AKC Gazette Columns

AKC Gazette - January 1997

No, Not in a Pet Shop!

The dreaded thought of a BMD in a pet shop is now a reality (At least three puppy mills have added us to their inventory.) The faulty puppy was sold without regard to whether it was sold to the right home. Neither parent has been OFA’d. The breeder, who supplied pet shops for years, got them despite careful screening. If rescue had bought the pup, another would have taken its place. Instead, we must prevent breeding stock from getting into the mills in the first place.

Puppy millers buying breeding dogs skillfully field questions about how they'll use the dog. Breeders should ask for references from the local humane society and all-breed club and the buyer's veterinarian to confirm the number of dogs owned and whether the buyer is a breeder or pet owner, and should have local club members check out prospective buyers. Even driving by their home gives some clues, and sincere, honest people would welcome meeting a local Berner owner.

The Bernese Mountain Dog Club of America (BMDCA) code of ethics says, "No member shall sell adults or puppies to any known retail or wholesale pet outlet." Preventing such sales is one way to avoid problems. The advisability of selling pets on limited registration and spay/neuter contracts becomes increasingly apparent.

Contracts should require that the buyer not sell the dog or its offspring to pet shops, brokers or those dealing in litter lot sales, or offer a male at stud to anyone intending to supply such places. But trying to enforce a contract is much more difficult, risky and expensive than a presale investigation.

Another threat is the possibility that the puppy bought by a well intentioned family will later be sold or placed in an undesirable situation. A contract that requires that the breeder be asked to help relocate the dog provides an opportunity for the breeder to assist in screening.

Only by our vigilance will the horizon not be clouded by BMDs sold in pet shops and pet owners who become breeders by selling a litter through newspaper ads. The bumper sticker urging BUY FROM A BREEDER may steer people away from pet shops, but it doesn't steer them to reputable breeders.

BMDCA rescue coordinator Beth Friichtenicht (2386 lO5th, Aledo, IL 61231; 309-596-2633) reports that over the past five years, about 30 BMDs a year have needed rescue. These dogs are being sold without careful investigation to exclude buyers whose intentions are contrary to the welfare of the breed or the individual dog. Indiscriminate breeding and selling will increase the number of BMDs needing rescue.

On an up note, over 65 BMDs and their families took part in the second annual Berner Walk Oct. 4 in Ridgefield, I:, Conn., part of the celebration of the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, whose beautiful prayer speaks to all denominations and is eloquently underscored by the warm brown eyes of a Berner. Information about this wonderful event can be obtained from organizer and BMDCA member Nancy Bullard (59 West Rd., South Salem, NY 10590; 914-533-2724).

To celebrate the BMDC of Southeastern Wisconsin's 20th birth- day, the BMDCA will hold a regional March 1 in conjunction with combined specialty clubs of Greater Milwaukee at the state fairgrounds in West Allis. The judges are Jane Mielke (breed), Mary Alice Eschweiller (sweeps) and David Denis (obedience). On Sunday there's a BMDCA supported entry at the Cudahy K.C. show at the same site; our judge is Constance Barton. Contact show chair Mark Milligan (414-822-8174) or get a planning booklet from Marian Fenlon (414- 426-1131). And have a Bernerly New Year!

-]ulie Crawford, 26391 May Twilley Road, Delmar. MD 21875.