As the demand for dogs and puppies increases, consumers may inadvertently seek out a new pet from an irresponsible source without seeing the dog, meeting the breeder, or knowing what questions to ask or how to evaluate the answers. The CCC program offers an evidence-based solution for breeders and pet owners.
“This program does the ethical and scientific homework for the client,” says Candace Croneyprofessor and director of Animal Welfare Science Center at Purdue’s Colleges of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine. “It allows people to make an informed choice about a breeder’s commitment to animal welfare when trying to bring a healthy, happy dog into their home, and it helps to identify and to support good breeders, rather than puppy mills that completely ignore animal welfare.”
CCC standards for adult dogs and puppies exceed current regulations and ensure that breeders care for the physical, genetic and behavioral health of their dogs. The standards are divided into five pillars of care for nutrition, veterinary care, housing, handling and exercise.
“What we’ve created here – along with a third-party auditing system that is widely recognized as best practice in pet insurance – sets a precedent for the US and global pet industries and pet families. pets, and should be a huge point of pride for Purdue and the State of Indiana,” Croney says.
She created the first standards of care in 2013 based on existing and ongoing research. Croney developed them in collaboration with academic leaders and practitioners in animal science and veterinary medicine who have expertise in various canine welfare sciences.
The program evolved in response to requests from Indiana Amish dog breeders to improve their operations, which were publicly criticized. Members of this underserved population make up the majority of certified breeders to date. They were open to doing things differently once they were given tools and knowledge, Croney says.
Breeders who voluntarily become certified distinguish themselves as high-quality breeding facilities that provide state-of-the-art care. Lonnie Wagler, the first CCC breeder, has already seen positive results from the program. “Once we followed the standards, we saw puppies and parents who were much more social and no longer had trouble settling right into loving homes,” says Wagler.
“I gauge the success of the program on the response of our puppy families, and it’s been very positive in raising the bar for everyone involved,” agrees CCC breeder John Troyer. “It’s really going to be a game-changer.”
These breeders and other CCCs reflect their commitment to transforming their industry with the support and leadership of the Purdue Center for Animal Welfare Science.
“Purdue’s history of animal welfare leadership is well-known and long-standing,” Croney says. “Because we are a land-grant university and have well-established expertise in animal welfare science, we can lead and translate science to end users through outreach. Best of all, the research results and feasibility of the program are supported directly by the participating breeders. It’s the Extension model perfectly in play.”
Matten Schwartz, CCC’s 100th breeder, hopes more will follow. “It’s something all breeders should be doing,” says Schwartz. “I can’t wait to meet the 1,000th breeder!”