Beware The Scourge of Internet Puppy Sales!

Dr. Patty Khuly

Purchasing Pets Online

The holiday season has come and gone and for most dog-and-cat vets like me, that means our work days are chocked with… puppies!

Puppies are awesome, of course. In fact, puppies are so irresistibly adorable they’re widely credited for making our veterinary jobs the most sought-after profession in the world. But I’m here to tell you that even puppies have a down-side. After all, is there anything worse than a sick puppy?

Veterinarians see puppies all year long. But there’s something special about the holidays that brings the dark side of the puppy world into sharper focus. Because this time of the year is fraught with a great deal of commercialism in the puppy world, it’s inevitable that breeding for health and temperament would often take a back seat to breeding that seeks to stock pet stores and puppy shops with enough widgets to keep the cash register zinging with glee all December long.

But lately, it’s getting so that it’s not just the “We Sell Puppies!” kind of places you have to worry about. The internet has quickly become the go-to zone for sourcing supposedly “top breeder quality” pets.

Indeed, I have loads of really caring clients who seek to become the best animal parents they can… but they make the mistake of buying into the myth of the “responsible” internet breeder when sourcing their canine soul mates. They truly believe that finding the perfect pet can happen via a simple online transaction.

And why? It’s because the Internet allows you to purchase a pup conveniently and quickly (albeit sight unseen) with all the assurances that the puppy is “temperament tested” and “x-disease certified” by a “responsible” breeder.

Though you can’t readily verify most of these common claims, believing that you’ve done your due diligence is a lot easier when the website is lousy with glorious shots of pups that may or may not even be related to the one you’ll soon pick up at the airport… and almost invariably fall in love with.

Yes, internet breeders get to have their cake and eat it too. Because, by the time you’ve received your wonderful bundle of joy, you’re almost certainly unwilling to return it should you learn you’ve received an unhealthy baby. Which wouldn’t be the ginormous problem it is except for the fact that so many of these pups qualify as either obviously unthrifty or bear signs of serious genetic defects that will doubtlessly lead to serious healthcare concerns in the not-too-distant future.

Yes, despite the fact that many states have lemon laws governing these interactions –– whether we’re talking about online or on-site live animal sales –– precious few pet owners take advantage of these “money-back guarantees.” I mean, who returns a sick animal to an uncertain future?

That’s why your best bet is to always see the premises, the parents, the breeder license, and the veterinary records. Another good tip is to interview the breeder by telephone first so you don’t take a flight or drive for hours just to get a bad feeling from a breeder who knows you’re there to take a pup home regardless of how things go.

After all, love at first sight is hard to resist. So just remember, dishonest puppy dealers prey on our best intentions. Protect yourself and your family from heartbreak accordingly.

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