February 10, 1999

Thanks to the massive marketing efforts of Disney and McDonalds back in 1996 and 1997 to sell their spotted merchandise and the "101 Dalmatians" movie, large numbers of families also rushed out and purchased Dalmatian puppies from backyard breeders and pet shops. Since the families did not research the Dalmatian breed prior to buying one, they did not know what to expect from their new pet and they did not know how to meet the Dalmatian's needs. But even worse, the backyard breeders decided cute little Dalmatian puppies would make them rich and began breeding and breeding and breeding...

The major cause of the Dalmatian overpopulation problem is the backyard breeders. These greedy, unscrupulous people outdo even Cruella DeVil in the atrocities they subject the Dalmatian breed to. Any breedable female Dalmatian unlucky enough to fall into their hands has been constantly bred to produce litter after litter so that the backyard breeders can cart the cute little spotted puppies off to the swap meets, street corners and any other place they think they can sell them at. The Dalmatian parents of these puppies were never tested for deafness and the backyard breeders are so clueless they probably didn't even know the parents were deaf. Worse, they don't care; their only interest in breeding Dalmatians is to make money, which violates the prime directive of a responsible breeder to only breed the best examples of a pure breed to improve the breed.

Angel's leg is horribly
deformed from an
injury suffered as a pup
and never treated,
thanks to a backyard breeder

The conditions the backyard breeder Dalmatians endure are horrible in many cases. They live in filthy backyards with no love, no attention and no training. They are fed the cheapest food available and receive little or no veterinary care. The puppies are never tested for deafness and are usually not vaccinated. We are seeing a big upsurge in distemper cases among puppies rescued from shelters or off the streets because of backyard breeders. It is absolutely criminal that innocent puppies are dying for lack of vaccinations.

One example of cruelty to a female Dalmatian used for breeding is Angel, a Dalmatian rescued from a local shelter. When Angel was a young pup and still growing, she somehow broke her foreleg. The backyard breeder who owned her never bothered to take her in to a vet for treatment. As a result, her leg is twisted and deformed. There is nothing that can be done for it now. Despite her injury, the backyard breeder went ahead and forced her to bear litters of puppies, how many no one knows, and then dumped her on the streets to be picked up by animal control.

Another example of backyard breeder cruelty is Miata, a deaf female Dalmatian, who was also used to produce litters of puppies. According to Dr. Strain's research on canine deafness, if one of the parent animals is deaf, the incidence of deafness in the litter increases. There are many, many deaf Dalmatian puppies now in the hands of other backyard breeders or unsuspecting families because of backyard breeder ignorance and greed. Miata was found wandering the streets of North Hollywood, starving and still lactating from the last litter of puppies she'd had. This is the fate of all too many Dalmatians after the backyard breeders discover they can no longer make money off the puppies.

Or they dump the poor mother Dals at the shelter once all the puppies are sold, knowing that in all probability that sweet little dog who lined their pockets with money from puppy sales is going to die there. They just don't give a damn! Nina's former owner let her get pregnant by a dog of some other breed and then when the puppies were born, did not give them proper care. The puppies began dying of parvo so the owner decided to dump Nina at a shelter with her remaining puppies. The shelter did its best to try to save them but all the puppies died. Nina was rescued by Save the Dalmatians and placed in a wonderful new home where she is valued for herself.

Backyard breeders don't take the time to interview the families who want to adopt Dalmatian puppies as any reputable breeder would. Many families are not appropriate for owning a Dalmatian but backyard breeders only care if they have the money. When the puppies are six months to a year old, wild and out of control from lack of attention and training, the families open the gate and let them loose or dump them at a shelter. A reputable breeder would have made sure the family would include the puppy as a family member, train it and give it proper attention. A reputable breeder also would have guaranteed that the puppy could be returned to them at any point in its life so the dog would never have to end up in a shelter. No one should ever buy a puppy from a backyard breeder; backyard breeders need to be put out of business.

As a result of all the backyard breeder activity, there are enormous numbers of Dalmatians, between one and two years of age, flooding into the shelters and rescues of Southern California. These beautiful dogs are dying in the shelters because the rescues don't have the space and resources to take them in.

We estimate that over 2,173 Dalmatians passed through Southern California's shelters in 1998, most of them on their way to their deaths. In 1998 our organization was able to rescue only 69 Dalmatians due to limited space, resources and volunteers. The shelter estimate for 1999 was even worse, with an estimated 2,962 Dalmatians passing through the shelters. In 2000, things began to improve. Only an estimated 1,805 Dalmatians ended up in So California shelters. The year 2001 saw a further improvement to only an estimated 1,467 Dals in the shelters.

In addition to the problems caused by backyard breeders, irresponsible owners who do not make a commitment to keep their Dalmatian for its entire lifetime are helping to fill the shelters. Yes, the Dalmatian was adorable when it was a puppy but now it's all grown up and weighs 60 pounds. The kids don't play with the dog any more and the parents don't want to be bothered with training the dog. The poor Dalmatian sits in a lonely, empty backyard and cries or becomes destructive. No problem, the owners just dump the dog at a shelter. Anyone who cannot make a commitment to keep a pet for its entire lifetime should not own a pet!

Are Dalmatians bad dogs? Do they deserve to be abandoned like this? NO! Dalmatians are sweet, loving people-oriented dogs. This is what it takes to make a Dalmatian a good member of the family:

1. Spay or neuter your Dalmatian. There are too many and breeding should be left to the experts due to serious genetic problems like deafness and urinary tract stone-forming. Also a Dalmatian who is spayed or neutered is a much more pleasant pet.

2. Train your Dalmatian. Take him/her to an obedience class. They are smart dogs and can be easily trained if treats and lavish praise are used.

3. Exercise your Dalmatian. These dogs were bred to run 25 miles a day with a horse and carriage so they need to have lots of exercise every day to keep them out of mischief. You can exercise a Dalmatian by throwing a ball for 30 minutes, taking him/her for long walks, going jogging with him/her or having the Dal run alongside your bicycle. It's good exercise for you too.

4. Keep your Dalmatian indoors with the family. Dalmatians adore their families and are very unhappy being left in a backyard. They also do not have the coat to sleep comfortably outside.

5. Learn more about your Dalmatian. Visit the following web sites for more information and for listings of Dalmatians who need homes:

Save the Dalmatians and Others Canine Rescue

The Dalmatian Club of Southern California

The Dalmatian Club of America

If you are able to provide a homeless Dalmatian with a loving family environment, please contact me at for a free referral. Please don't let any more Dalmatians die!

Terri Haase, President
Save the Dalmatians and Others Canine Rescue, Inc.

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