OTTAWA COUNTY, Mich. — Have you ever seen posts on social media that say, “I'm looking for black Labrador puppies, where do I go?” or “Does anyone know where I can find a standard poodle?”
This could lead you down a rabbit hole to fall victim to bad players.
Buyers beware! According to the Better Business Bureau, pet fraud made up 35% of scam reports last year.
But you’re in luck, because it is possible to find purebred dogs at shelters and rescues nationwide.
All you need is a little patience.
Maise, a purebred golden retriever, was adopted from a shelter by Harbor Humane Society’s Executive Director Jen Self-Aulgur.
“I do recommend, especially if you're looking for a specific breed, get to know your local shelter," Self-Aulgur said.
It’s estimated that around 20-30% of all shelter dogs are purebreds.
“Every month at least, we have probably 10 or so that come through. And that kind of ebbs and flows," Self-Aulgur said.
There are various reasons why a purebred dog may end up at the shelter, including financial ones.
“Sometimes we see medical issues where they can't afford that, and they may turn them in. Sometimes we see breeders that, you know, they don't want the moms anymore, and they turn them into a shelter," Self-Aulgur said.
That abandoned mom may be one of the dogs being kept producing litter after litter at a puppy mill or by a backyard breeder.
“I think people need to be aware of buying from a pet store or buying online. Typically, those animals are coming from puppy mills," Self-Aulgur said.
According to the Humane Society of the United States, there are roughly 10,000 active puppy mills in the U.S.
The parents often suffer from starvation, are kept in small overcrowded cages and sleep in their own filth.
“Unfortunately, as with anything, there's a lot of bad players out there. And we always look at if someone's breeding their dog, it should be for the betterment of the breed, not to make money," Self-Aulgur said.
Behavioral specialists say if you are going to choose a breeder, do your research. Ask a lot of questions and get a full medical history on the parents.
“Your breeder should welcome you to meet the parents of those dogs, they should be kept in the house, they should not be bred in a kennel or barn environment, even if they're herding dogs," said Jen Gavin, owner of A Pleasant Dog.
Don’t rule out your local shelter or rescue.
“I would recommend is check your local shelter first and see what they have. And then I highly recommend that people do or go and use petfinder.com.”
Browse pets for a network of more than 11,500 shelters and rescues from around the country.
On Petfinder, you can narrow your search by breed, age, size and more.
“I think the most important thing is to make sure that the source of your puppy is reputable. And to check with a third party like a vet or a trainer, if you have any questions," Gavin said.
“They take in a lot of a specific breeds either from the public, or they may transfer them in from a shelter. And then those dogs are typically in a foster situation," Self-Aulgur said.
It’s true, there are sometimes long wait times at shelters or rescues for a popular breed, but adding a new family member that loves you unconditionally and saves a life—it's worth it.
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