The Darker Side of Dog Breeding

By Lily Batchelor

Posted on August 31. 2017 at 1:42 pm PDT

Photo: ASPCA

Photo: ASPCA

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals states that approximately 670,000 dogs and 860,000 cats are euthanized every year. These animals are among the millions found within U.S. shelters that are often overpacked, underfunded and seemingly out of options.

Founder and director of Milo Foundation Lynn Tingle recalls working with shelters in the early nineties, stating some had a kill rate as high as 80%. Although the rates have gone down to roughly 56% for dogs and 71% for cats, the numbers are still high. “The euthanasia rates were getting better for dogs until the small dog explosion of around eight or nine years ago” Tingle laments, “when you started seeing so many Chihuahuas in particular.”

Part of the reason these animals never find a home is due to the breeding and puppy mill industry. By supporting these markets financially, people are ensuring the continuation of breeding while there are millions of animals dying or living their life in cages.

Puppy Mills are especially gruesome, “It’s standard practice for puppy mills to keep animals in cramped, crude, and filthy conditions without proper veterinary care or socialization,” says People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA. “Female dogs are bred over and over until they can no longer produce puppies—at which point they are auctioned off or killed”

Breeding is also linked to severe genetic diseases. The Institute of Canine Biology states, “The increasing burden of genetic disease in purebred dogs is a direct and predictable consequence of breeding practices that increase the expression of deleterious alleles.”

Examples of this include breathing problems in breeds with flat faces such as Pugs, or even more serious, the predisposition for heart disease and certain cancers in breeds like German Shepherds and Golden Retrievers.

Although these facts may seem daunting, there are many ways to help the situation other than adopting ethically, such as fostering animals, making sure your animals are spayed and neutered, volunteering at your local shelter and educating others.