It’s important to choose a responsible breeder for your own sake, the sake of your new pet, and for moral reasons — to prevent future animal cruelty and suffering.
Closer to home, an irresponsible breeder may sell you a sick puppy or kitten, draining your bank account or racking up your credit cards, and your veterinarian might not even be able to save your new pal. In the long term, responsible breeders simply breed healthier pets, and if your pet does get sick, the breeder will typically help you find a solution to the pet’s issue.
The bottom line is that rescue is the right choice for the majority of people wanting a new pet, even if they don’t know it. Sometimes, people don’t realize that they can get a pure bred dog or cat from rescue — 25% of pets in shelters are pure bred. And everyone knows that “mutts” tend to be healthy and smart — why not take a chance on a mixed breed? Keep in mind that most dogs in the shelter came from a “breeder.”
- If the pet is in a pet store, you likely don’t know where it came from — assume irresponsible breeder.
- A bunch of puppies or kittens in a cage at a flea market – assume irresponsible breeder.
- Puppies and kittens sold on the Internet and sent far and wide by mail – assume irresponsible breeder.
- Free puppies or kittens? Irresponsible breeder. But take one anyway if you want one, because they may end up in the pound or as fighting dog bait.
- A responsible breeder will let you see your potential pet’s mother or father (only one might be on the premises, but you will see a photo of the other).
- A responsible breeder registers her litters with the American Kennel Club or similar organization – not always, but it’s a good sign.
- A responsible breeder only has a few small litters a year.
- A responsible breeder keeps her dogs inside the home where they are pets.
- A responsible breeder is interested in perpetuating the good qualities of her breed and “breeding out” the bad qualities, such as congenital defects, temperament issues, and diseases.
- A responsible breeder is wears a T-shirt with her breed on it. Her home is covered with breed tchotchkes (little baubles), and she has a “Beware of the Westie (or whatever breed)” sign on her front door. Her car also has a “My Westie (or whatever breed) is smarter than your honor student” bumper sticker on it.
- A responsible breeder is a member of one or more breed clubs.
- A responsible breeder will chat with you at length about the breed.
- A responsible breeder will make you fill out copious paperwork, will call your references, and will offer to take the dog back if it can’t stay in the home, whether it’s one day after the purchase or 10 years later.
- A responsible breeder will likely only sell you a spayed or neutered dog.
- A responsible breeder often shows her dogs in conformation events for ribbons and prizes.
- A responsible breeder will charge you a pretty penny for a puppy (say that 10 times fast).
- A responsible breeder may refuse to sell a puppy to someone who doesn’t have a fenced yard, who has young children, or who isn’t home enough.
- A responsible breeder is also often involved in breed rescue and can help you adopt a dog in your chosen breed.
It’s easy to get caught up in the emotion of buying a puppy. We all know someone who has come home with a puppy unexpectedly because it was “love at first sight.” They are so cute and wiggly, and oh! that one just gave me a kiss!
But before your heart melts into a puddle of puppy love, step away from the warm, bundle of joy and make sure you are supporting a responsible breeder.
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