Friday, December 14, 2012

Dog Ads Online! Reading Between the Lines

It is almost Christmas, and like every year, I am sure, some folk will scramble for the memorable present that impresses the kids or the girlfriend, and what better way to do that than with a furry bundle of pup? Luckily, dog shopping is really easy in North America. Go online, be bombarded with ad after ad, fall in love with the cutest ever face, hand over the money, and done.
You might have guessed by my tone that I am sour about dogs advertised and sold online – and yet, a few months ago, in an attempt to procrastinate a lengthy report I had to write, I clicked on Kijiji. The dog section. Worse yet, a pup caught my eye in a big way: An Australian shepherd who looked so much like our Davie who died almost two years ago and we’re still missing. Worse yet, I promptly inquired with the seller and was ready to travel 400 km to meet the pup, but she was already sold.
Once the disappointment dissipated, disbelieve set in that I, who has an insight scoop how dogs suffer when they are bred, raised and placed without conscience, was receptive to that. And I came to understand that if I am, how much more susceptible laypeople are. People who fall for ads and think that just because someone breeds dogs that they care about dogs.
I like to believe that had I been able to meet that Aussie pup, I would have had enough sense to walk away if there were any red flags. Most people though, once they answered an ad, once they are at the breeder, once the see the puppy or dog, don’t walk away. They don’t recognize red flags, and even if they do find it difficult to leave without the pooch in tow, wanting to rescue him out of the situation he is in.
It is understandable and yes, kind humans make life better for that one dog, but what they are also doing is to enable a for-profit business to pump out more puppies, and the suffering continues.
Because we have lousy animal welfare laws, the best way to ease suffering is through the pocket book. If the masses would recognize red flags and shop elsewhere, the unscrupulous breeders’ source of income would dry up.
I know what to look for; most laypeople don’t. Thus, I went online again, this time to point out obvious, and not so obvious, red flags.
I googled several Canadian provinces, and found similar ads everywhere. The ones below are authentic: copied and pasted as listed, but I did remove the sellers’ personal info.
Here we go:

“Our much anticipated goldens, buffs, blk/tan and chocolate cocker spaniel puppies have arrived. Our cockers are only bred once a year to ensure dams and pups are in optimum health and temperment. These family raised dogs have been proven great temperment family dogs that love kids, cats and other dogs. Parents are on site. Pups will be Vet checked, dewormed, immunized (1st needle)and have thier own puppy pack and photo album inclulding pictures of parents and grandparents. Puppies will be ready to go November 26, 2012, an early Christmas Present!
A $200.00 deposit is required to hold your puppy. Serious enquires, thank you.”
Red flags:
There were 15 puppies in total from two litters, and that doesn’t sound too bad, does it? Except – I found another ad worded almost the same way with the same spelling mistakes, and listed on the same date, and it announced 11 puppies. Same person? If yes, we are talking 26 puppies and that are too many dogs.
The pups are advertised as purebreds, but it doesn’t make a reference if they are registered – a requirement in Canada. Dogs advertised as purebreds must be registerable.
The birth/when ready dates also raised my eyebrows: The ad gives one birth date - were both litters born on the same day? Or is one litter younger? To the best of my knowledge, Kijiji pulls ads when pups are sold too young, but some breeders cleverly circumvent that by advertising the older litter, and when the potential buyer shows up all those pups “have just been sold”, and they push the younger ones before they should be leaving their mom and littermates.
I also don’t like the reference to Christmas. Life animals should never be advertised as Christmas presents.
Compare it with this ad and you’ll see what I am talking about:
“Beautiful Registered Purebred Chihuahua Puppies.
The estimated adult weighs for these puppies is between 3.0 to 5.0 pounds full grown.
All pics are taken close up, zommed in and cropped, they really are tiny.
Both parents are Registered Purebred Chihuahuas and are on site to meet you.
Litter #1 Born October 5 2012... They will be ready to go to their new homes on Novermber 30 2012.
Pic #1 -- Male Puppy **SOLD**
Pic #2 -- Female #3
Pic #3 -- Female #2
Pic #4 -- Female #1
Pic #5 -- Female #4 **SOLD**
Litter #2 Born October 12 2012... will be ready to go their new homes on December 7 2012.
Pic #6 -- Male#1 White Male with Blue Eyes
Pic #7 -- Male #2 Blue Male with Blue Eyes.
Pic #8 -- Female
They come with:
Veterinary exam and health records
1st set of shots
3X deworming
One Year Written Health Guarantee
And a gift bag full of things you will need to get you and your puppy started at home."

Here is an ad that looks to rehome an adult dog: “Female dog for sale. Very well trained. She is an excellent gaurd dog and I do not want to part with her but I am pregnant and she should NOT be around small children. She is very faithfull and needs lots of attention and exercise. Only serious inquiries please.”
Big red flag: “NOT be around small children”. Unless someone lives insulated from people, there is always a chance that a dog will meet small children. That’s how the human race keeps it going. This dog should not be sold on Kjiji, but evaluated by an expert and adopted to an experienced home who knows how to work with those issues – and knows how to manage the dog properly. A few days ago, another incident of a child bitten in the face made the news here, and although I don't know the details in that case, ads like that are part of the problem: someone with minimal dog experience and knowledge might read “very well trained”, and expect exactly that.
Other red flags:
“Excellent guard dog” – or potential liability?
“Faithful”  - or protective?
“Needs lots of attention and exercise” - what does the dog do when she doesn’t get it?
As a general rule, I wish laypeople would consult with a professional before they acquire an adult dog they spot online. I know, there are great dogs and people out there, but owners, even if they are honest about the dog’s issues and quirks like this one absolutely appears to be, rarely comprehend the full magnitude and are typically also not experienced in selecting an appropriate new home. Furthermore, nothing more than handing money over is required of a dog owner in our lands.
For profit breeders don’t care where their pups are placed.
Layowners often do care, but don’t have the necessary skill.
It is the dog that suffers most when placed in the wrong home, and some go through several before they end up in rescue, or are euthanized.

A statement I found in many ads: “Loves kids, dogs and cats.” Yes, some breeds are more or less predisposed to like people, be tolerant of small hands, and cohabitate peacefully with other dogs, but no breed is genetically programmed to love all other beings automatically and without work put in by breeder and owner.
There are exceptions, but most 8-week-old puppies don’t have the guts to object aggressively to handling or attack the adult dog next door, but there is no guaranty that it will be so when he is 8 months old.

Here are more concrete ads:
“Please to announce our newest litter of Comfort Retrievers.
Males and Females Available
Last 4 pictures are a few of our Grown Comfort Retrievers
This is a breed (cross between a Golden Retriever and Cocker Spaniel) that we decided to try about 4 years ago. We loved the Golden Retriever but wanted something a bit smaller. We attempted to breed resulting in a 40-50 lb Golden Retriever looking family pet. Our goal is to achieve a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Size.
Our Comfort Retrievers have the temperament and disposition of the Golden Retriever.  We have not received any feedback on Health Concerns - they tend to be a very healthy Pet. They LOVE the water.
Our newest available litter of Comfort Retrievers were born September 24th and will be ready for rehoming between November 12th and 19th. In this litter we have 4 girls and 5 boys available. We already have a small waiting list for this litter but still room to add on.”
There are no huge red flags, other than backyard breeding, and I hope they don’t charge pure breed prices for a mutt by design. Just to be clear, I have nothing against backyard breeders or mixed breed dogs - I live with the most wonderful one since more than a decade. What I don't like are amateurs putting a steep price tag on their special creations.
"Tend to be healthy" is a bit ambiguous. Are they, or aren’t they? Before the breeders continue breeding, they should make sure they are.
The ad claims that the dogs have the disposition of a golden retriever. Genetics taught us that offspring has the DNA of both parents. Chances are that sooner or later there will be some cocker disposition creeping in. Not that that’s a bad thing, but it should be mentioned in the ad, because golden people will expect a small golden.
For comparison a springer spaniel ad:
“SPCA inspected/approved. CKC Permanent registered kennels and award winning breeders of 30 years .Pups are extensively socialized, immunized, hunting/field training started,home raised and come with 8 year health guarantees against hereditary diseases.Also, pups are lovingly and humanely raised with tails/dewclaws left intact. Parents are CKC CHAMPIONS, OFA,CERF clear and DNA tested for serious eye problems. Parents and some grandparents are available to meet. References available. Note: pups are offered for sale to approved homes only; interview, home visit and references requested. Litters due early November and will be available for homing for the end of January 2013. Show breeding stock from either litter price may be available ; breeders will provide mentorship and guidance with purchase of this quality of puppy. Reduced price to homes on fixed incomes or to hunting/working and animal therapy placements.”
See the difference? And pay attention to the pups staying with the breeder for 10-12 weeks. I also liked that there are grandparents on sight - a sign that they don't get rid of older dogs that are not monetarily useful any longer.
My hunch is that these breeders make good money, and deservedly so, because they obviously prioritize the dogs’ welfare.

Check this one out:
 “We are proudly the FIRST breeder to be certified by the Humane Society for ethical breeding practices! You can see the certification badge on our website, and please think twice about purchasing from non-certified breeders!
We breed quality CKC Registered Labrador Retriever puppies and match them with good homes and families. We are committed to the welfare of our labs, and place an emphasis on responsible breeding practices.
Each lab puppy comes with:
5 Year / LIFETIME Genetic Warranty,
LIFETIME Breeder Support, and
LIFETIME Return Policy.
- This ensures you are happy and secure in the decision to purchase your next family member, and guarantees both us and you that none of the dogs we produce will end up in an animal shelter.
- All our breeding dogs are screened for 8 different genetic health problems (Hips, Elbows, Eyes, Cardiac, PRA, EIC, CNM, DM). Please read the "Genetic Health 101" page of our website for more information.
- All pups go home at 8 weeks of age. They have basic housetraining, and are microchipped, dewormed four times, and have their first TWO sets of vaccinations. This saves you an expensive vet visit, and ensures the immunity of your puppy when you take it home. Six weeks of free pet insurance is also included. All these details ensure you are delivered a healthy puppy, as we endeavour to minimize visits to the vet over the lifetime of your companion.
- We have an open kennel policy, so upon visiting us, you will be given a full tour and get to meet all our dogs. We believe it is important you see first hand that you are dealing with reputable breeders who care about their dogs.
- We have an assortment of different lab puppies available at different times each year. Listed below are what we have available in the next few months:
- We have litters with all colours expected for the fall and winter. So ask us, or see our website for details! Please contact us in advance of the time you're looking for a companion, as we have a busy deposit list.
We aim to retire our breeding dogs by 4 years old, and we usually have opportunities for the adoption of some great older dogs. We also have some great options to foster older pups and younger adults. Check out our website or contact us for details!”
It sounds like these breeders do it all right, but I still would not buy from them. They have too many puppies for my liking - too many dogs period, indicated that they have options to foster older pups and younger adults. Kennel raised? It doesn’t say, but my hunch is yes.
Rescue groups can’t find enough foster homes – a for-profit breeder asking for a foster home puts a bad taste in my mouth.
And I wonder why they retire them so young? Are they worn out at age 4?

“Border Collie, Kelpie and Dingo cross pups for sale. Parents are excellent cattle working dogson a large cattle ranch and pups have started to show some instinct as they play with each other. Father came from the States and mother is a registered purebred. Please email with any questions. 2 males, 3 females.”
I admit that if these pups were closer, I’d be really keen on having a look, but they shouldn’t be advertised online. The drive they probably have most laypeople can’t handle, and the risk is that the ad attracts folks who don’t know much about dogs, but are intrigued by the Dingo part. There are members of society who crave social attention, and seek to possess something the Jones’ don’t have. Years ago I had clients who bought two male littermate wolf hybrids for their teenage son. Guess what? It didn't work out.

Here is another example:
“Hunting Labradors for sale
Bred for hunting, father registerable American chocolate lab -mother from hunting stock American black lab,
1st vaccinations, family friendly, raised with kids, love water and swimming, males and females, these pups need room to run, NOT city dogs, Very playful, great for family pets or working dogs.”
City folks will read the ad, and will he turn them away when they come with a checkbook? I have met working stock Labradors and they did not make great family pets. They had a one-track mind: working in the field with very low motivation for anything else.

And one more:
“Taking reservations for the next litter of Great Pyrenees pups. Ready for their new home mid Jan 2013.  Pups will be well socialized with sheep, goats, chickens, ducks and people.
Both dogs come from a pedigree of good working stock. Sire parents are reg with AKC and from Colorado. Dam works on a sheep farm.  She is hip certified. Father will be when 2 yrs old.
Great Pyrenees are very smart gentle giants who bond with their family and very laid back and easy going. They do need a fenced in area and daily exercise. These pups will make great family pets or superior livestock guardian dogs. They will be vet checked, de-wormed several time, have their first vaccination, and micro chipped.”
People reading that ad see “great family pets”, without understanding the breed's needs. I have had two clients with Great Pyrenees recently, and one told me that she wished she’d done more research, but believed the online ad, fell in love with the face, and got the pup. Both dogs, as superior
livestock-guardians, are hypersensitive to sound, and motion, and both live in a suburban area with lots of noise that perpetually overstimulates them, and they react to.
Another red flag is “that the mother is hip certified, but the father will be when 2 years old”. The father should not have been used for stud prior to being checked. Just to make it clear, he will be checked for hips, not necessarily certified.

Here are two ads for Rottweilers:
“The Rottweiler is good-natured, placid in basic disposition,very devoted, obedient, biddable and eager to work and make the Most Amazing Family Dogs
Our family has loved and owned Rottweilers for about 15 years now
We are by no means a large breeder and have no intentions of ever becoming one. We breed for Quality not Quantity Our top priority is ONLY breed dogs with excellent Pedigree's Health and fantastic Temperaments. All our dogs and puppies have beautiful Square heads and dark mahogany markings they are extremely Affectionate and their puppies are raised in our home as part of the Family This makes them extremely confident, sociable and happy with outstanding temperaments.
We welcome you to come visit our Home and meet our wonderful dogs. The Sires and Dam Hips and Elbows are OFA Excellent & Good, All are Dogs are health certified for eyes,heart, thyroid, hips and elbows.
If you are interested in a Quality puppy Whether you are looking for Show, Work or Family Companion/Soul Mate, we have laid the foundation for a well rounded, stable puppy to become everything that you are looking for.”
If I’d be looking for a Rottie, this breeder would be on the top of my list. No red flags. I like that they use the word “confident”, understanding well that confident dogs are less prone to anxiety issues. And I like that they say that they “laid the foundation” cause that is all a breeder can do. The rest is in the hands of the owner, and if he messes up, even the most carefully bred pup can develop behavioral problems. But more likely than not, these breeder will ensure that the pups are placed in the right homes.
Compare it to this one:
“Hello Everyone. I have 5 adorable Rottweiler puppies available on November 27th 3 boys and 2 girls. They have their tails, i couldnt get them done because its illegal in the province . They will have first shots and health check as well as deworming up to 8 weeks.The Parents are my Pets not breeding dogs i own both. I brought the father up from ontario with me when i moved here . The father is about 90lbs and the mother is about 85. The mother is still growing she is only 11 months as it was her first heat. Im looking for forever homes for these little guys, and would like a 200$ deposit to hold them until the 27th please contact me with any questions.”
No words. Well, not very many. I don’t think this person is malicious, just absolutely clueless and I hope no buyers are found: If s/he can’t sell the pups and has to figure out what to do with them, hopefully s/he takes measures to prevent that the female is knocked up every time she is in heat. But what are the chances. And what are the chances this person can distinguish a good home from a bad one.

For the finish an ad that should be pulled because the pups are only 4 weeks old when the breeder deems them ready. “Just got a new litter on Oct 5th, I have 10 puppies, 1 female 400$(SOLD) and 9 males 200$ They'll be ready Oct 30th. If approved to have one of my pupps, down payment of 150$ is needed. You will have the option to have the dog have his first shots or you will be able to do that yourself (contract will have to be signed if you choose that option to have the shots not done) If your interested please email for breed, etc. Thanks”
If approved? My hunch is s/he’ll approve anyone who hands over a 150 dollar deposit for a 200 dollar pup. Quite the down payment. And why doesn’t s/he advertise the breed?
As you see, one of the pups is already sold, which means that there are indeed people who hand money over to a person such as this one.

Online has become the convenient venue for all sorts of people, including Pet Stores - to my dismay I saw a Petland ad, to sell their wares.
The result is that many pups, and older dogs, with a plethora of physical and emotional problems are sold to unsuspecting people; people who look for a pet and end up with a project. We are not talking about a lemon car or scratched kitchen table when the deal goes wrong, but a living, feeling being meant to be a family member for a decade or longer, and who will suffer if denied that.
For that reason, and even though I found seemingly responsible breeders also, I am still dead-set against  dogs, any animal for that matter, advertised and sold online.
Finding individual breeders, going to dog shows and talking to people who own the breed you’re interested in, searching and researching rescue groups, visiting shelters, are the first steps of good dog ownership, and I wonder when people acquire a dog the easiest way possible, what they’ll do when life with that very same dog presents hurdles.

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