The recent rabies scare in Toronto has highlighted one fact - that the general public needs to be educated on how to buy a dog.
Backyard breeders who advertise on telephone poles, sell to pet stores or in flea markets are in no way reputable, ethical breeders. The animals are only product, to be moved to anyone with cash in hand. The breeder has no care for the animal and no interest in its prospective home, only in grabbing the cash.
When a person buys from a backyard breeder, they get no guarantee as to breed, temperament or medical care. The animal is likely unvaccinated, full of worms, may be subject to expensive medical problems in the future and, as we've seen, may be fatally diseased.
A reputable, ethical breeder does not sell crossbreed or mixed breed puppies - also known as mutts or mongrels. A reputable, ethical breeder does not take credit cards. A reputable, ethical breeder will ask many questions of a prospective buyer, to ensure that the purchaser can fulfilll the animal's requirements and the animal will go to a loving forever home. A reputable, ethical breeder can show you at least the mother and many times the father of the desired animal, and can show you its familial history back for several generations. A reputable, ethical breeder knows whether the chosen breed is subject to any specific medical conditions, and does not breed animals that are carriers of deficiencies. A reputable, ethical breeder may turn down a prospective purchaser, if the breeder feels that his or her breed is wrong for the purchaser or that the purchaser does not have the necessary commitment to the animal's welfare.
Animals from reputable shelters and rescues have been checked by a veterinarian, usually spayed or neutered and vaccinated, and either temperament tested or lived in a foster home, so the animal's medical condition and temperament are known. The prospective adopter will be quizzed on his or her commitment to the animal's welfare. A reputable shelter or rescue may turn down a prospective purchaser, if they feel that the animal is wrong for the prospective adopter or that the prospective adopter does not have the necessary commitment to the animal's welfare.
Getting a pet means making a commitment to that animal's health and well-being, emotional and physical, for up to 20 years. There are expenses associated with ownng a pet, including veterinary care. If you can't afford the expenses, especially medical expenses, don't get the animal. People must educate themselves about acquiring an animal. The Canadian Kennel Club has excellent information on its website www.ckc.ca about Deciding to Get a Dog, 3 Steps to Purchasing a Purebred Puppy, Choosing a Breed and Finding a Reputable Breeder.
Ignorance is curable.
Please note that I do not support a "ban" on the sale of live animals. Bans are useless as they are obeyed only by the law-abiding. Criminals, by definition, do not obey laws. "Ban" law is feel-good, photo-op legislation brought forward solely to advance a politician's career. The public can end the cruelty and greed of backyard breeders by educating themselves and acting accordingly.
Stop the backyard breeders and puppy and kitten millers. Don't buy animals from pet stores, don't buy from flea markets, don't buy from telephone pole advertisements. Get your lifetime pet only from a reputable, ethical breeder or a reputable shelter or rescue.