Our patients come from all sorts of places. Some are pound puppies, some were strays rescued off the streets. Some were adopted when a neighbor’s cat surprised her owners by having kittens. And some are purebred animals with lofty bloodlines.
Some owners seek out a specific breed when adopting a pet, because they have a special affinity for that breed, or had one as a child, or are looking for a breed to fit a specific lifestyle. Even when adopting a shelter dog, it’s very important to consider what that breed was originally intended to do and how that will affect that animal’s care and exercise requirements. A high energy herding breed doesn’t belong cooped up in an apartment for hours on end and toy breeds aren’t suited to heavy athletics.
Once you’ve decided on a breed, your next important decision lies in choosing a breeder. Not all breeders are ethical and committed to upholding a breed standard. Rural areas are especially prone to “puppy mills” or breeding facilities that focus on profit rather than quality. These facilities often overcrowd the animals, keeping them in unclean conditions, providing poor nutrition and little to no veterinary care, in the interest of churning out as many saleable animals as possible. Breeding females are treated especially poorly. Due to the poor breeding conditions, animals from puppy or kitten mills often suffer from health or behavior problems, and may not actually be purebred.
A reputable breeder will:
- Breed only one to two litters a year. Breeding females need adequate rest time between litters to stay healthy and to produce large and healthy litters.
- Allow puppies and kittens to stay with their mother for at least 8 weeks. Puppy and kitten mills often wean the babies before the recommended age of 8-10 weeks.
- Allow prospective adopters to meet the parent dogs (or cats). If the parent dogs are unavailable or the breeder won’t let you meet them up close to judge their personalities and health, consider going elsewhere.
- Have plenty of experience with breeding and care of newborn animals.
- Provide references if asked for people who own animals adopted from this breeder.
- Be willing to spend time with you, answering questions and making sure that the animal is a good fit for you.
- Be completely transparent about their operation and the animals that come from it. If you feel like the breeder is hiding something, consider going elsewhere. Adopting an animal is a lifelong commitment and you deserve to know all the available facts before bringing a new pet into your home.