Backyard Breeders & Puppy Farms
There are many so called "breeders" who think they can make a quick buck by selling a litter of pups or kittens. Speak to any reputable breeder and they will tell you there is a lot of hard work and expense, and not much profit to be made. It is a hobby and love of the breed that keeps them going.
There are also some breeders who have a genetic defect(s) in their breeding animals and are happy to sell pups or kittens knowing full well that in the near future, a particular problem may surface.
How do you recognise and avoid a backyard breeder?
- Pet not microchipped
By law, it is compulsory to microchip all animals at point of sale.
Rangers are empowered to fine anyone selling pets who have not been microchipped.
Any breeder who comes up with some excuse about the microchip not being done should be avoided straight away
- Pet not vaccinated or wormed
Combine this one with "not microchipped" and it's time to walk away ASAP. Corners are definitely being cut here.
There is a high chance the mother has not been vaccinated either, meaning no maternal antibodies have passed across in the milk to protect the newborn pup or kitten from some of the more common viruses e.g. cat flu, parvovirus
- Litter mates sick or in poor condition
There may be a serious illness or genetic defect in the litter.
- Dirty smelly premises
This is an obvious sign that corners are being cut in the upkeep of the kennels. If they are not keeping the setup spick and span, what else are they cutting corners on?
- Unable to show you the parents of the pup or kitten
Alarm bells ring when you hear this one. There may be something very obviously wrong with one or both parents so insist on seeing them first.
Don't listen to the old "died giving birth" or "got run over last week" excuse. If the mother died at birth due to birthing difficulties, no doubt a vet would have been on hand and if not, why not. You could speak to their vet to confirm.
Similarly, why would you have your breeding stock running loose on the road?
- Not registered with the Kennel Club
If they are not registered, avoid them. Contact the president of the respective kennel club before buying to see who they recommend (and who to avoid)
- Not had any Hip or Elbow Dysplasia tests done on the parents
Reputable dog breeders will have had both parents tested for hip and elbow dysplasia. Ask for copies of their reports and check the scores against the breed averages for Australia. Ask your vet for assistance with this if you are unsure what to ask for.
Don't just rely on the breeder telling you they have not had any problems.
On this issue, some unscrupulous breeders knowing or suspecting they have a problem in their breeding line, come up with a ridiculous home made diet they insist you feed your new pet on. Most owners are then told by their vet to change to a better diet. When a problem arises in the near future e.g. elbow dysplasia, the breeder's response will be that the owners did not follow the recommended diet and that's why the problem occurred. What a laugh!
- DNA Testing
With modern advances, pets can be screened a for multitude of congenital/hereditary conditions from a saliva sample. Its like CSI for pets. Top breeders use DNA testing to screen for possible "carriers" of disease in their breeding line so they can avoid breeding with them e.g. Haemophilia in Dobermans.
If your breeder is doing DNA testing,, its a great sign they are on the ball, and you should be more confident in dealing with them.
If you are paying for a top of the range pet (e.g. potential race winning greyhound), the DNA of the pup or kitten can be matched to the parents.
Buying Pups or Kittens Online: Is it a Puppy Farm?
Unless you can see the kennels, anyone can setup a webpage and put whatever photos on it they like to make a puppy or kitten farm look like a bed of roses. Recent TV coverage of horrible conditions of puppy and kitten farms should make you beware of dealing with kennels you can't physically visit.
Insist on visiting the breeding facilities when purchasing a new pet.
Let's be honest here. These designer dogs are cross breeds, not pure breeds.
They were originally thought up by a vet who was trying to find a suitable dog for a family with allergies to fine coated dogs. It has expanded since then. Cross bred dogs are generally less likely to have genetic defects (better hybrid vigor) but they are cross breeds.
None of these designer breeders have spent all the time and money of your top breeders who have invested heavily on getting as close as possible to a perfect breed.
So don't pay some lazy backyard breeder thousands or hundreds for a cross bred dog. Go to your local RSPCA or animal shelter and buy a desexed and vaccinated pet and save it from euthanasia.
By buying from a backyard breeder, it encourages them to breed again.
Leave the breeding to the professionals and I repeat, have a look at the great pets on sale on your local pet shelter first and reduce the number of unwanted pets that have no home.
Vet Checks at Purchase
It is vitally important to have your new pet check by a vet as soon as it comes home. The vet will check there are no obvious abnormalities e.g. heart murmurs, un-descended testicles, umbilical hernias, cleft palate.
There is nothing worse than owning a new pet for a few weeks only to be told some bad news when in for the second round of vaccines around 12 weeks of age.
Before handing over the money to a breeder, ask for a money back guarantee in writing should the vet find a major problem with the pet.