Just like many other facets of our lives, the decision to bring a new puppy or kitten into our lives often begins with a Google search. Many people have a general idea of what kind of dog or cat they want, and many people will start searching for breeders right off the bat. I want to have an informed discussion to help you avoid the heartbreak of receiving a genetically scrambled, sick, and under-socialized puppy or kitten. The consequences of where you choose to get your puppy or kitten can have lifelong consequences. As a veterinarian I’ve seen firsthand the heartache a puppy mill puppy can bring to a family, not to mention the financial consequences.
ANIMAL SHELTERS: 25% of all pets in any shelter are purebred. Please check out your local shelters at the beginning of your search. You very well could find your breed or breed mix pet looking for their forever home. Websites such as Petfinder.com have an easy to search data base of adoptable dogs and cats including age, sex, breed, and distance with many different shelters and breed groups represented.
PUREBRED RESCUE GROUPS: All breed groups have a rescue group associated with them. These breed groups rescue the dogs (many from puppy mills, owner surrenders, or strays), pay for their veterinary bills, and really learn the personality of the dog or cat to best fit that pet into the right home. Most official breed pages will have their recue group on their website.
PET STORES: First and foremost – ANY dog purchased in a pet store came from a puppy mill or puppy farm. NO reputable breeder would EVER allow their dogs to be sold in a storefront without knowing what home that dog is going to. I repeat: ANY dog purchased in a pet store came from a puppy mill. These dogs are often sick, they have a higher incidence of genetic diseases, and they are often under socialized, timid, and have potential behavioral problems. DO NOT BUY A DOG OR CAT FROM A PET STORE! Somewhere that puppy or kitten has a mother than is overbred, under-loved, and probably receiving substandard care in a cage for the majority of her life.
ONLINE BROKERS: If there is just one take away from this article here it is: ONLINE STOREFRONTS ARE PUPPY MILLS! Do a simple Google search of the breed you’re interested in acquiring. There is a company called Purebred Breeders which offers a huge selection of purebred dogs at expensive prices promising the puppy’s health and temperament. These dogs are sourced from puppy farms all over the country. Again, no reputable breeder would ever consider shipping their puppies across the country to an unknown home. Many of these online storefronts have “rare” breeds and breed mixes ready to ship and a moment’s notice. Professionally I’ve seen many of these dogs and cats arrive sick, scared, infested with parasites, and many have genetic abnormalities that haunt these dogs for the rest of their lives.
If you see a website listing USDA Certification is most likely a puppy or kitten mill, and the USDA themselves in a report released in 2010 even said they were ill equipped to regulate these breeding facilities. The website PupQuest.org has great veterinarian and pet professional generated information about puppy mills, online brokers, pet stores, and more. Please take the time to read their information.
REPUTABLE BREEDERS: These are people who generally have one breed of dog, they are advocates for the breed, are breeding on rare occasion to help improve the breed, and they’re going to perform their due diligence on you to ensure you’re a good candidate for one of their puppies.
We’ll talk more in my next article about finding a good breeder.