When good breeding goes bad by Sheila Atter
Are you a responsible breeder? Yes, of course you are! Do you take the time to ensure that all your pups are placed in loving permanent homes? Yes, of course you do! Do you send each pup off with his own little bag of goodies, his diet sheet, and all his relevant paperwork? Yes, I’m sure you do. And does that paperwork include a contract, which explains that he is endorsed and cannot be used for breeding? Well, if you are a Kennel Club Assured Breeder that is expected of you – along with the expectation that you will have explained to the new owners exactly what that endorsement means and will have asked them to confirm in writing that they understand.
So what happens when you do everything right, but somehow it all goes wrong? Let’s follow the story of one such puppy – I’ll call him George. George was bred by an experienced, respected breeder, a member of the ABS, and had an impeccable pedigree. However, in a breed where markings are important he was a mismark. This didn’t alter the fact that he was a super little chap with a happy, confident outlook on life and soon a family came along wanting just such a puppy as their family pet. Off George went with his new owners who had nodded understandingly when the endorsement was explained to them and assured the owner that they had no intention of breeding – he was ‘just a pet’.
George is from one of the most popular of breeds, and a few houses down the street some other people had a bitch that looked quite like George. Naturally they came round to meet the newcomer, and as new owners will, the pedigree was taken out and shown around. All those champions in red on the pedigree looked very impressive and it was duly agreed that George really was a handsome fellow. Time passed, and George did indeed mature into a good-looking young man. The bitch that lived along the road came into season and George’s folk were persuaded that he would make an ideal ‘husband’ for her. George was more than willing, and in due course several sons and daughters arrived.
Then, the breeder discovered she had a problem because, although his owners had forgotten, George was endorsed ‘progeny not eligible for registration’. They phoned his breeder and asked if she would lift the endorsement, but she refused, explaining to them once again that George had been endorsed because he was mismarked – and the claim that all his puppies looked ‘just like him’ was not, in her book a recommendation for registering them with the KC. Nor, indeed, was the fact that, in a breed with some major health worries, neither George nor the bitch had undergone any of the required health tests.
Imagine her surprise then when, a couple of months later, she saw in the Breed Record Supplement that this litter had been registered. Scanning through the breed statistics, she also noticed that George, the lovely and much-loved family pet had been transferred to a new owner. Now this lady is a wily old bird, so instead of phoning the original owner in a rage, she took a deep breath and made a friendly call, just to see how he was getting on. The owner was more than happy to chat. George was wonderful, the children loved him – and now that he had a new career as a stud dog and was much in demand in the locality because of all the champions in his pedigree, he was more than earning his keep, had in fact paid for the recent family holiday with his stud fees.
She commented that he appeared to have a new owner according to the BRS, but that was quickly explained. They had been told that by selling George to someone else, the original contract, and its endorsements, was no longer valid. So George had duly been transferred to Granny, the endorsement lifted and George’s babies could be registered. So everyone was very happy – except the breeder who read each succeeding copy of the BRS in despair as George sired puppies by the hundred. From their names it was pretty obvious that most of the bitches were puppy farm or backyard bred, and in time he was mating his daughters (still allowed at that time) and granddaughters too.
As George got older, his name appeared less frequently, and the breeder stopped looking, but one day George came right back into her mind. She was asked if she could help out the breed rescue by picking up two puppies. Their owner had bought these pups just a couple of weeks before, but her husband had been suddenly taken ill. She contacted the breeder and asked if they could go back as it was going to be impossible to give them the care and attention they needed. The ‘breeder’ was not interested and after a second call told the owner quite simply to "F off”, so in desperation she had contacted the rescue. It soon became apparent that a refusal to have back these babies was not the only callous act – they had only been six weeks old when they were delivered to their new owner at 10.30 in the evening! Still they were now happy, healthy babies, just vaccinated and wormed and were handed over to rescue complete with all their toys, food – and paperwork. Now, we breeders are all the same, show us a pedigree and we have to have a good look. And there again was George. Four and five generations back, admittedly, but nevertheless he was there – several times over.
So in just four generations and a few short years, all the hard work this breeder had put into establishing a line of typical well-bred healthy pups had been completely undone. It was easy to trace the decline from well-meaning but clueless pet owner, who saw their pet as a way of making some easy pocket money through to a heartless puppy farmer who churns out litter after litter with no thought about health or welfare, just how much money can be made and how quickly.
For these two pups the future is bright. They have a loving new owner and their unfortunate start in life doesn’t seem to have harmed them. But next time you see an obvious pet bred puppy of your breed and recognise some well known kennel names at the back of the pedigree, don’t tut-tut and ask why these people were so irresponsible as to sell to puppy farmers just remember George. Puppy farms have to get their dogs from somewhere, and one way of helping to stop their evil trade is to make sure that KC registration is a mark of quality. Maybe the puppy farmers too knew the rules, and realised that they could acquire a well-bred animal and have the endorsement lifted simply by selling it on to a family member. Responsible breeders endorse their pups, and they do it for a reason. Endorsements should only be able to be lifted by the breeder, not by someone else, and then only after all relevant health tests have been completed.
This may have been a loophole in the past but currently, as long as endorsements are properly applied and the new owner signs that they acknowledge them, then they cannot be removed if subsequently the ownership is transfered to another party.
"....4. Regulation B12b 1), 2) and 3) only apply where the registered owner who originally placed an endorsement on a dogs record, transfers the dog to a new ownership. If subsequent transfers take place, the endorsement becomes a matter between the parties involved. In such cases the registered owner placing the endorsement shall not be responsible if notification of the endorsement is not given to any new owner, and may exercise his right to decide whether the endorsement be maintained or removed subject to (5) below...."