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The following is an opinion shared by respected breeders and pet owners, as well as the Humane Society of the United States and all of the Shelters and other Humane/Animal Welfare organizations in this country.

Up to 10 million healthy animals are killed in U.S. pounds and shelters every year. The killing could easily be prevented by spaying and neutering. Euthanasia is the single largest cause of death for dogs in the U.S. Each year 27 million animals are born. Five to ten million we classify as "surplus" and kill. That's about one million per month. These numbers do not include the millions of dead dogs whose bodies we scrape off the streets, or the hundreds of thousands of abandoned, severely neglected or abused ones who never make it to our shelters to be counted and killed. The five to ten million figure represents those we "must" kill because they are unwanted. Most of these animals are young and healthy; in fact, it is estimated that a majority is less than one year of age. The problem is simple: we have too many dogs. Too many for the too few homes available. The solution we have opted for is to kill the extras. This solution has been considered acceptable by default, as though there were no other way to control the crisis. And we spend over $1 billion every year destroying "man's best friend."

Why is this happening in the United States today? The number one biggest contributor to the problem is the backyard breeder, not the puppy mills. This is a name that has become unpopular; no one wants to admit they are a backyard breeder. Many people do not even realize they are part of the problem. The only way to stop the needless killing of dogs is to stop the needless breeding of them.

Every breed of dog recognized by the AKC (American Kennel Club) has a written standard, a blueprint of what the dog should look like and act like. These standards were written so that all would know what a quality example of the breed is and strive to produce dogs that meet or exceed the standard in health, temperament and appearance. To be sure you are breeding dogs that meet these standards, your dogs must be judged by people who have a lifetime of experience among the breed. Do you know the standard of the dog you want to breed? Does your dog meet this standard according to an AKC Judge? If not, your dog is pet quality. A pet is to be loved, cherished, trained, cared for, spoiled and bragged about, but it is NEVER to be bred. No matter how cute or sweet the dog may be, if it is not up to the standard, you have no business breeding it.

If you have a purebred dog this does not give you the right to breed it. Most purebred dogs are not breeding quality. If you breed your pet quality dog, you are a backyard breeder, whether you breed the dog in your backyard, garage, living room or an expensive hotel room, the term is still backyard breeder.

If your pet quality dog has AKC papers, that's nice but it doesn't change anything. You still don't have the right to breed it.

If your pet quality dog cost you $500 be glad you had the money to afford it. You still have no right to breed it.

Do you think you can make your $500 back if you breed your pet dog or if your pet dog is a color or size that isn't in the standard but you just know everyone will want to buy a pup if you breed her? Shame on you! Now you are a backyard breeder with the purpose of breeding pups for bucks.

If the price for a tail dock or an ear crop seem high to you, what are you going to do when your beloved pet needs an emergency C-section? Will you even be there with her to know if she is in trouble? Would you recognize trouble before it's too late?

And if you still want to breed your pet dog but need to ask who's supposed to cut off the tails and ears, ask yourself "What the Hell am I thinking!"

Do you think genetic testing is something they used in the OJ trial but has nothing to do with your dog-breeding career? You are a backyard breeder.

Backyard breeders sell pups that aren't up to the standard of the breed. They do this for many reasons. None are good enough reasons to contribute to the killing of dogs. Period.

Backyard breeders will swear all of their pups went to a good home. They believe this but it's not true. Some may have been lucky enough to go to a good home but more than half of them will end up dead, in a shelter, alone, on a cold table with a needle sticking out of their leg. Some of those good homes will get tired of the dog and they will just give it away to anyone who is willing to take it. Some of your beloved dog's children will end up living alone in a backyard, barking all night, cold and neglected until the owner gets complaints and then that pups will be dead. Some will be starved and beaten. Some will be bred until they die from it. Some will end up in rescue and have to be shown that not all humans are bad. The rescue group will train it, and feed it the proper food so it can heal. They will take the fleas off of it and get rid of the worms. They will give it the shots it should have had but no one remembered to give it. They will do these things because the backyard breeder didn't do it and wouldn't take the dog back when it was 2 years old and full of problems. The rescue group will spay or neuter that pup before they find it a new home so that they will never have to rescue one of it's pups and to be sure it will never end up in the hands of another backyard breeder looking to make profit from puppies.

Backyard breeders are not responsible pet owners. They think they love the dogs but it's not really true because they don't really want to be bothered with doing all that it takes to breed ethically. They love feeling important when they say, "I breed such-and-such breed". But breeding pet dogs isn't something to be proud of. It's a shame on our society. It's the reason for the killing that goes on in shelters. Why do you want to be part of that?

Do you want to be respected? Spay or neuter you pet dog. There's really no other way. The kinds of homes you want for your pet pups don't want to buy from you. They are looking for responsible, respected breeders who are doing something for the breed as a whole. Most of those who will come running to buy your pups are the kind of people a rescue group wouldn't give a dog to. They are the ones who will turn your puppy into a shelter when the novelty wears off. That's a fact.

Want to stop the problem of killing 1 million dogs a month all over America? Spay or neuter your pet dog now and tell everyone you know to do the same and leave the breeding to the people who are doing something to better the breed.

By Sunny Arruda VP, South Bay Purebred Rescue