The Reality of Dog Breeding
By Shriya Sood & Yukti Sharma
Edited by Swati Kankan
“Adopt don’t shop” is a mantra popularised by animal rights proponents. It is aimed at encouraging people to adopt animals rather than buying them from the breeders. However, why should you really adopt? If you are thinking of buying a dog, you might want to take a pause and hear us out. “Why adopt?”
Dog breeders often paint a rosy picture and try to entice people towards buying by showing off the breeds they sell as fancy to appeal to people who are uninformed of what the truth is. If you take a closer look, the ground reality is harsh and cruel, far from what is shown to you in the beginning. The truth is sickening and more often than not inhumane.
Breeding in India
Breeding, marketing, and sale of dogs have come to stay as a high-level commercial venture in India, involving thousands of breeders and pet shops in a multi-crore industry. Most of these breeders are ignorant of the very basics of healthcare and dog management. This has resulted in the mushrooming of unscrupulous breeders indulging in backyard breeding in the most unhygienic conditions, cruelly exploiting the animals for easy money. The pet shops further source and sell from such breeders, which, though seemingly purebred, are actually of poor quality, and often diseased, resulting in heavy mortality, or weak and unhealthy animals that are ill-treated, and in many cases simply abandoned on the street.
Pet ownership is on the rise in our country and India ranks 7th in the list of countries with the most dogs worldwide. This may sound like good news, but our obsession with everything foreign and pedigreed has rendered the state of dogs in our country pitiful. Our fascination for pedigreed dog breeds and disdain for Indian dogs has led to buzzing ‘puppy mills’ that often breed dogs in inhumane conditions and provide only for bare necessities, with no medical support. ‘Puppy Mills’ are mass breeding facilities that treat dogs as puppy producing machines where dogs are given no love, care or even the opportunity to stretch their legs!
The dog breeders in question treat these living beautiful beings as commodities, exploited for profits. These dogs are kept in cramped and damp cages, no larger than their own bodies. With hygiene out of the question, these cages are filthy and the animals often survive on poor quality food and water. This can give rise to diseases that are usually passed on to the litter. They suffer from illnesses and injuries and they are often denied proper veterinary care.
The harsh world of inbreeding
Inbreeding occurs when puppies are produced from two related dogs, i.e. dogs with relatives in common. High levels of inbreeding can affect the health of these puppies, although it is difficult to know the exact impact it can have. In general, we do know that the higher the degree of inbreeding, the higher the risk is of the puppies developing both known and unknown inherited disorders. Inbreeding can also have an impact on the breed as a whole, e.g. reducing litter sizes and fertility.
Inbreeding, which is common in these centers, also leads to genetic birth defects that cannot be identified at an early stage and these pups are sold off in the market as healthy. The litter born is also kept in cages and in similar situations, often leading to behavioral issues as they grow up. In this ruthless business of buying and selling, thousands of these dogs are separated from their families and kept in cages, where they are left alone and denied the affection of a loving family. Sadly, this is the harsh reality of these puppy breeding mills.
Now imagine the trauma of a female dog who is forced to mate and reproduce repeatedly until her body wears out from the strain of being continually pregnant, in such impoverished and harsh conditions. They are often not given enough resting periods between litters. This is not only physically exhausting but also psychologically traumatizing. The process wears them out and once they become worthless to a breeder, they’re taken to a shelter, auctioned off, or even killed. Next time you think of buying a dog, think of being forced to live amid your own waste, with pus-filled wounds, unbearable ear infections, and deadly parasites!
Countless dogs abandoned daily
You may buy your dog from a pet shop, unaware of the parent’s history. What happens if you later realize that the puppy was born with a deformity? What would be the fate of such a puppy? Well, they’re most likely to be abandoned or dumped at a shelter to be looked after. As per a survey, more than 6 million animals are left homeless every year and more than half a million of them have to be put to sleep as there aren’t enough shelters and homes to keep them safe.
Breeding of animals is cruel and there are no two ways about it. Each time a breeder brings a new puppy to life, a dog sitting in a shelter loses out on the chance of getting a loving family. Keeping this horrible state of dogs in mind, we encourage you to adopt. We also discourage mating. We will tell you ‘why?’
While millions of dogs are killed in the world every day because no one wishes to keep them, to bring even one new dog to this world without planning to parent them lovingly, can be highly irresponsible and unethical.
Shelters are suffering from being overcapacity and under-supported
While animal welfare workers are no less than heroes sans a cape, their line of work is never easy. Some of the biggest challenges are faced by open admission shelters that accept all animals regardless of capacity to care for them, resulting in high turnover and population density problems not faced by other facilities that can limit admission, test for diseases, set quarantines, and the like.
Animal shelters have many challenges facing them in their quest to unite abandoned animals with good homes. Battling people’s preconceived notions about rescue pets, public ignorance over curbing animal overpopulation, lack of centralized funding for these non-profit shelters, and the staggering number of animals all contribute to a veritable host of problems to surmount. One of the best ways to help shelters combat this issue is to raise public awareness, and spread information about the difficulties faced in providing such a valuable service.
The absolutely staggering number of animals means that, as much as they want to find good homes for each, it can be quite challenging to do so.
People partake in mating dogs, without understanding their sexual and health needs. Dogs do not need to mate as a biological need, this is a human concept. One quick google search will give you numerous articles explaining how mating is no more than a canine instinct. Often talked about, the experience of motherhood for a female dog is not just limited to giving birth. The litter has to be cared for and not taken away from the mother. Letting her keep the puppies is motherhood. Otherwise, the female dog is not experiencing motherhood, she's experiencing pregnancy, lactation, and separation from her young. That is unpleasant and close to cruel experience for any mother to go through!
The impact of the pandemic
The pandemic has brought out the worst in a few people. Some, psyched by the fear that the coronavirus is transmitted by animals. The pandemic has put a lot of pressure on people, including on living arrangements. Psyched by the fear that the coronavirus is transmitted by animals, an increasing number of people have been abandoning their long-term pet pals. Even educated, affluent professionals, display such irresponsible behaviour. A well-known doctor from a super specialty hospital let his Rottweiler out in the middle of one night as he found he couldn’t care for the dog without the domestic help he had been used to in pre-lockdown days.
Anxious and afraid, the dog bit a few people before someone subdued him with acid and a stick, and tied him to a pole. A shelter owner and her volunteers rescued the maimed dog, and have, with patience and loving care, brought him back to normalcy.
While India’s 25 million-plus stray dog population is easily targeted, the bulk of India’s 10 million pet dogs -- in fact, their owners -- are the real problem. In India, one does not need to register, vaccinate, or sterilise one’s pets. There is no penalty for abandoning pets or letting them loose. As a result, hundreds of unwanted pet dogs and pups are dumped on streets and thousands are allowed to run out of their owners’ premises to mate with street dogs.
We hope we’ve changed your mind if you were considering buying!
If you weren’t considering the option of adopting a dog until now, we hope you will give it a thought and change your mind. While the reality of breeding is grim and harsh, there are countless dogs waiting to be adopted who can fill your hearts with joy. You can help in saving an innocent life by simply opening your homes to these adorable companions. Adoption will balm your heart.
Organisations like Kannan Animal Welfare (KAW) take in an innumerable number of abandoned animals every year. When you choose to adopt a dog every time, you help in making room for other dogs in need. While you help in giving these animals a second chance at life, the cost of your adoption goes directly towards helping shelters like ours in taking better care of the animals we take in.
Next time you think of bringing a dog home, we hope you visit a shelter and leave with a little best friend by your side!