|This article recently appeared in the Barbet Club of America's newsletter. |
|A basketful of puppies from the Dougy x Coco litter.|
A few weeks ago, a Barbet puppy in Canada was surrendered by it’s owners to a rescue organization. This created a flurry of activity on social media as prospective homes jumped at the opportunity to “rescue” a purebred Barbet and in less than 24 hours the rescue was inundated with well over 100 applications for ownership.
As a breeder I was absolutely heartsick upon hearing this news. How could such a young dog end up at a rescue? What happened to the relationship between the owner and the breeder that this should happen? Aren’t homes and breeders staying in contact with one another?
Without a doubt in my mind, any reputable breeder would desperately want to know if a puppy they had bred was being turned into rescue. The breeders belonging to Club Barbet Canada as well as the Regional Ontario club and the Barbet Club of America discussed that this puppy was being turned into a rescue. It would appear that he was not bred by any of them. It’s a sad situation all around.
It’s easy to jump to conclusions as to why this dog ended up in rescue. The fact of the matter is that we will never know what the entire story is behind this situation. The owners will have their truth, the rescue which stands to profit from the sale of this puppy will have theirs, and the breeder his or her own. Apparently in this particular case, the relationship between the owners of the puppy and the breeder was such that the owner preferred to place the dog with the rescue and not return it to the breeder; it was also stated by the rescue that there was no contractual obligation for the owners to return the dog to the breeder. Despite offers to assist by the National breed club in Canada, the rescue opted to keep the dog and re-home him themselves.
I ask that all breeders reading this article stop to think about just how easy it really is for a dog they have bred to end up in a similar situation. In this day and age of animal rights activists vilifying breeders and the opinion of the general public moving more towards the “adopt don’t shop” mentality the average dog lover isn’t going to automatically think that a breeder or breed club would want to help.
Something like this could happen to any breeder. An accident that befalls the owners of the pup or a illness strikes in the family and all it would take is some well meaning relative or friend to orchestrate the transfer ownership of the dog to a rescue. Reputable breeders have it written into their contracts that they will take back any dog they have bred for the lifetime of that dog. I know I would move mountains to do so should the need arise. Realistically many pet owners will never look at their contract again after they’ve signed it and brought their puppy home. A family member or friend would certainly not know about the dog needing to go back to the breeder or even still, think to understand why the breeder would want to know where the dog they have bred has ended up.
Gone are the days of rescues reaching out to National clubs when a purebred dog is surrendered. Retail rescue is big business and it’s highly unlikely a rescue will even try and connect a dog with it’s breeder even though puppies are microchipped or tattooed and in most cases contracts signed between breeder and owner outline that the breeder be notified if the owner can no longer care for the dog. Ironically most rescues like the one that took the above mentioned Barbet will themselves have in their own contracts a clause such as this one “Do you understand that if at anytime during the life of this pet, you are unable to keep it that it must be returned to *** Rescue at your own expense? You may not take it to an SPCA, City Pound, surrender to another rescue group, or give it away or sell it to another person or group.”
Even if there is a contractual obligation to inform the breeder and return the dog to the breeder, once the dog has been transferred into the care of the rescue, if the rescue wants to keep the dog, or if the dog has already been placed by the rescue with a family that refuses to part with the dog, now the breeder has to try and get this dog back through the courts - and that may not be a simple endeavour, especially if the dog is out of Province or State. Such a situation could easily become a hellish nightmare for the breeder.
As caring breeders the best we can do to try to avoid something like this befalling a dog we have bred is to maintain relationships with the homes that have our puppies - throughout the lifetime of the dog. It’s not enough to just have words written into a contract. We need to be the person that the owner wants to call if they are struggling with any issues and we need to communicate to our homes that we are available to help them. Good breeders are a great source of education and support for their puppy owners. Breeders need to remind our homes that we will take the dog back if needed at any time. If breeders have a good relationship with the homes that have their puppies and the homes want to be involved in the re-homing of the dog, if the relationship is there, there is no reason why this shouldn’t be possible.
For the owners of Barbets that have obtained their puppy from a source other than a reputable breeder, and for whatever reason they wish to re-home their Barbet, please know that the Barbet Club of America will do whatever is needed to assist in the re-location of their dog. The Barbet Club of America cares deeply about the welfare of any Barbet. Knowledgeable members of the BCA understand the breed’s needs and can help to make an appropriate match that would enable the dog to live out the rest of his or her days in suitable permanent home.
Article written by Stephanie Dixon.
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