Reports say Nebraska dog breeders are being forced to close- here’s why

By on January 1, 2020

There’s an article in last Sunday’s Omaha World Herald about breeders of companion animals. It’s important to us to let you know it’s there to read. It’s also important to us to be able to suggest some takeaways and editorialize a bit!

First, we think it’s important to note that not all readers will know the difference between a reputable breeder and one who has a more negative reputation.

The simplest way of defining a reputable breeder (in our eyes) is to say it’s a person or family that cares more about the well being of the animals under its care than profiting from the sale of those animals. It is more complicated and nuanced than that, of course, but this is a place to start.

Some indicators of a reputable breeder are:

  • they don’t sell their dogs in stores
  • the mother dogs breed less than every heat cycle
  • dogs are treated as family dogs. That is, they aren’t in cages, they see the vet regularly, and their purpose is to do more than make more dogs.
  • There are a manageable number of animals under the care of the breeder. In the article, one of the breeders (who, we assume is being interviewed as a reputable one?) has 70 dogs. That seems to be a large enough number to question whether the breeder is managing to care for all in the way that’s needed…

The phrase “USDA licensed” before the breeder’s name is deceiving, if you didn’t already know. Is it good to be registered? Yes. Is that a guarantee of reputability? No way. Many licensed breeders have horrible inspections and violate regulations set by the USDA.

Next, it’s promising to note that the breeders in the article are citing legislation and regulation as reasons for some breeding operations shutting down. If a breeder can’t follow the rules, a breeder shouldn’t be allowed to breed. Few will argue that, no?

It’s also promising in that adoption advocates aren’t working in vain. Part of the goal of many of the rescues and shelters we are familiar with is to educate the public on how to avoid commercial breeders (puppy mills) and places where their dogs are sold.

Here’s a note from Bailing Out Benji, one of our Pet Partners and a group on the forefront of animal advocacy issues in our region, commenting along those lines on social media, saying, “We’ve been working extremely hard in Nebraska to not only educate about puppy mills, but to showcase the difference between reputable breeders and puppy mills. The worst facilities are the ones closing their doors due to the passing of these retail bans and heightened public awareness.”

If you’re interested in learning more about the work Bailing Out Benji does, click here.

Interesting note taken from a social media discussion on’s Facebook page: In the article, one of the breeders was quoted, calling dogs that aren’t purebred “mutts” in a pejorative way. Several folks took exception to that, posting photos and comments about their “mutts”. One thread that emerged was a discussion about the health of dogs that are purebred vs. those that are not, with people from both sides of the argument posting evidence their position was right. The significance of that is that as long as there are people who believe purebred dogs are healthier than “mutts”, there will be demand for purebred animals. It’s our hope that only reputable ones are left after the dust settles- not puppy mills and backyard breeders.

Another interesting note or two: Many folks, perhaps because of the light shone on Tully’s after puppies were stolen from the kennel last week, are connecting dots between these breeders and pet stores like Tully’s. Tully’s gets its dogs from commercial breeders. Also, one person on the Omaha World Herald’s Facebook page wondered where the USDA and animal advocates have been for all the years mills have been working. The short answer is that animal advocates have always been around, just not with a voice as loud and wide as today’s; also, mills were permitted to pump puppies out without oversight or guidance from the government because many in the government were protecting them. Again, a small amount of research will show that legislators have often been unwilling to treat companion animals (dogs) as anything but products (like cattle) for the sake of the agriculture industry and lobby. If you subject dog breeders to certain standards, you’ll then have to have the same standards for chickens, cows, pigs, etc. and that wasn’t something they wanted to do. Watch Dog by Dog, a documentary film on this issue, and you’ll get more than the 50,000-foot view provided here.

It’s a big article tackling a number of issues, not all of which are discussed above. Did you see it? Want to weigh in? Log in and leave a comment here OR visit our Facebook page to see discussion there.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply