SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Lifestyle

September 20, 2013

USDA rule change stuns online pet retailers

Have you purchased a dog online recently? Did you purchase from a reputable breeder or a puppy mill representing itself as a reputable purebred dog breeder? Can you tell the difference? Perhaps, you are thinking of adopting a dog from an online rescue organization. How can you tell which organizations to trust?

My clients have shared their experiences with online adoptions and purchases of dogs during their new dog physical examination visit. One situation is a family arrives with a purebred puppy they bought online from a “breeder.” Before I do a physical exam, I have no idea if the organization is a reputable breeder or a puppy mill. After a physical exam, some of the puppies have severe problems and don’t seem to be bred well at all. Unfortunately, puppy mills are now able to mass market their puppies online to unsuspecting pet owners who think that all purebred puppies are born with the same genetics and health. This just isn’t the case. If a breeder repeatedly breeds within the same families of dogs, the puppies will have genetic predilections for more congenital problems, such as heart murmurs, cleft palate and orthopedic deformities that impair their mobility.

Most recently, we had a beautiful little Chihuahua named Lily come in. On the first visit, she was diagnosed with a heart arrhythmia and by the third visit a congenital hip problem that required orthopedic surgery. Clearly, the breeding had not been done in a responsible way. This pup was purebred, but the lines were inbred excessively, causing the congenital defects. This is a classic sign of a poor and uncaring breeder with the bottom line being all about the money, not the future welfare and health of the pup. Lily’s heart arrhythmia was mild, and she did have the surgery. She is recovering quite well.

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