TAMMY FOSTER: Looking for a Pet? Beware Irresponsible Backyard Breeders
As the war against homeless, unwanted, neglected and abused animals wages on in Moore County and as Christmas approaches, I find myself compelled to offer my opinions about purchasing purebred puppies.
The only reason a responsible breeder breeds dogs (or cats, for that matter) is to improve their breed. Believe me, they are not doing it for the money.
After doing all the genetic testing required for their breed; searching for a mate whose owner has also done the required testing; breeding a female and keeping her healthy during her pregnancy; whelping and spending countless hours caring for and properly socializing a litter of puppies; worming, providing shots and checkups for a litter of puppies; and organizing all the paperwork involved with a purebred puppy, the $1,000 or so a breeder will get for a puppy is a bargain!
You, as potential owner of a purebred puppy, need to do your homework. And if you don't and simply believe what an irresponsible breeder tells you, then you will end up with an unhealthy, poorly socialized and possibly not purebred puppy.
I urge you to do four things:
-- First, go to the AKC Web site as well as the parent Web site for the breed you are interested in. You will find standards for your breed. The standards will include size, temperament, color, history, etc. Of course, these standards, in their strictest forms, are for dogs used for showing, but a purebred puppy should not deviate from them too much. Good breeders of all types of dogs are seeing their beloved breeds watered down by backyard breeders looking for a quick buck.
-- Second, go to Web sites such as OFA, CERF, AVMA, OPTIGEN and others to learn about genetic disorders that are inherent in the breed you are interested in. A good breeder will only breed a female who is clear of any disorders and will only breed her to a male who is also clear of these disorders. That breeder should provide you, the new owner of one of their puppies, with copies of all these health clearances. If a breeder will not provide this paperwork, do not purchase the puppy. Responsible breeders have spent hundreds of dollars to test their breeding dogs in an effort to drastically reduce the chances of any puppies suffering from these disorders.
-- Third, you should expect to fill out a questionnaire or be asked personal questions. Don't take it personally. A good breeder will only sell a puppy to a good home. Breeders who have spent many hours holding, caring for and worrying about their puppies are not about to let one go to just anyone who comes up with the money. And you should expect that your breeder would insist that you spay or neuter your puppy by six months of age.
-- Fourth, make sure that you have been provided proper paperwork with the purchase of your puppy. You should have copies of formal, AKC-certified pedigrees going out at least three generations for both mom and dad. You should have copies of both parents' AKC certified registrations, as well as the application for your puppy. The litter should be registered. But then you, as the new owner, will register your puppy. And, again, you should be provided copies of all health clearances for mom and dad as well as shots and worming records for the puppy.
I believe that irresponsible backyard breeding is a huge part of our pet overpopulation here in Moore County. Uneducated breeders are selling puppies to uneducated owners. Educate yourself about the breed you are interested in. If you are truly looking for a purebred puppy, do your research, find a reputable breeder, and then expect to pay the price.
If you are looking for an undocumented "purebred" puppy, then consider adopting one from the Animal Center or one of the rescue groups in the area. There are lots of "purebreds" in the shelters. You will pay less than you might with a backyard breeder, you will be rescuing a dog that has been surrendered, and you will help control our pet overpopulation by putting irresponsible "breeders" out of business.
Tammy Foster lives in Vass.
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