Don’t trust your mouse to find a puppy: Part I

A rapidly growing recent trend has been to buy puppies over the internet.  But did you know…

Buying a Puppy Over the Internet…

1. Eliminates the (crucially important) opportunity to meet the puppy and find out about his personality, health, and behavior. Will the puppy be very shy and under-socialized?  Sick? There’s no way to tell unless you meet him.

2.  Eliminates the opportunity to check out the environment the puppy was raised in. Is it clean?  Are the dogs well taken care of, with clean water and proper food?  Is it a puppy mill?  The only way to know for sure is to visit, photos do not always show the truth.

3.  Eliminates the opportunity to meet and establish good communication with the breeder. The internet creates anonymity and distance for the breeder.  This can make them much more difficult to contact.   They may be unreachable when a buyer has questions about their pup’s health, behavior, or past.  Good communication is essential to a responsible puppy purchase!

4.  Increases the likelihood that a person will be scammed, deceived, or otherwise misinformed. Nothing can be verified without meeting the puppy, talking to the breeder, and visiting the premises.

What This Means for Families and Puppies

It’s important for  people to be educated about the who’s, where’s, and why’s of puppy purchasing!

Well-meaning people unknowingly buy puppies over the internet from disreputable breeders and puppy mills.

While professional websites may make the people behind them seem like responsible breeders, this is usually not the case.  Internet breeders are often “puppy mills” in disguise.  People are often warned that pet shop puppies can be from puppy mills, but many fewer have heard of this happening with internet puppy purchases.
(If you’ve never heard of puppy mills, you can read more about them on the ASPCA’s website, here:

Because of poor living conditions and irresponsible breeding practices, the puppies are often sick, temperamentally unsound, and/or are especially prone to genetic disorders.

This can be both emotionally and financially expensive for the families who buy them.

Additionally, buying puppies over the internet directly supports puppy mills, irresponsible breeding practices, and poor animal welfare.

This problem is so significant that Oprah did a special on it!

One Family’s Story

Below is the story of a local woman, Bridgette, and her family, who bought a puppy over the internet.

” We were getting a dog and the children were thrilled to be able to choose their own dog. We found a website that was open advertising for dog breeders. The site seemed to be informative as to whether or not the puppies were purebred. Our puppy was to come with papers stating that she was a full English Mastiff.
The day came to go pick up our newest member of the family, arriving by plane. We made a big deal about bringing our 3 sons to the airport to see the plane land. On Labor Day our little girl was lovingly flown to us from [a farm in Ohio].  The puppy was adorable and everyone loved her at first sight. The ride home was uneventful, as were the next ten weeks. Then, our puppy Mocha, at 18 weeks old, was really sick.
It started with a few blisters on her lips.  It progressed to swollen glands in her neck, fever , lethargy, a rash on stomach, and then the few blisters around her mouth covered her mouth and were making it hard for her to eat.  Then, she didn’t want to drink either.  I took her to my regular vet in the morning with just the rash on the belly and the few blisters. They thought it was a spider bite reaction. I knew differently.  Later that night a different vet confirmed that Mocha had a rare auto-immune disorder called Puppy Strangles, or juvenile cellulitis. She would be permanently scarred on the face.  She needed aggressive corticosteroid and antibiotic treatment. This was a huge financial surprise as well as being very scary.
Mocha was treated and released to us after 2 days. Her recovery took a long time with pharmaceutical treatment and subsequent vet visits.  At this point we found out that Mocha definitely was not a full Mastiff.  Her treatment was very expensive as were her bogus papers. Later on we would know that she has little to no Mastiff in her. She truly is the best dog ever, and she really bonded with everyone in our family while she was so sick. We love her, but we easily could have adopted a mixed breed dog from the shelter. Her breeder showed some concern over the cellulitis, but offered nothing when confronted with the idea that Mocha was not a Mastiff.
All in all this was a valuable lesson learned. The internet is a resource, a wealth of information, but also a perfect smokescreen. The anonymity of an internet transaction makes it easy for anyone to be a fraud.  Be sure to be informed.”
Brigette F.Cornwell

Why are we addressing this issue?

1.  We care about the welfare of people and of dogs! Most of our dogs are juveniles and adults.  While we think there are many advantages to adopting dogs of these age groups, we understand that some people are really set on getting a puppy.  We want to make sure people are educated and informed when they look for a puppy, so they can make smart choices! Where a person chooses a puppy from is a very important decision. It can and does have a tremendous impact on animal welfare. It can also greatly affect a family’s finances and emotions.

2. These pups end up at animal shelters. When a family can no longer keep a puppy they bought over the internet, whether for financial or behavioral reasons, the “breeder” often fails to keep their promise of taking the pup back.  Phone calls and e-mails may go unanswered.

Stay tuned for Part II of this post, which will review a few easy steps anyone can take to ensure that their next puppy is coming from a responsible source that promotes positive animal welfare!


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