Take a stand and educate veterinary clients about breeders


We can't ignore our place in client education and more responsible pet adoption anymore.

One topic is conspicuously not addressed in veterinary publications-breeders.

Although respect and integrity shape the public perception of veterinarians, I would add that we're cowardly sometimes. For too long we have let public opinion and prejudice determine whether we take a public stance on breeders.

I know many clients who spend an extensive amount of time researching breeders to find a pet. Almost all of them come to me with their new pet and assure me they vetted the breeder. Many people with the best of intentions want to believe a breeder is fabulous-but I believe most breeders are merely good at putting on an act that reassures customers.

To be clear, I think most of these breeders genuinely care about their bitches, queens, etc., but most breeders I know don't bring their pets to a veterinarian regularly. I recommend that pet owners ask for references when purchasing a pet from a breeder. Those references should be from an owner-or, even better, three owners-who purchased a pet from their last litter as well as the veterinarian the pet buyer go to for annual physical examinations. 

Download this guide on starting conversations with clients about a breeder's veterinarian.

In my experience, a great breeder invests about $1,000 in each puppy and $300 to $500 in each kitten. If clients aren't paying double those figures, the breeder can't cover their costs and are skimping something somewhere.

It saddens me when clients say, “We got her from a puppy mill. Once we saw her, we couldn't leave her there. We saved her.” I respond that they did save her, but another puppy or kitten took her place. These places won't fold unless they don't have customers. I know it's heartbreaking to see an animal in deplorable conditions, but clients need to be discouraged from purchasing them. If abuse is suspected, reporting them to the appropriate authorities is the best course of action.

Love of the animals motivates the good breeders. They'll stand behind their puppy or kitten and offer a full refund (for any reason). They'll be there as support during the adjustment period of having a new pet. They'll allow open access to medical records, see that the recommended tests are done and be willing to show their facilities.

Lastly, I always encourage clients to adopt from shelters. I know a lot of you do too. Most of the sweetest, gentlest, loving, healthy pets I have ever known were castaways.

Dr. Krista Magnifico owns seven-doctor Jarrettsville Veterinary Center in Jarrettsville, Maryland, and is founder of Pawbly.com. This originally appeared as a blog at kmdvm.blogspot.com.

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