The issues that need to be addressed are the health and care of the "breeding stock" in high output, poor quality breeding facilities as well as regulation of the unlicensed breeder. Dogs that live their entire lives in cages, often suffering from poor, inhumane conditions with little human contact. People often walk away with a new puppy in their arms without ever seeing the place where the parent dogs, along with 30, 50 or 100's of other breeding dogs live out their lives. The puppies go on to new homes, new lives, and new environmental conditions. Their parents are left behind to produce more litters.
The breeding dogs in these high output, poor quality breeding facilities and those of the backyard breeders are rarely, if ever, examined by a veterinarian. There are some commercial breeding facilities that routinely employ a veterinarian for their animal care and I applaud that. But for many at the lowest end of this profession, the veterinarian is considered an unnecessary business expense. The result of that is dangerous and inhumane. When diseases are being discovered, it is usually because the puppies are afflicted with SEVERE conditions, and being returned by the purchaser.
If the breeding stock has undiagnosed conditions, it may be a mild form of the disease, but that can lead to an increased percentage of puppies affected within the litter and an increase in severity of the same condition in the affected puppy. This means that if either or both parents have a mild form of the disease, the puppies may get the severe form of the disease.
A family purchased Cookie at 4 months of age from an Iowa breeder after seeing her, her 2 month old younger siblings, and her parents advertised in a local newspaper for $50-$150 each. When they got there, Cookie was the only one left. Her parents and the other 2 month old litter were all sold. Cookie was purchased for $100.
By five months of age Cookie presented to their veterinarian with an “odd” gait or stride. She could not jump or bear much weight on her hind legs. She was painful when getting up or laying down, stretching her rear legs out often, seeming stiff and uncomfortable. Cookie's X-Rays revealed severe hip dysplasia. Cookie's owners could not afford treatment. They relinquished her to a rescue group, knowing that she needed more than they could give her. Cookie had her surgery at the expense of the rescue group, costing the group $3-4000! She was adopted by a man who continued to take her to physical rehabilitation during her recovery and is now living a normal happy life.
But the family that bought her suffered a major loss. Their choice was either euthanize the dog they had grown to love, which many people would have chosen to do, or find a safe place for her with a new owner that could afford to do what they could not. Not a lot of people can afford to invest that much money in a family pet. Not a lot of rescue groups can afford to invest that much money in a dog that they aquired. I think we all as pet owners wish we could afford anything our pets needed, and there are those that will do so. But there are many who simply cannot.
Hip dysplasia is a genetic disorder passed from parents to offspring. It is possible that the breeder did test the parents and still produced puppies with the disease. Radiographic testing of the breeding pair at two years of age for the disease and NOT breeding a dog unless it tests negative for the disease will reduce the likelihood of hip dysplasia significantly. It is still not perfect but perhaps with DNA testing we will get better as we learn more.
Cookie After Surgery: