Adding a pet to your family is big decision. There are many important factors to consider including the breed, age, and activity level of the pet, as well as your lifestyle, family, home space, and finances. We urge you to consider these factors carefully, learn about the type of animal you are interested in, and contact one of our adoption centers to meet available pets and discuss what kind of animal might be a good fit for your family.
If you feel strongly that a specific breed of dog or cat is the best option for you, try reaching out to breed-specific rescue organizations first. These organizations have evaluated the behavior and medical needs of the animals, they have been vetted, and their staff and volunteers are skilled at match making based on your lifestyle and experience. This can be done by googling: breed rescue and your state. You can also visit our webpage on how to make an informed decision about the integrity of the organization you choose. If you plan to obtain a puppy or kitten from a breeder, consider the following tips.
What to look for in a breeder:
- Responsible breeders usually focus on only one breed. If a breeder has many different types of puppies or kittens available, this could be someone who is distributing pets bred elsewhere (such as a “puppy mill”), rather than truly being a breeder themselves.
- Avoid “free to good home” and other similar ads. Most legitimate breeders have waiting lists and don’t advertise in this manner
- Visiting the home or breeding facility of the breeder, meeting at least one of the parents of the puppy or kitten, and ideally meeting the puppy or kitten itself prior to purchase are important steps in ensuring you are purchasing a heathy pet from a reputable breeder.
- Be very wary of purchasing a pet online or from a non-local breeder whose facility you cannot visit. These days it is very simple to create a webpage with appealing photos that try to disguise an inhumane breeding operation as an animal shelter, rescue organization, or responsible breeder.
- Ask the breeder for references from clients who have recently obtained a pet from them.
- A responsible breeder should interview YOU to make sure that you will provide an excellent home and to determine if he/she has a puppy or kitten that is a good match for your family, preferences and lifestyle. The breeder should also ask you for references.
Medical history and breed information
- Research the breed you are interested in. Know the traits and standards for the breed. Be aware of the common health issues of this breed.
- Responsible breeders are happy to share information about the breed they work with. A responsible breeder has established breeding policies and goals such as improving structure, health, and/or temperament of the breed. They should being willing to share this information about their breeding program with you and ideally include the information on their website.
- Read about breed-appropriate health testing and screening for genetic disorders. Ask the breeder what health and genetic tests have been done on the parents (and ideally grandparents) and what the results were. Ask for documentation. Information on breed specific testing recommendations can be found here for dogs on the AKC Website.
- Ask for the breeder’s policy about what happens if something is medically wrong with the animal. Most responsible breeders will provide some type of guarantee or return policy.
- The animals should look robust and healthy, and be kept in clean conditions that you are allowed to see in person.
- Registration papers are not a guarantee of pedigree or quality of the puppy or kitten and do not mean the puppies or kittens were bred or raised in humane conditions. Many animals from inhumane breeding mills have AKC registration papers.
- The ideal breeder establishes a relationship with their puppy or kitten’s owners and is available to answer questions for the life of the animal.
- Ask about the breeder’s policy if for some reason you can no longer keep the dog or cat. A responsible breeder will almost always take the pet back regardless of age or condition.
A good breeder will be just as concerned with choosing a responsible, loving home to take good care of their animal as you are with finding the right pet for your family.