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Vetting Pet Breeders–Red Flags. Hi folks, Kelly with AKSPCA here. This post the first of two that is for anyone considering purchasing a purebred dog or cat, or a “designer breed.” There are an increased number of irresponsible or unethical breeders in our state who are producing medically and behaviorally unsound animals; you don’t want to be the owner of one of these pets forced to make a heartbreaking decision when either medical needs or dangerous behavior leaves you with few viable options. Here are some red flags that should give you pause. Individually, it may not be an issue, however, when several of these are combined you are more likely to be dealing with one of folks more interested in money than bettering the breed.
1. The breeder cannot or will not give you the health information for at least three generations back. Think back to high school science folks. Purebreds are already a limited gene pool, meaning that physical characteristics, behavioral characteristics (there is such a thing as congenital aggression!), and disease risk factors are amplified. Responsible breeders breed to enhance favorable characteristics and to be intentional about not increasing incidence of disease or malformation.
2. There is not a contract. A responsible breeder should require that you apply for one of their puppies or kittens. It’s about more than money. The contract should explicitly state care requirements, health standards, and an agreement to take back any pup that for some reason cannot be kept by the new owners.
3. “Designer” pups or kittens being sold. Even the man who developed the Golden Doodle has been quoted as being unhappy with how this has developed. A “designer” dog or cat is just a mixed breed. Don’t fall for hype or breeder marketing.
4. Pups or kittens being sold before they are eight weeks of age. This is especially important for larger breed dogs. Although puppies and kittens are often weaned by six weeks, those last couple of weeks are critical for social development and general health.
5. Breeders who will not let you visit the premises. Huge red flag! One of the maltipoo breeders in the Valley that I’m aware of has more than 40 dogs on her property and will not let buyers see her set up. She is breeding for money, not health.
6. Females are having frequent litters. Most responsible breeders don’t allow their females to breed more than every 18-24 months. Just like with humans, having litters, nursing, and physical recovery takes time. People who care about the health of mom and litters make sure that she’s in top condition before another litter happens.
There are a lot of other red flags but this should get you started. Ask these questions before you look at photos of puppies and kittens; too often we fall in love with the little ones before asking these critical questions. Responsible breeders are choosy about mates for their breeding animals, ensure adequate pre-natal veterinary care, and are invested in futures of the puppies and kittens they produce. This is not a profit-making business for most.