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Denver & Boulder, Colorado

Buyers Tips

Buying a Pet

All too often, common sense flies out the window when faced with an adorable animal, but buying a pet is a long-term investment. Most dogs will be with you for at least 10-12 years and cats usually live even longer. Buying an unhealthy animal or dealing with an unethical breeder can bring heartbreak and financial strain. As with any other purchase, the more you know before you buy, the better off you will be. Unlike other purchases, going to the wrong source can encourage the breeding of more unhealthy and unwanted animals.

First, always check out the breeder or pet shop with the BBB. If the report isn't concerning, take the next steps to ensure you are making a safe and sound purchase:

Look for a breeder who has only one or two breeds and follows a breeding plan in an effort to preserve and protect the breed(s). This type of breeder usually breeds few or no litters each year, and only when a litter will enhance the breed and breeding program. A responsible breeder screens breeding stock to eliminate hereditary defects from the breed; and questions potential buyers to find just the right homes for their animals. The breeder should be willing to take back any animal that does not work out, be available for advice after purchase, and guarantee their animals are free of genetic diseases common in their breed or replace the pet if the disease should crop up.

QUESTIONS TO ASK BREEDERS:

A responsible breeder should readily answer these questions. Be sure to ask before you look at the animals, as it may be difficult to walk away from a cute puppy or kitten once you have seen it.

1) How long have you been involved with this breed and have you been involved with other breeds?

2) Have your breeding dogs' eyes and hips been checked? Are they registered with the Canine Eye Registration Foundation and the Orthopedic Foundation For Animals?

3) Is there a health guarantee? How long? The guarantee should be for the life of the puppy. Many genetic diseases are not detectable until the dog is more than two years old.

4) Are the parents at least two years old?

5) Will you give us the names of references, including other pet buyers and your veterinarian?

6) Do you require that pets be spayed or neutered?

7) At what age do you place animals? (Puppies should stay with Mom and siblings until at least eight weeks of age.)

8) How often do you breed?

A responsible breeder will also want to gather information about potential pet buyers. The breeder will want to know if you have had other pets, whether you have children, if you rent or own, house or apartment, fenced yard, if you are familiar with dog laws in your community, and whether you are aware of the costs involved with owning and maintaining a pet.

Some WARNING SIGNS include:

*The breeder does not ask you many questions.
*The breeder lacks knowledge about the breed.
*The breeder shows ignorance or denial of genetic defects in the breed.
*The breeder does not let you observe the baby animals or adults, or let you see the kennels.
*The animals are not socialized or seem afraid of other animals or humans.
*The breeder offers to meet you somewhere away from their kennel/home.
*The breeder guarantees the dog is free of genetic defects for two years or less.
*Be wary of sound-alike dog registries.

Also, due to the many scams online, the BBB warns to not purchase a pet from someone out of state. If you cannot meet the breeder and the animal before purchasing it, it is very likely to be a scam. Especially if the so-called breeder or seller asks for money up front and/or payment via wire transfer.

A word about "Designer Dogs". If you choose to purchase a 'designer' or mixed breed puppy, keep in mind that all of the breeder questions and warnings signs still apply. Don't be fooled by the lure of those that claim to be combining the best of both breeds. Without the proper health testing, they may just be combining the worst, instead.

The AKC, the CKC The UKC and other national and local breed and kennel clubs maintain lists of member breeders. Most clubs maintain a code of ethics for breeders. Veterinarians, groomers, boarding kennel operators and dog shows are also good sources of information.

RESOURCES:

American Kennel Club
www.akc.org
212-696-8200

The Canadian Kennel Club
www.ckc.ca/en

Dog Owner's Guide Online
www.canismajor.com

Canine Eye Registration Foundation, www.vet.purdue.edu/~yshen/cerf.html
765-494-8179

The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals
www.offa.org
573-442-0418

The Canine Inherited Disorders Database
http://www.upei.ca/~cidd/intro.htm

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