In the interest of privacy, I won’t disclose who sent it, but today I received an e-mail from a regional breed club president asking how we go about approving breeders on our site. The e-mail I wrote in response was so long I decided to post it here so others can have the information as well.
Thanks for taking the time to contact me. I really appreciate your concern and it’s comforting to see club members with a genuine interest in protecting their breeds.
I will try to answer each of your questions in order, and if I forget to address any of them please just let me know.
1. Why would a legitimate breeder want to be on the website?
Although it may not seem obvious at first, legitimate breeders that are concerned with the future of their breed(s) have a strong incentive to be listed on our site.
By increasing the exposure of reputable, ethical breeders, potential customers browsing the web are less likely to make irresponsible/ignorant purchases from backyard breeders and puppy mills.
As we all know, puppy mills have no qualms with spending money on advertising, which is why they are so visible online.
Based on their willingness to spend, these puppy millers are often the first breeders the average, perhaps uninformed, prospective owner will encounter.
And because the puppy mills are so quick to make sales, many of the prospective owners are quickly sucked into an unplanned purchase that not only hurts themselves, but the breed and puppies as well.
2. Is this for every back yard and or puppy mill breeder?
No, it is not, and we have worked very hard to make it this way. First of all, we provide listings entirely free of charge. This means we have no incentive to approve any breeder and can therefore make unbiased decisions.
3. Do you know what quality of breeder will be your web site and do you care?
It is very difficult to determine the legitimacy of a breeder over the web–a fact I’m sure you are aware of. Still, just because the task is a difficult one does not mean that we should resign ourselves to an internet overrun with puppy mills who ultimately hurt dogs, advancement of the breeds, the customers who buy from them, and even (albeit to a lesser extent) the business of legitimate breeders. Instead we need to do everything we can to encourage the ethical, devoted and legitimate breeders to increase their visibility so the puppy millers are not able to flourish unfettered.
How do we determine the legitimacy of a breeder, then?
There are a number of ways and we are constantly refining our procedures whenever we receive suggestions or think of something new.
A basic review process goes something like this:
1. A breeder submits their information to our website for review.
2. If the official club for this breed has chosen to participate in our volunteer-based program we initiated after discussions with various club leaders, an e-mail will automatically be sent out to a designated club representative. This e-mail will include the pertinent information submitted to our site by the breeder requesting a listing. Basically, this lets the breed clubs help us defend against puppy mills/backyard breeders by giving them the power to “veto” a breeder. If we receive a reply from the club representative informing us of a “shady” listing, we will immediately decline the application.
3. If we do not receive any message from the representative of the breed club, or if the club for this breed has not assigned us a representative to help review listings, Karla, a staff member at Breeder Retriever (volunteer), reviews the submission within a few days (time permitting).
4. Karla first checks the general information the breeder has submitted to our site and makes an initial assessment. You’d be surprised, often times we are able to identify puppy mills without even visiting their websites (i.e. their description mentions that they ALWAYS have absurd numbers of puppies, they can provide designer breeds, they wholesale/etc, etc).
5. If the basic information looks legitimate, Karla then visits the breeder’s website. Karla looks at a wide range of factors when reviewing a site, a few of which include membership with the official breed club, an active participation in showing or field work, the number of dogs and puppies owned by the breeder, the frequency of litters, the number of unique breeds bred, and other similar criteria.
After a review of this sort, Karla uses her best judgment and makes a decision as to whether or not the breeder should be approved.
It is imperfect, we know, but it is the best we have derived so far, and I cannot emphasize enough how open we are to help and suggestions, input, etc, that might contribute to our improvement in this area (or any other).
Are the parents Cerf Certified and OFAd?
Karla does her best to check these things, and this is one of the areas the official breed clubs who have enrolled in our “veto” program have been most helpful.
Are you charging in order to pay for the cost of your web site?
We do not charge anyone anything, period. Nowhere on our website will you find any fees or charges.
How do we pay for the cost, then?
I pay, out of my pocket, and I am thousands of dollars “in the hole” at this point. I don’t mind sharing the information that our server alone costs me $300 a month. Fortunately I happen to be a programmer, so I have done all the coding and design myself.
We have some ideas of how we could recoup this money in the future, but there are no concrete plans and of course we are open to suggestions in this area as well.
Because I have built this website single handedly in terms of the programming and design, I am passionately dedicated to its success. I believe that when people work hard and build useful services, the money has a way of taking care of itself. We’ll see, though.
I’ll conclude by saying that I eagerly invite you to participate in our approval process by assigning a club representative to take part in our “veto” program. There is no obligation on the part of the representative; however they do have direct access to us and a way of declining breeders who have submitted to our site.