A Good Match or a Good Start: Pet Store Adoption Events and Puppy Sales By Rita Rice, NADBR VP

A few weeks ago, the National Alliance for Dog Breeding Reform shared a post by our founder, Ron D Sturgeon, in which he commented that he didn’t care whether puppies were sold in pet stores or from homes – as long as they were well nurtured and from breeders who take care of their dogs.

He received a LOT of criticism for this – because it’s trendy to call pet stores who sell puppies and kittens bad.

If the pet store model is bad, why is it the primary method of “adoption” used by shelters? Walk in, fill out an application, choose an animal, leave.

Let’s think about this together. If you think people make bad decisions at pet stores, where they have to lay their credit card on the line and pay $500-$2500 for a puppy, then doesn’t logic follow that the same model, used at a shelter for a $75 dog, will also encourage bad decisions?

When a shelter or rescue chooses to hold an adoption day at a pet store, they do so knowing that an adoption event at a pet store is an effective way to find homes.

You won’t ever see my dogs for sale in a pet store, because I choose not to cater to the “buy it now” market. But that market is a HUGE part of the pet owning public – and so, while many “anti-breeder” groups continuously decry the horror of selling puppies to the “buy it now” crowd, they endorse it at the same time – with rescues.

If selling puppies as an “impulse buy” is bad, then “adopting out” rescues as an impulse buy is equally bad. Personally, I believe it’s worse, because the majority of shelter dogs are mixed breeds ranging from late puppy to adult. These dogs often have no history and there is no reliable information to give the potential home any indication of temperament or training.

I worry about all of these dogs, whether in shelters or pet stores. I worry that their probable poor start in life, along with the lack of experience in the average pet home, will combine to make an already difficult life (for the puppy) even more challenging for the adult dog.

I was a rescuer before I was a breeder. I am still a rescuer. In my early 20s, I learned the value of purebred rescues and locally active rescues (for mixed breeds). Those rescues are able to take time and evaluate dogs while in foster homes, then evaluate potential adopters and work to fit the dog with the home. I value responsible breeders for the same reason, for their ability to know the puppy or adult dog and match that dog to the right home.

I don’t believe we will ever prevent dogs and puppies from being impulsive purchases. Every law that’s been passed, every group that has tried something different, has only succeeded in driving those purchases to a different market – in 25 years, I’ve never seen that new market to be in the best interests of the dogs.

NADBR believes it’s time for a new strategy. We believe that the best result for the “puppy impulse market” is for those buyers/adopters to be able to easily find dogs that have had the best start possible. For the shelters, that strategy suggests that they continue placing rescue dogs in the public eye – and hopefully combine that prominence with a staff that is knowledgeable about the dogs that are available. For breeders, that strategy is to regulate and encourage responsible breeding, so that buyers are able to find locally raised puppies who have had the best start possible.

As a breeder, I worry about impulse buyers, and keep my puppies far from that environment. As a rescuer, I want to help those buyers/adopters find good dogs, dogs who will make it easy for the new home to grow to cherish that impulsive acquisition the way I cherish my own dogs – for life.

Why a No-New-Laws Approach Doesn’t Serve the Long-Term Interests of Responsible Dog Breeders By NADBR’s VP and Director of Research Rita Rice

I know that the popular view among responsible home-based dog breeders is “No more laws!”. And, it’s no mystery why we feel that way. The laws currently on the books manage to both discourage responsible breeding and still not do much to help end severe neglect and cruelty situations. Although many breeder groups are doing a great job fighting misguided new legislation, no one is thinking about creating an outcome that rewards good husbandry and responsible dog breeding.

The result is that most legislation is written by “anti-breeding” groups – who somehow don’t seem to understand that Americans want to buy purebred or well-bred puppies and that, if they can’t get them in their state, or in the U.S., they’ll just import from overseas, where the U.S. has no jurisdiction to require minimum standards of care.
Because, really, my friends – I know that many dedicated breeders get frustrated by having to deal with regulations on breeders that make no sense, but aren’t you also heartsick at the number of rescues that are truly needed? Aren’t you fed up by the number of poorly bred puppies, unsocialized and laden with mental and physical problems that pass for “purebred” dogs these days?

So, think outside the box for a minute.
What if the law actually worked in your favor and allowed you, as a responsible breeder, to operate more openly and to advertise your litters to the local pet market? What if the law actually helped bring buyers to you?
What if it gave you the opportunity to educate possible buyers about the quality dogs you produce? What if it gave you a chance to demonstrate the difference between your breeding program and those of people selling questionable dogs over the Internet?
Most of us don’t even advertise in the local market, because the laws don’t favor it. If they did, wouldn’t it be so much easier for good breeders to work with local buyers and to educate local prospects?

I believe that there are thousands of us: responsible, mostly home-based breeders who are quietly doing a great job raising happy, healthy puppies on a small scale. I also believe that most of us feel so pressured by the current political climate that we cringe every time we buy more than three bags of dog food, and stifle the rant that begs to explode every time we walk in public with our dogs and someone asks, “Is that a rescue?”

At some point, we need either to make our voices heard or to be ready to throw in the towel. I have spent the last six months working with the dedicated members of NADBR. For the first time in years, I feel like I’m a part of a constructive dialogue with a group of individuals who respect that, first and foremost, all of us love dogs and want what’s best for them, now and in the future.
NADBR is about promoting responsible dog breeding, not putting responsible dog breeders out of business. You can find this article on our home page, under leadership posts to blog.

National Alliance for Dog Breeding Reform thanks Beth Palmer for outstanding service and names Rita Rice as her successor.


Rita and DogsFORT WORTH, TX, July 30, 2015 /24-7PressRelease/ — National Alliance for Dog Breeding Reform Vice President Rita Rice has been appointed Director of Research. She replaces Beth Palmer, a longtime KPMG-US employee recently transferred abroad.

During her tenure as Director of Research, Beth Palmer led NADBR’s effort to create a public, fact-checked wiki of state and federal dog breeding regulations, a project NADBR anticipates will go live in 2016.

“We’re grateful for all of the work that Beth has done to further our mission to improve dog breeding for the dogs,” said NADBR President Hue Grant. “We wish her continued success as she begins a new phase of her career in Hong Kong,” he added.

Rita Rice is a nationally known breeder of Borzoi and an AKC Breeder of Merit. She has been an advocate for purebred and purpose-bred canine for many years. Rice began showing hounds in obedience, lure coursing and confirmation in the 1990s and has become a very successful competitor, both in the U.S. and internationally.

“Rita Rice has the broad experience and right mix of passion and pragmatism to lead the work our research team is doing,” said NADBR President Hue Grant.

The National Alliance for Dog Breeding Reform is committed to ensuring that dogs bred for profit are shown kindness, treated humanely and bred using only medically-sound practices. For details about volunteering, visit NADBR’s Facebook page or sign up for e-mail updates on the NADBR website.