looking for the perfect pet, turn to the Internet. There's no better place to
find out about appropriate breeds and the best breeders.
However, the Internet is full of traps for the unsuspecting
pet lover. A loophole in federal law has spawned an upsurge in puppy mills, large-scale
facilities that breed dogs or cats in often-unsanitary conditions without regard
for the individual animal's welfare.
"What most people don't realize
is that there is no regulation of the people who
do large-scale breeding," says Stephanie Shain,
director of outreach for Companion Animals for the
Society of the United States. "Just because
someone is selling dogs over the Internet doesn't
mean they run a reputable outfit."
a pet from a puppy mill frequently leads to heartbreak for a pet owner, who must
deal with the physical and psychological fallout experienced by animals raised
in deplorable conditions.
The Humane Society and other animal welfare
groups in support of the Pet Animal Welfare Statute (PAWS), a bill
introduced Congress in 2005. The bill would regulate puppy mills
by requiring any commercial breeder who sells more than six litters
of dogs or cats, or sells more than 25 puppies or kittens a year,
to be licensed by the federal Department of Agriculture. The bill
also would allow the government to regulate the flow of companion
animals from overseas locations. Currently that trade is not regulated.
Many Web sites are dedicated to helping consumers find the
most appropriate pet. The first step is to make sure that your lifestyle is compatible
with a particular type of companion animal. Different types of dogs and cats as
well as other pets have different needs for companionship and exercise.
might think that since you are a busy, active family that an active dog might
best suit your needs," Shain says. "But if your activities mainly consist
of going to soccer and ballet practice while the dog sits at home by itself, that
most likely isn't a good fit."
Veterinary Medical Association offers a guide
to pet ownership and selecting the appropriate pet. The site lists
questions to ask yourself before settling on a particular type of
you have room for the pet?
- What activities do you enjoy?
do you spend your day?
- Do you have a no-pets clause?
much will your pet cost?
- What if a pet doesn't fit your lifestyle?
Costs are an important issue to consider before
getting a pet. Even if you get a pet from a shelter or rescue group,
there are still initial and ongoing costs involved in owning a pet.
Veterinary expenses include checkups, immunizations and care for
a sick pet. Some breeds of dogs and cats are more prone to certain
medical conditions than others, which is another reason you should
fully investigate a breed before you select a particular type.