Purchasing a dog online is easy, but the risks are great.
Part of the problem is puppy mills. A puppy mill is a large-scale commercial dog-breeding operation that places profit over the well-being of its dogs. Dogs from puppy mills are often severely neglected and undernourished, or they may have genetic defects because of irresponsible breeding practices, according to the ASPCA.
Shopping for a dog on Craigslist or other online sources could mean you are unknowingly buying a dog from a puppy mill or unethical breeders. You also risk being ripped off. If you pay that $50 deposit in advance, you may never see a puppy.
Lansing Township resident Mitchell Pitter found out these dangers the hard way after he purchased a puppy from a seller on Craigslist.
There are also sellers that post ads trying to “re-home” their unwanted pet for a low fee. This means that they are trying to get rid of their dog for some sort of reason. Whatever reason it may be for, the seller almost always charges a fee.
The problems that arise with re-homing pets can range from temperament issues like attacking children to health issues that the previous owner does not warn potential buyers about on Craigslist.
These ads do not show you the red flags. The sellers usually don’t care about the well-being of the dog, they just want to make some quick cash.
Todd Heywood, who wrote an article about buying pets on Craigslist for Lansing Online News, doesn’t see an upside to purchasing or “re-homing” a dog from the site.
“I don’t think buying a dog off Craigslist is a good idea for the average dog owner,” Heywood said. “The person who admits they can no longer provide a good life for their pet is making a dubious claim at best.”
As a former Humane Society shelter manager, Heywood knows what he is talking about when it comes to purchasing your pets.
“It is better to adopt a dog from a human society where the animal has undergone temperament testing as well as full examinations with a vet to make sure there are no health issues,” Heywood said. “As consumers, we have an obligation to be informed about the animals we are bringing into our homes, and this includes their previous safety conditions, health and other issues.”
Heywood said the best places to purchase a dog are from rescue programs if a buyer wants a certain breed, or the local shelter and humane society if they have no breed preference.
Local animal shelters such as Ingham County Animal Shelter have more than 100 neglected animals waiting to find a home.
Ashley Hayes of the Ingham County Animal Shelter believes that anyone looking to get a dog for companionship should purchase from the animal shelter.
“The animals here are ones that have been lost or unwanted due to no fault of their own,” Hayes said. “They are awesome dogs just looking for love.”
Hayes added that not only will they be giving love to a neglected dog, but they will also be saving the dog’s life.
“The animal is getting a second chance and the owner is saving the life of the animal they adopted and the animal that takes its place at the shelter,” Hayes said. “When animal shelters become full, they may have to resort to euthanizing healthy animals due to lack of space. Adopting shelter animals keep that from happening.”
Buyers looking to purchase a dog from Craigslist also run the risks of purchasing from a puppy mill. The Ingham County Animal Shelter rescues dogs from these wretched places.
“We have helped puppy mill dogs and assisted other counties with puppy mills as well,” Hayes said. “To anyone looking to purchase from a puppy mills, a lot of the dogs are raised in unsafe and unhealthy conditions, resulting in medical issues in the future. While we want those animals to be rescued and end up in homes, we also want to stop the owners from breeding animals in hazardous conditions.”
Hayes added that respectable breeders want to raise healthy animals while puppy mills worry about producing the most animals possible so they can sell them.
Kirbay Preuss of Preuss Pets agreed with Hayes that puppy mills are a cruel reality.
“I have worked with customers at Preuss who have rescued dogs from very unsafe conditions, resulting in a lot of behavioral work and rehabilitation through proper diet, nutritional supplements and much needed vet care,” Preuss said.
Preuss also works with the Ingham County Animal Shelter and recommends that anyone looking to purchase a dog should do so from a local shelter. She also steers buyers away from sellers who are not reputable and advises to take caution when purchasing a dog.
“Anyone who is pushing a puppy online may have intentions that are not for your best interest or the dogs,” Preuss said. “Make sure the puppy is old enough to be away from the mother. Ask about vaccinations given and record of vaccinations. If the seller is unable to provide you with a view into the current condition the dog is living in, this may send a red flag. Not always saying this is the case, but it never hurts to be cautious. Listen to your gut about the conditions.”
Preuss wants everyone to know that buying a dog is not a decision to take lightly. Having a dog to take care of will change your life, but it may also save the dog’s life.
“I believe puppies can make wonderful pets when careful questioning is taken into consideration,” Preuss said. “Never rush the purchase of a pet. Think about the long-term obligations associated with ownership. Be responsible. Do your research and support healthy, safe, ethical practices.”