The price of buying a dog online is not monetary. It is emotional. The rupees, dollars or pound sterling you pay for this puppy will not heal its defects. The price of this dog does not take into consideration the suffering of the breeding pair -your dogs parents. It does not account for the funds required to care for the hundreds of breeder discards. And it does not prepare you for the anguish of parenting a broken animal.
India’s exploding pet ‘parent’ population is good news for the industry. A new generation of pet owners are consumers and signal industry growth. We’re becoming a pet friendly society, that’s what many publications have us believing. We’re growing, but we are yet to mature. And the lag between growth and maturity is tormenting pets and their families.
It is a regular day in the life of a pet business. Customers call with enquiries about products, and services, maybe a couple of questions about pet food. And the countless questions of “how much does a lab (Labrador) cost?”, ‘what is the price of a dog?”, What dogs do you have for sale. An average day, interspersed with queries from the serious to the ridiculous!
Today is different, within a span of three hours, two distressed pet owners contact us. Both have puppies, bought from breeders. The ‘breeders’ are long gone, busy selling more ill bred puppies to unsuspecting families. These families bought puppies, bred most likely in squalid conditions to an ill and stressed mother.
The heartbreak of listening to a distraught pet owner asking you to ‘fix their dog’ is indescribable.
Covid and lockdown have opened up a Pandoras Box of fosterers, pet sitters and first time pet owners. Each one intends to make a better life for the dog or cat in their care. However, there are long terms effects for the dogs in their care, primarily because of their inexperience.
This Labrador has malformed legs he also suffers from a curvature of the spine. His litter mates likely suffer from the same problems which they may have inherited from their mother.
This is a Labrador retriever. From a breeder. His family are doing their best to help him. The next time you think breeders who sell online are ‘ok’ think of this dog.
A family in turmoil watching a 10month old member suffer.
The backyard breeder is long gone.
On to the next sale.
What/ who is a backyard breeder? The term refers to an individual who has little or no knowledge of the profession of dog breeding. They pay no attention to the health of the breeding bitch or the puppies.
Puppies are separated from their litter mates and mother too early. The mother is fed is substandard diet (usually exclusively commercial dry kibble). She is bred continually her body is stressed which affects the health of her puppies. When she is no longer able to deliver, she is discarded on the street.
An ethical breeder stands out easily in this crowded market place. The price of a dog online or offline is not their primary focus. They refuse to sell their puppies to anyone without taking the time to educate a new owner. This breeder has knowledge of genetics, biology and the peculiarities of their specific breed. They take pride in their dogs health and the health of the offspring. It is a business, but never at the expense of a dog.
A breeder who refuses to sell you a dog does so for the benefit of you, your family and the dog. They do not consider the value of a dog solely by the price it can fetch. Listen to them. Because, a dog is more than ears, nose and a fluffy tail. A working breed like a Labrador Retriever (they are a breed of hunting dog) the dog is not a house pet. The retriever is an intelligent hard working dog, we have reduced them to slipping on tiled floors and fetch for fifteen minutes a day. It’s function is in the name of the breed- retriever- to fetch, bring back, which means this dog’s function is to be active and on the move.
The quickest way to spot a backyard breeder online is to pay attention to the manner in which they hold a puppy. A person connected to an animal holds a puppy close (cradles), to make sure the pup feels secure. A person trying to make a sale holds a puppy like a salesman selling his wares.
A backyard breeder is a businessman, who does not care where the puppies end up. He/she does not follow up with families about the health and well-being of the puppy. Simply put they businesspersons with no after sales service.
Facebook requests for dog trainers are on the rise. A common dog problem listed on social media “My dog has behavioural issues”. Puppies which are not socialised by its litter mates and mother do not have the benefit of learning ‘dog manners”
A pet behaviourist is called upon to take control of a situation our new pet owners cannot recognise or rectify. The behaviourist does not replace another dog or litter of puppies, they can only attempt to correct the injustice to your puppy. Observe puppies playing with each other and older dogs, this is how they learn social skills from their peers.
Desperate families turn to Google and Facebook to find cures, for such severe conditions as hip dysplasia. They are in a helpless situation and reach out to unqualified strangers for help. If they’re lucky to find a qualified vet- the dog has a chance. If not, its the internet to the rescue.
These ‘breeders’ flourish globally with the explosion of an online dog trade – staggering in proportion and no end in sight.
As a pet industry grows and people sniff out (pun intended) business opportunities, the casualties of this frenzied pet industry growth are the pets.
Your google search for ‘The price of a dog online’ does not inform you of the emotional and mental toll your family suffers. She may be stolen from a family and sold into a captive life, we call this trafficking in human beings.
Google, a search tool and repository of information online, is contributing to a global epidemic. Not Covid – 19- a dog epidemic. The likes of which shelters and rescue organisations have never witnessed.
Why do we predict an epidemic of abandoned dogs? It is a simple prediction because we receive an astonishing number of enquiries. They range from ‘how to buy a dog online” or the ridiculous cash on delivery. People believe it is acceptable to buy a dog- online.
A new crop of pet sitters are in business because it is an easy ‘ work from home’ income. Subsequently, opening the flood gates for back yard breeders who cease on an opportunity to supply more puppies.
Pet sitters and boarders now need only to have space and a social media presence to represent themselves as ‘professionals’. Take your time and ask questions of these services.
The popular breeds of Rottweiler or German Shepherd, are bought and sold with alarming regularity online. Social media has made a business man and a pet breeder out of anyone with access to a smart phone and a breeding pair of dogs. Part of the blame must rest with the buyer. Bargain hunting is acceptable for cars, homes and commodities. It is not acceptable when you are looking to bring a dog into your family. Please stop shopping around for the price of a dog online.
Spin off industries of pet boarding and ‘pet events’ are fuelling the need for dogs large and small. Cute dogs and smash faced cats and dogs are social media celebrities. Which in turn drives up a demand from pet owners to buy these dogs and cats.
The price of a dog online, does not enlighten you about the distraught owners forced to perform surgeries on ill bred puppies. French bulldogs, Pugs, Cavalier Charles Spaniels, among the sought after lock down puppies. However, all three of these breeds suffer because they are brachycephalic breeds. The stunning ignorance of new pet owners, is testament to the fact that the internet is at times ignored!
It’s all a “Google” away– invest the time and research what it takes to care for a dog. This is a decade long investment, take a day to find the facts. Basic pet care and advice are easily available through websites, articles and blogs. If you need help, reach out to a small pet business, your vet or your local shelter.
Covid 19 has caused disruptions to the lives of families globally. Buying a puppy to ‘take your mind off things’ or ‘find a companion’ is turning out to be a dogs worst nightmare. Influencers with their puppy posts and dressed up dogs are unwittingly contributing to an industry preying on defenceless animals.
Can a backyard breeder use your dog ? The answer is yes!
Here are a couple of scenarios
1. You hire a dog walker who claims the dog ran away (your dog may be sold to a breeder)
2. This ‘kennel’ or ‘boarding’ facility is in complete control of your dog. The worst offenders? Cage free, kennel free boarding facilities. A professional dog boarder will cringes at the thought. These cage free havens are intentional and unintentional producers of puppies.
3. Breeders often use stolen dogs. They have no investment – only profit from the puppies they sell. The danger is they are breeding from a dog/dogs with no knowledge of their health or genetic conditions.
The price of a dog online is not the financial transaction of paying a breeder to buy a puppy. Somewhere in a dingy room a female dog is bred mercilessly to meet a demand. The huge demand and the lure of easy money too easy for some to pass up. What is the result? A deluge of “puppies for sale online.” A dog bought online is akin to buying a child online. You know the child is sourced by questionable means.
Work from Home and shop online is the new normal. There are some transactions that must remain in person. The act of buying or adopting a dog or cat relies on your connection with the animal. Human beings are troubled adapting to a virtual world, and we may have lost some of our grip on what is an acceptable online purchase.
Ethical/ responsible breeder: to define an ethical or responsible breeder is easy. It is a person who studies their chosen breed. They learn the inherent problems of the breed and try to better them. A responsible breeder does not breed dogs for the sole purpose of selling a dog. They are mindful to never breed a dog (male or female) with a congenital disorder (such as hip dysplasia). The price of a well bred dog takes into consideration a knowledgeable breeder who takes responsibility for their puppies.
Cover Photo Credit: Helena Lopes
Thank you to the pet owners who gave us permission to use these images, to educate people so more dogs do not suffer.