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This is a column that I hoped I would never have cause to write. Like most volunteers with organizations that rescue Newfs in need, I want nothing more than to put ourselves totally out of business by having the need go away. Regrettably we appear to be going in the opposite direction.

Southern Ontario and Quebec are the main problem areas in Canada for displaced Newfoundland dogs. This situation became very apparent after Newf Rescue in Ontario endured a melt down in 2006. Not only did the main rescue organization go under but puppy mills and back yard breeders (BYB’s) sprung up like weeds in both provinces thereby providing more candidates for surrender. To further compound the problem several informal rescues appeared on the scene and complaints soon followed.

These new so-called rescues frequently turned out to be nothing more than puppy mills in disguise. Not only did they fail to take care of their surrenders as a reputable rescue organization would (spay/neuter, vaccinate, etc.) but they kept some of the incoming dogs as breeding stock and sold the others for profit all while pretending to be do-gooders. Ironically they often got more from an “adoption fee” than they would have as a regular sale from their kennel; a typical adoption fee for a rescue is $500 and some of the mills and BYB’s were selling Newfoundlands in 2006 for as little as $200. Even today, in 2013, you can purchase a Newf for $250.

Fortunately Newfie lovers responded. In Quebec and Southern Ontario we set up three new organizations to help our beloved breed. To get rescue back on track locally we formed Newf Friends Newfoundland Rescue for Ontario and S.O.S. Terres-Neuve-Quebec.

To ensure that folks who want to adopt or surrender a Newfoundland with a reputable rescue group can find one, Newf Rescue Canada was brought into being. There are approved rescue contacts from Newfoundland to British Columbia listed on their website. For people unable to locate a rescue group that is able to assist them, a contact is listed for assistance.

Newf Friends did a statistical analysis on where their surrenders were coming from. To our great surprise the vast majority (77%) came from BYB’s and only 10% from puppy mills. This does not mean that puppy mills are not a problem but the growth area in producing Newf pups that end up in rescue is definitely the back yard breeders. An important function of any rescue is education. If we can enlighten people before they make a bad purchase this is so much better than trying to clean up after the disaster. To this end Newf Friends put up an article on their website about identifying BYB’s. Please share this with friends and acquaintances who may be looking to add a Newfoundland dog to their family.

A picture is suppose to be worth 10,000 words, so an illustration of a particular problem may help:

Tycho - Before & After

Tycho came to us in such bad health that the veterinarian would not vaccinate him until he improved. The main thing we did for his health was feed him a good quality food – seeing is believing. Because of Tycho and others like him we have stepped up our efforts to provide ongoing guidance to Newfie owners who do not get good breeder support; while on one hand we were thrilled that we could make such a difference with this boy, we were also faced with the fact that it was so preventable.

Peter Maniate has been writing columns for the Newf News, the magazine of the Newfoundland Dog Club of Canada, since 1979.  In 1996 he started writing a Newfoundland dog column in the Breedlines section of Dogs in Canada magazine on behalf of the Newfoundland Dog Club of Canada.  When Dogs in Canada ceased publication at the end of 2011 he continued the Breedlines column in the Newf Newfs.

Permission is granted for re-publication of the preceding article or excerpts from it as long as the author is credited and the name of the original publication and date of first publication is included.

Newf News

September/October 2013