By Shelby Smithey…
A recent study by the Humane Society of the United States points to Florida as the highest ranking state for complaints about purchases of puppies that are in poor health.
The study analyzed nearly 2,500 complaints received between 2007 and 2011 from consumers who contacted the HSUS after finding out their puppy had a serious medical condition or died shortly after purchasing.
An overwhelming 91 percent of the complaints involved illnesses or congenital disorders that required veterinary care or shortened the life of the puppy, including 350 complaints that involved a puppy who died soon after purchase. Many of the puppies are believed to have originally been from puppy mills.
Florida had the highest number of consumers submitting complaints to the HSUS, followed by Ohio and Illinois. States whose businesses, including breeders, brokers and pet stores, generated the most complaints were Missouri, Florida and Ohio. Florida also received the highest number of complaints about puppies purchased from pet stores.
Sarah Humlie, managing director at the Humane Society of Pensacola, said that to avoid getting a sick puppy it is best to purchase from reputable sources, such as an animal shelter or small breeders.
“Never purchase a puppy without meeting it first,” Humlie said. “Make sure it does not display any signs of sickness: lethargy, lack of appetite, rashes, runny eyes, or other uncharacteristic symptoms. You also want to ensure that the dog reacts to sounds and voices. Often time deafness can be a genetic issue. Puppies should be active and friendly with a soft coat and bright eyes. If something seems off, buyer beware.”
Humlie also said that good sources will provide some sort of guarantee or return policy if for some reason the puppy is not healthy when you get it home.
“Do your homework on any pet store and ensure that the store sources from reputable breeders who pass USDA inspections,” Humlie said. “Try to meet the parents if possible as well. Take the puppy to your vet within three days of getting the animal to have it checked over for any major health issues.”
To learn more about puppy mills, or to report a complaint about a sick puppy, go to humanesociety.org/puppymills.