Last month I wrote about two puppies that I rescued from two Chinese students who flunked out of college in Connecticut and could no longer keep the puppies. The puppies were purchased from a breeder in upstate New York, and by the time I got them, at six months old, they showed signs of severe neglect and malnourishment. It is easy to place the blame on the students, however most of the blame lies squarely on the breeder’s shoulders.
Clearly, the breeder did not ask the right questions when interviewing these potential buyers. She said they were nice, loving men and she saw no problems in selling them puppies. These nice, loving men, however, had no clue about caring for dogs in general, let alone seven-week-old puppies.
That was the breeder’s first mistake; selling puppies at seven weeks old. In many states, including New York, it is against the law to sell a puppy under eight weeks old. By her own admission, this breeder knows the law and sells underage puppies on a regular basis. She said she sees nothing wrong with this. She is breaking the law, plain and simple.
She never asked about the housing of these puppies. If she had she would have found out, as I did in less than five minutes, that their college apartment complex did not allow dogs over 15 pounds. Dobermans are usually over 15 pounds by three months old.
These puppies would not have been put at risk had it not been for this breeder. One almost died. She was more interested getting a huge sum of money, $2300 a piece in fact, than she was with the welfare of these beautiful animals.
So, how do you know you are dealing with a reputable breeder and not just a high priced puppy mill? It all begins with the initial phone call to the breeder. If she asks more questions about you and your home, than you are asking about the puppy, that is a good sign. Her first concern should be for the puppy.
She should ask why you are interested in that particular breed, if you’ve ever owned a dog before, and if you have experience with the breed you are considering.
She should ask about your home and your activity level; are you in an apartment, own your own home, have a fenced in yard, etc. That is not to say you can’t have a large breed in an apartment – there are many big dogs in the middle of the city. But she should ask how you plan to exercise the dog, especially if it is a breed that requires a fair amount of exercise.
She should ask if you have other dogs, or animals as some breeds do better by themselves while others do better as a part of a pack. She should ask if you have researched the breed and what its requirements are for a happy, healthy life. She should also ask about your financial status. If you are struggling, financially, you might not be able to care for the dog properly, i.e. vet bills, grooming, proper diet and so on.
She should ask about family members – are there small children around, people with allergies, the very elderly. Sometimes a small, active puppy can be a strain on a family with very young or very old family members. She will ask if you have ever had a puppy before and if you are familiar with training techniques for your particular breed.
She should also ask if you have ever dealt with an elderly dog before. Many people just see the cute puppy and forget that, some day, this cute puppy with be old and facing many of the same ailments that we do in advanced age. She doesn’t want your loving family member to be given away because you cannot deal with the problems that come with an old dog.
These questions may seem intrusive, but the concerned breeder wants to place her puppy in a forever home where both the puppy and the new owner will be happy for many years. Remember many dogs live to be 10 to 15 years old, some longer depending on the breed. This is a long-term commitment and not to be taken lightly by either the new owner or the breeder.