If you're in the market for that cute puppy or kitten, it can be an involved process. It doesn't just happen overnight, and there are things you need to do to make sure you'll get the pet that’s right for you.
How do you buy a pet?
• Interview Breeders
If you know the breed you want, research the Internet and ask your vet for reputable breeders in the area.
Make sure you talk to more than one breeder to get a feel for breeders who are thoughtful, conscientious animal lovers. You want to buy your pet from a breeder that takes very good care of animals not just so that you get a healthy puppy or kitten, but one that has been born into a healthy and loving home, as well.
• Request references, and license and registration information from breeders
All breeders should be willing to provide you with license and registration information, and references from satisfied customers. Make sure you follow up by calling satisfied customers and checking to see that the license and registration are up-to-date and legitimate. Although dog breeders should be registered with the American Kennel Club, this does not necessarily guarantee that a breeder will be of stellar reputation or quality. Always double-check references and research the Internet to find out if there have been any complaints against potential breeders you're considering.
Breed-Related questions to ask your potential breeders
If you're researching several different breeds, it's important to know what each breed will have as its major characteristics. Ask questions like:
• What's the best living environment for this breed of dog (single owner, or family, with or without children)?
• How large will the pet grow?
• How much exercise does this breed need?
• Does this breed get along with children, other animals, and large groups of people?
• What's the life expectancy of this breed?
• Can I leave my pet home alone while I'm at work, or will it need pretty constant companionship?
• Are there any attributes that make this breed "not for everyone"? Why might I find these attributes a positive rather than negative?
• Does this breed have breed-specific health problems that I should know about?
• What training or behavioral programs work best for this type of dog?
Other questions to ask of each breeder
• How long have you been a breeder?
• Do you breed at multiple locations, or breed multiple breeds or types of animals?
• Do you ship your animals, and if so, why?
• Can I visit your cattery or kennel?
Most breeders will be happy to let you visit young animals and even meet the parents. Take notes and make sure to request referrals from previous customers. In general, you probably don't want to work with a breeder who ships animals and instead will want to work with a breeder from your local area. A good breeder who is located a significant distance from you should be happy to refer you to a local breeder who can provide you with a happy, healthy puppy.
In addition, different breeders offer different health guarantees, including genetic testing that will help ensure your puppy carries no inherited diseases.