Signs of Puppy Farming
and Spotting Unethical Breeders
Rachel Mulheron, Director of Pet Insurance at helpucover, addresses how buyers can know the signs of puppy farming to circumvent disreputable breeders and instead purchase happy, healthy pets from reliable sources.
The challenges to finding your perfect puppy
The latest news has revealed The United States Department of Agriculture has removed thousands of documents, research, and data once available to the public, law enforcement, and animal welfare agencies from its website.
Many relied on this information to enforce certain state laws that say pet stores cannot acquire puppies from commercial breeders that have severe animal welfare violations. To summarize, this means that the worst violators of puppy breeding could possibly get away with unlawful practices. With this worrying news being made public, what can consumers do to know the signs of puppy farming and instead make sure they buy a puppy from a reputable breeder?
Recognizing an untrustworthy source
Dogs from puppy farms are usually accompanied by false and forged documentation which leads buyers to think they have been imported legally or bred in the USA. Often these puppies have not been vaccinated against rabies or have been given vaccinations prematurely, so they are futile. If found to have been illegally imported, puppies will be quarantined, and in these cases, the fees must be paid by the owners.
These puppies are often sold via online and newspaper ads and are generally a lot cheaper than U.S. bred puppies of the same breed. Such practices also tend to offer ‘multiple breeds’ for sale. Something unusual to note is that these practices tend to offer ‘multiple breeds’ for sale when even the most experienced breeders only focus on one breed. These are tell-tale signs of puppy farming and there may be an illegal breeding program in place.
Health and behavioral problems associated with puppy farms
Often puppies from puppy farms can seem fine at first appearance, but progressively often display signs of fatal illnesses. The Humane Society of the United States, summarizing the puppy buyer complaints they received from 2007-2011, specified 40 percent of these puppies contracted diseases such as pneumonia and parvovirus and 34 percent had congenital defects. This highlights many may not have been raised by responsible breeders.
All responsible breeders will follow recommended breeding guidelines and make use of health screening schemes, to help owners forecast the puppy’s future health. Your breeder should be able to paint a clear picture of what this encompasses and what they are aiming to accomplish with their dogs.
When seeing your puppy for the first time, check their eyes, which should be bright and shiny. While a small amount of mucus and watery tears is normal, any yellow-green pus, a lot of watery eye discharge, or a sticky eye can all be signs of a problem. The pink lining of the eyelids should not be inflamed or swollen.
A healthy coat, whether short or long, is sleek and supple, without dandruff, excessive greasiness or bald spots. There should be no swelling or redness inside the ears, and your puppy shouldn’t scratch its ears or shake its head recurrently.
Dr John Bradshaw, director of the Anthrozoology Institute at the University of Bristol in the UK, reports on puppy farm breeding practices leading to an increase in hostile and dangerous dogs. If you notice any behavioral issues such as trembling, erratic sleeping patterns, food aggression and lack of height or depth perception, it is likely these are signs of puppy farming and you have been deceived into buying from a puppy farm.
Prioritize ‘meeting the family’
It is wise to have a vet of your own choosing inspect your potential puppy preceding the signing of a sale contract, to identify any possible future complications. If your breeder is professional or semi-professional rather than simply breeding one litter for their personal enjoyment, they should also be prepared to offer some references from buyers of previous litters. If your seller cannot oblige any of these requests, then it’s best not to take the transaction any further.
The breeder should give you the chance to see the puppy with its mother, the rest of the litter, and if possible the sire. This will give you an idea of the forthcoming characteristics and size of the puppy.
Never agree to have the puppy delivered to your home address, meet the seller to collect the puppy, or pay for the puppy in advance, as these are all common exercises from puppy farms.
Do your research and fill out the right paperwork
There are ways of guaranteeing you source your puppy from an appropriate breeder, by looking at the AKC Breeder of Merit Program. The AKC provides the most comprehensive and up-to-date list of breeders and available pedigree puppies.
Ask the seller for details of a Contract of Sale before acquiring your puppy. This should detail both the breeders’ and your responsibility to the puppy and make you aware of any caveats in your contract. If your puppy is a pedigree, you will need detailing of your dog’s ancestry, and it is the breeder’s duty to make you aware of any health issues.
If you are in the process of finding a puppy and think you have discovered one which could be from a puppy farm or unethical breeder, contact your local police station or animal charity and report the incident as soon as possible.
“Signs of Puppy Farming – How to Spot Unethical Breeders”
MY QUESTION FOR YOU TODAY:
Have you gotten a dog from a puppy farm?
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