you've narrowed down your search to a particular type of dog, cat or other companion
animal, the Internet offers still more resources to aid in your search. For example,
virtually all breeds of dogs have clubs affiliated with the American
Kennel Club where you can find detailed information about a breed and registered
If you are set on purchasing a
purebred cat or dog, make sure that you limit your search to qualified
breeders affiliated with reputable organizations. The American Kennel
Club offers classified ads that match breeders with registered puppies
with prospective pet owners looking for a certain type of puppy;
the Cat Fanciers' Association follows
the same practice with registered kittens.
It's best to buy as close to home as possible. If
there are problems later, you might have a hard time getting help
from a dealer or breeder hundreds of miles away.
"If there is a way to get the
type of pet you want locally, that's a better way
to make sure you have the right match between you
and the pet than going farther away," says
Gail Golab, DVM, associate director of the animal
welfare division of the American Veterinary Medical
"You don't just order an animal like you
would a dress or a book," she says. "You need to see that
animal in person, to see the people who are retailing that animal
as well as the conditions the animal is raised in."
Lisa Peterson, director of club communications for
the American Kennel Club, notes that responsible breeders will ask
you lots of questions before agreeing to sell a pet in an effort
to ensure that the pet and customer are a good match. Peterson agrees
with Golab that a visit to the breeder before buying a pet is vital.
to see the conditions in which the puppy is being raised, how the puppy is being
socialized and the conditions for the puppy's mother."
for red flags
Be aware of potential red flags when searching for a pet
and finalizing a pet purchase. Red flags include:
and carry. Be wary of Web sites that offer to ship you a pet immediately
in exchange for a credit card number. "You want to establish a relationship
with a breeder or a store," Peterson says. "The person who sells you
a pet should be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to answer questions,
and should be willing to take a puppy back if there are any problems."
High prices. A breeder
or retailer may have a beautiful Web site and charge high prices,
but that doesn't guarantee the quality of the pet or the reputation
of the breeder. "Just because an animal is expensive doesn't
mean anything," Shain says. "Lots of times a surge in prices
is linked to the popularity of a breed." She also points out
that dedicated breeders are in the business because of their love
of pets, not just to make a huge profit.
Lack of paperwork.
If the Web site you're dealing with promises
to send the paperwork documenting a pet's purebred
status later, don't proceed with your purchase.
"Some breeders will say they have American
Kennel Club puppies and that they will send you
the papers later, but in that case once the sale
is made you have little recourse if the papers don't
come," says Peterson. In some cases, breeders
who promise that puppies or other purebred pets
have the approved certifications don't actually
have them, and if you are planning to show your
pet, you won't be able to get into the best shows.