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Should Pure-Bred Puppies Cost More Than Rescue Puppies?

 "$300?! If the Humane Society's charging that much for puppies people will just pay a little more and go buy from a breeder!"

While I'm embarrassed to admit it, those words came out of my mouth just a few years ago.

    Why did I think that way? 

    Maybe I was spoiled by our low adoption fees from my time working at the municipal shelter in Miami ($65/dog adoptions, $35/2 for 1 cat adoptions and 1/2 off adoptions every Wednesday).

    Maybe I thought a 'non-profit' shouldn't be charging so much, weren't they a charity after all?

    Maybe I was sincerely worried a lot of people would say, "If I have to pay that much for a mutt, I might as well go by the purebred (insert your favorite breed) I've always wanted."

   I'm a "rescued is my favorite breed" person through and through.  But I know that not everyone is. And that's o.k.  -But it took me a long time to 'get there'; I used to not even be able to befriend someone that had bought from a breeder.  I literally, purposefully 'lost certain friends' that had bought from breeders during my two separate tenures as a shelter employee.  

And in my defense, as a shelter employee, I lost beloved, 4-legged-friends regularly.  Euthanasia was a daily part of being in the shelter, so I simply couldn't handle being around people that bought pets from breeders, seeing what I saw regularly... wonderful, sweet, healthy, happy pets being put to sleep for the simple fact of 'overcrowding.' There wasn't enough room for them all.  Literally.

Me conducting a 'cat test' as Adoptions Coordinator at MDAS, 2011

    Thank God, thank society (for spaying and neutering pets), thank several amazing non-profits (the ASPCA, Petfinder Foundation, etc.), that our country's shelters are not in such a severe predicament today... of having to euthanize pets daily due to a lack of time/space. 

Things are very different now in animal welfare than they were a decade ago.  

Now many areas across the country face 'puppy shortages,' people are waiting and searching for months to adopt a mixed breed dog, with the exception of pit bulls.  Sadly there are still far more pit bulls than owners for them throughout most of the U.S. 

    And here I am eating my own words that I spoke a few years ago, condemning (just to my mother or husband or whomever I was chatting with at that moment) our local Humane Society for 'charging that much for puppy adoption.'

    I'm humbly and gratefully eating my own words now.  

    Humble and grateful the Universe has put me in a position to continue learning... you see, now I have my own rescue. 

    And the first two years it was an LLC; I didn't even feel comfortable establishing it as, or calling it a 'rescue' because of the connotations that can go with that word.  -I didn't like the idea of 'being a charity,' or 'asking for handouts.'  Fortunately, and through much experience and research, I now know I don't have to 'ask for handouts' to run a successful non-profit pet rescue.  

My 6 yr old with a pup from a recent litter we adopted out

    I do however have to charge adoption fees (for now).

And this brings me back to the title and initial subject of this blog post: should pure-bred, breeder-bought-puppies cost more than rescued mixed-breed puppies?

    Pure bred pups can, and typically do, cost more, yes, but rescue pups don't have to cost less than pure bred pups.

    Aren't we shelter workers or rescue owners and operators cleaning up puppy poop just like breeders? 

    Are we not vaccinating our puppies prior to adopting them out, as most reputable breeders do? 

   Aren't we taking full responsibility for the pups in our care... and it is a huge responsibility: doing everything in our power to keep them healthy, taking care of them when and if possible if they do get sick (there are very serious puppy illnesses), keeping them well-fed, their areas clean and dry, keeping them safe from escaping, safe from other pets, kids... getting good pictures, listing them on adoption sites, interviewing adopters to do our very best to place them in the most wonderful homes possible? -We do all of this, and we love them. 

    Aren't we also assuring mommy and/or daddy dogs are placed in loving homes too? -And if they're already in homes, we're assuring they're sterilized to keep them from making more accidental litters.

So flipping cute! When we have individual or a pair of dogs, they're of course in our home, but with a litter of 7 pups, they were comfortably and safely set up in an x-pen in the garage! 

    The Humane Society and any shelter also of course spay and neuter prior to adopting out puppies.  That's another significant expense for them.  

    I spay and neuter pets prior to adopting them out with the exception of tiny puppies and kittens.  This is due directly to my vet's recommendation, and personal experience.  I've seen litters of puppies and kittens perish during surgery or post-surgery in my shelter days.  It is brutal.  I'd rather not take that risk so I send my puppies and kittens (sometimes, there are many variables) on spay/neuter agreements and follow up with my adopters to assure that's done within 6 months of adoption.

I thought I knew 'so much' about animal welfare due to my 14 years of experience as a volunteer, foster parent and/or shelter employee.  And I did know a lot.  

    But I'm learning so much more through having my own rescue.  

    And I'm proud I've come full circle... feeling confident in the fact I'm a non-profit.  I'm proud to be a social entrepreneur! The world needs more of us! 

    And being a non-profit means, in part, that profit isn't my primary motivator.  I learned this, and so much more through the portal. Props to the IRS!  

    When I read those words a lightbulb went off... I thought, "That's me. I take pets in all the time and have for years with no guarantee of financial reimbursement. When I say 'yes' to someone, to a pet, I say it without much contemplation on the associated financial gain or loss." -So I should be a non-profit!

    But I recognize, for this endeavor to grow and thrive, so I can continuously help more pets, more people- becoming financially self-sustaining is a crucial part of the equation. And I have faith strong enough to move mountains that the PAFP will always exist to serve our world's pets, their owners, and future owners. 

With that in mind I'll keep doing what I've always done... keep the pet's best interest as my top priority.  When things get cloudy or confusing, I ask myself, "Is this what's best for this pet? Is this what the pet would ask for, or say yes to, if he or she could express her desires to me?"

Footnote: I'm not comfortable with, or good at, fundraising.  It's a specialized skill.  I know a couple of people with rescues that are amazingly-skilled fundraisers.  Bonnie Plafke of Dogs on the Move is the first one that comes to mind.  She's a phenomenal fundraiser for her organization. And that's something I admire and respect.  Just because fundraising isn't so much 'my thing' doesn't mean I don't understand and appreciate its place in rescue work.  Kuddos to all the great fundraisers out there! 





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