Breeding animals creates a problem

Breeding animals creates a problem

Image: Pixabay

Breeding creates a massive overpopulation crisis but also raise some serious ethical & Welfare concerns.
A human baby factory is a great business idea…… or did you frown upon imagining this form of exploitation? If this is not ok with humans, how can you justify breeding exploitation for other sentient beings? For this article, we will not address the agricultural breeding of livestock and game or for experimentation, as it is a whole topic on its own.  Today we will focus on breeding, whether by accident or deliberately, with domestic companion animals.

For years there has been this ethical & welfare debate regarding breeding. The animal welfare arguments usually form the basis for the debate as health should always trump looks, but there is certainly an ethical argument too. The debate has mostly taken place around the breeding of animal for experimentation and livestock production. It is important to reflect on the changes in the genetic makeup of companion animals.

Even since prehistoric times, humans have kept useful animals around the area they live. Over thousands of years, the domestication of dogs specifically has led to distinct types of dogs and breeding for various types of functionalities like hunting, livestock guardians, working dogs, sighthounds, tracking dogs, vermin control, etc. Nowadays many animals have become companion animals and even though many of these functionalities are not needed, those breeds are still bred.

During the mid-19th century when kennel/breed clubs developed, breeding became more intense, and many breeds developed since then. Dogs were now not only bred for functionality but for their unique mutations like shortened legs or faces, colours or textures, etc. Dog shows became a sport where you brag about the ‘’look’’ of the animal, sometimes their skills.

The first recognition of animals as ‘’sentient beings’’ (can experience feelings) which appeared in written law was in France in 1976 and has been included in Animal Welfare Acts in many countries since then. Many of these countries have very strict laws about animal welfare and breeding and they enforce the law, but in SA there is still a lot of work to be done.

Breeders & Brokers
I define breeders as anyone who allows their pet to have litters and then either exploits them for financial gain, for status or gives them away for free or hoard them. So, fundamentally there is no difference for us between a registered breeder, backyard breeder, or puppy mill. They all exploit animals for financial gain and animals pay the price. We divide the breeders basically into 3 categories:

Back yard Breeders
They have a couple of animals and do nothing to prevent them from having litters. In other cases, pets are deliberately bred so that the offspring can be sold and it is often these cases where overbreeding occurs. Basically, irresponsible pet owners.

Puppy Mills
They mass-produce animals in poor conditions. As many as they can, back-to-back as fast as they can.

Registered Breeders
Breeders treat living beings as commodities to be genetically manipulated for profit. It is crucial to understand that being registered does not make them responsible. The process for registration is way too easy and something we are working on. These individuals usually have a particular breed and they see themselves as ‘expert’ on the breed. Many also partake in dog shows to brag. It is either love of money or love of status that drives them. Many animals have been confiscated from “registered” breeders, by animal welfare organizations. So, this piece of paper means nothing to us! If we took away the money and status, how many people will continue to breed on purpose apart from the irresponsible owners?

Some breeders claim to be responsible, but when we have a massive overpopulation crisis and killing millions of healthy animals a year (at least 2800 a day in SA), then no breeding can be responsible or ethical. The fact that purebred animals in shelters have drastically increased over the last few years to 25 % and more is a clear sign of a deeply flawed argument.

Also, read about the bad arguments they use to justify the exploitation of animals.

Another problem that helps fuel this massive overpopulation crisis are the brokers and and animal dealers.

These are people who are engaged in re-selling animals. Like a middle-man who adds their profit. This includes pet shops and individuals. If you allow people to advertise on your platforms or at your shop, then you are also part of this problem. Even when you are advertising for your friends/family! We have had people who start an animal welfare organization, but support breeding or breed themselves and some who use it as a front for being a pet shop.

Image: Pixabay

There should be animal-ethical, political, and society-wide discussions regarding the future of pedigree breeding. Here are a few ethical questions to consider:

  • How far are we allowed to interfere in the genetic makeup of animals through breeding and genetic modification?
  • Is it acceptable to manufacture a dog that fits your wish list?
  • If a baby factory is not ok when it comes to humans, why would this be ok with other living beings?
  • Even though dogs adjust to adaptation relatively easily, should these adaptations through breeding be done for the next fashion craze, and what if the craze blows over?
  • What happens to the animal when the breeder has used them up?

Our concerns here are divided into mainly 4 issues, but not limited to just them and in no particular order. This includes, how the animals are kept, overpopulation, health & behaviour, and bad breeding practices.

How they are kept:
Remember that the breeder mentality sees these animals as commodities and not as companions. Some of these breeders keep the animals in terrible and confined conditions and this is the part that the public does not see, but animal welfare workers witness very often.

Health & Behaviour:
Dogs are monoestrous breeders meaning that they have one breeding cycle per year, however, this can vary between breeds. If a particular bloodline is continuously bred this amplifies both the good and bad attributes of the breed.

Although they have bred the look they want, they have also bred breed-specific health issues for each and every breed. The breeders brag about how they guarantee health, but what they can guarantee is that a Weimaraner’s stomach could turn at some stage, that a Great Dane will have heart problems, that an Alsatian will struggle with hip issues, or that a Bulldog could have breathing difficulties etc.

When used as commodities, many of these animals do not experience play or affection nor are they allowed the freedom of expressing natural behaviour, which is one of the 5 freedoms of animal welfare. Pregnancy and birth in any species come with inherent risks to the mother and the fetus. Repeating the cycle increases the risks. Do you know that some breeders use what we call rape-stands?

Many breeders want the parents to “look good”, so they remove the pups relatively early, so the mom’s mammaries do not sag. Removing them early is bad for the mom and pups. Studies have shown that it is ideal for pups and kittens to stay with their moms for up to 12/13 weeks. They learn valuable behaviour from their mom and if the breeder really cared about that then they would not let them go at 8 weeks or even earlier as the latest trends show, plus the breeder can make sure they get all their vaccinations up to 12 weeks. Letting them go early saves the breeder money. These sentient beings also experience the loss of the pups/kittens as any mother would with her baby. Don’t you think that matters?


How they are disposed of:
If they maybe just used the bitch for four years, what happens to her afterward? They can’t possibly keep all of them if they made a business out of it? The average lifespan of dogs is much higher than just 4 or 6 years and the cost of proper care is not cheap. You do the maths. Many of them are dumped at shelters, sometimes even moms with the last litter or while still pregnant. Animals, like some parrots, easily live up to 60 years.

Tail docking & ear cropping
Tail docking and ear-cropping are the practices of removing an area of a dog’s tail or ear. It is purely for cosmetic reasons and is considered cruelty and illegal in many countries, including SA.  In addition to being cruel and unnecessary in addition to the ill effects it has on things like posture, and body language, and how bad you affect their dog-to-dog communication.

Overbreeding, inbreeding & early breeding
Overbreeding involves breeding an animal more than their body can safely handle resulting in detrimental health effects to the mother and her puppies while contributing to the overpopulation. Especially with puppy mills, inbreeding also occurs which can be detrimental for health. Breeding animals way too early is another concern.

Pushing limits
Some breeders push the limits causing extensive health issues for the dogs they are breeding. English bulldogs are a great example of this. Their breeding is heavily restricted in many countries or even banned.

Promoting purebred superiority
When people hear dog breeding, they hear purebred dog breeding. Often a mixed breed or rescue dog is referred to as a downgrade or “mutt”.

Not properly vetting the buyers:
How extensively do you think the breeders, who see these animals as commodities, really vet their buyers? How many breeders drive to the buyer’s house? Virtual home checks are not acceptable for me and follow-ups are crucial if you care about these animals. I believe animals are already in the wrong hands when they are from a breeder, so how can the wrong hands determine what is best for this animal?

Breeding animals creates a problem

Redesigned dog breeds
Dr. Karen Becker a veterinarian who understands the overpopulation crisis and genetics has written about how breeding has deformed once healthy dog breeds. She looks at 8 breeds specifically including what we call the poster child of bad breeding namely the English Bulldog. These are not the only ones though.

“Breeders may consider them ‘improvements,’ but when you take a closer look at how they’re affecting the dogs’ quality of life and longevity, but they’re anything but! Before humans began their “remodelling” project and playing god, dogs like the Bull Terrier, Boxer, English Bulldog, and Dachshund were well-proportioned, generally healthy, and physically active, but not anymore.

Over the years, several breeds have been deliberately fashioned to exaggerate certain physical traits at the expense of their health, longevity, and quality of life. Today’s German Shepherd Dog, with his sloped back and incoordination, is no longer the canine athlete he once was; the modern-day Pug comes with an extensive list of brachycephalic-related disorders that make his health a constant concern.Breeding physically resilient, healthy dogs has been replaced with breeding for the sole purpose of attaining twisted beauty pageant awards, and breeding for aesthetics has cost us the health of beloved breeds.”

As a veterinarian, Dr. Karen has seen first-hand the problems created when dogs are bred exclusively to achieve specific features, without concern for their health, mobility, or quality of life. It is deeply disturbing that, with all we know about the suffering these animals endure, breeders persist in exaggerating their dogs’ physical characteristics, even if it means sacrificing their health, and national kennel clubs condone it.

A note on genetics.  Anyone who knows anything about breeding knows that forcing two dogs that “look good”, to mate (whether they have papers or not) is not a guarantee of a good litter. Stellar genetics needs testing and an understanding of genetics. It is about bloodlines, not looking nice. Often an excuse for the exploitation of animals through breeding is that they care about the future of the breed.

I don’t buy into that narrative. If you are not doing genetic testing, behavioural assessments, keeping pups with mom for 12 weeks, and a whole bunch of other responsible actions then you do not really care about the future of that breed. If you crop ears or dock tails then you also do not care about the animals because it is cruel and unnecessary.

I agree with the Science and Dogs blogger, Caen Elegans, who concludes:

“No dog breed has ever been improved by the capricious and arbitrary decision that a shorter or longer or flatter or bigger or smaller or curlier ‘whatever’ is better. Condemning a dog to a lifetime of suffering for the sake of looks is not an improvement; it is torture.”

We domesticated these animals and created this problem, so it is now our moral duty to fix it and do better for these animals who do not have a voice in the matter. This animal welfare issue needs to be addressed through education, sterilization campaigns, and stricter breeding regulations.

What you can do?

  • Sterilize your pets.
  • Keep them safe in your yard.
  • Micro-chip them & put a tag on their collar.
  • Don’t support ”free to good home” ads.
  • Don’t support breeders of any kind or brokers including pet shops that sell live animals.
  • Adopt don’t shop (without physical home checks and sterilization their contracts it is not adoption, even if the organization is registered).
  • If you are familiar with the breeder, then invite them to a shelter with you.
  • Educate others.

Capitalizing on the life of an animal, especially since they don’t have the luxury of a choice, for personal and financial gain is one of the most selfish acts and causes many to lose their lives. Asking people nicely to consider the well-being of these animals doesn’t seem to have quite the effect and for that reason, we are working on legislation to put an end to the unnecessary killing of healthy animals because there are just not enough homes.


Source: The Bulletin

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Do YOU have some questions or bad excuses about spaying and neutering?

Do YOU have some questions or bad excuses about spaying and neutering?

Here are some answers to the bad excuse, myths, and frequently asked questions about spaying and neutering your pets.
Last week we looked at many of the benefits of spaying and neutering your pets including curbing the massive overpopulation crisis, health, behaviour, and other community benefits. We also looked at different methods and criticism around spaying and neutering your pets. Today I want to focus on some frequently asked questions about spaying and neutering, bad excuses for not spaying and neutering and debunking some common myths about this important topic.

I am not a veterinarian, but I follow trusted veterinarians’ advice on healthcare. It is still important to look at your individual pet, their breed, and health and to discuss it with the vet who will be operating. 

Do YOU have some questions or bad excuses about spaying and neutering?

(Shared by Spay and Neuter SA)

Even though this procedure is a common procedure for vets, not all vets are good at it, so do your homework on the vet! Cats & dogs are common patients, but please use an exotic-qualified vet for other animals!

Since the massive overpopulation crisis includes more than just cats and dogs, in general, we advise that all animals are spayed/neutered, but there might be exceptions due to safety or medical reasons. Spaying or neutering a bird and certain reptiles is not routine surgery and can be riskier.  There are other ways to prevent litters which should be done under the guidance of experts with highly responsible pet parents.

This is a controversial topic we touched on last week and you need to do your homework for your individual pet and their breed, but an experienced vet can spay and neuter at an age as young as 6-8 weeks old. The risks involved with anesthesia may be slightly greater at this age.  Older females that are not spayed are at risk too. There is generally no other age limit for the procedure as long as your pet is healthy and the vet’s skills play a role.  My dogs were neutered around 6 months of age and personally I don’t advise earlier than that.

Please prevent this, but if it did happen, the suggested time for animals that have recently given birth is about 2 weeks after the young have been weaned and the mother’s milk has dried up. Pups and kittens should stay with mom for 12 weeks as they learn valuable behaviour from mom.

Even though spay and neutering are major surgical procedures, they are some of the most common procedures done by vets.  As with any surgery, there are risks associated with anesthesia and potential surgical complications. The overall occurrence of these risks is very rare.

During a spay or neuter surgery, the animal is fully anesthetized, so they feel no pain. Afterward, some animals seem to experience some discomfort temporarily, but with pain medication, discomfort may not be experienced at all.

Although possible, most vets will probably advise against spaying a female in heat due to more swelling and a higher risk of bleeding. This surgery may take longer and be more expensive.

Apart from the usual veterinary advice like keeping your pet still and keeping the wound clean, you also need to phone your vet the moment you think something is not right and keep the freshly-neutered males away from non-spayed females for some time. According to, most spay and neuter skin incisions are fully healed within about 10–14 days, which coincides with the time that stitches or staples, if any, will need to be removed.

When it comes to male neuters for various species, after the testicles are removed, it takes time for all of the residual sperm to clear out of the pipes. Ask your vet how long, but some sources suggest days to weeks. During this time, a freshly-neutered male can possibly still impregnate females.

It probably depends on what you spend money on and whether your pet’s health is a priority to you. The cost of spaying or neutering depends on the sex, size, and age of the pet, your veterinarian’s fees, and a few other factors. Remember that spay or neuter surgery is a one-time cost and the cost far outweighs the cost of health-related issues due to not spaying and neutering, or raising litters. There are many opportunities to do this at more affordable rates and adoption fees include it!

In general, spaying tends to be more expensive than neutering. Spaying involves opening your dog or cat’s stomach to access the animal’s reproductive organs whereas neutering is less complex.

The cost may vary from town to town, but according to, the average cost of a spay in South Africa is around R1350 for a female cat and around R1800 to a crazy R4000 for a female dog. Neuters can cost around R750-R1000 for a male cat and around R1200 – R2500 for a male dog.

Do YOU have some questions or bad excuses about spaying and neutering?

(Shared by Spay & Neuter SA)

MYTH: If I’m a responsible owner who keeps my animals from wandering around, I don’t need to sterilize my animals.
FACT: Accidents happen……you know that guy called Murphy? We have countless cases where another unsterilized animal got into that yard and guess what……a litter was born.

MYTH: My pet will get fat and lazy.
FACT: Pets get fat and lazy because their owners feed them too much food and don’t exercise them enough. Choosing a diet that is species-appropriate and suited to the health and lifestyle of your pet is important to prevent weight gain.

MYTH: She needs to have one litter before she is spayed.

FACT: This is factually, medically, and ethically indefensible. Many veterinarians and more recent research recommend that animals are spayed before their first heat cycle (before the age of 7 months or so). This drastically reduces the risk of mammary tumors later in life and prevents uterine infections and unwanted pregnancy. Pregnancy can put unnecessary stress on your pet’s body. There may be exceptions.

MYTH: My children should experience the miracle of birth.
FACT: Even if children can see a pet give birth, which is unlikely, since it usually occurs at night and in seclusion, the lesson they will learn is that animals can be created and discarded as it suits adults. Instead, it should be explained to children that the real miracle is life and that preventing the birth of some pets by spaying and neutering, we can save the lives of others.

MYTH: It was an unexpected litter.
FACT:  If your pets are not sterilized, you can totally expect it!

MYTH: A pet’s behaviour changes dramatically after surgery.
FACT: The spaying and neutering will most likely not alter your pet’s basic personality which is mainly determined by the breed and a few other factors. It can result in some behavioural changes, but usually for the better! Spraying and lifting their legs by males might continue if they developed the behaviour before the surgery or while their male sex hormone levels diminish after surgery which can be a few weeks. Spaying and neutering does not affect a dog’s instinct to protect the home and family.

MYTH: We don’t need to neuter males, because they aren’t the ones having the litters.
FACT: This is the most prevalent myth yet the most ridiculous. It takes two to tango in case you missed biology class. A female can have one litter at a time, but the same male can impregnate many females in a short time.

Do YOU have some questions or bad excuses about spaying and neutering?

One of the worst excuses I have heard is that preventing pets from having litters is unnatural and that if God thought it was a problem, he would make them sterile.  The fact is that we have already interfered with nature by domesticating dogs, cats, and other animals. We domesticated the dog 15 000 years ago and the cat 8 000 years ago. In doing so, we helped create this problem. Now it’s our responsibility to solve it. It’s also unnatural to be killing so many of them in our pounds and shelters each year. You can’t blame the shelters, but you should blame breeders and dealers of any kind.

I’ll find good homes for all the puppies and kittens; we want just one litter.

The whole overpopulation crisis is caused by this line of thinking (or lack of thinking). You may find homes for all of your pet’s litter, but each home you find means one less home for the dogs and cats in shelters. Also, in less than one year, each of your pet’s offspring may have his or her own litter, adding even more animals to the population. The problem of pet overpopulation is created and perpetuated one litter at a time.

Spaying and neutering is too expensive. Whatever the actual price, spay or neuter surgery is a one-time cost and a relatively small cost when compared to all the benefits.  It’s a bargain compared to the cost of having a litter and ensuring the health of the mother and litter, to treat cancers or injuries from fights.  There are many well-priced spaying and neutering opportunities if you look for them.

My dog is purebred and they do not end up in shelters. Wrong darling, in the last few years purebreds in shelters, have increased drastically to around 25%, or even more by now. It is sad that you value one life more than another.

I can’t look my pet in the eyes and castrate or spay them.  How about looking into the eyes of the animals in shelters who will be humanely killed because people didn’t sterilize their pets? Did you know that about 2800 healthy animals are euthanized (humanely killed) DAILY IN SA?

Do YOU have some questions or bad excuses about spaying and neutering?

Image: Pixabay

Changing the fate of animals and the massive overpopulation crisis resolves around three principles namely spaying and neutering, education, and stricter and enforced laws for those who don’t respond to being asked nicely.  No breeding can be “responsible” when we have a massive overpopulation crisis.

  • Spay & neuter your pets.
  • Share, educate & advocate for it.
  • Donate to spay & neuter campaigns.
  • Support petitions and legislation on the topic.
  • Don’t support animal dealers, breeders, or pet shops that fuel the overpopulation crisis.
  • Keep your animals safe in your yard.
  • Adopt from reputable organizations. This is the only ethical option!

We cannot adopt our way out of this massive overpopulation crisis and we can’t save the animals as fast as breeders are breeding them.  Please help us change lives, by spaying and neutering your pets to prevent unwanted litters. You can also help by educating others on this topic and by not supporting free animal ads, breeders in any form, pet shops, or animal brokers.


Source: The Bulletin

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Pet New Years Resolutions – part 3


Image: Pixabay

Pet New Years Resolutions – part 3

Your pets can be healthier and happier in 2024 with some or all of these pawsome pet new year’s resolutions!

A new year brings new goals and more than 300 days of opportunity for you and your pet to bond, develop healthier habits and discover new ways to live a full life. Your pet can live a better tomorrow with your help. An important first step is to avoid becoming overwhelmed thinking you need to make big changes overnight. Baby steps in the right direction are the way to go. The important thing is to make a plan and move steadily forward.

Re-publication: Originally published 18 January 2023


  • Keep toxic substances like medications, cleaning or gardening products, alcohol and toxic plants out of reach.
  • Just because a pet shop or vet sells something, doesn’t make it safe. Buy safe bedding and toys made of natural material without strong smells.
  • Clean their food and water bowls daily. We prefer stainless steel bowls to plastic.
  • Be careful about cleaning products, non-stick pans, air fresheners, or perfumes and candles you use that can affect your pets.
  • Resolve to take the time to safely secure your dog in the car on all car trips, regardless of the length of the journey. Never leave them alone in a car!
  • Start firework preparation before the festivities catch you unprepared.
  • Secure your yard so it is safe and so that pets can’t escape or get poisoned from the street.
  • Keep your cats safe in your yard.
  • Make sure there is proper shelter from all the elements.
  • Have a safe space in your home that belongs to them.


Since our pets spend the most time at home or in the garden, we should do our best to build them safe, entertaining places to rest and play. Make sure all potentially harmful plants or substances are out of reach. Create some nice hiding places and vertical territory for your pets to enjoy and explore. Learn more about zoopharmacognosy, which allows your pet to self-select remedies that best soothe them, especially during periods of anxiety.


Be better prepared for the unexpected. This is a healthy habit and can save you a lot of worries later. Pet owners can now choose from a variety of pet insurance plans that meet their needs and fit every budget.


What do you think your senior pet wants to do before crossing the Rainbow Bridge? You can make the last phase of your pet’s life memorable by compiling and completing a list of activities that will have their tail wagging and your heart soaring. Prepare in advance to navigate the Rainbow Bridge journey and making the tough but kind decision to euthanize your pet.


Image by The Paw Company


  • adopt or foster a pet
  • donate to a rescue or shelter
  • donate pet products like beds, towels, bowls, leashes, collars or food
  • volunteer at a shelter
  • say thank you to rescuers (and a vet)
  • take a shelter dog for a walk
  • sign a few petitions to help us save more animals
  • share lost and found animal posts to improve their chances of being reunited with their owners
  • join a specific cause like “stop fireworks”, “say no to the circus” or sterilizations campaigns


Animals can pick up on our energies. We see how sensitive animals are to our emotional state. They get excited when we are or try to comfort you if you are down by climbing on your lap. If you’re continuously agitated or angry when you come home, this could negatively affect your pet’s emotional state. Maybe a good New Year’s resolution idea this year is to learn how to have balanced energy before coming home to see your furry family. Even though a walk might do you good, maybe not attempt it on a day that you are angry or frustrated or not in the mood because you might ruin the experience for your pet.

Keep in mind that barking, humping and digging for example are natural behaviours, but don’t allow your pet to do things if it frustrates you as this will not be good for either of you. There are alternative and healthy ways to deal with such natural behaviours.


Identify what type of pet sitter service you need. Start your search as soon as possible, ask for referrals and interview potential sitters. For us, a big factor (apart from being trustworthy) is someone who has training in pet first aid (behaviour and grooming are a bonus) and who has professional documentation (forms and terms & conditions). List your pet sitter at your vet.


If you are planning to get a new pet, please do your homework in advance about the specie and their needs. It is important that the animal and breed you choose fit with your family’s energy levels and lifestyle. Please do not support breeders who fuel this massive overpopulation crisis, so opt to adopt from reputable organizations that include home checks, a contract and sterilization.


Image by The Paw Company


Only visit True Sanctuaries and say no to those that offer animal rides, interaction, walk with, pet, or taking of photos with the animals.

  • Use your birthday to raise donations for a reputable animal shelter by asking friends and families to donate or let your wedding registry be donations to an animal shelter.
  • Organize a community clean-up because plastic and other trash are harmful to the environment and animals.
  • Support the life in your backyard like the small ecosystems, and animals and insects that live around your home.
  • Say no to pesticides and poisons because poisoning rats and other animals influences the natural food chain.

Choose to wear it kind by buying and wearing clothing ethically. Avoid leather, fur and wool and try sustainable, animal-friendly alternatives because their lives matter! Don’t buy products that are tested on animals. You can find the approved beauty brands on the Humane Guide.


This is one we really want you to help us with! Try and share an educational post about animals regularly to help others learn more about animal care and welfare. Advocate for the voiceless and the unheard, especially about topics like breeding, selling, petting farms, the circus and fireworks.


Almost done. You have your pet and you have decided to make some pet-positive changes in the new year. You even have some great ideas now for pawsome resolutions. To execute these resolutions though, there needs to be detailed goals and an easy plan to follow every day. It is important to create a plan that you can stick to. Consider asking a friend to check in with and make sure you are keeping to those resolutions. Maybe start a calendar and write down the days and the goals. The most important part…..get excited!

Do you have a New Year’s resolution for your pet? Are you sticking to them?


Source: The Bulletin