Best Places to Find Your Next Pet


Most people are familiar with the concept of animal shelters, formerly called dog pounds. Here animals are surrendered by owners or picked up off the street as strays, or confiscated from neglectful living conditions by Animal Control Officers. Dogs are temperament tested and those passing are put up for adoption for a fee. Dogs that are not adopted fast enough, often times they're only given 72 hours, are put to sleep regardless of whether or not there are any new dogs arriving in the facility.

Some receive minimal funding from their city while others operate completely on public donations.

While many think that a dog in a shelter must have "issues" this is not always the case. I now know plenty of dogs that came from shelters that have no behavioral problems whatsoever.

Rescues are usually run by kind-hearted people who volunteer to take animals into their own homes until a permanent home can be found. Some of the reasons dogs end up in rescues are:

1.Their owner no longer wanted or could care for them.
2. The dog failed a shelter temperment test but with a little work can still become a great pet.
3. Rather then euthanize due to overcrowding, kill shelters will send dogs to a rescue for rehoming.
4. A dog comes into a shelter sick or injured and needs more time to heal before it will be ready for adoption.

Though they may find a Vet who will give them a professional courtesy rate on services the rescue pays for all costs associated with the care and upkeep of the animals in their charge from donations and out of their own pockets.

Often their adoption requirements are more stringent then a shelters and their adoption fees may be higher. Just keep in mind that they want to insure that each dog they've rescued will find a suitable forever home. Don't be put off by their questions about your lifestyle and how you intend to keep a dog if they approve you for adoption. Many require a fenced yard, that the dog must be an indoor dog and that their dogs receive regular vetting including flea control and heart worm prevention.

Rescue is the way to go when you want more history on the dog, such as are they good with kids, cats, other dogs, their level of training, house breaking and much more. Many of these points will be unknown if you adopt a shelter dog. The best part is each time a rescue dog is adopted it allows the rescue to take another dog from a shelter that might otherwise have been put down.

Responsible Breeders:
These are large and small scale scale breeders that conduct extensive health testing on both dogs before breeding them: eyes, hips, elbows and genetic markers that can show a problematic hereditary condition they may pass on to their puppies. If any of these tests show a problem a responsible breeder will choose NOT to breed the dog knowing that the puppies it creates may only further weaken the gene pool of the breed.

Often their dogs have titled in conformation, agility, obedience or any number of competitions or trials that show their dogs are not only physically fit but mentally sound as well. A good breeder will have temperment tested both dogs before breeding them.

Many are members of breed specialty clubs.

The dogs they select are of the quality that would "Better the Breed" with their progeny.

1. Responsible breeders sell all puppies with a written health guarantee. They will insist on a spay/neuter contract if your pup is not of "show" quality. Meaning the pup lacks good conformation.

2. Responsible breeders often have a waiting list for their puppies. They don't breed willy nilly. You should be wary of any breeder or website that says they have "Puppies ready to ship" as this is not the sign of a reputable breeder.

3. Responsible breeders are mentors who will continue to guide you and your dog as the need arises if you need to draw on their experience to help you through any problems you may face down the road.

4. Responsible breeders will insist in writing that if for any reason you cannot keep the dog they are selling you, you must return the dog to them and must never ever take it to a shelter. Even years later. Their commitment is to the welfare of the dogs they've bred. Not just the money.

Where NOT to buy a dog or puppy...

Pet shops are the LAST place you should buy a dog from.
Large Scale breeders such as puppy mills churn out litter after litter to meet the consumer demand. Most often the breeding dogs are kept in deplorable conditions. The health, comfort and happiness of the breeding stock is of no consequence to those who profit from the litters of puppies. All that matters is making puppies that can be SOLD TO PET SHOPS and unsuspecting consumers online who think because a facility has a nice website and their puppies look healthy they are healthy. Virtually no health screening is done to ensure sound and healthy dogs are being bred at puppy mills. And too often, because of the unsanitary conditions, the puppies are often sold with potentially fatal diseases like Parvo and Distemper. Leaving the consumer footing the bills if they bought the pup without a health guarantee.

Some states have consumer protection or puppy "lemon laws" in place. if you bought a dog that turned out to be sick you can do some preliminary research into what your rights are by CLICKING HERE.

Below are photos of dogs being housed in a typical "puppy mill" fashion. Usually kept in wire cages similar to rabbit hutches, dog crates, and even in large plastic storage containers with holes drilled in them for air. It's a terrible existence that will continue as long as consumers continue to buy those adorable little puppies from pet shops.

Backyard Breeders:
(In my description the term BYB refers to a mentality, not geography. There are many loving and qualified breeders who breed from their homes or backyards. They are not who I am referring to when I use the term BYB.)

BYBs as they are known in the dog world are one step above the Puppy mills. The term generally refers to people who own an intact male of female dog and decide to breed them just for the fun of it or sometimes to make a profit. They have little to no experience when it comes to caring for a pregnant female, whelping puppies or how to handle life threatening complications when they do occur. Usually their dogs are not temperment tested, or health certified meaning no genetic testing has been performed to screen the dogs for flaws or diseases they could pass to their offspring. They sell their puppies for cash with no written health guarantee and no spay or neuter clause resulting in more intact dogs being put forth that may later add to the crushing pet overpopulation problem our country now faces.

Backyard Breeders usually advertise by newspaper, magazine, online or word of mouth. NO reputable breeder would ever advertise their upcoming litters in a newspaper. Which isn't to say that no better breeders advertise in magazines or online. Some do. Just do your research, go check out the facility if it's local. Ask lots of questions and your efforts will not go to waste if you were about to buy a poorly bred puppy from a BYB.

Backyard breeders are often the first to say "But my dog has papers" so it's ok for me to breed. AKC papers do NOT indicate or guarantee a dog to be healthy or sound. All AKC papers do is show that a dog was bred from two registered purebred dogs, both of which could have been of inferior quality from a conformation, temperment or health standpoint. Having a papered dog is often the first step when considering breeding but "papers" should never be misconstrued and used as a clearance to breed.

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