Does Your New Puppy Have Strings Attached?

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When a Newbie Comes With Baggage

You’re bringing home a new puppy! Puppieeeees! Oh, the joy and excitement of a new, innocent life to add to yours, to nurture and care for and share your heart and hearth with.

But wait – are there strings attached? What did that contract you signed say, again? Spay or neuter within six months? Vaccinate three more times with a combo wombo shot? Feed a particular brand of kibble?

Oh oh.

Who’s in charge here, anyway?

I recently had a couple of run-ins with the law.

Oh, not like that, just a couple of clients who recently acquired new bundles of joy with legal strings attached. The sellers both wanted to have say in how these new family members would be raised. I was called upon for counsel, as both clients wanted to raise the healthiest, most vital animals they could and the contracts they signed were, well, pushing them in another direction.

We can learn from these experiences (and probably your own, if you tell us in the comments below this post).

Fundamental Q: Who Owns the Rights to Your Dog’s Health Care?

When you’ve studied about the ill effects that neutering has been proven to cause, you may now, like me, think twice about chopping out ovaries or testicles from your new bundle of joy. You’ve assessed your ability to prevent unwanted pregnancies, your willingness to go through heat cycles a couple times a year if your pup is a girl, and you’ve decided:

I’m responsible. I can do what it takes to ensure no unintended offspring come as a result of my keeping this animal intact.

When you’ve learned that vaccinations are the most significant decision you’ll make in the life of your animal, you’ve boldly stepped out of a paradigm. You don’t want to live with life long chronic disease or sink into the murky quagmire called vaccinosis.

Similarly, you’ve got clear ideas about not poisoning your dear one with flea pesticides or heartworm pesticides. Poisons just aren’t compatible with healthy vital animals.

So, with all of that knowledge and desire to do the very best natural rearing with your new animal, how do you square that with a seller’s desires to have control over your well thought out decisions?

Let’s talk rights here, as that’s what it ultimately comes down to, isn’t it?

  • When you buy a new car, does the dealer get to call the shots about whether you wash it at a certain place or garage it or never drive it over 80 mph? Vrrrooom, “So long, guys!”
  • When you add new furniture to your home, does it come with an agreement that Sadie the dog doesn’t get to sleep on that couch? “Hey, c’mon up here next to me, girl, we’re watching your favorite movie, The Incredible Journey!”
  • Have you ever bought a new computer and had the company who made it tell you there were only certain things you were allowed to do with it? “Whoa, look what happens when I hit these four keys together! Cool!”

The Pavement of Good Intentions

A surprising amount of damage is done to animals in the name of prevention. In fact, I think I can safely say, after 35 years in veterinary practice, that all the illness we see in our animals came about from misguided prevention practices. Some of it is inherited, but the parents or grandparents got ill via the same mistakes in “prevention” that you’re trying to avoid in your newbie.

What goes through the minds of those who sell you that pup or kitten or foal? Well meaning intentions, likely. But if they live in a different paradigm and haven’t looked at the correlation between vaccination and allergies, kibble and lackluster health, neutering and cancer, and heartworm drugs and autoimmune diseases, how much should you have to follow their wishes? If you’ve been doing your homework here and elsewhere and they are locked into those old beliefs of prevention, I don’t think they’ve got a right to decide your animal’s life journey for you.

That well intentioned pavement leads to a hot, uncomfortable place, and you’ll be the one to bear the burden, not them. So, how to navigate this somewhat tricky terrain?

As I pointed out in my 10 Steps to a Vital Puppy page, you are wise to start early when you want a pup who’s had the least damaging influences possible before you take her under your wing. Review these points and see if your breeder will go along.

When a contract comes your way, remember, a contract is a legal document, and what you sign to, you are responsible to do. But, there are some practical considerations as well. Let’s look at my two recent experiences through the eyes of new dog buyers in my practice.

What’s a Puppy Buyer to Do?

Gracie drove to a distant state to pick up a rare breed of dog that she’d had her eye on for months. The traits of this breed were a perfect fit for her needs on her ranch, so she contacted the breeder and started discussions about what her hopes were for her new bundle of love.

Here’s what she learned, from dealing with someone with a whole lot of education, years of raising this particular breed, but little to no understanding of holistic health principals.

  1. Start the vaccine discussion early. The earlier the better, and, if they are planning to vaccinate, be respectful but ask that your pup be spared. Gracie said, “In light of new research coming out on vaccines, I want to explore single antigen vaccines spaced out in time, once your pup comes home with me.” A white lie, as Gracie’s plan is zero vaccines! [Hopefully, with the lists of natural rearing breeders, that won’t be an issue for you.]
  2. Adopt a firm, confident tone. “I’ve known people who’ve done this successfully and I work closely with my vet, who I respect and trust on health matters.”
  3. See if reality is matching promises. Check in to verify this. In Gracie’s case, nosodes for parvo and distemper were sent to the breeder early, along with Transfer Factor. At pickup time, Gracie learned they’d not actually been given.
  4. Choose your battles. In this case, raw food discussions weren’t going to be on the table. The breeder was set in his ways and actually named a brand of kibble he wanted the pup to get at home! So, the take away: say nothing, don’t polarize and risk losing the pup of your dreams. When you get home, feed the best you know how to. Gracie feeds raw to her lucky pup.
  5. If the breed standard is to dock tails or crop ears, you need to be proactive, firm, and kind, explaining that you’d like to avoid these procedures. As tails are docked very early in life, you’ll want to reiterate that as whelping gets closer. It’d be all too easy to “forget” in the heat of snipping body parts!
Learn from Outliers

Here’s an interesting aside from this pup’s story. The rest of the litter were vaccinated for the usual combo of puppy stuff, with a 5-way vaccine (distemper, parvo, lepto, hepatitis, parainfluenza). Sheba, her pup, was not, thankfully. Two to three days later, the whole litter had diarrhea. Not Sheba.

Coincidence? I think not.

Rescued from Rescue

My other client, I’ll call her Vrinda, had a variation on this theme, as her new family member had been turned in to a rescue organization as a yearling. She had a history of puppy shots, and, as is all too often the standard in shelters, she got these all over again upon arrival.

Vrinda knew Tracie would never get another vaccination on her watch, as she’d recently been through two elder dogs with chronic disease that we’d struggled with for some months before each finally died.

Good news/bad news

The good and bad news was that Tracie was still intact, and Vrinda took her, signing a contract that stipulated she’d need to get Tracie spayed within three months of ownership.

  • Good news: less chance of future cancer, incontinence, knee ligament rupture, and hypothyroidism when ovaries are present. See the research to own this.
  • Bad news: rescue organizations see way too many animals, and tend to see the problem as purely a lack of neutering. Often a “my way or the highway” attitude, end of discussion.

More bad news was what brought Tracie in as my patient. She had itchy/twitchy skin, hot red ears and red eyes, and was both skittish and aggressive. She’d lunge at dogs on walks, and she was a big dog! She’d even lunged at welcomed visitors and punched a few with her muzzle. Gulp.

So, we’ve been working on her with homeopathy, and Vrinda just told me of a breakthrough with her latest remedy, but it was obvious to both of us that “instant menopause” was not in Tracie’s best interest now, if ever.

What did we do when the pressure came to get her in for a spay? Vrinda got a letter of waiver from me and from a local holistic vet, both agreeing that neutering was not in Tracie’s best interests at this time.

So far, so good. A deposit check to insure this spay happened was cashed. Probably end of story.

Paving With Better Intentions

You are the one who’ll live with the consequences of your health decisions for the life of your newbie. Be wise, and know that sometimes that may mean breaking a contract. When you get this animal home and think long term about raising the most vital animal you can, it’s entirely appropriate to rethink the contract you signed.

Weigh the consequences, make the decisions you can live with. Have compassion for the intent of your breeder or rescuer. They truly believe their stipulations are in the animal’s best interests. It’s like having compassion for those who, looking out at the horizon, are sure the Earth must be flat. It really looks that way until you get up in a plane.

If the consequences include seizure of your animal, consider how likely that is. In these two cases, it’s not, one now living several states away from the breeder, the other firm in her decision and with the backing of two veterinarians.

In short, if you are well read, confident, and firm in your intentions to make your animal vitally healthy for a long joyful life with you, you’ll mindfully raise your foundling, contracts be damned.

Have you been through this process? Tell us in the comments how you navigated it and kept your values intact.

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  1. YouArentFoolingAnyone on April 23, 2019 at 1:00 pm

    Let’s face it: spay/neuter contracts are all about controlling the market because at the end of the day it is all about money. The excuses are abound as to why I’m wrong and it’s not about the money, “Oh I invest so much into each puppy. It’s HARD work!” Lmao yeah right. Vet checks for new litters, quality food for 4 weeks, and socialization is all a drop in the bucket compared to what some of these breeders are taking home with each litter. They just don’t want competition so they don’t allow breeding rights. I would know, I breed dogs but I do not have a spay/neuter contract. While it is important to keep within the breed standards when breeding, it is not my business what someone chooses to do with their dog that they paid for. Fellow breeders: cut the crap cake.

  2. Wynn on February 22, 2018 at 1:02 am

    I have an AKC limited registered pup that I purchased with a spay/neuter contract for 6-9 months. Since then, I’ve been researching and now feel very against neutering my pup for his health, at least at only 6-9 months old. I’m wondering if I truly have to honor this contract? I feel like I’m signing his death warrant getting him neutered, now that I know what I know. I completely respect my breeder’s work and effort she puts into her breeding program, and I want to honor her. However, my pup’s health is most important to me. I have NO intention of breeding him. I am very responsible and just want him with me a long time. I’m supposed to send her a copy of the neuter paperwork, and I feel like my hands are tied. Any advice?

    • Will Falconer, DVM on February 22, 2018 at 7:09 pm

      Totally with you, Wynn. I would just act in the pup’s best interests and ignore any further paperwork or discussion. It’s ultimately YOU who now lives with this guy and that means the health outcomes from each decision you make.

  3. Lauren on July 19, 2017 at 8:02 pm

    I am also looking at getting the pup of my dreams, but am nervous the breeder has a spay/neuter contract for me to sign.
    I DO NOT want to spay this pup until 2 years old.
    How do I get out of this contract??????
    Do I sign the contract anyway and then proceed to get a wavier by a vet????
    I don’t want to lose the opportunity since these dogs are rare…..

    • Will Falconer, DVM on July 22, 2017 at 5:47 pm

      Hey Lauren,
      I’d worry more about buying a “rare” dog breed. That equates to a small gene pool in my mind, which usually means “marrying your first cousin,” and you know that never turns out well. You could be spared a lot of grief and illness if you look for a natural rearing breeder of a breed that’s more popular. Or, even buying a mutt, with her “hybrid vigor” of unrelated parental stock.

  4. Layne Kirkpatrick on December 13, 2016 at 12:35 pm

    Okay, I understand all about not vaccinating AND I have a puppy that I want to adopt under a “foster-to-adopt” agreement from the local shelter. The puppy has had 3 rounds of the standard “puppy vaccines”. Because of the bureaucratic rules of the shelter, I was unable to save the puppy from these interventions. Following his last vaccine he has become an itchy, scratchy, constantly licky puppy.
    What do I do to help him? If I mention the itchyness to the shelter, they will want me to feed a “gastro diet” because of his “allergies”. I don’t want to go down that road. I want to resolve this pup’s problem. Is it even possible to help him now?

    • Will Falconer, DVM on December 14, 2016 at 1:45 am

      Absolutely, Layne. It’s not quick, and it’s not DIY (as you’ve now got chronic disease in your pup), but it works. Faster in youngsters recently damaged, too, so I’d jump on this sooner than later: hire a vet homeopath. Go for the cure.
      I explain how in my free Apoquel Alternatives Report. You’ll find it on your Member Home page.

  5. Pippi on June 1, 2015 at 5:27 am

    Unfortunately, the law isn’t on our side. Just a year + ago, a sick elderly dog with chronic diarrhea was dropped off at a vet’s for an examination and tests. The vet vaccinated the dog and days later it passed away. The owner, a law clerk, attempted to sue the veterinarian, brought in Dr. Jean Dodds as an expert witness. Sadly the owner lost the case. This same vet fully vaccinated a geriatric, indoor only cat with kidney failure. No one in the veterinary hospital batted an eye at his actions. I went to a senior partner who just shrugged his shoulders. I will never trust allopathic vets ever again.

  6. Lynn Whinery on May 7, 2015 at 5:11 pm

    I’ve been breeding Australian Shepherds for over 20 years. I have a questionnaire on my site with 28 questions. These questions include links to educational articles. One of the questions asks about food, and I have links to raw food articles. There is also a link to a site for packaged dog foods, like freeze dried raw. Another question is about training, with links to articles on clicker training. Yet another is about vaccines. I also email several articles on providing immunity the natural way. One question asks if they’re willing to wait until the dog is over 1 year of age to neuter.
    My contract stats that IF the rabies shot is given, it cannot be given at the time of neutering, or the contract is voided.
    I also instruct them on how to interview prospective vets, asking their views on a raw food diet and what their definition of minimal vaccines is. (I also point out that I haven’t vaccinated my dogs for 4 generations).
    I also recently got one of my dogs back at 7 years of age. I live in San Diego, he was up in Berkley. It was a tragic situation (the mother had been murdered by her estranged husband in a murder/suicide, the kids now living with elderly grandparents). and the poor dog had been horribly neglected and turned over to an animal shelter. Unfortunately he was given a ‘routine’ vaccine. His coat was 3 inches deep in mats and filth, his front feet pussy from a fungal infection. He’s been back for a couple of months now and looks like a different dog.
    I got emails from the animal shelter and two different rescue organizations who had seen him, all thanking me for taking my dog back. I’ve also received other complimentary emails from other animal shelters and rescue organizations saying that if all breeders were like me, they’d be out of a job. i wish that more animal shelters and rescues recognized that honorable breeders exist, and aren’t part of the problem!
    I view my job as being one of education. A LOT of my puppy families have turned whole-heartedly to the holistic form of health care both for their dog and for themselves. I do think it’s important to use a warm, friendly approach to this education. I’ve seen a lot of breeders & practitioners who take the approach of the zealot, which turns a lot of people off. The warm, fuzzy approach is best. 🙂

  7. Nancy on April 27, 2015 at 8:07 am

    Haven’t seen my first post so I’ll try again.
    I breed Spinone and have a contract that says pup is not to be s/n until at least 2 yrs old. Spinoni are a large breed and slow to mature. I give printed information and talk extensively with potential owners. I even refund money ($300) if they wait to s/n. Sad to say I’ve only had to do that once. All crash to their vets advice and s/n anyway.

    • Will Falconer, DVM on April 27, 2015 at 8:34 am

      It’s up near the top of the page, Nancy. I responded. Scroll up…

  8. Nancy on April 27, 2015 at 8:03 am

    I also need to add that I no longer dock tails on my litters even though the Spinone is a docked breed. As far as I know myself and one other breeder are the only Spinone breeders not docking. People have come to me for pups because I don’t dock so it’s encouraging to know there are some people trying to the best for their dogs. I’m NOT a PETA supporter. I just don’t see the necessity of chopping off body parts.

    • Will Falconer, DVM on April 27, 2015 at 8:37 am

      Change comes, one breeder, one litter at a time. I’m glad you’re leading the charge, Nancy.

  9. sue on April 1, 2015 at 2:50 pm

    I will take this a step further. The Austin Humane Society Shelter demanded that I prove, through vet records and a prescription that my CURRENT dog had up to date shots and was on heartworm medication if I wanted to adopt through them. Needless to say I was outraged. I had supported that shelter with donations as well as volunteer work promoting their fundraisers and walking dogs. Never again.

    • Will Falconer, DVM on April 1, 2015 at 3:57 pm

      Sue and Laura,
      I’ve run into this adoption roadblock more than once, and I’ve interceded on behalf of my clients. Usually, it’s a live person I talk to on the phone, explaining what “current” on vaccines really means (done years ago, still immune, damn it!”). I further assure them that these animals will be fortunate to land in this home, as my clients are dedicated to the best of health practices and notify me if they have a problem.
      As far as I recall, that’s worked every time. It just takes patience and a professional opinion to help sway them. Get your holistic vet on board, if there’s a next time.

  10. Laura Hon on March 31, 2015 at 9:38 am

    I’ve been lucky to work with a dog rescue, while mandating spaying/neutering, shots, etc., they have never pushed me or questioned my open beliefs about how I raise my pets. But we recently tried to adopt a cat from a local animal shelter who at first instantly denied our application due to the fact that our pets are unvaccinated. It took lot’s of character references from people that knew us, but the most convincing thankfully came from our conventional vet. He point blank told the shelter that even though we choose to decline vaccinations, that we are excellent pet owners and never deny vet care if needed for our pets. It seemed like we had to jump through hoops to get this cat, but I was glad they didn’t just see the situation in black and white as they initially did. Of course the kitty has a great home, and our Girl Scout troop is volunteering at this shelter now for a service project. I was really going to be mad if I ended up hating our favorite local shelter 😉

  11. L on March 31, 2015 at 8:53 am

    I have bought a pup or two from a pet shop, there is always one or two dogs that have been there way too long and they are marked down for quick sale.
    With good care I have been able to get these dogs better and they have been wonderful companions.
    I support animal shelters/rescues but they always gave me a hard time and I have on occasion been rejected by them.
    I know I am a good dog owner, so it was their loss.

  12. Ellen Olander on March 30, 2015 at 5:52 pm

    I would like to answer the mean spirited comments about rescues. I have been in rescue for many years and want to say that we are not misguided people, we are not brainwashed. We are people who go into the shit-holes called shelters in many parts of the country to save as many animals as we can. We are treated terribly by many animal control people, if we complain about the abuse of animals in shelters, we can be refused the right to enter the shelter. We are forced to undergo background checks to pull from shelters. We save animals tied to trees with 20ft chains, starving, abused,neglected, injured, sick. We spend hours and hours and many of our own resources to care for animals. We are not misguided or brainwashed, we have just seen the absolute worst side of humanity and we hate every one who treats animals so badly.
    30 years ago according to Best Friends, over 13 million animals died every year in shelters, now thru the efforts of countless rescues, the numbers are conservatively around 4 million. As a rescue I hope to see that number continue to drop.
    I understand the beliefs that responsible people will not let their animals breed so therefore they don’t spay/neuter, but I truly believe the responsible people only make up maybe .010 of all animal owners, so forgive me and those of us in rescue who will not trust people.
    Now, having said all that, I have learned much these past few years about raw feeding, I do, and the overuse of vaccines, I don’t any more for my animals. Many of us in rescue also understand that, but we are frequently powerless to not vaccinate or spay/neuter due to the regulations from States that determine what licensed rescues must do.
    So, please cut us a break and don’t trash all rescues. And I don’t know of many rescues that are run by conventional vets, they don’t have the time!

    • Nora on March 30, 2015 at 8:04 pm

      Nobody “trashed” you, dear lady. Anyone who has worked with a vet doing rescue work, as I have, knows the downside is state laws and bad pet owners, but the goal here is to flex our muscles and get bad laws changed! It’s the equivalent of Jury Nullification in a criminal case. Individuals have tremendous power, and when we work together toward the common goal of healthier, longer lives for our furry family members, our power is multiplied by orders of magnitude.
      Now on the subject of being impassioned, I think I’ve got you there. I went the route you are currently on when we were rescuing animals. I’ve seen stuff I never want to think about again. I hope you will use your passion to it’s fullest for positive change.

      • Ellen Olander on March 30, 2015 at 8:30 pm

        Thank you Nora for that rather patronizing reply. It’s good to know that you have had some involvement in rescue, altho I’m not sure what that would be from your answer. As to working to get laws changed, that is nothing like Jury Nullification in a criminal case, speaking as a retired attorney who practiced some criminal law.
        And glad to know you have bested me with your passion for rescue. I promise you that I will continue to use my passion to it’s fullest since you have encouraged me so much with your understanding and positive reinforcement!

        • Nora on March 30, 2015 at 10:13 pm

          I don’t know why you perceived it as patronizing. Jury Nullification exactly applies here, since that means that the jury is instructed to judge the law as well as the facts of the case. It’s discouraged in corrupt jurisdictions around the country because it interferes with the court system’s ability to extract the wealth from the citizens. If vaccine laws are bad, and yes they ARE, then what we need to do is educate everyone subject to them, so they will get actively involved in changing things. Vaccine “laws are written by the pharmaceutical companies, whose vested interests are at stake if we stop allowing them to poison our pets. Vaccine “laws” aren’t even laws, they’re statutes and codes, but that’s a whole ‘nother subject.
          I found a way around rescue “laws”. I paid out of pocket for all veterinary procedures and personally placed 32 animals in quality homes a year with the assistance of Ali Chouhan, DVM (deceased). He is not the only vet involved in rescue work here, either. It may be your personal opinion that vets are too busy, but the facts don’t support that, ma’am. Perhaps you, with your legal background can become part of the solution, rather than taking umbrage as if it was aimed directly at you when I complained about folks who are well intentioned, while exacerbating the problems natural-pathers encounter when they rescue or buy from a conformist breeder. I won’t apologize for wanting to get us all on the same page. This blog is called Vital Animal & The Natural Path for a reason. I live with a vaccine damaged animal, along with five others who aren’t. With that staring you in the face every day of your existence, the reality of the corrupt, industrial medical complex run by big pharma really hits home. I’m passionate about doing something about that, I’m not here to brag about all the good things I’ve done, patronize anybody or defend my beliefs, which are mainstream here. You can join us…or not.

          • natty on April 10, 2015 at 5:52 pm

            This blog and corresponding discussions should not be geared toward inclusion, but rather moving closer to a degree of truth and scientific fact. The animal ‘rescue’ industry is riddled with moral & ethical potholes. To deny that because of one rescue or one person sharing their anecdotal best intentions, is crazy. Man made laws are created and through taxation enforced, and then non profit entities ‘rescue’. That system is indeed the problem.
            Discussion on whether to vaccinate, neuter, dock, etc; will not change us paying to jail & kill animals. Rescues do not, and will not make a significant bump against that scale over time, because they are vested in the very system they pretend to be working against.
            Responsible animal stewardship is unfortunately a key part of the long term solution. Voting with our dollars. And of course, blogs such as this.

  13. Nora on March 30, 2015 at 12:51 pm

    What if all of us prospective pet parents who want to buy from a breeder typed up our own contract? It would state that archaic and harmful practices which are not in the best interests of the new family member would be forgone, including vaccines and neutering, tail and ear mutilation and feeding dead, dry food. It could include quotes (a few on-point paragraphs) from published studies showing the health benefits of raising what will be YOUR animal, in the natural way, and cite the sources to encourage further reading. If a breeder won’t sign your contract, then you need to find another breeder.
    Rescuers need to be schooled too. They are caring but often misguided people, and they feel good about what they are doing because they are brainwashed. You may not get anywhere with rescue organizations, because many are run by conventional vets. You may get laughed at or at worst, yelled at, by an impassioned, brainwashed do-gooder, but a healthy animal is what you have to lose. Oh, and I think your contract should mandate a subscription to Dr. Falconer’s newsletter! They should be reading that anyway.

    • Will Falconer, DVM on March 30, 2015 at 5:39 pm

      Thanks, Nora, these are really good ideas. I’m with you on the rescue folks, well intentioned all the way to creating chronic disease in those they care for. And I think they’ll be a hard nut to crack, like you.
      Better luck with breeders, and once again: Vote with your pocketbook! The cream will rise to the top, the more we do this. If you have a choice, use the natural rearing breeders exclusively. They are working *generationally* to produce healthy stock. That deserves our patronage.
      Impassioned and brainwashed. I have a hard time with folks like these. Many, many brainless pro-vaccination folks who’ve not studied it at all, but blindly trust the medical establishment. And so it goes.

  14. Taryn on March 30, 2015 at 10:51 am

    I have two rescue dogs..and I have had to battle with the rescues i got them from every step of the way! With my first dog, i was able to hold off her spay until she was over 1 year old and went through at least one heat (i would have waited longer or skipped it all together, but even getting to that point was a struggle). My second rescue, from a different rescue, was even more of a fight. According to the contract i signed when i got her as a puppy, i had to have her spayed within 3 months and then provide them with proof, as well as proof of additional vaccinations. As soon as that 3 month mark came, i started to receive phone calls from the rescue insisting that i have it done asap, as well as show them proof. I tried to ignore them, but their calls became more frequent and then actually threatening…telling me i was “going to kill my dog”, and that they would take her from me if i did not comply. I was forced to comply, as there was no way i was going to lose my new beloved family member. I then searched far and wide to find a vet…as most in my part of the country would not even agree to spay unless they had their documented shots first. I then found a somewhat holistic vet who agreed to separate vaccines and also not administer the full dose (because as we know one size DOES NOT fit all!)..and a few weeks later i had my baby spayed just to get the rescue to leave us alone! In the end i am still bitter about this and wish i could have done things differently, but really do not feel i even had a choice. My dogs have been raw fed since day one, i do not use pesticide laden flea/tic preventative but choose natural options instead, and my girls have not had a vaccine since…and mark my words, will never have one again! I would love to add another dog to our family someday, and i refuse to purchase a dog from a breeder since there are so many wonderful dogs being put down in shelters every day. So here is my dilemma…how does one try to do “the right thing” and rescue instead of buying, and still have the free will and ability to make the best choices as i see fit for my dogs??? Dr. Falconer, I see your link to the list of natural rearing breeders, but is there any such list to any rescues? Can one be started? I can’t believe it is 2015 and there are still so many people who choose to just follow the herd and not think for themselves when it comes to vaccines (and a million other things)…and then think it is ok to push those uninformed beliefs and practices onto others! I think in the end i would have an easier time making these decisions for a child, as opposed to a dog. Please help 🙂

    • Will Falconer, DVM on March 30, 2015 at 5:43 pm

      Hey Taryn,
      See Nora’s comment below. I’m all for rescues getting up to speed, but I’m not holding my breath. They seem to often have a lot invested in their paradigm and in “being experts” in their worlds. It’s hard to open a mind like that.
      If you find any enlightened ones, I’ll post a list. Currently hoping for more groomers and kennels for the Enlightened List I started way back a couple of years ago (see the link under Resources at the top of the page; if you hover your mouse there, you’ll see the survey).
      Thanks for your input. I feel for your struggles.

  15. michelle on March 30, 2015 at 7:34 am

    My breeder made her recommendations, like most breeders do, but I had a long conversation before I even decided she was the right breeder for me. I told her what I planned to fed, raw, how I would be vaccinating, titer testing, and that I would not neutering my dog till he was over 18 months, if at all. She was fine with all of it when she realized how well informed I was about each topic. Sad to say the majority of people who want dogs have no clue about the health of a dog, so breeders make their recommendations. Some breeders who educate themselves on what is the right course of health care can only hope for the best, but at the end of the day the owner is going to do what they want to do, contract or no contract.

    • Will Falconer, DVM on March 30, 2015 at 8:21 am

      Very inspiring, Michelle! And yes, it can work both ways, I’m sure: enlightened breeders making good recommendations but being ignored, and vice versa, as I wrote about.
      Thanks for sharing your experience.

    • Nancy on April 27, 2015 at 7:47 am

      I am a breeder of Spinone and also have a contract that specifies that a the dog can not be s/n until at least 2 yrs old, hopefully not at all unless for a medical reason. Spinoni are a large breed and slow to mature. I even offer a refund of $300 if the owners abide by this request. Sad to say I’ve only had to refund money to one owner. Everyone else has crashed to their vets wishes instead of accepting the fact that I’ve done the research on s/n and included articles and talked with them about the ill effects of early s/n.

      • Will Falconer, DVM on April 27, 2015 at 8:33 am

        This is excellent, Nancy. Bravo. And, unfortunately, not everyone will believe you. If it might help, refer your buyers to this page which has a fair amount of the research on the ill effects of spay/neuter.
        We do what we can, and those who can will respond. Those who aren’t ready yet hopefully will be before too long.

  16. Barb McKee on March 29, 2015 at 8:18 pm

    I am a breeder with a similar contract,however really quite different in that we only sell to raw/vaccine free,naturally rearing folks.We do not have a spay/neuter clause,however if this surgical procedure is absolutely necessary then only after 2 years of age or older.No caustic chemical flea/tick/parasite control.I am available pretty much 24/7 to answer questions or to help in any way.I also encourage my puppy people to keep in touch with me on a regular basis & love to help if I can with any issues in my realm.Love photos too.
    Same contract-way different stipulations:) We have built up a reputation for those folks wanting a naturally raised Sheltie,mostly word of mouth,yahoogroups,facebook & dedicated folks like you,Dr. Will Falconer.And the proof is inn the pudding:)
    Cheers,Barb/Behaven Shelties
    Raw Fed/Vaccine Free X31 Years

    • Will Falconer, DVM on March 29, 2015 at 9:54 pm

      My hat’s off to you and your pudding inn, Barb. Bravo. 31 years is brag worthy.

    • Christine Touw on March 31, 2015 at 10:42 am

      For 6 years I was a shelter board member, volunteer and employee. I left shelter work partly because I learned the natural path from Dr F and started my own puppy rescue. For 3 years we took in orphan newborn pups and using natural rearing prepared them for adoption at 8 weeks of age. The pups were given 1 vac of parvo/distemper and a voucher to have s/n at 6 mths of age as stipulated in my contract. Before adopting I would spend a great deal of time educating the potential adopter but 95% were polite but continued to follow their own Vets traditional advice. I felt it was a successful adoption if I could persuade the adopter to go with a high quality kibble and limit vacs or at least educate themselves first! While my contract did say s/n by 6 mths I would work with the adopter and actually push it out to 1 year if I could trust the person.
      In the San Antonio area any rescuer who did not support s/n would be ostracized. We have a tremendous overpopulation problem and pack of intact dogs run & breed on the south side. Hundreds are then picked up and killed by animal control, so I do not see s/n requirements changing but I would highly encourage any potential adopter to develop a relationship with the rescuer BEFORE committing to the adoption. There are rescuers open to new ways of thinking if they can trust you to stay in touch and keep them posted on your decisions. I know of one case where an adopter wanted to discontinue heartworm preventative and the rescuer sought advice on our rescue blog. This was quite a controversial subject because most rescuers thought this potential adopter was nuts and should be rejected~ in the end the adoption went through because the adopter brought her Vet into the discussion and the hw preventative would not be required.
      So if you are looking at adopting a rescue first develop your own plan and rationale that you can articulate to the rescuer. If the rescuer won’t work with you then move on, there are more pups/dogs in need and you will find a good fit. I do not encourage anyone to violate a contract. Rescuers hold these as binding and some will move to take a dog/pup back if violated. Many rescuers consider the dog to always be “their dog” and some require that the microchip be in their name. While I don’t agreed I understand.
      In our case we had to stop taking in the newborns ~ not enough folks to support the natural way and it was very stressful. Now we do hospice and seniors .