A good friend and highly respected breeder of Aussies, Alison Smith (Paradox Australian Shepherds, Massachusetts) has recently developed a blog The Local Dog in response to the growing negative associations being made about purebred dog breeding. As in any activity there is a continuum of ways of going about things from small-scale, careful responsible breeding (which I strive to do) through casual backyard-breeding-for pocket change, through to large corporate puppy mills. Unfortunately there is often no distinction made between these vastly differing producers of dogs. As a result the growing opposition to large scale puppy production and the growing animal rights movement that aims not to improve animal welfare but to restrict or end pet ownership, can sweep everyone with dogs up in their indiscriminate net.
Most disappointing on an individual basis is this: I can be called 'evil' simply by virtue of the fact that I produce purebred puppies (once every 2-3 years) and sell those puppies. I don't ship to strangers. I don't sell puppies via paypal or Visa?MC. I treat the decision on who gets a puppy much like a true adoption, doing vet checks and getting references on prospective buyers, using spay/neuter contracts, and by writing contracts that protect not only me but the puppy (most importantly) and the puppy purchaser. And yet I can be the subject of nasty tshirts that say how evil we breeders are. This sort of sentiment fuels anti-pet legislation. Make no mistake, the bills being brought up in various states are not written to protect animals from abuse (even if some of the lawmakers think that is what they are doing). They are written to reduce your ability to choose a carefully researched pet. The paradox here is that these laws will ultimately penalize MY type of breeder; mill breeders will simply do the costly licensing and continue to breed an THOSE are the puppies that end up in purebred rescue or shelters across this great land, the puppies sold to whomever walks through the pet store's doors, the puppy with no breeder support offered to owners when a problem or question arises, the puppy with the serious health issues that can result from the early environment or lack of health clearances on sire and dam.
This is also not about purebreds vs mixed breeds and certainly not about whether purebreds are superior to mixed breeds. They are not, they are simply different.
The Local Dog concept is basically this: If you are looking for a puppy of a specific breed, seek out the local breeder who welcomes you into their home to see the puppies and dam, who clearly is concerned with where THEIR puppies end up, whose actions and contracts endeavor to prevent any puppy bred by them from ever ending up in a shelter. The breeder who does not sell to or through brokers or other third parties, who expects to be a resource for the life of the dog. The concept also is intended to encourage breeders of quality dogs to reach out to newcomers and prospective owners when they come to dog events to learn about a breed or meet breeders. There is no question some people end up with milled puppies because of a perception of exclusivity, snobbery or arrogance on the part of show breeders they've experienced. These are the puppy buyers who want our dogs but can be easily turned away by a bad attitude from a careless exhibitor.
At any rate Alison can say it better than I and so I strongly suggest you look at her blog. (You can easily subscribe to her posts too). She is a good writer and not remotely reactionary. She is discussing a subject most of you who are reading this, should take some interest in since you are seeking out info about MY favorite dog, Australian shepherds. You too can be the subject of the growing negative feelings being pushed concerning purebred dogs and dog ownership in general. Please take a look!