Things to Consider When Getting a New Puppy or Kitten
Should I get a pure breed or a mixed breed?
There are a lot of advantages to getting a mixed bred animal. There are many mixed breeds waiting in shelters across the country, looking for their "forever homes".
On the other hand, there are some advantages to getting a pure-breed animal. A pure bred puppy or kitten from a good breeder will come with written guarantee against genetic defects, and are more predictable with regard to their personality and size as adults. For a family living in an apartment, for example, it may be more advisable to buy a small breed puppy rather than a puppy from the shelter which might grow into a 100 lb dog that takes over the whole apartment! If you decide that you would like a specific breed, make sure that you research the breed carefully before deciding if it is right for you. While you may like the look, you may discover that their personality might not fit well with yours. Also, every breed is known for having a tendency to develop certain medical problems. Make sure you are aware of these, as well.
Where should I go to get my new puppy or kitten?
There are several places you can go to find your next addition to your family. If you are looking for a pure bred dog or cat, a breeder might be the right choice for you. If you are happy with a mixed breed, animal shelters are an excellent and affordable option.
How Do I Find a Good Breeder?
A good breeder can be hard to find, but is always worth the search. Some websites, like the Guide to Registered Dog Breeders in Nova Scotia, will list breeders for the particular breed that you are interested in.
A good breeder should ask you as many questions as you are asking him/her. Good breeders are careful about where they place their puppies/kittens, and want to make sure that you will provide a good and caring home. They should try to make you aware of breed faults, to make sure that it is the breed for you.
A good breeder will also ask you to sign a contract. This contract is for your protection as much as theirs. The contract should guarantee the puppy or kitten from from genetic defects.. Most breeders will either reimburse you the cost of your puppy or kitten, or offer you a second one from another litter - yours choice. The contract should also request that if for any reason you can no longer keep your new pet, that they be offered the chance to buy the puppy/kitten off of you, rather than have you dump it at an SPCA. The contract will also require you to spay or neuter your puppy by a certain age.
A good breeder will raise the puppies or kittens in the home. Also, a good breeder will let you meet the parents. A lot of personality is inherited, so it is important to make sure you like the mother before you buy one of the offspring!
I don't care about getting a purebred, I just want to give someone a home!
If getting a specific breed is not important to you, an animal shelter is an excellent place to get a dog or cat. SPCAs are overflowing with unwanted dogs, cats and kittens, and many veterinarians work in cooperation with these charities to help finance their vaccination and neutering. In fact, getting one at the shelter is actually cheaper than getting one free off of the street!
Animals from the SPCA or Bide Awhile come with a modest adoption fee that covers their first set of needles, deworming, a free exam with a local veterinarian, and the cost of spaying or neutering your new pet. This is a huge financial savings, and you are saving somebody's life.