Thursday, June 21, 2007

Buying a Puppy

After searching the Internet, I found someone offering English Springer Spaniels for sale here in Missouri, about an hour away. Okay, I think, I’ll write the seller and see about driving down to take a look at the pups. It’s not so simple as the E-mail I received back shows:

“Hi Sheila,
Unfortunately we do not let anyone come to our home but I would be more than happy to meet you with my available females. We did have a black and white female puppy but she is sold.”

I remembered hearing that Missouri is known as a puppy mill state, and I don’t intend to help foster this kind of business practice. Whether the seller was or wasn’t a puppy mill, I decided to do a little more research.

Many of the people selling purebred dogs online are offering several breeds and multiple litters. This raises questions immediately in my mind that this is a purely commercial business with little thought to turning out a quality pup. The Humane Society of the United States has several articles worth reading if you are like me and in the market for a dog: Buying a Puppy, Get the Facts on Puppy Mills, and How to Find a Good Dog Breeder which carries this advice, “Please don't ever buy a dog without personally visiting where he or she was born and raised.”

My instincts were spot on. According to a downloadable brochure from the Humane Society of the United States, some other things to look for in a potential breeder are:

Keeps dogs in the home as part of the family---not outside in kennel runs

Has dogs who appear happy and healthy, are excited to meet new people, and don’t shy away from visitors

Shows you where the dogs spend most of their time--- in a clean, well maintained area

Encourages you to spend time with the puppy’s parents---at a minimum, the pup’s mother---when you visit

Only breeds one or two types of dogs and is knowledgeable about what are called “breed standards” (the desired characteristics of the breed, such as size,
proportion, coat, color, and temperament)

The search is on but I’m taking the time to do my homework.


natalie said...

I think your instincts are right on this one. That sounds strange to me that they wouldn't let you visit or see the mother. It could be nothing and this woman might just be paranoid about visitors, but I'd rather be safe than sorry on your part. Dogs can be expensive and you want them to have the best start possible before they become part of your family.

I'm excited to hear more!

Sheila said...

Yes, the more I read the more paranoid I become about Missouri dogs. I'm sure that's not the case with all of them but just enough to be cautious.

Marion said...

Wow, I've heard about puppy mills on TV and newspapers, but never had personal experience with one. But it sounds like you just might have been spot on about this one.

Good luck in your search! It really pays to be are investing a lot of emotion and time in this new pup. You don't want him hampered by poor nutrition and care from the get go!

jan said...

Good for you to be suspicious and to let your readers know. These sellers obviously did not want you to see the conditions of their puppy mill. A reputable seller will screen the customers and be very pleased to show you around. You might have bought out of the back of a truck at a public parking lot and might have bought a puppy with serious health problems.

Good luck in your quest for a quality puppy, but don't overlook adopting a shelter dog.

Sheila said...

Marion, I was at Petsmart yesterday and an animal rescue group was trying to find homes for several dogs and puppies. One of the cuties was a cocker spaniel that had come from a puppy mill. She kept running away and one of the requirements to adopt her was a secure fence.

Yes, Jan, I am considering a shelter dog too. And you are right about people selling puppies out of the back of their cars. Every weekend a certain shopping center parking lot has people with puppies that they are selling. Especially in this state, I'd never consider those pups. I don't fault a breeder for making a profit, but I do think those who foster wise breeding are the ones I hope to cross paths with.

Naomi said...

You're doing the right thing being cautious Sheila. There are a lot of "puppy farms" operating here in England. I hate this type of practice. It's wrong and cruel to the animals. You were definitely right trusting your instincts on this one. You should always be able to see the puppy in it's home environment. Good luck with your search and look forward to seeing the pictures of your new arrival!

Sheila said...

Thanks, Naomi. I've decided to take my time and it may take awhile. But a dog isn't something to be acquired like a pair of shoes we can discard when we get tired of them.