Commercial dog breeders view dogs as livestock and a “cash” crop. Most of these folks started out in other types of factory farming and failed. They then turned to dogs in the hope of an easier crop. They make no distinction between “farm” animals and “house” pets. In order to understand why it’s so important to not provide them with a source of income, you must understand this simple truth. As long as there are buyers at auctions for a particular breed, that breed will continue to be at auctions. The auctioneers and sellers care not where the money comes from; money is money. They count on rescue groups to purchase the dogs other breeders don’t want.
The auctioneers pitch goes like this to the crowd. “Where can you start your business for $800 and triple your money in a year? Breed her twice a year sell the 8 pups for pets;, sell through a broker to pet stores or here at the auction.” The auctioneer continues, telling the crowd “I was brokering 350 dogs per week. It’s easy! Go to the internet see what’s selling. Cross them with other breeds. There’s a lot of money in dogs. Look at the prices. This is a great business.”
How do I know? I was there. This is the reality of dog auctions, and you must understand that first, in order to determine the best way to deal with them. People who truly love dogs and take a special interest in a particular breed have paid exorbitant prices to rescue their breed from such a fate. The problem is the puppy millers recognize outsiders. The khaki slacks, button down shirts, wife and child are a dead give away. Millers utilize shills to bid up the prices when rescue groups are present. I recently witnessed a group of 20 Kerry Blue Terriers sell for a total value of $16,975. It is believed that many went to well intended rescue groups. This high selling price just created a demand for more dogs at future auctions! Such expenditures, though well meaning, encourage and enable puppy millers. These guys count on dog lovers to be emotionally impacted by the conditions of a puppy mill dog’s existence. It is impossible not to be. I understand and appreciate the motivation. Unfortunately, we encourage puppy millers by making the sale of dogs profitable at auctions, as there is little pet store market for our breed.
The USKBTC contacted the owner of the dogs at this particular auction, prior to the actual auction and attempted to purchase all of the Kerries at a reasonable price. She laughed, and offered Gigolo for $3500 alone, stating “the people who bid $3000.00 on him the last time we took him to an auction are supposed to be coming…if you don’t want him for $3500.00, I’ll bet they will.” She further stated that she expected “to sell all of them for $2000 and up,” not to other breeder friends, but to the bleeding heart rescue groups.” Interestingly, she also said that “Kerries are the worst business investment I ever made,” citing “nobody in America would sell me a Kerry, so I had to go overseas and pay huge prices. I was led to believe at the time that I could get my investment back and more, but you can see from the puppies I have left from my last litters that the market has really gone down for these dogs.” She sounded really disgusted with the breed, saying it would be “good riddance” when they left. USKBTC rescue left contact info with the person selling these Kerries, offering to take whatever Kerries she had left after the auction. Once again we explained that we are a rescue group who does not purchase dogs at top prices.
There is another auction coming up soon. Again, we called the sellers, and offered to purchase dogs prior to the auction at prices within our guidelines. Again, we were turned down because the seller said he was “expecting those rescue people that showed up in Missouri.”
Based on discussions with individuals actively involved in rescue and USDA agents, who do all they can under the law to protect the dogs and insure minimal standards, we face a daunting task. They agree that paying the amount of money spent at this auction provides continuing incentive to commercial breeders.
AKC has asked all Breed Clubs to understand that commercial breeders expect to make a profit from the sale of dogs to rescue groups. The big problem is rescue groups, who contribute money to the pockets of commercial breeders, do more harm than good. They are dooming more of their breed to the puppy millers. After all, they figure they made money selling them to rescue groups in the last auction. If the puppies don’t sell, they can always sell to the rescue groups!
We do not want Kerries to be a source of income for the commercial breeder. If no one bought Kerries at auction, commercial breeders would realize it was unprofitable, and they would stop production. No market . . . No income . . . No profit. There were only three people who bid on Kerries at the last auction in Missouri and according to the auction house representative, both successful bidders were representing rescue groups.
This issue is tough, but “tough love” seems to be the only way to get our beloved breed out of the hands of the puppy millers.