You may have heard about Assembly Bill no. 485 becoming law at the start of 2019. Here are my thoughts on the matter and general advice about obtaining a new pet.
This new law prohibits a pet store operator from selling animals unless they were obtained from a public animal control agency, shelter, or animal rescue group. This legislation does not prohibit someone from obtaining an animal directly from a breeder. As we support and urge everyone to adopt their pets from an animal shelter or rescue, we are aware that for various reasons some prospective pet owners insist on obtaining their pets from breeders.
For those who will still be obtaining pets from breeders we urge the following:
- Never meet a breeder in a parking lot or other public place. Scam artists use this tactic to offload sick puppies – then they disappear, leaving new owners stuck with veterinary expenses and heartache. Scammers often make up stories for sympathy. In fact, they are brokers who obtain pets from substandard sources and resell them for profit. Be wary of craigslist ads.
- With reputable breeders you can visit the home and make certain the living conditions are sanitary and humane. See the animal’s parents and the nursery area yourself. Many breeders will also have past references which you can ask for.
- Make sure the breeder is responsible. They should screen and guarantee against hereditary defects, offer a refund/return policy, evaluate buyers and sell only to people who they believe will give their animals a good home. Many responsible breeders often belong to purebred dog/cat breeding clubs, show their animals in competitions, and demonstrate high ethical values regarding the breeding of animals.
- Obtain a receipt for your purchase and positive identification of who you purchase the pet from. Insist upon a guarantee for good health and against genetic defects. You can demand that the pet has been examined by a veterinarian and obtain copies of its medical records. If medical records are missing, be prepared to take on a sick animal and subsequent financial burden.
Again, we encourage everyone to make their local animal shelter their first choice for obtaining their new pet. This helps reduce unnecessary euthanasia of animals, and many wonderful pets can be found there. There are many purebred animals in animal shelters, so if your heart is set on a particular breed you will likely find it at a shelter.
Also, there are rescue groups for almost every purebred breed of dog. They can easily be found on the internet or by asking your shelter for a referral. Screen the rescue as you would a breeder, to ensure the animals are humanely cared for, medically treated, and have sound temperaments. Although the vast majority of animal rescue groups are composed of dedicated and compassionate people who behave responsibly, there have been unfortunate examples of poorly run rescue groups that have neglected animals or scammed adopters/donors. Like with breeders, reference checks can be useful to ensure you are dealing with a reputable organization.
Finally, don’t be fooled by the “designer dog” fad, which is really just marketing mixed-breed dogs. We have plenty of these at our animal care centers, too! If you would like to learn more about this misleading trend, I highly recommend the newly released book, “Designer Dogs: An Expose: Inside the Criminal Underworld of Crossbreeding” by Madeline Bernstein. Publisher’s Weekly reported: “[Bernstein’s] advice on finding reputable breeders is sound and will surely be appreciated by readers interested in doing the right thing, and her knowledge of the issue and passion for animals is unassailable.”
I hope this blog has raised your awareness of obtaining a new pet. I look forward to seeing you at one of the Los Angeles County Animal Care Centers adopting your new family member!