In recent weeks most of us have been shocked at the footage of Strawberry the boxer who was left to rot with dead puppies inside her while her three surviving puppies were flown to Perth to be sold in an upmarket pet shop. She is the most recent high profile case to bring to light the issues surrounding purchasing puppies, especially via pet shops and online. ‘

Since the start of COVID and the change to more people working from home there has been a massive surge in the purchasing of puppies. COVID has caused a massive demand in puppies with prices for some breeds tripling, puppies being sent to their new home too early and people not doing enough research because they know they may miss out. The story of Strawberry has started the conversation, again, around purchasing puppies responsibly. If that is even possible, I hope to be able to shed some light on the industry here in Queensland and how you can be a responsible consumer within an industry that is lacking robust legislation and regulations. 

Most of you will be surprised to know that puppy farms are NOT illegal here in Queensland. The only state with any robust form of legislation around this industry is Victoria. Puppy farms are also not breed specific. Investigations have shown both purebred and mixed-breed dogs are victims to the puppy farm industry. Armed with even just these two bits of information can help you ask more questions. Focus on where you are looking for your pup and research puppy farms to find out why we should not, as dog lovers, support the industry in any way.

So let’s do it! Let’s find our pawfect pup!

Firstly, you need to understand that being a responsible pawrent takes planning and takes time. Don’t impulse buy. A pup is on average a 13 year commitment. As West Enders something you may research, is which are the best apartment dogs! Some breeds that are very popular right now also come with the high possibility of needing surgery, so make sure as part of your research that you chat with vets about the costs of these procedures.

As locals we are also seeing the ‘oodle’ phenomenon (cavoodles, labradoodles, moodles etc), are popular due to their no shedding coats. These ‘oodles’ are presenting with more anxiety and nervous behaviours which is potentially linked to where they are being bred. As someone who works with fur kids all day I am in the advantageous position of finding out where people have got their pups from and unfortunately most of the time they are from puppy farms. No one has done this on purpose of course, so my role is to educate and inform, which in turn means others educate and inform their circle. 

Not sure what suits you or if they are a right fit?

Ask the professionals: trainers, dog daycare providers, vets, behaviourists, not your mates! Your mates might have an opinion about how cute the pup will be, but they won’t be able to give you in-depth information on what the breed was originally bred for, common health concerns, or behaviours you might see when they live in the inner city.

You have now found a breed or two that you are interested in. Start contacting and following on social media rescue groups and breed specific rescues. Did you know there is a poodle rescue? Pug rescue? Dachshund rescue? Labrador rescue?  You get the picture. Every breed will have a rescue group and most of these rescues deserve to be your first point of call.

If you are having no luck with a rescue, you will be looking for the next place to start the search.

The following scenarios are the most common ways people buy puppies, so let’s explore what we should be asking or doing to make sure we are not supporting a cruel industry.

Before we delve in, I want to clarify a common misconception: just because your puppy came from a registered or pedigree breeder does not mean they are not a puppy farm. ‘Registered breeder’ can simply mean they are just a registered business, and there is inadequate legislation and oversight to guarantee appropriate treatment. ‘Pedigree breeders’ means they are members of the Australian National Kennel Council which does include certain ethics that they should follow, but with little enforcement it is not a foolproof system.  

A good pedigree breeder will be questioning you as much as you are questioning them.

Below are the most common places people go to buy puppies with some suggestions on what you should be looking for and asking. Let’s get started!

Questions to ask?

Pet Shop

  • Does the pet shop re-home rescue animals in partnership with an organisation?
Hint: if they say yes, this is awesome!
  • Where are these puppies from? Do you have proof?
  • Am I able to visit the breeder to see where they were born and meet their parents?
Hint: if no they are most probably from a puppy farm.
  • If the pet shop is saying they are purebred make sure you ask for proof of this and that they have been tested for any inherited disorders.
Hint: if they say no, they are not purebred.

Newspaper

  • Will the seller give you details of where the puppies were born?
Hint: if they say a different state, they are most likely from a puppy farm.
  • Can you visit the pups?
Hint: if they say they will meet you somewhere the pup is most likely from a puppy farm.

Online

(Gumtree, Trading Post, Market Place etc)

  • Does the seller want to ‘ship’ the pup to you without meeting you?
Hint: if yes, the pup is most likely from a puppy farm.
  • Can you visit and meet the parents?
  • Is the pup free?
Hint: if a pup is free you should call a rescue to see if they can assist the ‘seller’ with potentially rehoming the pups and desexing the mother.
  • Does the seller have multiple posts about different breeds?
Hint: if yes, they are most likely a puppy farm.

Breeder

  • Can you go and visit?
  • Can you meet the parents?
  • Can you see where they live and where they were raised?
Hint: this is important, you want proof that they haven’t just been moved into the lounge room for you to view.
  • What action have they taken to prevent inherited disorders and exaggerated features?
Hint: dogs with exaggerated features include Pugs, French Bulldogs, Boston Terriers, Cavaliers, Dachshunds and more.
  • What socialising and enrichment have the pups, and their parents had?
Hint: you want to hear about walks, toys, playing outside, interacting with lots of humans.
  • Have they been to the vet for vaccinations, flea and worm treatment?
Hint: get proof and name of vet.
  • Is the breeder offering you a ‘free pup’ in return for them having breeding rights over them aka a guardian dog?
Hint: this is a very common practice. However, there are massive downsides. You don’t have rights over the dog, which means you cannot desex when you want them to be desexed. Socialising becomes difficult if they are not desexed, including not being able to attend day cares after six months. Even if the pup is not suited to being bred (anxiety, troublesome behaviours) you don’t have a say in the final decision. I would steer clear of this offer, especially if other aspects are not sitting right, it is highly possible it is a puppy farm.

I know this can seem daunting, and there is a lot of information; however, education is key. ‘

Make sure you are informed and use the tools that are at our fingertips to find out as much information as you can. Pups grow into dogs and where they come from really can have an impact on how they will be as adults. It is important to not just fall in love with the cute face and squishy ears but to understand the consequences of supporting puppy farms and the lives of your adorable pup’s mum and dad.

Some helpful resources :

Cover image used with the permission of Animals Australia.

 

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