Why do we rescue dogs but abandon breeders?

From the monthly column “On The Line” by BJ Andrews, ShowSight Magazine, October 2017 Issue

Why do so many dog fanciers not fancy the people who love dogs? There’s no glory or $$$ in saving breeders.  Is that why we rescue the dogs and condemn the humans just when they need us the most?

We feel good about answering the call, loading up the van and driving 10 hours to rescue an abused dog.  Did you know that many of the dogs we automatically dub “puppy mill rescues” were once top winning champions?  Their owners were show breeders who’ve fallen on hard times, health, or emotional problems.

INSERT PHOTO wolfeboro-great-danes-estate-SS&Pr-bja You’ve heard about the more than 80 “Wolfeboro Great Danes” rescued in June of 2017.  It was an especially juicy story because the Danes were owned by very wealthy woman who lived in a mansion on a spectacular estate.  Was there some degree of envy hidden in the internet blasts and condemnation of that Dane fancier?


My ears went up when the N.H. State Director for the Humane Society of the United States was quoted as saying “some of the pony-sized dogs could look her in the eye and some tipped the scales at more than 300 pounds.” Okay, it’s really not funny.  She is the HSUS State Director… who obviously knows nothing about dogs.  But she knows how to raise money and donations piled in, not to the local resources, but the HSUS.  Makes you wonder who initiated the raid…


Either the story was as vastly overblown as the size of the dogs and the “horrible cruelty” or the Wolfeboro, NH Police Department grossly under-charged the owner with only two misdemeanor counts of animal neglect. Think about that.  Not abuse.  Not cruelty.  She neglected to keep them off the beds and possibly she didn’t put them out to potty often enough.  But photos don’t lie. A photo was used to describe the “neglect” suffered by the giant dogs that were given free access to the mansion’s 9 bedrooms. All photos showed beautiful, spoiled Danes if anything, a little overweight.

Oversized kennel runs with need non-slip surfaces were provided by their owners – until something happened.


Marilyn Kelly worked at the estate and is quoted as stating “In her mind, she loved those dogs, and she thought she was doing right by them.” She went on to imply that the owner wasn’t thinking clearly in that she was “living and sleeping in a house covered by feces and urine…”  Why didn’t she call family members or Great Dane breeders for help?


We will probably never know why the owner didn’t reach out but TheDogPress.com will follow up on that aspect because it is not rare for dog owners to become physically or mentally ill just as any other segment of society.


What doesn’t escape this reporter’s notice is that the news stations were immediately pleading for donations and the internet lit up with alerts such as this at NH1.com “Rescue of 84 Great Danes at NH puppy mill leaves humane society looking for donations.”  Hopefully the thousands of dollars that poured in to HSUS will be applied to the proper feeding and care of those Great Dane dogs currently being held at an “undisclosed location.”


One source who asked not to be identified questioned the motive for the raid.  She knows the owner, whose name we have withheld unless and until she is proven guilty of animal abuse. She said “the dogs were healthy and happy” pointing out that the Great Danes may have been “spoiled and overindulged but were greatly loved.”  She suggested that the owner needs “counseling not punishment.”


And that is the point.  Why would owners who love and spoil their dogs knowingly neglect them?  And do the dogs feel neglected or mistreated? In this, as in many cases of “animal abuse” there is little if any interest in an animal owner who needs help.



  • Barbara “BJ” Andrews is the breeder of over 300 AKC Champions including over a dozen All-Time record holders. She is the author of 8 breed books and founder of 3 AKC Breed Clubs. In 1998 she launched the world’s first public website (TheDogPlace.org) followed by TheDogPress.com and TheJudgesPlace.com which, as part of the NetPlaces Network, serves all facets of dog ownership and exhibition. She and husband Bill pioneered the Akita, Miniature Bull Terrier, and Toy Fox Terrier to AKC recognition and BJ served on the board of each Parent Club. She has judged in England and AKC Specialty Sweeps. She was awarded UKC All Breeds approval but has never applied for an AKC judges license because it could interfere with objective reporting on the sport.

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