Lynn Ostrem, a small business owner
in St. Michael's, Minn., purchased a standard poodle through a dealer
she found on the Internet. "Most of the pups in my immediate
area were 'show-quality' and selling for $1,000, while 'pet-quality'
pups sell for $500," she says. "When a woman offering
a blue standard poodle who was only 200 miles away offered to sell
me a female for $450 if I was willing to drive half the distance,
I readily agreed.
"The end result: our puppy, Lily, is absolutely
adorable," she continues. "She's as healthy as an ox, but she's not
blue. I believe we got what we paid for and that was because we bought from a
fairly new breeder who didn't have a lot of references. But we're happy just the
Health issues. Retailers and breeders who are reluctant
to discuss or disclose a pet's health history are waving a major red flag. You
want to get some information about a pet's mother and father and look into health
issues that may plague particular breeds.
Henry Childers, DVM, president of
the American Veterinary Medical Association, noted
in testimony before the Senate the effects of poorly
bred companion animals.
are regularly confronted with pets that suffer the ill effects of irresponsible
breeding and inappropriate transportation over long distances," he says.
"Animal suffering compounds human suffering when heartache and financial
burdens are thrust upon pet owners who have purchased these unfortunate animals."
Beth Shaw, a pet owner in Hermosa Beach, Calif., agrees. "My
partner bought one of our dogs online -- a Boston terrier from Tennessee. She
has mange and has a very skittish and insecure personality. I am just glad that
we got her because she is very sensitive, probably was not treated right in her
first nine weeks before we got her. She is an emotional basket case but we love
How to find a pet
you are looking to get a purebred dog or cat, another type of companion animal
or a shelter animal, there is a Web site out there for you. Here are some sites:
- Adoption sites, including Petfinder
offer information on pets available for immediate adoption. Leah
Ingram, an etiquette consultant from New Hope, Pa., took this
route and was very pleased. "We logged onto petfinder.org
daily for about two months and eventually found the cocker spaniel/golden
retriever mix (Buffy) who has been our dog for the past three
years," she says. "Because Buffy was at a rescue place
in New Jersey that I'd never heard of, if it hadn't been for Petfinder,
we never would have found him."
groups care for abandoned or neglected pets and frequently specialize in a particular
lists rescue and shelter groups by ZIP code and location.
- Local pet shelters are an underused resource
when it comes to finding a pet. The Humane Society offers a guide
to adopting a pet through a shelter and how to find a local shelter.
- The American Kennel Club, a not-for-profit
organization that maintains a purebred dog registry, sanctions
dog events and promotes responsible pet ownership, has a dog-buying
guide on its Web site. Breeders who sell through AKC classifieds
must meet certain requirements.
- The Cat Fanciers' Association provides a
of breeds and includes information about their personalities,
histories and characteristics.