Porky & Buddy’s Pet Health: A Puppy for Christmas

Dear Porky & Buddy,

Help! I want to get a puppy for my kids for Christmas and I really want a purebred so I will know just what I am getting. So I tried to find one at the local shelters and by looking on Petfinder.org, but there are none to be had. So then I checked our local pet store here in town and they say their puppies (which are adorable) all come from local breeders, not puppy mills, so what is wrong with buying a puppy at the pet store, as long as it doesn’t come from a puppy mill? I would never do that.


Dear Diane,

The plain fact of the matter is that if you buy a puppy from a retail pet store you are buying a puppy mill puppy. It may be a local puppy mill, kept just small and local enough to fly under the radar of the federal regulations and inspections. More likely, it was purchased from either a federally regulated pet dealer (a puppy mill) or from a federally regulated broker who buys from the puppy mills and then sells to pet stores. They are all puppy mill puppies.

Responsible purebred dealers do not sell their puppies at pet stores. They don’t need to. They care about them and want to be in control of their care until they find new homes and they want to ensure that their carefully bred and nurtured puppies go to good homes.

A recent investigation by the Humane Society of the United States of 100 New York City pet stores found that every single on of them was purchasing puppies from puppy mills, some of them the most notoriously abusive puppy mill operators in the country. This, in spite of claims on some of their websites and in their stores that all of their puppies were coming from responsible local breeders. Those were outright lies. You can read the report at http://www.humanesociety.org/assets/pdfs/pets/puppy_mills/new_york_pet_stores.pdf

But you really want a puppy for your kids and it’s almost Christmas and who are we to be Scrooges about this? So here is one idea. Look for a reputable local breeder of the breed you are interested in. You may have to travel a bit to do that, but try. A reputable breeder will be glad to show you the puppy’s parents, where they are kept, the veterinary records, what other dogs are on the premises. A reputable breeder will give you references to check, including the veterinary they use. A reputable breeder will not be selling a smorgasbord of breeds, only one, maybe two, because the breeder cares about and wants to promote that particular breed. If the breeder doesn’t have any puppies right now, you can find out when a litter is expected and you may be able to reserve a puppy from that litter. So then give your kids the joy of delayed gratification—a bed, food and water dishes, toys, puppy food, treats, and a promise of a puppy when one is available. And give them a video and some books about caring for puppies. Take them to the dog park to see puppies in action. Take them to a shelter that needs volunteer walkers, so they can experience the thrill of being dragged around behind a leash (under your supervision of course).

And maybe while you are there you will all fall madly in love with some scruffy nondescript grown up mutt. And all of you, including your new mutt, will have a very Merry Christmas indeed!

Are you looking for a scruffy nondescript grown up mutt? Check out the Humane Society’s interesting selection at www.oswegohumane.org. And if those dogs aren’t scruffy enough go to www.petfinder.org, put in your zip code and your general preferences and look at all the homeless dogs (and cats) who would love to go home for the holidays.

The Oswego County Humane Society provides spay/neuter assistance, information and referral, adoption assistance to pet owners, humane education programs, foster care and adoption for pets in urgent need, assistance with lost and found pets. Our administrative offices and spay/neuter clinic are located at 265 West First Street, Oswego, New York. Check our web site at www.oswegohumane.org or call (315) 207-1070 for more information or to be placed on our mailing list for our newsletter.