6 tips to find a healthy puppy to adopt

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Carole Midgley and Dora

Elisabeth Perlman writing in The Times newspaper provides readers with five useful tips on how to find a healthy puppy to adopt to which I added a sixth. The adoption of puppies has surged during the coronavirus lockdowns which is both good and bad. It is essential that adopters do due diligence to ensure that the relationship with their new companion is successful and enduring. There are too many abandonments some of which are online leading to further abandonments because of unsuited matchups. The dog invariably suffers the most. Note: this articles applies to the UK specifically but the general principles apply anywhere.

Carole Midgley and Dora

Carole Midgley and Dora. She adopted a Romanian rescue dog and is delighted. Photo: Matt Thomas.

Find a responsible breeder

Currently, in the UK, purchasers of purebred dogs must buy direct from the breeder or they can adopt a random bred or purebred dog from a rescue centre. If you buy from a breeder you can’t go through a third party under British law. You have to visit the breeder and see the puppies with their mother. In truth, you don’t need a law to do this because it is the only way to adopt a cat or dog. You need to see how they’ve been socialised and you need to interact with puppies when they’re very young before adopting. You might be lucky when a puppy comes to you and asks to live with you. That’s the best way to select a new companion animal.

Kennel Club’s Assured Breeders Scheme

The Kennel Club runs a scheme which ensures that their members comply with breed-specific health screenings. It appears that if you adopt from one of these breeders you are more likely to have selected a healthier dog because an insurance company, Agria Insurance, says that you will spend 20% less on veterinary bills throughout the dog’s lifetime.

Contract and paperwork

I would advise a contract which should be read thoroughly and genuinely agreed. You should see vaccination and micro-chipping records. Make sure that the vaccination and micro-chipping records are genuine. I wouldn’t adopt a puppy without the right paperwork. Don’t take chances please. Breeders in the UK use what is called the Puppy Contract which you can see online.

Age of puppy

According to the Dogs Trust the puppy that you adopt should be at least eight-weeks-of-age. This ensures that the dog has been properly weaned and socialised with their mother present. The early weeks of a dog’s life, as is the case for a domestic cat, are vital. They ensure that the dog is fully socialised to humans and other animals hopefully which in turn ensures that they fit in with human life, allowing them to be more content. It’s an aspect of adoption which you cannot guarantee if you adopt from a third party or a pet shop or the ‘black market’ from an Eastern European importer.

Buying online

Don’t buy online from a photograph without having met the dog and the breeder or the person selling the dog. It’s just too risky. You don’t know what you’re getting and ultimately the dog is the victim in these transactions if it goes wrong. Animal rescues advertise their dogs online but I would personally always visit the rescue centre (coronavirus permitting) and talk to the people and meet your dog before going ahead. It’s too big a deal. This is a 12-15 year part of your life if you adopt a puppy. Although, Battersea Dogs and Cats Home are matching puppies with new owners online during the coronavirus pandemic. You might investigate this. They may provide adopters with a bit of leeway allowing them to return the dog if it doesn’t work out. I think you need some sort of cooling off period when you adopt solely online. The contract should allow for this.

Adoption from overseas

I have referred to Eastern European importers. Perhaps I’m being a bit unkind there but it is known that some Eastern Europeans are exporting to this country by circumventing the Pet Passport scheme currently in place while we are in the European Union. These are puppy mills where bitches are bred to extreme and the puppies are poorly socialised and end up with health issues on adoption which can lead to very high veterinary bills early on and disenchantment by their owners. You can go through a reputable organisation such as the Wild at Heart Foundation. Rescue dogs from Europe should be imported under the EU’s Balai Directive. This is a European Union law which requires more stringent health and background checks than the Pet Travel Scheme. I think you have to be particularly rigourous when you adopt from abroad in terms of the health of the dog. Currently, I’m not sure what’s going to happen after we definitively leave the European Union. Watch this space, please because I will add some further details if possible.

Carole Midgley

I have to mention Times journalist Carole Midgley because she adopted a rescue dog from Romania and she’s delighted. The dog was abused apparently or it seems that way because she is fearful of men and it took a lot of time for her to get her dog to settle into what is a relative life of luxury. It can work out great when you adopt from a country like Romania because you are doing good. You are giving a dog who has probably suffered in the early part of their life, a much better life and there is a reward in that for both parties.