When looking for a pet — adopt don’t shop

I overheard someone the other day saying that he almost brought home two Rottweiler-cross pups.

“The guy only wanted $50 each for them, I thought that was a great deal,” he said.

Turns out, the puppies didn’t even have their eyes open yet. Thank goodness he decided not to buy them.

Post-pandemic, we seem to have a new dynamic in acquiring pets. For the longest time, the credo “adopt, don’t shop” was a strong influence. After experiencing the boredom and idle time of lockdown, people seem to have turned back to the shopping idea.

There are plenty of good, responsible, and reliable dog breeders, and just about every breed is available if you are willing to wait and pay the price. But there is the issue — the wait and the price.

Responding to demand, I am seeing far too many questionable breeders offering questionable breeds — crosses, mixes, sometimes basically mutts, but with cute names to suggest value.

I’ll be the first to say that many of these dogs work out just fine and can be lovely pets which deserve to live with loving families. But please don’t take that as an endorsement of these breeders or their practises. All too often such animals do not make good pets, have major health issues (no pedigree means you will have no idea how inbred they are or who their parents may be) and, worst of all, they may have behavioural issues owing to genetics or how they were treated before you get them.

Just because your cousin got a pup from a puppy mill and it turned out great doesn’t mean you should roll the dice, too. I am often asked “How can I make my pet behave?” by people looking for a food, supplement, toy, or some other miracle. Sometimes, with professional training and a lot of love, behavioural issues can be fixed. But there is often no answer.

If you are shopping for a dog, invest some time and do the research: visit the facility, watch how the puppies are raised, get health reports on the parents, and if you decide to take a pup, have it immediately checked by your vet (on the way home, even). Just because a seller says their vet said a dog is healthy doesn’t mean a second opinion is not a good idea. You’d never trust that a used car is in good shape because the seller’s mechanic said so.

The best way of adding a pet to your family is adoption. There are plenty of animals looking for homes, and you should be able to find one that fits your needs. Sometimes you can even foster for a few weeks to see if there is a fit. There are many different shelters and rescues, and many dedicated to specific breeds (although many of those will offer other options).

Doing your due diligence when adding to your family is important, as this is a decision that will affect everyone for a decade or more. Getting everyone involved and on board with the decision will make the whole process smoother and more likely to succeed. For you and the pet.

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