Choosing a suitable pet is not as easy as you may think and finding one is not simple, we see a stream of unsuitable or sickly new pets in the clinic. Some statements on this page may seem harsh but if it saves one pet from a miserable life or you from making the wrong choice it is worth it.
It used to be that puppy farmers operated from Wales and Ireland and any pup with documentation from those countries should still be viewed with suspicion. However, since regulations tightened disreputable breeders are importing more from Eastern Europe. Not only are these puppies likely to be stressed and unhealthy they may have been imported on illegal documents. Be very wary of puppies from these countries: they cannot be legally imported before they are 15 weeks of age at the very earliest. Illegal puppy imports WILL be seized and possibly destroyed and may introduce Rabies into the country.
Here are some DO's and DONT'S to help you along the way. You may like to print off this page as an aid memoir for when you are looking for your pet.
THINK CAREFULLY over your choice of pet, especially dogs. Be honest with yourself - is it really suitable for your home and lifestyle? A pet is a sentient creature with its own feelings and special requirements, not a trophy or a fashion statement. If you are set on a certain breed then research into it first.
DON'T buy dogs with very squashed faces like Pugs, Boston Terriers or French Bulldogs beause they look cute and are endorsed by celebrities or advertising, they cannot breath properly and will be condmned to a life of misery and you a lifetime of expense.
NEVER buy on impulse. That cute puppy may grow into a large or difficult dog, and avoid feeling sorry for a sad or sickly looking animal, it is not your problem, it is the responsibility of the seller and it may result in being an expensive or tragic mistake.
DON'T buy puppies and kittens from pet shops; they generally buy their stock from disreputable sources. Many have poor knowledge of, or interest in, animal welfare and are only interested in profit.
DON'T buy from adverts in newspapers, magazines or on the internet - good breeders don't need to advertise; they can generally sell every puppy or kitten they breed by word of mouth.*
NEVER buy from someone with just a mobile phone number, or let 'breeders' deliver to you or meet them at a 'convenient' neutral location, they are usually dealers covering their tracks and when there is a problem they will be nowhere to be found.
ALWAYS look for 'home-bred' puppies and kittens that you have seen indoors with their mother - this is probably the single most useful piece of advice. However importing puppies has now become so profitable that dealers will rent a property and have a stooge bitch they pretend is the puppy's mother. If there is the slightest doubt in your mind walk away, there will always be more puppies. Even puppies bred in reputable breeding kennels may be unsuitable as they may not be habituated to living with a family in a normal house.
*The best way to find a pedigree dog or cat is to call the Kennel Club or Cat Fancy and ask for details of breeders of the breed you're interested in. You may have to be prepared to travel some distance to a good breeder but it will be worth the effort. Under any circumstances, look out for signs of animal dealers posing as breeders who buy their stock from sources like puppy farms. Their hallmarks are: selling several different breeds, keeping them in cages, pens or outhouses and making up stories about why you can't see the mother or their documents. Check all vaccination certificates are fully complete, if they're not - don't buy. Incomplete certificates are a sign of indiscriminate breeders and animal dealers and even in the best of circumstances are unreliable.Sadly a number of disreputable vets support the puppy farming industry for profit and hand out blank vaccine certificates.
Research by the Kennel Club has shown that one in six puppies bought from a petshop or online will die within the first six months and one in three will suffer from ill health for the rest of their lives.
Mongrels and moggies can be readily re-homed from rescue societies and you will be doing an unwanted animal a favour. Sometimes word of mouth and local knowledge may lead you to a litter needing a good home but be wary and still follow the above advice. But be very wary of buying rescue dogs from abroad however sorry you feel for them - this is big business for importers who are only doing it for profit not for any welfare reasons and the dogs will almost be inavariably be in ill health (some with potentially fatal diseases transmissable to humans) or poorly socialised with behavioural problems.
Small pets like budgies, rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs etc can generally be obtained from good pet shops but look out for the conditions in which they are kept. If it is unhygienic and the shop staff appear to have limited knowledge then look elsewhere.
DO NOT buy exotic pets without having done extensive research into their needs and obtained a suitable cage or tank etc. to keep them in. Good pet shops and breeders will not sell exotic pets to casual shoppers; they will insist that you show some knowledge of care before you buy. Large birds like parrots need company and are generally unhappy on their own and cannot be recommended as pets. The vast majority of problems in exotic pets are due to poor knowledge of husbandry and social requirements.
NEVER buy a pet as a surprise gift even if that person has expressed a desire to have one, let the intended owner be fully involved in the process.
FINALLY: remember if you're not 100% happy with where you are obtaining your pet walk away, there is always another choice but wherever you find your pet take it to a vet immediately for a health check and listen to what they say, vets are the best source of unbiased advice, and the small fee may save a fortune.
St Martins Veterinary Clinic
126 Station Road
Tel.: 01895 444400
Fax: 01895 431520
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