Where & How to Get a Dog or Puppy (Avoiding Puppy Mills)

Golden Retriever

You did your extensive research and now ready to find your future companion. How can you get a dog or puppy without promoting harmful practices within the pet industry? Well, let’s first start off with the most notable places where you shouldn’t start your dog search.

Getting a Dog – Places to Avoid

Pet Stores
More and more pet stores are starting to place an emphasis on pet adoptions, but the reality is that the majority of puppies you see in pet stores are still sourced from puppy mills.

These commercial dog farms give very little thought to the well-being of the dogs because they are focused on driving profit. The dogs from puppy mills are much more prone to congenital health conditions. The ASPCA states that you should take a pet store’s claim with a grain of salt. There is no legal definition of a puppy mill so the “papers” a pet store have won’t prove with certainty that a dog came from a humane source.

Online Merchants
This is a huge no for a countless number of reasons. It may be tempting from a convenience standpoint, especially if there isn’t a reputable breeder near your home, but there are just so many things that can go wrong with buying a dog online.

First, there’s the unknown factor and not knowing whether the dog or puppy is sourced from a humane breeder. Second, you miss out on meeting the dog in person and not having the chance to see if you and the dog are compatible in personality. Responsible dog breeders will screen prospective owners and make sure they are a good fit for the dogs.

Where to Find Your Dog

Dog Rescues & Adoption Shelters
According to the ASPCA, a whopping 6.5 million companion animals enter US animal shelters every year. Around 1.5 million of the shelter animals are euthanized each year. We can give the shelter dogs a second chance at a happy, loving life by adopting.

The dog shelter may not necessarily have the breed of dogs you are looking for but there are many advantages to adopting and not buying. First, adopting is a lot cheaper. You’ll most likely save a few hundred dollars as the cost of first vaccinations, neutering etc. is often included in the adoption cost.

Second, you aren’t just limited to puppies. Single dog owners may find an adult dog to be a better fit for them due to time and commitment reasons. For puppies, you may need to dedicate a couple of hours a day for up to six months until they become fully house-trained.

Last but not least, you aren’t just helping the dog you adopt, you are also helping other dogs by opening up an extra space in shelters and funding their treatment and care costs via the adoption fee.

Responsible Dog Breeders
You will need to spend some time looking for a responsible dog breeder if you are looking for a specific breed of dog. Responsible dog breeders don’t sell dogs to the first person that comes to them with a wad of cash. Here is a list of characteristics that a responsible dog breeder may have:

So how exactly do you find a responsible dog breeder? Your first source could be people that you trust (e.g. responsible dog owning acquaintances, veterinarian) and to ask them for referrals. You could also get in contact with local breed clubs and receive recommendations from them. Organizations, such as the American Kennel Club, also have a database of breeders you can research.

John at My Pet Child

is the Founder of My Pet Child, where he shares his tips on living with a dog in an apartment.