Should you adopt or buy a pet?
We are all aware of the current concerns around brachycephalic dog health but this is just part of a wider issue around pedigree dog health, including the worrying aspect of imported puppies, many of which are illegally imported. Although there are initiatives to try and counteract these issues, the sheer amount of money that can be involved in the sale of puppies and dogs means that there is a real incentive from those breeding and importing puppies to continue to do so, while there is a demand for them. One of the best ways of tackling these problems is responsible purchasing by potential owners. If there is no financial market for poor health puppies and their importation, then it will dry up.
Things to consider…
Responsibly acquiring a puppy (and indeed any pet) will make a significant difference to the health and welfare of the puppy but, importantly, will mean a great start for the family with their puppy. The veterinary practice is without a doubt the best place to advise potential owners on how to be responsible when acquiring a puppy and to provide the education needed to help to make sure that the owner /puppy relationship is one that is enjoyable for all. Although we all know the huge benefits of dogs within a family, it is also a responsibility. The PDSA PAW report shows that too many dogs are being left alone for long periods of time during the day and there is a significant underestimation about the cost of owning a dog over its lifetime. So perhaps the first thing we should do at pre-purchase consultations is to help the owner reflect on the joy of dog ownership, but also the responsibility attached. PDSA have some useful information to make people think about getting a pet that breaks it down into:
Place – where you live and the environment available for your pet can make a big difference to the type of dog you choose.
Exercise – can you give your new pet enough exercise and the right kind of exercise for its breed and type
Time – to care for your pet and meet all of its needs
Spend – cost of owning your pet for its lifetime
Knowledge – an understanding of the needs of your potential pet and your responsibilities to it, the wider environment and the community.
Choosing a pet responsibly
Looking at their answers to the above and with help from the practice, owners can research what is the best breed or cross breed of dog for them and be fully aware of the health needs of their potential dog. One discussion is always about whether someone should rehome a dog or purchase one from a breeder, which is usually a puppy. Rehoming a dog is often very rewarding as it will give a new chance to a dog. Larger, well-known rehoming centres work very hard to adequately match owners and dogs and offer support to make sure that the experience is a success. Encouraging potential owners towards well known and established rehoming centres that the practice knows and trusts can be great for dog and owner. However, some owners may wish to purchase a puppy or particular breed. In this case, it is vital that potential owners know how to buy responsibly to avoid breeds with known debilitating inherited health problems and to avoid fuelling irresponsible breeding and importation that causes health and welfare misery for thousands of puppies and their parents. A great way to educate a potential puppy purchaser and help them to purchase responsibly is for them to use the Puppy Contract.