Do homework when looking for that perfect pet
If you’re looking to add a new puppy or kitten to your family, but are unsure how to go about it, the best place to start is by doing some research and learning what you can about different breed options.
Check the Internet and talk to your veterinarian and friends to make sure you are looking at a breed that fits your family structure, living situation and lifestyle.
Do you want a lap dog to keep you company on the couch or a running partner to accompany you on the trails. Do you have young children or elderly family members?
Do you live in an apartment or have acreage for a pet to run on? How much time can you devote to exercise?
These are just a few of the important questions that need to be considered before you bring home that new family member.
Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, first check your local shelter and humane society to see if any of their residents might fit the bill.
It is often mistakenly assumed that you won’t find what you are looking for in a shelter, but, surprisingly, 20 percent of dogs in a shelter are purebreds. Shelters often have litters of puppies and kittens or you may find an older, mature pet that is already housebroken and doesn’t require much in the way of training.
One benefit of selecting a pet from a shelter is that you will usually have a few days to visit your selected pet and get to know their personality before committing to lifelong ownership.
Also, as part of an agreement with local veterinarians, you will receive a free health check up within the first week to help assure that you are adopting a healthy new pet. This helps to reduce the risk that your new pet might have an unknown and potentially serious medical condition.
Grand Valley veterinarians provide spay, neuter and vaccine services to the shelters that are usually covered in the adoption fee.
If you are set on a particular breed and don’t find what you are looking for at the shelter, then start researching reputable breeders.
A knowledgeable and reputable breeder will have a history of their mating pairs and should be willing to provide you information on several generations of their dogs. Good breeders will have the initial veterinary visits completed including the first series of vaccines before they adopt out any animal.
Reputable breeders are in it for the love of the breed and understand that by the time a litter is weaned, has had shots and has been provided a proper diet, that there is little profit to be gained. They also should provide you a seven-day window to have a veterinary exam with a guarantee that allows you to return the pet if a health condition is discovered.
Backyard breeders often breed animals with congenital defects, don’t typically provide adequate vaccinations and will not help you if a problem is discovered. Worse yet is the unknown breeding history of the mating pair. We see dogs bred repeatedly, year after year just to make money for the owner.
A knowledgeable breeder will wait until the female is 2 1/2–3 years old before she is bred and they will wait the appropriate time between breeding (two to three heat cycles). They also should limit the total number of litters from any one female to two or three over the female’s lifetime.
The last thing you want is to be drawn into a litter of cute puppies in the grocery store parking lot.
These spur of the moment decisions often result in adopting the wrong pet for your household or sick pets that require long, costly medical treatments and leave you with no recourse or assistance.
Remember, you may have a pet as part of your family for the next 10–15 years, so please take your time. A little effort spent early will result in joy for years to come.