I’ve seen it again and again.
A new puppy comes in for its first examination, and it’s a train wreck. A “train wreck” is defined as a patient with so many problems the doctor doesn’t know where to start.
Usually there are warning signs a potential new owner should have seen, but sometimes love clouds our vision.
One of the biggest red flags is hearing, “My house is hard to find. I’ll just meet you on the highway.” Such a breeder doesn’t want you to see the other train-wreck puppies, the train-wreck sire and dam, or the train-wreck facility he runs.
Flea markets are often a source of some of the sickest puppies I’ve seen in 32 years of practice. Like the above example, the “breeder” doesn’t want you to see what conditions are like at home. He can clean up a wire cage or two, shampoo a dozen puppies and hit the road easier than he can rehabilitate his entire venture.
Suppose you do get invited “home,” here are some danger signs:
- odor (we’re talking stench here, not just failure to clean up a recent accident).
- multiple breeds. The most reputable breeders focus on one or two breeds, three at the most.
- a good, healthy puppy will be well-adjusted, not fearful of strangers, ready to play.
- thin, sickly-looking puppies.
- no medical records. By the time a puppy is old enough to show to potential buyers, they should have had at least two visits to a veterinarian. If the person you’re considering doing business with is a do-it-yourselfer, run the other way.
- large-breed puppies whose parents are not certified free from hip dysplasia.
- no warranty. You should be allowed at least one business day to have a new puppy examined by your veterinarian, with the right to return the puppy if any serious problems are found. Warning: You need to plan in advance to stick with this plan before you fall in love with a new pup.
Click here to read a horror story from a warranty examination.
There are some wonderful breeders who do everything in their power to improve the breeds they are involved in. It may require some work, but you can find a good, clean facility run by responsible breeders such as Cathy,
where our Willie came from.
And, of course, always try to make a shelter pet your first choice.
See you next week, Dr. Randolph.