Deciding to introduce a new pet into your home is a huge step.  You have carefully considered the time, the emotional commitment, and the financial resources required for pet ownership, and you’re all-in!  Now it’s time to find that perfect companion…so where do you look?

In the age of the internet, adopting or purchasing a new pet requires some level of caution. Online scams and safety concerns, misinformation, and puppy/kitten mill products represent a significant and growing portion of the pet market.  When the demand for pets (or certain breeds of pets) is high, we can see more reports of fraud, misrepresentation, and the sale of unhealthy or neglected animals.  Hopeful pet adopters should reach out to reputable and accountable resources. This increases their chances of adopting a healthy pet without inadvertently supporting substandard practices that promote animal abuse or overpopulation.

Adopting a pet from a local shelter is perhaps the most benevolent means of welcoming a new family member into your home.  Not only will you help a homeless pet find a warm place in the world, but you will also help lighten the burden on shelter charities that work to combat pet overpopulation, homelessness, and animal abuse.  Shelter pets often come with recent medical check-ups, vaccines, deworming and sterilization (spay/neuter).  In addition to this, shelter staff and volunteers have spent time with your prospective new pet, socializing them and teaching them basic manners.  Staff can give you a good insight into their personalities, quirks, and energy levels.  While a new puppy or kitten is undeniably cute, it can be a long process to figure out their developing personalities and individual needs.  A slightly older shelter pet can have a more predictable temperament, and often comes with a “cheat sheet” from his friends at the shelter.

For families that have a specific breed or animal type in mind, private or charitable rescue organizations are a  great network to explore.  Rescues often focus on particular categories of animals, such as type (sporting dogs, retired racers, senior pets, special needs animals), breed, size, or source (puppy mill rescues, disaster rescues, animals from a particular region).  Again, medical care and some training have often been performed before adoption.  By looking at these sources, you can often find your perfect pet and provide a much-needed home.  To evaluate the quality and reputation of a rescue organization, look at their adopter reviews, affiliate organizations, veterinary service providers, and funding sources.

Lastly, pet-seekers who have a particular breed in mind may want to consider purchasing their pet from a breeder (kennel or cattery). To avoid falling victim to a scam or supporting a puppy/kitten mill, families should consider limiting their search to registered breeders. AKC, CKC, CCA, and CFA-registered breeders are invested in producing healthy dogs and cats. They are obligated to maintain high standards when it comes to healthy breeding, animal care, and genetics.  They must place the quality of their offspring over quantity, and they risk losing their registration as well as their reputation if they engage in unethical practices.

When purchasing from a breeder, insist upon meeting your potential new pet at the kennel.  This way, you can meet their mom (and possibly dad) and see the conditions the pet has been raised.  Never purchase a pet online to be shipped from another region or country.  Not only is this dangerous and stressful for the pet, but it also puts you at risk of receiving an unhealthy or misrepresented animal.  A conscientious breeder will never sell or ship a pet to a family they have never met.

Exercise caution when adopting or purchasing a pet from classified ads.  While it is important to visit a puppy or kitten in his home before adoption, you must keep your safety in mind.  Never meet a breeder alone and try to arrange for electronic payments rather than carrying cash.  Do not place deposits before seeing an animal in person. 

Many registered and unregistered breeders provide health guarantees for their puppies and kittens.  These guarantees are virtually unenforceable and are only as good as the reputation of the breeder.  Should a pet be diagnosed with an inherited disease, guarantees typically only offer exchange or refund for the return of the pet.  Health guarantees rarely obligate the breeder to cover medical costs. By the time an illness declares itself in a new pet, families are usually too attached to the animal to ever consider returning him.  Even the best-intentioned breeders cannot guarantee the health of an animal.  Viewing a puppy/kitten’s environment and his parents, combined with purchasing pet health insurance immediately upon adoption, are the best ways to safeguard yourself against the emotional and financial costs of a sick pet.

Finally, do not rush into adopting a pet.  It takes time to consider the qualities you want in a pet and to prepare for their arrival.  Spend time researching breeds and interacting with animals to be sure your new companion will fit into your lifestyle and home.  When you are ready, the right animal will be waiting for you!

Good Luck!


Written by: Dr. Sperry, DVM, Veterinary Advisor, Pets Plus Us

The information provided and contained herein are the opinions of PTZ Insurance Services Ltd. which are based on external publication. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinary advice.  PTZ Insurance Services Ltd. assumes no responsibility or liability for any loss, claims or damages arising out of the within content.

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