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  • Writer's pictureMelanie Beachy

Shelter or Breeder? Emotional Hot Point!

Updated: Aug 17, 2022

The decision to adopt from a shelter or a breeder often sparks an emotional response. First! I will start by saying every dog's life is precious and needs to be valued! It is a very individual decision; one that only the individual (or family) can make!

What I hate to hear happening is shaming and criticizing a person who has chosen to adopt from a breeder. A person, or family that has chosen to adopt a puppy, or adult dog, from a breeder, and is giving that dog a loving and enriched life is just as AWESOME as the individual that has adopted a puppy or adult dog from a shelter, providing a loving and enriched future!

Brian adopted Charlie, our late Shepherd mix from a shelter as a puppy. Charlie lived an amazing 15 1/2 years. He found our Junebug while on a walk with Charlie when the two were only about 1 and 2 years - old. These guys lived a full and happy life with Brian. I am thankful for the two years they were in my life and I wish they could have been here longer!

Junebug added lots of laughs to our lives, he was goofy, sweet, and mischievous! We had fun "shaming" him on one occassion for his shenanigans and fouling our dinner plans. He loved sailing with us, car rides, cuddles on the couch, and anything that made his humans happy!

Charlie was our guardian! He would do anything to protect us and please us. I recall putting antlers on his head at Christmas time. Brian said there was no way Charlie was going to keep them on. Charlie saw it made me happy and kept them on, for a few minutes, LOL! Junebug proudly strutted around with them :)

I definitely want to dispell any rumors that dogs from shelters are problem dogs, and Junebug and Charlie display this well! It is the few bad stories we hear that can shape faulty thoughts. It is important to be careful and evaluate what will work for your family. Following Junebug's death at 14 years-old, we tried to adopt from a rescue. We fostered the dog for a week. It didn't work out for a couple of reasons, Charlie and the foster couldn't get along. We tried waiting that one out by keeping them separated and see if they would warm up to the other. Charlie was in his senior years. We didn't want him to have unneccessary stress. The resuce dog's prey drive turned on, and he went after Coco and Khloe, catching my daughter with his teeth while trying to get the littles! No one knew his story, and from what had been observed by the rescue, he was good with other dogs. Check out your shelters and rescues, and take time to evaluate if it's right. At that time we decided it was better for us to go with a puppy from a breeder. Would we consider adopting from a shelter or a rescue in the future? ABSOLUTELY!

The reason there are so many dogs in shelters are because of irresponsible people dumping their dogs on the street, people going through a difficult time and can't take care of their pets and seemingly no options, not understanding a high-maintenance breed chosen, not training their dogs, not claiming their stray pets that ran away, not spaying/neutering, abusing animals, and the list goes on. The problem will not be solved because one opts to seek a shelter dog vs. a breeder. If we all do our part to advocate for the welfare of animals, we can unite and reduce the problem! One thing for sure, getting on a "soap box" and criticizing people for choosing a breeder dog over a shelter dog WILL NOT solve the problem!! Don't judge folks! We don't know what someone is going through if we haven't spent time in their shoes. Instead, lets focus on fixing the issue!

Keep an OPEN MIND when going to the shelter to see if a dog will fit your family!

These pups have been kept in kennels. Yes, they get exercised and fed, but they are not in a home. They were either given up by their family, found roaming the streets, or rescued. This trauma and anxiety will have their adrenaline up.

  • Coming out of the kennel, they may be overly excited to see people and behave wildly.

  • They may appear skinny and coats not shiny and clean.

  • Overly timid and scared.

  • Bloodied tails from excited tails slapping the wall repeatedly as people walk by.

  • Jumping on kennel walls to get to you.

  • Pulling on leashes

This is not their actual personality! It will take a good 4-6 weeks for you to get to know your new pup, slightly fatten them up, and help them learn to trust you. Jumping and leash-pulling can all be resolved with consistent positive training and patience. Believe me, they will plump up, learn manners and become the most beautiful dog in your eyes! Want to know something else? After volunteering there, I can tell you many of these shelter pups have had formal training. I know! Why would someone put the time and energy into training a dog and then give them up? Again, we can't judge! But, I can tell you, there are dogs with no issues and just need a loving home!

So what can we all do to reduce the number of dogs heading to shelters? Educate ourselves before bringing a pet into our families. Manage expectations; some dogs take a longer time to housetrain train than others for example! Be very thoughtful of the commitment it takes to have a dog: financial, time, and energy! Understand the breed/breeds your prospective pet will be, and what they were bred for; those tendencies are there and can emerge regardless of obedience training. I am in no way labeling breeds. It is important to look at their natural characteristics and see if those will frustrate you. After you have brought the dog home, train your dog! Whether you opt for a professional trainer, or you read up and decide to go it DIY, develop your dog through positive training methods. You will develop their cognitive abilities and improve their self-control. Have patience and provide lots of love; your dog only wants to please you. They are not capable of manipulation and plotting to disobey!

How can we help the dogs in shelters? Volunteer!!! These dogs need interaction and love while waiting for their forever homes. Shelters are not horrible places. The staff and volunteers spend time, energy and love to provide these animals a humane and as comfortable as possible a space. That said, it certainly isn't a warm and cozy home they are in either. Spend a few hours a week and go love on these dogs. You can interact, care for and walk these dogs. That interaction may just help them find their forever home with improved socialization skills! Provide awareness, for example, share posts on social media highlighting dogs up for adoption. And yes, consider adopting from a shelter first! If this will work out with you and your family, bring a shelter pup home for a lifetime of love, like our Charlie! Check out my next blog for my experience volunteering at the animal shelter!

The dogs shown in this blog (other than Charlie and Junebug) are at the Hardin County Animal Shelter in Elizabethtown, KY. Unfortunately, some of them may still be there at the time you read this blog. In the area? Hurry on over, they and plenty more need a home!

Aloha, Barks, and Howls,

Melanie Beachy

Charlie - "The Biggest Dog on the Planet"

May 2003 - September 29, 2020

Junior "Junebug" - The Pitbull that taught!

2004 to March 10, 2020

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