CENTRAL TEXAS — All too often, common sense seems to fly out the window when faced with an adorable animal, but buying a pet is a long-term investment. As with any other purchase, the more you know before you buy, the better off you will be. Before buying a pet this holiday season, Better Business Bureau reminds you to do your research.
Since January, BBB has received close to 500 complaints nationally against dog breeders. Most allege that the puppies developed severe illnesses or, in some cases, passed away shortly after purchase. Additionally, some consumers allege they were misled about the dog's breed or pedigree.
Before making the leap and adding a furry friend to your family this holiday season, consider the following tips:
• Find a responsible breeder. You can find responsible breeders by asking for referrals from your veterinarian or trusted friends or by contacting local breed clubs. Visit bbb.org to see the BBB Business Review of any dog breeder you are considering.
• Visit the premises and ask to see the parents. Responsible breeders provide a loving and healthy environment for their canine companions, one that they will be proud to show you. Before bringing your puppy home, ask to see his or her parents and the living area where he or she was born and raised.
• Ask for references. Ask the breeder for contact information of people who have bought puppies in the past. Talk to people who have had their dog for a while in order to check for issues that may not be immediately apparent.
• Avoid buying a puppy online. If you cannot meet the breeder and the animal before making the purchase, it is very likely to be a scam. Especially if the so-called breeder or seller asks for money up front and/or payment via wire transfer.
• Read contracts thoroughly. If the seller offers a health guarantee, make sure it is in writing. Read it carefully for limits and proof requirements. Guarantees should cover more than a few weeks or days, since it can take weeks for symptoms to appear.
• Ask for medical records. Get a written account of all medical care your puppy has received, including vaccinations and antibiotics. Take this record to your vet during the first examination, which should happen within a couple days of bringing your puppy home.
• Keep your puppy quarantined. If you already have pets, keep them separated from your new puppy until it is given a clean bill of health.