A Personal Note from Your Host: Laura Reeves

Commercial Kennels are a good thing? What the, what??

The awareness process that resulted in today’s podcast has been a challenging one for me. Like most of you, I was raised in the heyday of PETA/HSUS/ALF “documentaries” on the horrors of “puppy mills.” Starving, beaten, neglected, bred to death animals. These images have informed my view of commercial kennels for well over two decades.

Mr. Bill Shelton

Imagine my surprise when, from the mouth of one of my idols, Mr. Bill Shelton, comes the notion that the purebred dog fancy *needs* commercial kennels… I almost choked on my pizza. What about ethical breeding? What about proper placement? What about preservation of a breed?

His response (in a nutshell): The pet owning public in the country is 85 *million* homes. Depending on whose numbers you like, 4-9 *million* new pets are acquired each year just in the US. So I start doing the math… 170 (+/-) AKC recognized dog breeds. Let’s use a nice round number like 5,000,000… That is a LOT of zeros. So let’s say EACH of those 170 recognized dog breeds produces 294,117 puppies each year. Um, except endangered breeds like Otterhounds and Dandie Dinmont Terriers and Sussex Spaniels produce MAYBE 100 puppies *worldwide* each year. So now our odds are skewed significantly higher for the top 10 most popular breeds.

One report I found from 2013, conducted by the Swedish canine organization, showed *worldwide* annual registration of 293 breeds with a *total* of 2,276,864 dogs registered in the reporting year. These figures include the US, UK, Canada and much of Europe. In other words, every single purebred dog in the *world* registered with their respective countries of origin would not meet the annual demand of the pet owning public in the US alone.

So Where Will The Dogs Come From?

So what I’m trying to tell you here is that hobby breeders, preservation breeders, those of us who devote blood, sweat and tears to producing the very highest caliber of purebred dogs for  discerning pet owners simply *canNOT* fill the demand for pet dogs in this country.

Where do the rest of the dogs come from? In some cases from the retail rescue market, including documented importation of hundreds of thousands of dogs from overseas. (Please listen to NAIA’s Patti Strand on this topic in episodes 43 and 104 if you haven’t already.)

In many, many cases, these dogs come from commercial kennels. Some of those facilities, remain, without doubt, far below our standards of expectation. But what this interview shares is the results of one person going above and beyond to help the commercial breeders learn, improve and step up in their role of meeting the public’s demand for healthy pets.

Commercial Kennels in Indiana

Commercial kennels in Indiana over the course of the last 10 years have replaced subpar facilities, implemented health testing, maintenance grooming, socialization and even rehoming plans for retired animals.

As you browse through these photos, step back for a minute and ask if your own facilities are this good.

Now, am I so naive as to believe this is a 100 percent compliance situation across the country? Of course not. But I *have* learned that I was naive enough to be manipulated by groups who would like ALL of us to lose the right to own and breed dogs in the manner we see fit.

Keep An Open Mind

I understand this interview may push your comfort zone. It clearly did mine. But I also believe that we should learn lessons from these folks. United we stand. Divided, we fall. Helping commercial breeders improve the quality — and quality of life — for pets they produce for members of the public who are not interested in waiting two years for an exceptionally well bred companion is a win-win. Making healthy pets from veterinary supervised and approved facilities available to new pet owners, instead of feeding the retail rescue industry as just happened in California, keeps all of our pets healthier in the long run. As Craig says in the interview, it’s about the *dogs*.

I hope you will listen with an open heart and an open mind.


Link to Swedish report: