Millions of people just love their pet dogs and many, like me, purchased their loving pet from a puppy store. Now that there are so many reports on almost every TV station and in the media about the many puppy mills used to supply these stores, we as a society have begun to look at other options to find our new addition to our families.
Some believe that finding a nice "Rescue Dog" is the only way to go. However, there are many that find this quite difficult to do. Rescue Dogs, may actually not be rescue dogs, but rather mixed breed dogs that so called Rescue operations find, take into their homes and then put them up for adoption. There is always some form of adoption fee associated with these so called rescue operations and they can range upwards of $300 or more. They claim that helps cover their costs, including the necessary shots or medical care some of these dogs require.
From my investigation, I have found this is not always the case and in fact, many of these so called rescue operations are actually businesses set up to sell dogs for profit. One estimate of one operation I checked into was alleged to make over $100,000 per year and that is indeed a nice business. I even found one site that claims their is a Dog Mafia which is a crime syndicate in dog show circles. Another conspiracy theory or fact, I am not sure, but you can read about it and draw your own conclusions.
So where do you go to find a puppy and help the unwanted dog population find good homes. Well you can make sure you deal with a real non-profit rescue operation and not the many so called and unlicensed operations claiming they have rescue dogs for adoption. Local ASPCA and other organizations can usually steer you in the right direction. If you are looking for a specific breed you can check out the AKC's Breed Rescue Group listings. There are a number of others and PetFinder has a lot of information on their website as well, including many helpful articles and videos with titles like:
Before You Adopt
Which also includes other videos like
Remember, that when you adopt a rescue dog, you do not have any information on their genetics, their dispositions, their health issues either current or future (genetics is important here) so their is always the risk that your little rescue dog may not be what you might have expected. Some ill tempered dogs are given to rescue operations by their owners that simply turn them in with the excuse that they are allergic to them or they are moving or some other reason, but seldom the truth.
Another way to find the dog you want could be going to a local breeder, which I personally believe is a good way to find the dog you want. You can usually visit their home, see how they are kept, their environment, meet their parents, see their papers (should be AKC registered and have the papers so you can register your puppy as well with the AKC). You can usually pick from the litter the one you want.
One of the new tools we can now use to determine our dogs genetics and breed is the new Dog DNA tests. The Chihuahua we purchased two years ago was sold as a purebred dog to us and the papers they gave us was from a dog wholesaler and the dog could not be registered with the AKC. Now purebred Chihuahua's are usually 6 pounds (read this full PDF on the breed here) or under. AKC will not allow you to show your Chi if he is over 6 pounds either. When our little Georgie bagan to grow and finally reached his full adult size, we realized there was something wrong when he tipped the scales at 13 pounds.
He also had a different head then the apple headed Chihuahuas and his markings were not typical of a Chihuahua. Everyone that would see our dog would say, wow he is so handsome, doesn't look like a Chi and is way too friendly and very calm. Doesn't bark like a Chi at everyone either.
We decided to have his DNA tested and purchased a dog DNA test on eBay from a company called BioPet Vet Lab. Easy to do the test, you get two swabs that go between the cheek and teeth of the dog for 10 seconds. You then do it from the other cheek and both go into the envelope to the lab for the test. Within 3 weeks the result comes back. In our case Georgie was a Level 2 Chihuahua which means he as between 34-74% Chihuahua in him and the rest was well, who knows.
We were able to get a full refund of $1,000 from the puppy store we purchased him from, of course I had to do a little arm twisting but after a few months, I received the refund.
So if you purchased your purebred dog and want to be sure you got what you paid for, get the test and you will have peace of mind. Now, even if you love your doggie and would never give him up, as with people, knowing your genetics is important in determining health issues now and in the future, so do it, just to know how to deal with your dog, train him or her and know what you have to do to keep him healthy.
A few things I have learned after my experience. Do check the internet and even the Better Business Bureau to see if the store or puppy place you intend on purchasing your puppy from has a good reputation. Don't let them tell you that they sell thousands of puppies (that is the tip off they buy from puppy mills) and the few complaints you see on the net or on the BBB web site is very small compared to what they sell. The truth is that most dog owners have no idea that they have been sold either a mixed breed or an unhealthy dog, mentally or physically, until now...we have DNA tests.
If you prefer to get a little "Mutton" our new name for our Georgie (out little mutton), then by all means look for local listings in Craig's or the internet. Do not pay hundreds of dollars unless they can prove they have made sure and paid for all the vaccinations and shots he has required. Even a mutt has a mommy and daddy, so try to meet them and see if they are well adjusted calm and submissive, well behaved and healthy dogs.
Remember that a dog becomes a member of the family. They are the most loyal and loving of all pets and they will creep into your hearts and your beds fast.