The following is a guest post from Jane Warren.
“Whoever said money can’t buy happiness forgot about puppies.” Gene Hill
You’ve assessed your lifestyle, done your research and you’re ready to buy a dog. Now what? Where should you start and what should you look for?
First, avoid pet store puppies unless the store is running an adoption service in cooperation with a local shelter. Most pet stores get their puppies from puppy mills, large breeding facilities where puppies are poorly treated and housed in crowded and unsanitary conditions. These puppies usually have serious health problems and may have unpredictable temperaments. You may think that you’re rescuing a puppy, but when you buy from a pet store, you’re supporting the continued operation of puppy mills.
Consider an Animal Shelter
Many people assume that shelters house only older dogs that were given away because they are “bad’ animals. Nothing could be further from the truth. Dogs, including puppies, come to animal shelters for a variety of reasons. A family may move or face illness or financial hardship that no longer allows them to care for the animal. Lost animals may end up in a shelter.
Before a dog is made available for adoption, it undergoes a thorough health evaluation and is usually given vaccinations and spayed or neutered. Volunteers who work with the animals daily have a very good sense of each dog’s personality and temperament and are committed to placing the dog in the right family. They have no reason to make false claims about a dog and are a great source of information. Shelter fees are usually very reasonable. You can find a local animal shelter here.
Be patient if you have a specific dog breed or type in mind. When my husband and I got our first dog, we knew we wanted a beagle puppy. We visited the shelter online and in person for three months before we found our dog. She was perfect, though, and worth the wait. Another option to try is rescue operations for specific types of dog breeds.
Finding a Breeder
Another option is to find a reputable breeder. Contact national and state breed associations for lists of qualified breeders in your area. Visit the breeder’s home and ask to see at least one of the parents. Some puppy mill vendors may pose as family breeders when they are not.
Look at the conditions the dogs live in. Are the dogs clean and well-cared for? How do the dogs respond to the breeder? Dogs that appear timid or shy away from a breeder may have been mistreated. How many litters does the breeder have in a year? A breeder that delivers more than two or three litters per year may not have the time or resources to provide good care. Does the breeder offer a 30 day health guarantee? Breeders will be more expensive, but they may have more of the exact dog you are looking to own.
Purchase all necessary equipment before you bring the dog home. You’ll need a bed or crate, wee wee pads if the dog isn’t house trained, food and a leash. Being prepared ahead of time lets you focus your energy on helping your new friend adjust. And be proactive in caring for the dog. You can give dog dental treats on a daily basis that can help prevent oral disease.
Jane Warren has been a long-time advocate for animal welfare and shelter adoptions. She owns several pets and frequently fosters animals, as well. Her website offers tips on caring for dogs and provides information on products.