Adding a new, furry companion to your family is a big decision and commitment. While the BC SPCA encourages pet guardians to adopt animals from BC SPCA shelters or other rescue organizations, the society recognizes British Columbians often buy animals from breeders. If you are purchasing a pet from a breeder, there are several ways to ensure you’re choosing a reputable source, and not a breeder who runs a puppy or kitten mill, where animals are usually kept in horrible conditions.
“The most important thing is to make sure you’re able to see the breeder’s housing circumstances – don’t meet someone on a corner or coffee shop or shopping centre – you should be able to go straight to where the animal was raised,” says Amy Morris, BC SPCA officer, policy and outreach, in a helpful Tip Tuesday video. “It’s also important that the puppy or kitten is socialized, and introduce to all kinds of things, like children, other animals, and sights and sounds they haven’t been exposed to.”
Morris notes that purebred animals often have genetic health problems, including breathing, eye and back issues, and reputable breeders will be open and willing to talk about any related potential problems.
“Knowing where your pet comes from is extremely important – most people likely don’t want to support the neglect and cruelty that is so often associated with puppy and kitten mills,” Morris says.
Here are a few more tips when sourcing a reputable breeder:
Reputable breeders will:
- Happily show you their home or facility, introduce you to all their animals, including the mother of the pet you are considering adopting, and often belong to a breed group or organization where members adhere to a strict code of ethics
- Have no more than two or three breeds or species, have a clean and spacious home or facility with the opportunity for animals to receive regular exercise outside their kennels/cages, and will provide veterinary records to show the animals are healthy
- Openly discuss the positive and negative aspects of the breed, won’t breed puppies and kittens who are too young or too old, or breed too often, and won’t let puppies go to new homes before eight weeks of age and not less than 10 weeks for kittens
- Ask you several questions about your lifestyle and experience with animals to ensure you’re a good match, and will have a contract for you to sign that lists your responsibilities to the animal you are purchasing, as well as their responsibilities, and outlines their health guarantee for the animal
Disreputable breeders will:
- Agree to sell you a puppy or kitten without meeting you (i.e. over the phone)
- Not allow you to come and meet them and/or the animals before purchase
- Sell their animals to pet stores or brokers
- Not ask questions about your lifestyle and experience with animals
- Have a rundown or crowded facility
- Be reluctant to show you their facility
- Have dirty, unhealthy and/or unsocialized animals
- Sell animals without vaccinations, veterinary check or guarantees against health problems including genetic defects
- Charge extra for kennel club registration and/or pedigree