Where and How are “Dog Rescues” Getting their Dogs?
The demand for dogs has been on the rise in recent years. In particular, the desire for rescued dogs has risen. This, I believe, is largely because of the “Adopt don’t Shop” movement. It is a beautiful thing to give a homeless animal a nice, warm place to live. Well-meaning individuals will go to great lengths to adopt their new friend and save the dog from a life of misery or euthanasia. But what if rescues aren’t really rescuing their dogs? Sadly, many “rescues” are fronts for puppy mill dogs.
Rescues are Buying from Auctions:
Several news reports have come out in recent years exposing the buying of dogs from auctions and selling them as “rescued dogs.” PETA (I have my issues with PETA, but they are good for certain things) discusses this issue. Rescues go to the auctions done by the puppy mills, and buy the dogs with money that is being donated by individuals who want to do a good thing (https://www.peta.org/blog/scam-alert-rescue-groups-are-buying-dogs-from-puppy-mill-auctions/). Many of the puppy millers brag that they can makes quite a bit of money selling to these rescue organizations. Rescues argue that they are saving the dogs and stopping them from being bred more. The rescues state that in this way, they are hurting the puppy mills bottom line (https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2018/investigations/dog-auction-rescue-groups-donations/).
The problem is, the puppy millers are still making money. The idea that the rescue is saving dogs because they are cutting into the number of breeding dogs the puppy mill has is ludicrous. Selling a mill dog here and there will not cut into the number of puppies that a mill will sell, as they will never just sell all of their adults at auction. Some mills are specifically breeding dogs with the purpose of selling to rescues (https://www.peta.org/blog/scam-alert-rescue-groups-are-buying-dogs-from-puppy-mill-auctions/). These “rescues” are doing absolutely nothing in the long run to put an end to the needless suffering created by puppy mills. Mills are making money off the deal, and rescues are getting a fresh supply of sad faces to sell to people who are trying to do a good thing by giving a shelter dog a home.
Why are Rescues Buying Dogs from Auction?
Some may argue that the rescues believe they are doing a good thing. I tend to disagree. I believe these groups have found a lucrative way to make money off soft-hearted individuals looking to save a life. The demand for dogs keeps increasing, and while there is an idea that we have a pet overpopulation problem, I do not believe there is an actual dog overpopulation problem in many states. Particularly in many northern states, there is in reality a shortage of dogs. Southern states have been shipping dogs in their shelters up north to meet this demand. (https://www.petful.com/pet-health/dixie-dog-rescue/). Also, some recues have begun importing dogs from other countries (https://www.mercurynews.com/2019/03/28/are-we-really-importing-other-countries-stray-pets-for-adoption/). If we really had a horrible pet overpopulation problem, we would not be able to ship dogs in from other countries.
As we have successfully put a dent in the pet over population problem with spay and neuter programs, rescues simply are running out of homeless pets. No homeless pets, and the rescues cannot keep their doors open. I personally feel that some rescues are putting their own interests at the forefront of their mission, instead of the interests of the dogs they claim to care about.
As a note, I see these fake rescue organizations becoming more common if and when more states enact legislation that stops dogs and cats from being sold in pet stores. In 2017, California became the first state in the U.S. to ban the sale of puppy mill dogs in pet stores (https://www.aspca.org/about-us/press-releases/california-becomes-first-state-us-ban-sale-puppy-mill-dogs-pet-stores). The legislation has been heralded as being a major step to putting an end to puppy mills. This law will supposedly stop the abuse of dogs in this way by ending the financial incentive to breed dogs on a large scale. Being that there is already a problem of fake rescues popping up, I really do not see such legislation being effective, and if anything, this legislation will only encourage this trend of rescue organizations buying from auctions.
Most rescues are not buying their dogs from auctions. Most shelters and rescues are doing all they can to help homeless animals who would otherwise be left on the streets to fend for themselves. Yet, there are rescues who are perpetuating the continuation of suffering by buying their dogs from puppy mills. I foresee this becoming more common as more states put laws to stop the selling of puppies in pet stores and other venues. These businesses will find a way to continue making money, and this will likely be through selling dogs to shelters. The need to buy from reputable breeders has been emphasized for years in the dog community. Sadly, as unethical practices continue in rescues, the same care and research needs to be done when adopting from rescues and shelters.
To ethically get a dog, ask pet loving friends and family about shelters they know about and with which they have experience. It may be best to avoid ones that specifically state that they do “puppy mill rescues,” unless you can verify that the rescue is actually working to have puppy mills shut down, not acting as a source of the puppy millers revenue. One could even volunteer at a shelter to determine if the shelter is really saving animals or in the business of money making. Also, consider reputable breeders as a way to get a puppy, or as a source of rescue dogs as well. Many breeders are active in breed rescues, and they can help sort out the good from the bad. Also, talk to friends and family about the reality of puppy mills and pet stores. Legislation will never stop ignorance, but education can. Many people believe Craigslist, Pet Stores, and websites such as Lancaster Puppies are great sources of dogs. The only way puppy mills will ever stop breeding is if and when people refuse to buy from them in any way, shape, or form.