One of the ways we can prevent the sadness we wrote about yesterday in Tila’s story is to stop supporting puppy mills and unscrupulous, indiscriminate breeders.
Today I saw Rocky, a two-year-old, mixed breed small dog who is going to make his new family’s life very happy. He came from our local humane shelter and beat the odds by being adopted at all, then beat them again by being adopted as an “older” pet.
Most people want a little kitten or puppy.
Why adopt from a shelter?
First and foremost, you’re saving a life. There are seven (7) dogs and cats born each day for every one (1) human. We are simply creating more canine and feline offspring than there are homes for them to live in. As a result, the “surplus” is euthanized, humanely put to sleep to make room for the “surplus” that will be arriving again tomorrow.
Second, many shelters, included in the small adoption fee, will have already spayed or neutered your new pet and given partial first vaccinations (be sure to inquire about the need for boosters). Some will even have heartworm-tested adult pets and begun their first dose of heartworm preventive.
What drawbacks might there be? In any location where many stray and unwanted animals are housed together there is a high incidence of upper respiratory tract disease. Most of the sick animals respond quickly to medication. Take the precaution to keep your existing pets separated from new pets for at least three weeks to avoid transmission of communicable disease.
Most shelters lack the funds to test cats and kittens for Feline Leukemia Virus and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus. Therefore, do not allow new and existing felines to have physical contact until tested negative.
What might raise one’s suspicions of puppy mill products?
- Breeders who don’t want you to see where the other animals are housed. Especially be on alert if the breeder says, “I’ll meet you somewhere so you don’t have to drive so far.”
- Flea markets, parking lots, “Christmas specials.” Reputable breeders will be happy for you to not only see their facilities and any parent animals on the premises, but they have showrooms or will invite you into their homes to view the animals.
- Absence of certification for freedom from genetic defects such as hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, PKD (polycystic kidney disease) in Oriental cats, etc. Reputable breeders will not mate animals whose offspring have previously shown genetic defects.
- Absence of veterinarian’s medical records. Reputable breeders are not do-it-yourselfers, and will have every breeding pet and their offspring evaluated by a licensed veterinarian. If you hear, “Oh, we gave the ‘shots’ ourselves,” run, don’t walk, the way you came in.
- Absence of registration papers. However, registration papers prove only that a fee was paid and are no indication of good health.
Life holds no guarantees that our pets will be healthy, regardless of their source. Regular doctor visits, the best quality food you can afford, plenty of clean, fresh water and lots of exercise, love and attention are all important factors to good health.
Getting off to a good start by adopting or purchasing the right pet is important, too.
See you tomorrow, Dr. Randolph,.