Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Can We Talk? - The need to breed

We've chosen a real hot button issue as the first installment of
our new occasional blog feature called "Can We Talk?" which will
encourage open but polite discourse on a number of pressing topics.

The breeding of Pit Bulls can stir up fiery debate at the drop of a hat - is breeding across-the-board bad, or is it something that under some circumstances is okay, but mostly and usually is not? For most of us involved in the rescue side of things, the answer to the "how do you feel about breeding" question comes as quickly as the words can leave the lips (or get typed on the computer screen): "NO to breeding! TOO many Pit Bulls are homeless and dying!"

The Real Pit Bull does not promote nor encourage breeding. That is the organization's official stand, all of our board members and volunteers concur that there are too many breeders, too many Pit Bulls, and we'd be so much better off if 99.999999999999% of those producing puppies just STOPPED already, goshdarnit! (We'll concede the rare ethical breeder - in fact, we'll even applaud them!)

Although there are no exact numbers, by some estimates, hundreds of thousands of Pit Bulls, or more, die each year because no on wants them, they are abandoned or neglected, or tortured to death. All of these dogs end up in bad situations because of careless breeding practices and subsequent bad placement with irresponsible people.

Stop for a moment and imagine a pile of dead Pit Bulls: hundreds of thousands, or a million of them. Their limp, lifeless bodies wasting away. And that is exactly what it is: a huge, deplorable waste.

If that image of a monstrous pile of decomposing Pit Bulls stirs anger and disgust - good! That's the whole point. And just in case you missed the point: there are TOO MANY PIT BULLS and they are DYING in humungous numbers. Just being tossed out like garbage in a landfill!

Yet there seems to be some incorrigible need amongst a certain segment of Pit Bull caregivers to breed their dogs. This is such a head-scratcher, and one reason we've chosen to do this blog post - we really want to know WHY? WHY breed??? (That’s not a rhetorical question!)

We've probably all had the experience of walking down the street with our neutered or spayed Pit Bull, only to have some random person pull up in a car beside us and say, "Nice pit, do you wanna breed him?" And how many times have you had to suppress the need to scream, holler, stamp your feet, and pull your hair out as, for the billionth time, someone's just told you how much they love Pit Bulls and plan on breeding their dog. And those are just the casual backyard breeder encounters.

Only the brave and truly strong-of-stomach dare embark on a "pit bull breeder" search on Google. The number of breeders out there is truly staggering.

For a couple grand (or six!) you too could become the owner of a rare, special, awesome-tastic, blue-nose Pit with a 30 inch head. Titles? Health certificates? Who needs 'em! These pups will weigh 100 pounds at 6 months of age! Git ‘em while they’re hot!

And there are hundreds of breeders producing the same thing. Rare? As rare as pebbles of sand on a beach. Don't believe it? Visit a shelter - you'll have no problem finding one of those "big blue pits" and for only a mere fraction of what breeders will charge you. In fact, name any color-size-style-sex-height-weight-personality Pit Bull you want, and we can point you in the direction of exactly what you are looking for, currently available at your local shelter or rescue.

Have you ever come across a breeder who told you, "I don't really love my dogs or the breed as a whole, and in fact I know I am part of the problem but I don't care, I'm going to keep breeding anyway"?

If you are a breeder reading this, surely you will proudly state how much you love Pit Bulls and that all your puppies get good homes and offer up a million reasons why you aren't like those other, "bad breeders".

Trouble is, everyone thinks what THEY are doing is "different" and "okay". Trouble is, from where us RPB folk are standing, you all look the same.

So help us - RPB, all of the people in rescue - tell you apart. Why, as a breeder, are YOU different? Why is it ethical for YOU to breed? Why breed at all?

Why do YOU feel the need to breed?


sp said...

instead of imagining a pile of decomposing pitbulls, why not imagine a home for every pitbull - either in their own family or in the home of the breeder who produced them. imagine no tortured pitbulls because no breeder would have been so irresponsible to sell to a bad home.

across the board vilification is not useful, and neither is total idealization. it's not dystopia or utopia. the reality of life is complex. we should pay it the respect it deserves and not make judgments based on over-simplification.

there are legitimate reasons to breed, analogous to the same way there are legitimate reasons we choose to have children, what we decide to plant in our gardens, or the criteria we impose in order to promote employees and other sorts of relationships.

the reason pitbulls exist is because they were bred for their characteristics. eliminate breeding and you eliminate the concerted effort to create or maintain a type of dog. that may be what people want, but i don't think ending the practice of breeding will ever end animal neglect, abuse, and need for rescue. so why attack breeding like it is the sole cause of these problems when in fact it's due to breeding we have cute ass pitbulls to begin with?

Mary said...

If you read the post carefully, you will see that the subject is irresponsible, unethical breeding. RPB does not support mandatory s/n nor breeding bans. And as stated in the post, we do applaud responsible, ethical breeding.

The goal is to eliminate UNETHICAL breeding. Period. NO one seems to think they are unethical - they just keep right on breeding dogs, with their heads in the sand, refusing to admit that their puppies grow into adult dogs that may ultimately end up in that pile of dead Pit Bulls. Wouldn't it be nice if such breeders could face the music?

Positive visualization has it's time and place. It is a useful and valuable tool. But ignoring *reality* (for instance, the incredibly high numbers of Pit Bulls being destroyed while irresponsible breeders keep pumping them out regardless) does not help matters. Before people can change their behavior and begin to be part of the solution, they must face reality. Truly face it. Then they can accept it, learn, and move on to a higher level of thinking and constructive behavior. If the reality of the situation cannot be faced, and if we cannot be aware enough to understand our own parts in contributing to "the problem", things will not change no matter how much time we spend imagining dogs in good homes.

Are you a breeder? Do you purchase from breeders? What are the criteria that help you decide if a breeder is "not part of the problem"?

The goal of this blog is to encourage self reflection.

lpyrbby said...

As another rescuer, it sincerely hurts me now to hear of folks wanting just one more litter. Or they want a puppy from their dog to carry on their dog's legacy because its just so sweet. Or that someone is planning to breed their young puppy in the future despite genetic issues that are likely to be passed on to offspring.

It hurts me because I have to "play God" when it comes to choosing dogs to place into our rescue. Why should I have to go into a shelter with one available foster home and pick ONE out of likely 20+ dogs. How is that fair? How can that BE fair when so many are just looking for the money off the dogs and could care less about their long term well-being.

It makes me want to point blank ask every breeder, "Will one of your dogs be the one that I choose when they're facing euthanasia in the shelter? Or will it be someone else's? You'll never know because you don't know where your dogs will wind up."

sp said...

i read the post carefully, i saw the mention of there being rare ethical breeders in this world. but the response to unethical breeding is voiced as a response to breeding in general:

"If you are a breeder reading this, surely you will proudly state how much you love Pit Bulls and that all your puppies get good homes and offer up a million reasons why you aren't like those other, "bad breeders".

Trouble is, everyone thinks what THEY are doing is "different" and "okay". Trouble is, from where us RPB folk are standing, you all look the same."

irresponsible breeders can and do lead to piles of dead dogs. but so do shelter systems at times, as do hoarders, bad laws, politics, etc. etc. but then again breeding has created breeds and the breed i love so much.

it's just too easy to respond negatively to breeding in general, and that automatic negativity may ultimately be the reason rescues won't be able to change the hearts & minds of those that are being irresponsible.

maybe what we need to rail against specifically are willfully negligent people, or abusive situations, and not any particular practice, and then educate those that may be uninformed.

because i find myself believing that maybe the only way to truly stop unethical breeders is to promote/encourage ethical ones:

- those who educate themselves about breeding dogs, their breed in particular
- will do the best they can to keep the dogs happy & healthy
- will pay some due diligence when placing dogs
- will take back any of their dogs for any reason.

that's a loose definition in a lot of ways, but i that's as close to a vision of an ideal landscape as i can imagine.

Mary said...

I personally have been educating on ethical breeding for years. There is also tons of information on about ethical vs. unethical breeding practices.

Please also see the Code of Ethics for breeders:

So I do understand and appreciate where you are coming from.

The fact is, *most* Pit Bull breeders that I come across either IRL or online, frankly should not be breeding - and don't care what anyone has to say about ethics. Period. While in the past 15+ years I have seen the overall attitude towards the Pit Bull move towards one of reason and acceptance, the breeding landscape has only gotten worse.

Irresponsibility is irresponsibility - whether it is in ownership, rescue OR breeding. But this blog is about unethical breeding and asks breeders (and those who support them) to justify - or shall we say 'enlighten' us as to the reasoning behind - their choices.

(Subsequent blogs to follow on the other areas of irresponsibility you bring up ;-)

Blaming shelters and rescues doesn't cut it for me, though. They are only trying to clean up a mess created by other people. The source needs to be addressed. While I'm sure oops litters account for a decent amount of dogs in shelters, it is backyard breeding and the full scale breeding operations that, IMO, are the biggest culprits.

And btw, my current dog is from a breeder. Would I get another dog from breeder? Absolutely. I happen to love purebred AmStaffs and showing in AKC conformation. So don't think I'm "one of those crazy rescue people that bash all breeders and think breeding should be outlawed". I'm not. :-)

sp said...

well since i'm not a breeder of any kind, the question wasn't posed to me.

and in the comments, when you mention that the larger breeding operations that don't take any responsibility for their dogs are those that need to face the reality that they're creating...i mean, how am i to argue against that?!

but i do still think that most rescue's definitions of what constitutes an ethical breeder are overly strict, and because of that people who aren't truly irresponsible are being clumped with those who produce dogs w/o any care for the welfare of dogs.

one of the many articles that has gotten me thinking about what breeding standards we should promote is found in this blog post:

there are so many others, but that one is the most recent, and a good read.

well, i apologize for taking the comments way beyond the scope of the main question posed, but since none of the irresponsible breeders seem to have stepped up to explain themselves, hopefully i didn't crowd the comments too much!