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Pets: Where To Get A Dog?
By Dr. I Elizabeth Borgmann. You’ve done your homework. You have decided you are ready for a dog. You know what age range you are looking for. You have chosen a handful of breeds and researched them further.[Click On Image For Full Story]
Now you are ready to go out there and look for the dog you want.?
Where do you start
You have a few options: breeders, SPCA, other pet shelters, rescue organizations, the newspaper, Craig’s List and pet stores. What are the pros and cons of each?
Breeders are a good source for pure bred puppies. You can usually meet both parents of the litter and can get a good feel for their temperament. You often get a more complete history regarding health and you can review the pedigree. And you can often get references. You can start visiting the puppy at an early age making the transition to a new home easier for the both you and the puppy. Sounds ideal. And yes, it is, if you are working with a reputable breeder.
How can you tell if a breeder is reputable? A reputable breeder with provide you with the registration papers and will not charge you extra for these. They will provide you with the pedigree and copies of any testing that was done on the parents (for example, copies of hip assessments, cardiac tests, thyroid testing, eye testing). They will provide documentation of vaccination and deworming and veterinary examination information. Check the documentation closely and make sure it is legitimate.
Reputable breeders will have both parents available for viewing or will at least have photos and pedigree and testing information of the sire if he is not on site and owned by the breeder.
A reputable breeder will have one or two litters present at a time. Raising puppies with appropriate socialization, handling, and training is a full time job. One or two litters are a lot of work. More than that is just about impossible! Make sure the dam was at least 2 years old before she was bred.
Reputable breeders will be interviewing you as much as you will be interviewing them. And there will be a purchase contract. If any of this is not happening, look more closely into the situation!
Check out the Canadian Kennel Club site at www.ckc.ca for a wealth of information on pure bred dogs, standards, and selling requirements.
Designer Cross Breeds
Designer cross breeds are becoming very popular. These are the result of breeding one pure bred dog to another pure bred of dog of a different breed. For example, a puggle results from crossing a pug and a beagle. These dogs can be very cute but the resulting puppy is not a pure bred dog. It is a cross bred. These are the dogs that have been traditionally called mutts. (Cute mutts!). You can find great mixed breeds through the SPCA and rescue organizations as well.
If you decide to purchase a designer breed be very careful to apply the same requirements of cross breed litters that you do for pure bred litters. These cross breeds are often found in puppy mills or are sold by puppy brokers.
You can recognize a puppy broker or puppy mill by not finding all the items mentioned above. Often there are multiple litters and often multiple different types of dogs. You usually don’t get to see the parents. The dogs are sold very young. There is little documentation on the lineage or genetic testing.
A puppy mill is like a supermarket of puppies! You can browse the litters and see what appeals to you! That is a warning sign. Even if the place looks clean, resist the urge and look for a puppy from a litter that has received the appropriate handling and stimulation. Puppy mill puppies come with a bad start and have the potential for significant amounts of health issues. A clean kennel with food and water is not enough to raise an emotionally happy and well adjusted puppy.
Animal Shelter Puppies
If you are not insistent on a pure bred puppy, then look into various shelters and rescue organizations for your dog. Don’t assume they only have older dogs. Many of these places also have puppies. Most cities and communities have either, or both, an SPCA or an animal shelter. Rescue organizations can be found on line and exist for most breeds. In this electronic age, most of these organizations will have websites and this is a great way to start meeting the animals. The one drawback is that many of these dogs will come with no history. If they do come with a history, it can be unreliable. A frequently used site is www.petfinders.com.
Pure bred dogs and mixed breeds of all types and ages can be found through these resources. About 25 to 30% of dogs in shelters and rescue organizations are purebreds. The advantages of using the local SPCA and animal shelter as your source for a dog, is that you can go down on a weekly basis and meet the available dogs. This can give you a good sense of personality. You are also helping reduce the number of unwanted dogs. The biggest drawback is that you can get drawn towards a dog that is not the right one for you. Remember, you did your preparatory research for a reason!
Dogs from shelters, the SPCA, and rescue organizations are best adopted by experienced dog owners committed to training and overcoming potential behavioral issues. If you do not have this experience you must be committed to obtaining it. Shelter dogs and rescue dogs can be wonderful companions but may take a bit more work.
Rescue organizations can vary a great deal. Some are very well run. Check with local trainers and veterinarians and learn more about the reputation of the organization that you are thinking about adopting from. Check out their policies for accepting and adopting pets. (Be aware that you have a greater chance of getting an unsocialized or aggressive dog from a no-kill shelter.) A common complaint about rescue organizations is that some of them seem to put up unrealistic requirements for pet adoption and are not really interested in adopting out the pets they rescue. Do your research on the organization first!
Trixie at Turtle Gardens Rescue – www.turtlegardens.org
Once you have found a dog you are interested in, spend some time with it. Take it for a walk. Do some training with it. If it looks like a good fit, take it to a vet for a health check. Discuss the types of health issues that are present or may develop. Take this step before you become too attached. (Oops…that takes about 10 minutes. ) Be prepared for the possibility of a bit more work on a dog that has been in a shelter situation. There may be a few quirks to break!
Craigslist is becoming more popular as a source for pets. The newspapers are also popular. This is a buyer beware situation. Be careful. These can be great resources but also attract more than a few scam artists. The same basics as above apply here.
Pet stores are a complicated situation. Some pet stores are very reliable and ethical. Others are strictly running a business and may not be as particular. You run into the same trials and tribulations as when you buy a puppy from a puppy broker. You donâ€™t get to see the parents. You don’t get a reliable history. Some pet stores work with the SPCA, local shelters and rescue organizations to help get pets adopted. Ask the necessary questions to understand where the puppies come from and why.
When obtaining a puppy or an adult dog, the more background information you gather, the more informed your decision will be. If you are lacking back ground information, you had better make up for it in experience (your experience in raising and training dogs).
How much of a challenge are you up to?
Dr. Borgmann has been practicing in the Fraser Valley for over 11 years and can be reached at the Whatcom Road Veterinary Clinic