Compassion Fatigue

I realize why I have been so anxious and shaky lately. I see shelters filled, rescues overflowing, and animals being euthanized for no reason other than there is no room.

My chest is always tight, and I tear up when I see the result of mistreatment. I get over it and think ‘I’m doing as much as I can.’ I focus on breathing and I recover.

Heather Hamilton Compassion FatigueAnd then I hear about someone wanting to breed. Not reputable breeders, but just some random person who doesn’t know anything. Some random person who wants ‘for their kids to experience the miracle of life’ or ‘I want one of my dog’s puppies’.  I hear it every day. ‘My dog is cute, I should breed her’ or ‘I have papers, so I need to breed her. It’s my responsibility’ or ‘I want to make some money’… the list goes on.

It starts over and I have a panic attack. WHY do I have to be so sensitive?! I want to toughen up and not let things like this affect me so much. I want to scream and cry and hit someone. I want to shake them and force them to watch the pink juice go into animal after animal so they understand what they are doing is filling up shelters. I can’t breathe because of other people’s ignorance. I can’t sleep and feel sick. It’s happening again, and I can’t stop.

I have visited 2 shelters this week, and I’m going to another one in a couple days. I want to take all these ‘breeders’ with me and shove this in their face. I can’t stop shaking I’m so mad. My heart won’t stop pounding. I can’t breathe and the tears won’t stop.

I look at Jinx and know I saved her life. Not only that, but I see she has been bred. She has been mistreated and someone did wrong by her. She should never have been bred, but she was. Where are her puppies? Probably in a shelter or dead. Not only It is ignorant or stupid, but abuse. I don’t show her I feel this way.  I am a strong leader, and I have to her show confidence, rather than pity. I can feel weak and sad for her on my own time. She has to learn how to handle different situations and looks to me for guidance. I show her how I want her to act. That is confident, stable, balanced and strong. She’ll get there, but I can’t let her see me this way. She will feel it, and it will cause anxiety, fear, and for her to be unsure and concerned.

These PEOPLE want to breed because a ‘pomsky’ is the new, cutsie dog. People want to make a quick buck off of some backyard poorly-bred puppies. They are sold for hundreds or thousands each. No pedigree lines have been proven. No papers. They are not a ‘real’ breed. Does that make them any less of a dog or worth less? No, but that means these people are contributing to the vicious cycle of life and death. If people would spay and neuter their animals, we would have less of a problem. If people were responsible and did their research, they would see this isn’t a good idea. Do they care? No. They only care about money and making cute puppies.

Heather Hamilton Compassion FatigueInbreeding, puppy mills, overbreeding, and pet stores run rampant. The doggie parents were not given prenatal care or vet checkups for the pups. The males didn’t have proper fertilization tests done. The females had problems during pregnancy because the inexperienced ‘breeder’ failed to provide proper care during delivery. No health checks were provided, so dogs who have cancer, hip dysplasia, arthritis, gastrointestinal problems or heart problems are bred. Puppies die. Genetics get worse, and our ‘reputable’ breeds are hurt. They are have to raise their prices because of all the bad lines. They have to work harder to find good lines for their operation.

Cross breeds are made and then designer breeds are born.  Health problems occur and the animals are bred again. Puppies are given up on and end up in the shelter because of behavioral problems. Then killed because lack of space. Most puppies don’t make it to their 2nd birthday because of this cycle.

See the trend? It doesn’t end. Recently I have come across many ‘breeders’, and people pretending to be a rescue while they are also breeding. It has been quite a lot in the last week. That, with visiting the shelter has been emotionally exhausting. I have to ‘buck up’ and handle it because this is my life now. What can I do, other than volunteer with shelters, offer training to people who have adopted dogs from shelters, and spread the word about non-responsible breeding and puppy mills? I feel like what I do is never enough.

I want to call everyone out. I want to educate and yell and punch someone’s face in. But I won’t. Because I am a professional and have to hold my tongue. I have to educate in a ‘smile and bear it’ kind of way. Even when those people spit in my face.  Apparently, I have compassion fatigue. It’s a real thing. Look it up.

Danes and Breeding

BlackGreatDaneWe have been looking and looking and looking for a Great Dane puppy for over a year. It’s more passively looking, as we don’t really support breeding, we want to rescue. With all the knowledge I have about dogs, training, and medical issues, I still feel like I am under-qualified to breed. I will always feel that way, unless I had a degree in Canine Genetics and Animal Behavior. I would need to know so much about the anatomy and medical problems of the breed I chose, that I wouldn’t have room in my head to do anything else. And besides that, how do I guarantee the safety and wellness of the puppies who go to homes?

I can’t. So, I don’t breed. I won’t.

White Dane

Lily, the blind Great Dane

There are some good breeders out there, and I know a few. But at the same time, our rescues are full. Our shelters are full, and there are SO MANY backyard breeders just making puppies without a thought to what this could do to the gene pool for that breed.

White puppies. Blind puppies. Deaf puppies. DEAD puppies.

This is what happens when breeders breed irresponsibly. Without doing the research. Without knowing the breed. Without doing knowing genetics, doing anatomy research, without checking the pedigree for a few generations up for each the dame and the sire.

These backyard breeders damage our dogs. They overbreed, they inbreed, they breed for the wrong reasons.

‘So my kids can see the miracle of life..’
‘So my kids can play with little puppies…’
‘Puppies are cute, everyone wants puppies..’
‘To make money’
‘My neighbor has a yorkie. I have a yorkie. Let’s breed them.’
‘I want a puppy, and this is how I can one…’

Great_Dane_PuppyThe list goes on of excuses. Never do I hear ‘To improve the breed’. Which is the correct reason to breed. Would you breed your children for any of the reasons above? If so… maybe you should think about your priorities.

Again, there are good breeders out there… just few and far between. Which brings me back to my original point. Great Danes. My husband and I (ok, mostly me) want one so badly. We are aware of all their genetic health problems. We know the risks, and know our dog won’t be around for as long as, say, a lab. But – unfortunately, they are still my favorite breed.

Over the course of 1 year: Many dogs we considered, we proceeded into the adoption paperwork about 4 of them. All fell through. Found out my neighbor is having puppies. Asked some questions. Found out the mom is a Merle. Dad is Black. No pedigree history, they won’t give me pictures. They aren’t registered breeders.

Worst of all: Breeding a Merle Dane can produce sensory defect pups or stillborn pups.

Merles should not be bred by anyone with only a handful of exceptions. The reason is not just the risk of sensory defects, since responsible breeding of appropriate colors can virtually eliminate that risk. Merles can’t be shown or evaluated by impartial third parties. Only someone who has been showing and breeding for decades and has a VERY compelling reason as well as the knowledge and experience to judge a dog’s faults and strengths accurately could even begin to responsibly breed a merle dog.

Doesn’t sound like that is the case… again… I’m puppy-less.

Danepuppy