What to Ask When Bringing a New Family Member Home
Bringing a new four legged family member into your home can be one of the greatest joys in a person's life, but member veterinarians of the Wisconsin Veterinary Medical Association (WVMA) want prospective dog owners to know what they are getting into before bringing the new member home.
"Many people buy puppies quickly, but soon find out it wasn't what they were expecting," says Dr. Yvonne Bellay, WVMA member veterinarian and the animal welfare programs manager and epidemiologist with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP).
"Too often people don't realize the responsibility they are taking on by bringing a puppy home," she says. "By taking the time to consider your lifestyle and researching breeds you will be able to find the best pet possible for yourself."
Whether planning to bring home a puppy or an adult dog, Dr. Bellay recommends asking yourself the following questions:
- Does your lifestyle allow adequate time for a dog?
- Are you sure your housing situation allows you to keep a dog?
- Which breed of dog suits your needs?
- Do you know what to expect as the normal behavior and how to care for and manage the pet?
- Can you afford a dog?
- Have you given thought to this decision?
- Do you know where the puppy comes from?
- Is the breeder reputable?
- What sort of guarantee, if any, comes with the puppy?
"It is important to know as much about your new family member as possible before bringing them home," says Dr. Bellay.
When looking to purchase a puppy from a breeder, it is important to know whether that breeder is required by law to be licensed by the state or not.
"Any breeder who sells more than 25 puppies in one year or produces more than three litters of puppies in a year is required to have their facilities inspected by DATCP," says Dr. Bellay. "If they meet these criteria, but cannot show you a license or inspection report, find a different breeder."
While not all people who sell puppies are required to be inspected, all puppies should go to their new homes with certain information being known. Dr. Bellay recommends asking the following questions:
- Can I see one or both of the parents?
- Can I see where you keep the puppies and their mother?
- What vaccinations have the puppies had?
- Has the puppy been checked for worms?
- What visits has the puppy had with a veterinarian?
- What is your guarantee?
- What is the family history?
- Can you provide references?
Breeders who truly want the best owners for their puppies will be able to supply these answers, and if they can't or won't answer them, Dr. Bellay says to find a different breeder.
"If at any time you feel uncomfortable with the answers you receive from the seller or about the conditions under which the purchase is taking place, do not purchase the dog," she says. "You are not saving a dog from deplorable living conditions, but are keeping that seller in business for another day by purchasing that puppy."
If you run across a breeder that has caused you concern, report them to DATCP by calling (608) 224-4872.
To learn more about what kind of dog would best fit your lifestyle, contact a local WVMA member veterinarian. Many veterinarians know of breeders with available puppies or an adult dog looking for a good home. To find a veterinarian near you, visit www.wvma.org.Last modified on