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  • Writer's pictureTaryn Blyth

Buying from a backyard breeder is not "Rescue"

The start of a puppy’s life should hold promise of good things to come – the potential for a wonderful, rich and full life can be seen in a physically healthy and emotionally well-adjusted, active little pup. Of course, things can go wrong and unforeseen health problems, accidents, trauma or inappropriate training, management and socialisation can prevent a pup from reaching his or her full potential or cause them to have to live within certain limitations. There are never any guarantees in life, BUT this is not a good reason to knowingly and deliberately go down a path of probable heartache and difficulties.

What am I talking about? I am talking about buying puppies from dodgy backyard breeders. It is heart-breaking to see new puppy owners, completely in love with their little bundles of fur, but to look at those puppies and see the shadows lurking over their current and future well-being. Backyard bred puppies typically come from impoverished environments – and here I am not referring to economic impoverishment, but to the lack of health care, environmental enrichment, social contact, genetic soundness and adequate nutrition that contributes to the development of an emotionally and physically sound dog.

We regularly see undersized, undernourished puppies, plagued with joint problems, skin problems and digestive complaints. Many are weeks younger than the “breeder” claimed them to be and most have had no vaccinations or deworming prior to being bought. In many cases evidence of poor temperament and emotional coping skills are also immediately evident.

The trend seems to be that people buying these puppies justify the purchase by saying that they “rescued” the pup from the breeder. However, if money changed hands, this was not a rescue, but a business transaction and one that put money in the pocket of an unscrupulous exploiter of animals and gave him or her the reward needed to do it all over again.

Please look out for the following red flags when buying a puppy:

  1. The breeder bringing the puppy to you and not encouraging you to visit the premises – they are absolutely hiding something.

  2. The breeder making claims about KUSA registration, but not having a kennel name – check with KUSA and they will tell you if the person is legit.

  3. People claiming that the parents are KUSA registered – this means nothing and does not prove that the relevant health checks have been done on the parents.

  4. People claiming the sale of KUSA registered pups for under R6000 – this does not happen.

  5. People who will not allow you to see or interact with the parents of your puppy – are they too timid or aggressive or are they in terrible condition?

  6. People who agree to sell you two puppies at the same time – no decent breeder would EVER do this, as they know what a horrible idea it is.

  7. People who allow or insist that you take your puppy at 6 weeks of age – pups that leave their moms and siblings before 8 weeks are far more likely to develop social and emotional problems.

If you are looking for a particular breed of dog, then please DO go to a KUSA registered breeder. They are by no means perfect and we absolutely need to lobby for FAR stricter controls over these breeders as well, but it is a start. There are age requirements for both dogs and bitches to be bred, there are health requirements, signed off by independent vets, there are limitations to the amount of times a bitch can be bred in a year and there is a conscious monitoring of inbreeding. In many cases, they will be held accountable by their peers and by KUSA for unethical practices, so there is someone at least watching them, to a certain extent.

If you are looking for a mixed breed puppy, then please visit your local shelters – choose a shelter that offers enrichment programmes for their puppies

and carefully matches pups to potential homes.

Please DO NOT support the backyard breeding industry – as long as there is support for this kind of exploitation and ignorance, it will continue to grow and thrive.


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