Puppies. I know, I write about puppies a lot. But it is still the topic I get the most questions about, and creates the problems we seem to deal with the most.

Bad breeders are finding new and nefarious ways to trick people into buying puppies. The current “sellers market” has created an atmosphere of “I have to buy it now” among people looking for puppies. Most legitimate breeders have waiting lists that are longer than people are willing to wait.

Puppies are in huge demand. People with extra time on their hands, and looking for something to fill that time are looking for puppies. This opens up the opportunity for scams and less than scrupulous breeders to take advantage of people desperate to find a dog.

Taking the time, and putting in the effort will go a long way to help prevent ending up with a problem puppy, or rewarding a puppy mill owner for abusing animals.

The biggest key is to visit the breeder’s facility. I have had a few people in recently that took this advice, and it saved them from making a huge mistake. One was allowed to visit the breeder only after making a substantial, non-refundable etransfer deposit. Once they got to the facility, they realized that it would be a mistake to complete the transaction. They walked away, but also took the time to contact the authorities and licensing bodies to alert them to the situation.

Some will think “I need to save this puppy” and pay to rescue the pup. While that may rescue this pup, it ensures the puppies mom will be forced to have more litters, and that more animals will continue to be abused. The only way to stop the practice is to report the abusers and make sure they do not sell any more puppies. When the market for their dogs dries up, they will stop the practice.

The best thing to do is to find and reward good breeders. Either ones that raise pedigreed dogs and have documentation of the breeding lines and use professional run kennels or small breeders with one or two dogs who are actually family pets. These care properly for the dogs and their puppies, and will be much more likely to produce healthy, well adjusted pups.

Most puppy mills are quite brazen, may use stock photos for their websites, and offer “free delivery” of the puppies, so that you never see where they are actually coming from. Many even use the cover of COVID to say that you cannot visit the facility. Unfortunately, people who haven’t read my columns may fall victim to these scams. Pups coming from these situations can have permanent issues, both physical and mental, that can be both challenging and expensive to the new pet owner.

Some puppy mills are more nefarious, and may use a co-conspirator who is simply the salesperson, who has never owned or cared for the puppies or mother, but will have the mom and litter dropped off at their home and pretend they raised the pups in their home. If you are looking at a litter of “home raised puppies” and don’t feel that the dog, puppies and seller have a connection, this may be why.

A quality breeder will wait until the pups are at least 8 weeks (9 or 10 preferred) have the pups microchipped, vet checked and offer a 72 hour money back guarantee pending an independent vet inspection (while their vet may have given the pup an exam, you want your vet to look at it too). I know, in a sellers market, you may not have this opportunity, but if you can convince the breeder you are going to give the pup a great home, and that you are doing this kind of research to make sure of that, they should work with you.

The time invested up front may seem excessive, but I guarantee you, it is worth every moment spent.

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