While visiting the local pet shop, I got the expected question from my daughter, “Mom, can we please, please, please get a cat?” Seeing all the animals playing and frolicking around really pulls at the heart strings. You want to take them all, but know you can’t.
But it got me thinking. There are breeders, animal shelters, pet shops and even Internet ads offering a variety of options, so how do you choose who to buy from? What do you need to know and ask before you buy?
Recently a consumer complained to our office that she purchased her puppy from a pet shop in her town. Without doing much research, she walked in, fell in love with the first puppy she saw and that was all that mattered, at the time. But a few short days after purchasing her beloved puppy, her joy turned to anguish.
After coming home one day, her new puppy appeared to be very ill. She rushed her pup to the vet where it remained overnight for observation. Unfortunately, the vet called in the middle of the night and told her the 9-month-old puppy needed to be put down. An autopsy discovered the small intestines had twisted up, causing the intestines to die. This is very rare in small dogs and can be a sign of genetic defect.
As heartbreaking as this story is, many times common sense flies out the window when faced with an adorable animal. Buying an unhealthy animal or dealing with an unethical breeder or pet shop can cause emotional and financial strain, but the more you know before you buy, the better off you will be.
To avoid unnecessary heartbreak, the Humane Society recommends going to a local animal shelter or finding a local breeder you can visit in person.
“The best way to buy a puppy is to go and meet the mother and see how she’s being treated,” said Kathleen Summers, spokesperson for the Humane Society. “If you meet the breeder in person, you can find out for yourself who you’re dealing with.”
To ensure you’re buying a healthy pet that will be with you for the long haul, ask detailed questions about the animal’s history as well as that of the parents, such as:
- Where did the animal come from? What is known about the parents?
- Is there any history of genetic disease?
- Is there a health guarantee? How long? The guarantee should be for the life of the animal. Many genetic diseases are not detectable until the animal is more than two years old.
- Do you require that pets be spayed or neutered?
- At what age did you obtain the animal? There is a certain amount of time babies should stay with their mother before they are separated.
- Does the animal come with any official paperwork to confirm the breed and lineage?
A responsible breeder or pet shop will also want to gather information about the potential buyer and should ask just as many questions to assure the animal is going to a safe and loving home.
What experiences have you had while looking for a family pet?