I am always shocked to see the amount of false advertising that goes on in classified advertisements for pets. A famous Latin proverb warns: "Let the buyer beware" and another proverb states: "The buyer has need of a hundred eyes, the seller of but one."
I wanted to write a buyer beware article to ensure that anyone choosing to purchase a puppy or dog through classifieds advertising knows to watch for a few of these classic signs the seller might be misleading you:
• Beware of ‘Pure Breads’: First and foremost, if you are reading an article about purebred puppies that lists them as "pure breads", then you might not be getting what you think — puppies and baking are two totally different things! Also remember that in order for a person to legally sell a dog as purebred, it must have papers — therefore, a dog listed as a "purebred without papers" could be a single breed dog, but it is NOT a purebred dog.
• Purebred designer dogs: There is no such thing as a purebred mixed breed. Those two terms are completely contradictory — like an irregular pattern or jumbo shrimp. There is no such thing as a purebred Labradoodle or a purebred Puggle. A Labradoodle is a Labrador Retriever crossed with a Poodle, and a Puggle is a Pug crossed with a Beagle. Even if each parent is a purebred, the puppies are still mixed breed — they are not pure anything.
• Hypoallergenic dogs: There are only a handful of breeds that fall into the "low dander" category, and these are the breeds that are least likely (but not guaranteed) to bother people with allergies. It is important to understand that just because a dog is mixed with a low dander breed, like a poodle or schnauzer, there is no guarantee the puppy will carry the same low dander genes. There are many low shedding breeds, but there are only a select few that categorize as low dander breeds. (You can check with the AKC or CKC to verify recognized low dander breeds.)
• No proof of vetting: If someone claims an animal they are selling you has vetting, be sure to get proof. Don’t just take a seller’s word for it — make sure you can obtain copies of the vet work the seller claims the dog has had. The seller can always request these from the vet if they have really been done. (Also be sure to have previous owners transfer the tattoo or microchip registration into your name when ownership changes hands, if the dog has a tattoo or microchip.)
• No vetting at all: Be wary of dogs being sold without any vetting — especially puppies. Puppies that are sold without deworming and their first vaccines are at high risk to pick up parasites, diseases and other troubles that could cost you a bundle. (A free puppy that picks up a parvo or distemper virus can quickly cost hundreds of dollars!)
• Puppies sold too young: There is a lot of growing and development that happens during the first eight weeks of a puppy’s life — both from mom and from siblings. There are cases where babies are orphaned and it cannot be helped, but whenever possible puppies should remain with their mom and siblings until they are eight weeks of age. Just because puppies are eating on their own at four to five weeks, it does not mean they are ready to be on their own.
• High pressure sales: If you go to look at puppies advertised and you find the seller pushing you, it might be time to step back. If a seller is pressuring you for a decision or is pushing you to take two dogs when you only want one, these are not good signs. When you purchase or adopt a puppy, you are committing to that animal for his or her lifetime, and this is not something you should be forced or pressured into.
Looking through classified advertising — especially in the online listings — I am always shocked at the number of advertisements that contain information that is incorrect, misleading or simply signs of potential problems to come.
With an increase in the number of pets purchased through online classified advertisements coming into rescues and pounds in the area, I wanted to put a little information out about some of the "tells" that appear in online ads.
Remember, these are just a few common problems, but certainly not all that you may run into.
If buying from a private seller, asking to speak to the vet who has seen and examined the puppy or dog you want to purchase can tell you a lot.
Dana Grove is an animal lover who works with several pet organizations in Brandon.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition January 31, 2013