Chapter 5
How To Know The Best Source For Your Dog
Research Where Pet Shops Get their Dogs. Generalizations about pet shops are just that, generalizations. There may be a pet shop that works with responsible breeders to place puppies and not get their dogs from commercial breeders, backyard breeders or puppy mills. If you're thinking of getting a dog from a pet shop, thoroughly research where pet shop gets their dogs. Ask your local pet shop where they get their puppies. If they refuse to give you specific information, chances are good that they're getting their dogs from a commercial breeder or puppy mill. If possible, meet the person who breeds the dogs for the pet shop and meet the puppy's parents. Ask the same questions you'd ask a responsible breeder about health testing, temperament testing, inbreeding (including the puppy's pedigree and COI) and other areas of the breeding program. Keep in mind that all pet shops say that they're different and that they only get their puppies from responsible breeders. Pet shops know commercial breeders and puppy mills are viewed negatively by a broad segment of the general public so don't publicize the fact that they get their animals from these sources. However, unless you can get a breeder's name and have a conversation with them, you can't be sure the pet store really gets its dogs from a responsible breeder. If you can't determine where a pet shop gets its dogs, you can be virtually assured it is from a commercial breeder or a puppy mill. If you aren't satisfied with the answers you get from a pet shop or their breeder about how their breeding program works, you are most assuredly taking an increased risk getting your dog from this pet shop. Some pet shop dogs may not have medical or temperament problems, but telling which dogs are healthy and which dogs aren't can be challenging. Many pet shops offer a 'health guarantee' as a way to demonstrate their dogs are healthy. This health guarantee typically requires you to get the dog examined by a veterinarian within 24 to 72 hours of buying your purchase, and you may have to use a veterinarian on the pet shop's 'approved' list. If the veterinarian certifies that the dog is healthy, the 'health guarantee' is considered satisfied. The problem with this type of 'health guarantee' is that many medical issues that don't surface within 24 to 72 hours of acquiring a dog are not covered. If the dog contracts a virus at the pet shop, it may not show signs of that illness for days or weeks, depending on the illness. For example, parvo, one of the most contagious and deadly diseases of puppies has an incubation period (the time between contact with the virus and the appearance of symptoms) of four to six days. Apparently healthy animals with parvo may be adopted only to become ill up to six days later in their new home causing much heartache and significant expense for the new owners of the dog. Additionally, some medical conditions aren't obvious when the dog is a puppy but instead become apparent only later in the dog's life. Adolescence through age three is a time when many genetic health problems begin to appear. Therefore, when you buy a dog from a pet shop, you have very little assurance that you're getting a healthy dog. Health guarantees don't mean that the dog is healthy; they are more of a marketing tactic to remove your resistance to buying a dog from the pet shop. Even if a veterinarian does uncover an illness, pet shops may make it difficult for you to claim benefits under their health guarantee, or they may simply offer to exchange the puppy for another one. If you choose to get a dog at a pet shop, be prepared to deal with any medical problems, should they surface, even if the puppy seems healthy?