This past month, Hawaii Military Pets interviewed Beth Downey, a small hobby breeder in Maryland about the process she takes to ensure forever, loving homes for any animal she produces.
The animal welfare community in Hawaii was especially pleased when numerous pet stores selling animals were shut down. We have read complaint after complaint from consumers fed up purchasing sick and suffering animals from pet stores.
This interview will shed some light on why no responsible breeder sells to a pet store. All dog breed clubs educate consumers on the importance of personally inspecting the breeding home. The American Boxer Club Code of Ethics considers selling a pet to a pet store an infraction. And, no breeder in Hawaii has obtained the required federal permit to sell to a pet store.
Q) As a responsible breeder, why do you NOT sell to pet stores, or take your puppies outside the home and try selling at roadside sales, swap meets and pet stores?
A) As a breeder I am responsible for the life and well being of every puppy I bring into this world and each puppy in my care depends on me to find them a loving home that will take care of them and treat them as a member of their family. I want to ensure they live inside the home with the family and not chained outside or living in a kennel and I want to feel confident that they will get routine vet care as needed and if they ever are sick or injured, that their family will make sure they get the medical attention they need. I make sure I screen every home my puppies are placed in.
To buy a puppy from me I first ask every puppy inquirer to complete my Puppy Questionnaire, then I will do a phone interview, this is followed by a home check, and then I require I meet the whole family that resides in the home so I can be sure that everyone is comfortable with having a dog and are committed to the responsibility of raising a puppy. Every puppy is placed with a contract that states the puppy will be kept as an inside dog, vetted when needed and checked by the buyer’s vet within five business days after the puppy is taken home, not left to run at large, will not be neglected or abused, is healthy the day of sale, has a two-year health guarantee, will be spayed/neutered by the new owner, and will be returned to me if the owner can no longer care for the puppy.
So to answer the question, if I were to sell to a pet store or any random person who hands me money at a flea market or roadside, I have no way of knowing that the precious life I am handing over isn’t going to a home that hasn’t thought through the decision of taking on the responsibility of raising a puppy or no way to know the puppy is going to a loving home. As previously stated, my puppy contract states that if the owner of any puppy I place ever finds they can no longer care for them, that they be returned to me no matter what their age. This way I can ensure to the best of my ability that no puppy I have bred will ever end up in a home I have not screened, in a shelter, or become the financial obligation of a rescue or contribute to the unwanted pet population. As the breeder, every puppy I produce becomes my obligation for the entire life of that puppy.
Q) Do you advertise via Craigslist and Ebay classifieds? Why not?
A) No, people find me by word of mouth or through my website or the Maryland Boxer Club website. I do not advertise via Craigslist or Ebay classifieds for several reasons. One reason is I really have no need to as I receive a lot of inquiries from people looking by word of mouth. Another is I feel it can highly expose me to being contacted by puppy brokers, puppy mill breeders, and my experience is there are a lot of questionable homes that contact breeders through these resources. Not saying a wonderful loving home could not come through this resource but there are so many more who do that are not that I stay away from this form of advertising.
Puppy buyers need to be sure they thoroughly screen a breeder prior to purchase and be sure to go to the breeder’s home to see where and how your puppy was raised. I encourage puppy buyers to ask me questions about myself, my dogs, how they are raised, health testing performed, etc. A breeder should also be willing to provide references from past puppy buyers when asked. If a breeder is put off by an inquirer’s questions, the inquirer should take this as a red flag and stay away from that breeder.
Q) Why do you health test the dogs in your breeding program?
A) I am responsible for every puppy I bring into this world and I want ensure I have done everything within my ability to breed a puppy that has been given every chance I can offer to be as healthy as possible. This does not mean a puppy from health tested parents can’t have a health problem, but the odds are much, much lower. Furthermore, I offer a two-year health guarantee for any serious genetic conditions for every puppy I sell.
As previously mentioned, I require a spay/neuter on pet puppies I sell. I do this for several reasons. One is because not every person will invest the time and money to be sure the sire and dam are both health tested. Also, with the number of unwanted pets in our country now, only a small percentage of any breed should be bred and it is a huge responsibility to be committed to every puppy you produce. Every puppy born depends on their breeder to make sure they do everything they can to place them in a home that will love and care for them properly and will not mistreat them, neglect them, discard them in a shelter or abandon them. When I sell a pet puppy I am selling a family companion and not breeding stock.
A reputable breeder is a guardian of their breed and it is their duty to breed puppies with the following in mind – health, temperament, and quality. Health – by health testing the sire and dam prior to breeding. Temperament – by ensuring the sire and dam are of sound temperament and are neither fearful nor people aggressive. Quality – by choosing a sire and dam that meet the breed standard which is our blueprint guide to the Boxer’s appearance and temperament because without this, all dogs would look the same. They would not have the distinguishing features that make them a Boxer.