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Timothy ‘Tim’ Zisa is dog breeder in Western South Dakota, specializing in Labrador retrievers.
As a small business owner, Tim Zisa is committed to running an ethical, safe, and loving environment for his Labrador retrievers. He believes in always giving the best to his dogs, seeing in them the companions that they will one day be for families. He is with each dog and family as they decide on a name, pick a collar, and take the first steps to their new home.
Zisa’s process begins and ends with humane treatment. He works with a well-known veterinarian from his area to make sure each Labrador retriever is in excellent shape before breeding—checking bones and eyes for genetic predispositions that may be harmful to puppies, and ensuring the dog has proper exercise and nutrition. After his female Labradors experience their first season of heat (between the ages of six and 12 months), he begins breeding them with carefully chosen stud dogs from around the country.
After a Labrador breeds, Zisa typically waits 12 to 15 months before he declares it safe and ethical to breed them again. He stays with the adult dogs throughout the process as a companion, and looks after every puppy until it can be found a good home, no matter how long it takes.
Zisa’s facility is a partially family-run business, as his whole family will get involved raising puppies and supporting adult dogs. Tim Zisa also manages a small part-time staff for dog-walking and care. After families adopt, he stays in touch to answer any follow-up questions and concerns.
Timothy “Tim” Zisa picked up his love of dog breeding from his great aunt. He is a veteran of dog shows, where he would participate using his first dog, a toy fox terrier named Rika, whom he adopted from his aunt’s facility. Because of this experience, he is well-acquainted with dog show needs, but prides himself now in building physically fit dogs that have the perfect temperaments for family life.
His interest in Labrador retrievers came from his desire to start his own direction with dog breeding. While in college and living in a dorm where he was not allowed to bring animals, Tim adopted a stray Labrador retriever after a fashion, feeding her, greeting her on the steps of the dorm, and building a make-shift shelter for her in the area.
After graduating, he was able to adopt the dog officially, naming her Light. As a young graduate, he had ambitions to start a breeding business that would be his own creation with his own favorite breed. He had a rough start, relying a lot on his aunt’s advice and any advice he could find from mentors who knew the breed.
Nowadays he is careful to look for desirable characteristics in his female dogs, focusing on the most even-tempered dogs, but he will always care for every dog in his breeding program. After the female dog decides to stop breeding, Tim Zisa is careful to be sensitive to her signals telling him so, and never forces her. She, too, as Light did, will stay with the facility as a beloved companion.
Zisa has worked through the years to improve his craft so he can better serve the families looking for purebred Labrador retriever puppies. He’s done so by joining Labrador Retriever Club, Rapid City Kennel Club, and the Dakota Hunting Retriever Club.
The Labrador Retriever Club, which was established in 1931, is the American Kennel Club’s officially recognized parent club for the Labrador retriever. (The American Kennel Club is a “club of clubs” which has been dedicated to promoting well-being for all kinds of pure bred dogs since 1884.) Through the Labrador Retriever Club, Zisa was able to enter educational programs specialized to health and research concerns for the Labrador retriever.
The Rapid City Kennel Club, which is also a member of the American Kennel Club, in 1961 by and for dog owners in Western South Dakota. It specializes in training, which Tim has dedicated himself to studying in his spare time at work so as to better understand the varied needs of the dog owners who want pure bred Labrador Retrievers for events. He is committed also to helping train his puppies.
The Dakota Hunting Retriever Club, founded in 2002, has helped Tim Zisa learn more about Labrador Retrievers’ roles in hunting situations. Labrador Retrievers are a sporting breed, and are therefore often used for hunting. While he has never personally participated in a hunt, Zisa has familiarized himself with the needs of hunting dogs by participating in the club’s hunting dog events.
Tim Zisa moved to South Dakota in 2003 after his marriage to a fellow dog enthusiast. He bought a large rural property to settle his new facility. He chose a location that would be remote enough to give his Labrador Retrievers plenty of room to roam, but would not be too far from nearby towns with pet stores and potential dog owners.
Modern conveniences mean he need not be near male Labrador Retrievers to breed his female Labrador Retrievers, but he has since then always had two stud dogs on his property at a time.
He enjoys talking to other breeders to compare breeds, but loves Labrador Retrievers best and has championed them in many a friendly argument between professionals. While dog breeding is not a business that pays well, Tim Zisa does it for the love of his dogs and of the breed.
Going forward, TimZisa plans to continue providing a safe and humane facility for his Labrador Retrievers and their puppies. Since his waiting list is still growing, he plans to someday add more acres to his plot that will not only provide space for more dogs, but give the current dogs more room to run around. He wants to ensure he can meet demand without forcing dogs to breed against their will, or on an unhealthy cycle.
In addition, Tim hopes to offer his own obedience and behavior training classes for local and area dog owners. These classes will range from basic commands like sit and stay to more complex commands that might be utilized for show dogs, all of which Tim has extensive experience teaching to his own puppies.
Timothy Zisa and his family hope to work together on providing classes—while he has experience with breeding, behavior training, and dog shows, his wife has taught dogs to be Canine Good Citizens who can provide needed therapy to their owners. Tim also hopes his facility can also one day provide and agility and hunting skills class for dogs.
Most importantly, he plans to be involved in organizations that promote the ethical treatment of dogs. Pure bred Labrador Retrievers are of particular concern to him, but he works with organizations such as the Rapid City Kennel club to ensure that all dogs are treated fairly. Having met many other breeders, Tim Zisa has occasionally seen and worked to put a stop to inhumane treatment of dogs.
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