June 30, 2010

We’re sometimes asked why we are so strongly opposed to allowing our foods to be sold in retail outlets that sell puppies and kittens. Some people have also questioned our support of special pricing for approved breeders. Here is a little insight on our policy and if you have more questions, do feel free to ask.

We have refused to allow Honest Kitchen products to be sold in stores that sell puppies and kittens for the past eight years and remain committed to this policy today.

We believe that puppy mills do not constitute ‘responsible breeders’, since puppy-mill pets are not sufficiently socialized to normal everyday situations, causing them to suffer various social problems and making them difficult house pets – which in turn makes them even more at risk of ending their days in a shelter.

There are about 100,000 to 200,000 dogs inside puppy mills at any given time in the United States. In addition, puppy mills do not offer lifetime support to puppy owners and do not agree to take back any puppy they have raised, for the duration of its entire life, as a responsible breeder does. Also, when puppies are sold in retail outlets, there is insufficient vetting of new homes to ensure that owners are sufficiently educated on how to care for their new animal, have the means to care for their new family member and properly understand the lifetime responsibility they are undertaking.

The mass scale breeding of puppies on farms, transportation across the country and re-sale in shops is the single biggest cause of massive over-population of companion animals in the United States and has caused puppies to be considered as commodities or possessions rather than members of the family. The greatest victims in the puppy mill problem are the breeding parents, because they will live their life in a cage and it generally ends fairly brutally.

We do, however, support the sale of our Honest Kitchen products to, and by, responsible breeders. A truly responsible breeder’s puppies would never be sold through a retail store and most certainly would not end up living or dying in a shelter. Why? Because a) responsible breeders thoroughly ‘vet’ prospective new homes to ensure they have the knowledge, time and resources to care for one of their pups and b) a responsible breeder takes responsibility for the life of any animal they breed and would take back an animal in the event that the unthinkable happened and the dog had to be re-homed.

Responsible breeders are involved in the preservation of their breed, not for financial gain. They breed for temperament, soundness and good genetics and take great care to select parents that possess various traits desired in offspring. Responsible breeders are often involved with breed-specific rescue groups, and have the best intentions for the welfare of the breed they love and respect so much. That’s not to say that every breeder does this. We all know that some unscrupulous breeders, over-breed or breed irresponsibly for unacceptable traits (such as an excessively squished nose, or too small a head or body, causing terrible congenital health problems in offspring).

The real problem the pet-retention problem, where people do not retain or provide a lifetime home for the pets they acquire and are too quick to give them up to shelters due to a move or other changes in circumstances. Many wonderful animals are currently in shelters waiting for a loving home. Some of us at The Hones Kitchen and many of our customers, have been able to offer homes to such animals and as a company, we frequently donate food, and money to various rescue organizations.

Of course with a sensitive subject such as this, there are lots of opinions about what is right and wrong. But we do feel there is a very important difference between responsible breeders and those who have unplanned litters, fail to screen prospective owners, sell animals as ‘goods’ and don’t offer a lifetime of support to the animals they breed.

If you’d like further information on what constitutes a responsible breeder, The Whole Dog Journal has an outstanding article. For additional information and resources please contact us — we’re happy to help.