The COVID puppy boom has ended and hundreds of lovable dogs are being surrendered as a result of unethical “backyard breeding”, said Paws it Forward.
“Now, on the other side of the pandemic, our reality is that people were (and still are) breeding dogs faster than we can save them,” said the Kelowna-based non-profit dog rescue.
Paws it Forward recently took in 24 golden retrievers that were surrendered by a breeder and will be accepting more in the coming weeks. These pups add to the already “desperate” situation facing shelters and rescues due to an overwhelming number of surrenders over the past six months.
The BC SPCA has also seen an influx in surrenders from unethical breeders, taking in 21 goldens earlier this month.
“The BC SPCA is dealing with a record number of large-scale intakes of dogs and puppies,” said Eileen Drever, senior officer, protection and stakeholder relations for the BC SPCA.
“Individuals who set up breeding operations during COVID are closing down their operations.”
Charlotte, a volunteer on the board of directors with Paws it Forward said that unethical breeders saw the potential to make money and capitalized by having more puppies. Now that people aren’t looking for puppies at the same rate as they were during lockdown, there has been an explosion of surrendered dogs after breeders got stuck with aging dogs that people no longer want to buy.
“We really need more regulations for breeders,” said Charlotte. “It was scary to see so many people capitalizing.”
Many of the golden retriever pups rescued by Paws it Forward require surgery to correct a painful condition caused by poor genetics called eyelid entropion, where their tiny eyelashes grow into the eyes.
A reputable breeder will likely not have a litter of puppies available for purchase right away and you will have to go on a waiting list to ensure that the pups all have a home before they are even born.
You should always be able to meet the puppy’s parents and visit all of the places where the dogs live.
Charlotte said that unethical breeders may stage an area for visits but not allow people into where all the other dogs are kept. She has seen dogs being over-bred while kept in improper environments.
Breeders should have a strong relationship with a respected vet who completes genetic testing for the parents and regular checkups and care for all the dogs.
For a comprehensive list of what to look for in a breeder, Charlotte recommends the Island Animal Hospital: How to Choose a Good Breeder , as a resource.
She also said that not all business who call themselves ‘rescues’ are ethical. Charlotte suggests asking a trusted vet about their recommendations and said that a responsible rescue will have contracts, an agreement to take back the animal if required, references and will perform house checks prior to adoption.
“This is a conversation that needs to happen for change and for people to be held accountable for those that can’t speak.”
Paws it forward is hosting a meet and greet puppy event on Feb. 18, at Tail Blazers Kelowna from 10a.m. until 2p.m.
The rescue is also looking for more fosters and forever homes for their dogs.