According to Main Line Animal Rescue—an organization that has saved thousands of dogs born in puppy mills—there are several things you need to know about animal shelters before you get a new pet.
Many people feel that you don't know what you are getting with a rescue dog. In fact, if the dog is being fostered by a rescue organization or staying any amount of time at a better shelter, the dog or puppy has mostly likely been fully vetted and trained, and the volunteers and staff will know if the dog is good with children, good with other dogs or cats, housebroken, etc.
The best way to learn more about a shelter or rescue is by contacting their veterinarian. Find out if they spay or neuter their dogs prior to releasing them to their new families. Good shelters and rescues often spay or neuter their pets before placement. Find out if they test their cats for feline AIDS and feline leukemia.
As with responsible breeders, a good rescue always takes their dogs or cats back if there is a problem.
When giving up your pet, never place an ad or post online: "Free to Good Home." People who need "bait" for dogfights and "bunchers," who look for free animals to sell for medical research, are always looking for free dogs and cats.
Recognize a Good Breeder
When choosing a breeder look for one who does the following:
- Ideally, keeps his or her pets as part of the family.
- Encourages you to meet and spend time with your puppy's parents, and allows you to see where they spend most of their time. Area is clean and well maintained.
- Insists on meeting potential adoptive families. Will not sell their dogs to just anyone.
- Doesn't sell animals too young—sells puppies only after they are 8 to 12 weeks old, and 8 to 10 weeks old for kittens.
- Can provide references from other families who have purchased puppies.
- Keeps breeding dogs healthy, well fed, and well socialized.
- Provides professional veterinary care for all their animals.
- Performs health tests on fathers and mothers prior to breeding to ensure their puppies do not have genetic defects.
- Has a good relationship with a local veterinarian and can show you records of visits for the puppy.
- Bases breeding frequency on mother's health, age, condition and recuperative abilities.
- Does not breed extremely young or old animals.
- Discusses positive and negative aspects of particular animals and breeds with potential owners.
- Encourages multiple visits to meet the puppy.
- Will take back any of their animals, at any time and for any reason.