  • With dogs, works closely with or has a certified, reward-based trainer on staff for pre-and post-adoption work
  • Understands that not every animal is safe to be adopted due to behaviour concerns or that it may not be a fair option for the animal due to health concerns. If so, they have a thorough and fair process to determine the best option for the animal.
  • Is available pre-and post-purchase to help families and ensure the transition is successful
  • Will take back the animal at any time for any reason

There are wonderful organizations and breeders out there who can help you find the perfect pet to match your family. They will be transparent and honest with you, not rush the process and ask a lot of questions to ensure it is a good fit for both you and the pet. They genuinely care about their animals, so they will have a follow up process and ensure the animal returns to them if there is ever a problem. We must support these organizations and never buy from a pet store or backyard breeder.

Educating ourselves on those groups and individuals who are adding to the pet over-population problem and who are having devastating effects on pets and their families is the first step. Most people who buy from these groups or individuals are doing so because they love animals, think they are saving them from a bad situation and/or do not understand what they are supporting. Do not judge them and instead try to guide people in the right direction when they are looking for a new pet. A quick google search on puppy mills, backyard breeding and irresponsible rescue organizations will bring up thousands of examples of why these are dangerous and heartbreaking options. Promote and support the groups that are making responsible decisions. It is up to us to drive this change. We saw what happens when we take a small amount of our time to write and respectfully share why Ty Marshall’s application should have been denied. Our voices will be heard.

It was heartbreaking to hear of the animals being returned to Ty Marshall. To learn that due to our weak animal protection laws, they had to be given back to the man that created so much suffering, was devastating. I cannot begin to fathom how hard and upsetting it must have been to those involved in the care of these animals to return them and my heart goes out to them. How it was even allowed to get to this point is a problem. If you do not want puppy mills in Canada or feel that these animals should not have been returned to Ty Marshall, please take the time to write a respectful letter to your MLA asking for changes to the Animal Protection Acts. Find your MLA here Change starts with us, so let’s make our voices louder.

Are there other ways you think we can identify a responsible breeder/rescue group? Do you have other ways we can stop puppy mills from operating in our province? Please share in the comments below!