I am a strong supporter of shelter dog adoption. I have several mixed-breed rescue dogs, and I honestly don’t have a favorite dog breed. I am aware that some people do, so for this project, I shifted my focus to the realm of purebred dog adoption, and what I discovered was, to say the least, alarming.
While mixed-breed dogs are frequently unwanted and surrendered to shelters as a result of unchecked breeding, they have no intrinsic saleable value, which puts them at a disadvantage when adoptees want a dog of a specific breed and at a distinct advantage because, unlike pedigree counterparts, they cannot be traded like commodities.
During the process of creating Dogs Unleashed, I discovered that the previously unwanted pedigree dogs I photographed were in need of rehoming for three main reasons: a lack of understanding of breed-specific requirements, no longer being of financial use to a breeder, and puppy mill breeders closing or offloading their pups.
To begin, it is critical to conduct research on the dog breed you are considering purchasing. Leila the bluetick coonhound, one of my models, is now in her seventh (and final) home. Coonhounds, like German shorthaired pointers, are extremely active and require a great deal of physical and mental stimulation. Leila scaled walls, escaped multiple times, and got caught in snares while out and about as a result of being acquired by people who had no understanding of the breed. Her unruly (and entirely natural) behavior resulted in her being repeatedly surrendered. This is a common issue for active,
It is critical to select the right breeder in addition to selecting the right breed for you and your family. Not all breeders have the best interests of their dogs in mind; many are motivated solely by the money they can make from selling puppies, with no regard for the welfare of their breeding dogs.
Brooklyn-Stella the bulldog, Queenie the Chihuahua, and Lisa the schnauzer were all given up for adoption after their breeders no longer needed them financially. Brooklyn's breeder tried to sell her on Facebook, and both Queenie and Lisa spent their lives in a backyard cage producing puppies. Adoption in their senior years is their first experience with family. When you buy puppies from breeders like this, you are often unknowingly financially supporting
When it comes to the welfare standards of a pedigree dog breeder, Kennel Club registration is meaningless, so doing your homework is essential.
As a proponent of the "adopt, don't shop" message, I will always encourage you to adopt your preferred dog breed. A quick Facebook or Google search will reveal that your favorite breed has a rescue organization, and that they occasionally have puppies available.
If you have your heart set on a specific breed of puppy, there are plenty of responsible breeders to choose from; here's how to find one:
- You will almost certainly be added to a waitlist:
- Visiting the mother and puppies at their home will be no problem.
- Puppies will only be available when they are 8 weeks old (10 to 12 weeks is preferable)
- You will be able to pick up your puppy from them.
- The breeder will ask you to sign a contract stating that your puppy will be sterilized, that you will not be able to breed with your puppy, and that if you are unable to care for your puppy, you will return it to them.
- They will request references from your veterinarian.
- You will be given proof that both of the pup's parents were tested for breed-specific genetic problems.
- They will not be selling a variety of dog breeds.
As dog lovers, we have the ability to protect animal welfare by making more informed and ethical decisions, and I hope that this project encourages us to do so.
I photographed 68 dogs for my Dogs Unleashed series (all of whom are now happily in their forever homes), and you can see more images and learn about the individual dogs' stories on my website and Instagram, which are linked at the top of the post!