Think about the last time you spent significant money on a new purchase, like a new refrigerator. It's likely that you researched carefully, weighing different options, choosing a brand and model with a good reputation and maintenance history.
Yet, if you find yourself in the shopping mall, for example, melting over that cute kitten in the pet shop window, you should pause before you buy. Common sense may temporarily be in short supply – but don't just throw caution to the wind and buy that cute little bundle of fur.
Avoid pet shops and stores when you buy puppies or kittens
Why? Because these places are most often sourced from irresponsible breeders often referred to as puppy and kitten mills, basically large "retail" organizations where breeder animals are kept in deplorable conditions while the mothers deliver litter after litter after litter until they simply die from disease or are put to sleep. In some cases, these animals are rescued by organizations and re-homed to live happy lives, but all too often, these stories do not have a happy ending.
In addition, many of the puppies and kittens produced by these operations are themselves sick, weak, or have other major health problems. Neither the adults nor offspring are properly socialized or cared for medically. They receive scant human interaction, no love, and barely any food for sustenance. Their short and painful lives contain no joy, no health, no happiness.
Unfortunately, when you buy a puppy or kitten from a pet store or a free classified ad which is not screened or validated, on such online sites as Hoobly, Oodle or eBay, for example, you are all too often giving these "puppy mills" or irresponsible breeders the life and sustenance they refuse to give their animals. If you see a puppy for sale for a "discount," for example, be warned. Not only will the puppy likely have major health and behavioral problems, but you've just helped support an organization that may be contributing to animal cruelty.
Simply put, these irresponsible breeders or puppy mills are there to make money for the owners, not to treat the animals well. And because these puppies are sold to pet stores and "discount places" frequented by eager customers, the demand is constant. Every time you find a cute puppy in the window, and you buy, you create demand for another litter. Every time you buy a kitten on your way home from grocery shopping, you doom another mother cat to a lifetime of pain and imprisonment.
You can stop the abuse that comes from irresponsible breeders or puppy mills
You can stop the abuse that comes from irresponsible breeders or puppy mills by refusing to buy from them. Capitalism – the "free market" – created the demand for cheap puppies, but if you know what that "cheap" price really comes from, you know that it's not worth it.
Where should you buy your pets?
• From animal shelters
Millions of animals are waiting for good homes in animal shelters. Of the animals available for adoption, approximately 25% are purebred. When you buy from a shelter, you save a life. Because shelters struggle with limited budgets and room, they must euthanize over 10 million pets every year – and you can save a life with your adoption.
• From a professional breeder
If you desire a purebred cat or dog and you can't find what you want at an animal shelter, seek out a professional breeder. These are compassionate individuals who are dedicated to improving and maintaining the purity and health of a breed. To find a breeder in your area, ask your veterinarian, or for dogs contact the American Kennel Club, United Kennel Club, Canadian Kennel Club; and for cats, contact TICA (The International Cat Association) and CFA (Cat Fanciers’ Association). A website like www.pets4you.com also is an invaluable source of reputable breeders who strive for excellence in every way, complying with all regulations along the way.
When you do visit a breeder, make sure you see all of the dogs the breeder keeps, not just the puppies. Ask about genetic testing and any guarantees. Ask:
• How many litters are produced every year?
• How are these litters sold?
Get references; call several of the references who have purchased animals from this breeder and see how they are. Review the breeders' sales contract – top breeders will certainly have one – and listen, as well. Reputable, professional breeders aren't just interested in selling their puppies to anyone. They'll want to know about you and make sure that the puppy they sell you will go to a good home.
Finally, the most reliable breeders will have a reputation for integrity, quality and proven value, known by the veterinarians in their area and will have a clean record from the Better Business Bureau. Satisfied customers will gladly meet or speak with you to sing their praises. Reputable breeders' dogs are always kept in humane and comfortable conditions, with areas for them to exercise and socialize with humans and other dogs. Good breeders are notorious for showing lots of love for all their animals.
If breeders produce pedigreed animals, they will clearly present the history of the line, its champions, and show winners.
By contrast, pet mill brokers will just take out newspaper ads or free online classified ads where no screening or validation occurs, and announce that hundreds of puppies are available at discount prices, sometimes with many different breeds listed. These are red flags that should tell you to NEVER buy a puppy from one of these ads.
Hope and Change
Customers are demanding change, organizing protests, and seeing to it that animals are protected. In Orange County, California, consumers demanded that a mall management company stop renting to businesses that sold puppy mill animals. Consumer rights activists in Boston, Massachusetts have demanded full disclosure on the origin of each animal sold in local pet shops.
If you want to make a difference, visit the ASPCA website (www.aspca.org) to find out what's happening in your area. To find a high quality, reputable breeder, consult the professionals at www.pets4you.com.