When Rebecca Walters from Pupstarts Breeders took an abandoned young Staffie to the vets, knowing he would never walk out of that door again, it set her on a mission to change dog breeding.
Rebecca was working for local councils in animal welfare at the time, back in the 90s, where there was no social media and the internet was in its infancy.
You couldn’t put a post on Facebook appealing for a new owner to take a dog. If a stray was in the pound the clock was ticking and if they weren’t claimed, they’d be put to sleep. Rebecca was faced with being there when that happened.
Fast forward 25 years and she’s on a crusade to ensure breeders get the support they need to bring healthy pups into the world – and aren’t vilified.
And that puppies are matched with the right home, lifestyle and environment so they can live happy and harmonious lives together.
This might sound fluffy and idealistic, but listen to Rebecca and you’ll see she’s very straight talking and is leaving no stone unturned when it comes to making a difference.
Next week, November 21- 25th she’s running her National Dog Breeder Convention and National Dog Breeder day is taking place on November 25th.
Listen in to her story on the player link below or carry on reading the key points as a blog.
Rebecca, tell us about Pupstarts Breeders
Pupstarts Breeders is a training provider in the dog breeding community. I wrote and developed the first nationally accredited educational pathway for dog breeders alongside iPet Network.
We also lead a dog breeding community across several platforms, offering collaboration and support to breeders and pet parents with every level of experience.
Can you tell us about your background?
I originally set up a pet care company that was contracted to run the London Borough of Waltham Forest’s Dog Warden Service. During that time, we licensed pet shops selling puppies as well as boarding establishments.
We dealt with a lot of unwanted animals, but for me, the dogs were the thing that stood out.
I was really saddened by the constant repetitive cycle of unwanted dogs coming in, that were in the wrong homes, with the wrong people, the wrong breed for the environment.
We did our best to find placement for them in foster homes, rescues, and charities, but ultimately they had seven days in the kennels. At that point, they had to be put to sleep.
We were trying to help, but we were trying to fix the problem on the back end.
It wasn’t usually health issues to be fair, it was mainly behavioural problems. And so much of that stuff can be solved by a correct breeding practice and correct matching of people.
I wanted to make a difference to the dogs of the future by improving education around the breeding, the raising and the matching of these puppies so that they don’t continually end up in rescue.
How did you decide how you’d do that?
For the last 20 years, I’ve been focusing on my skill set and my knowledge in producing dogs that people are more aligned to living with in today’s modern society.
I wanted to selectively breed dogs for pets, with an emphasis on health and temperament testing, that could then be placed in an environment that would allow them to flourish.
Modern-day breeders must look at what they’re producing, specifically, at the type of dogs these puppies will grow into and whether they fit the homes and lifestyles of the families they’re joining.
This is how we make a difference and start to see change.
The only way these breeders are going to find out that information is if there’s a way for them to learn and that’s where Pupstarts was born.
How do we change the public’s perception of dog breeding?
There’s a huge stigma around dog breeding, likening us to Cruella de Vil and viewing us as though we are profiting off man’s best friend.
While there are a few out there that give all of us a bad name, the reality of puppy breeding is quite contrary to popular belief.
First and foremost, people should look for a rescue dog, so long as they have the skills and environment to house that dog.
However, this isn’t an option for everyone. People might have children, a demanding job, other animals, or other criteria that don’t meet assessment requirements suited for rescuing a dog.
The truth of the matter is, if people don’t breed dogs, in 12 to 15 years there will be no dogs left.
We need to keep breeding dogs, but it must happen ethically and with health and welfare at the core of every decision made.
That’s where our focus lies at Pupstarts Breeders. We want to educate breeders, prospective owners, and the public in ethical breeding practices.
Tell us about your National Dog Breeder Convention and National Dog Breeder Day on November 25th
The Dog Breeder Conference is taking place from November 21st to the 25th finishing with National Dog Breeder Day on Friday 25th November.
We have speakers including Marc Abrahams, Anna Webb, Beverley Cuddy, Isla Fishburn, Trevor Cooper, Kim Brophey, Natasha Clark, it’s an incredible line-up.
This year is that we’ve got PDR recognition scheme in place, which is essentially CPD so anybody who joins the convention, whether they’re a pet professional, a breeder, gets a CPD certificate.
It’s free to join, there are lives, podcasts and lots of resources to give you information on breeding, puppies, welfare, nutrition, so many things.
Everyone is welcome and I’m so excited to be holding this for the second year.
Want to know more about Rebecca?
Find out more about her work and Pupstarts Breeders with the links below.
Pupstarts Breeders https://pupstartsbreeders.com/
Dog Breeding Courses https://pupstartsbreeders.com/dog-breeding-courses/
The Pupstarts Blog https://pupstartsbreeders.com/blog/
National Dog Breeder Convention & National Dog Breeder Day https://pupstartsbreeders.com/national-dog-breeder-day/
Dog Breeding, Whelping, and Puppy Raising Advice Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/225831035682369
If you enjoyed this episode and want to hear about people making a difference, you might like Why Jade Statt co-founded StreetVet, Why Carla Finzel is on a mission for every pet to have a district vet nurse, What rescue dogs can teach us about resilience with Marie Yates from Canine Perspective or Hannah Capon and her Canine Arthritis Management mission.