What NOT to look for in a breeder website
I know we all work hard to impress on folks that they should not be buying that puppy mill puppy from the pet store. One standard suggestion for folks who are looking for a puppy is to visit a dog show to talk with breeders; another is to do some online research. However, I think we need to go a little further. If someone wants to buy a puppy online, there are plenty of sites where they can do just that — enter their credit card and their shipping information, and voila! Puppy! Here’s the bad news: A number of these sites are the virtual equivalent to a pet store.
I had the distasteful experience of looking at one such site today. (Because I do not want to increase this person’s ticker count, I’ll abstain from listing the URL.) To the uninitiated, this site may well appear to be that of a legitimate (read: conscientious and ethical) breeder. It not only displays the AKC logo prominently at the top of the page, it actually includes “AKC” in its URL.
Following the header and a couple of photos are a number of “award” graphics. A quick look shows that they are actually “website awards,” and one reads “Dogster Supports Ethical Breeders” badge. I mean, it doesn’t say that THIS is an ethical breeder, but you get the implication. Hey, all those awards must mean this is a good breeder, right?
The breeder talks about “nutrition” (Purina, natch), and quotes the standard, talks about champion blood lines, offers training advice, etc. There’s an FAQ, veterinarian references listed, a plug for dietary supplements… Sounds goods so far, right?
Oh, and hey, what’s that there? Hot-damn, it’s an AKC Breeder of Merit badge on the site. Wow, this is great!
Except, no. Worlds of no. Entire UNIVERSES of no. Did this person ever at one time receive an AKC Breeder of Merit award? I honestly do not know, but I hope to hell not, because if so then the AKC is a bigger joke than I want to believe. ANYONE can copy an image and put it on their website. Um, kinda like I just did.
WHY do I not want to believe this person ever received such an award, you might ask? Oh, let me count the ways. From this same website:
1. Right near the top of the page: “Call to request a breeding — XXX-XXX-XXXX.” Sure, because all reputable breeders ask John Q. Public to choose their breeding stock for them. (The internet REALLY needs a specific sarcasm font.)
2. They offer gift certificates. Gee, I sure hope no one gets surprised with a puppy they don’t want! Oh, wait…
3. They offer a 5% discount off “full AKC prices.” Since when does AKC set a price, full or otherwise?
4. In addition to the titular Dachshunds, the site also advertises Golden Retrievers, Yorkshire Terriers, and Poodles. So what? Some breeders have more than one breed, don’t they? Yes, they do. But reputable breeders to NOT offer “Golden Doxies”, “Dorkies,” or “Yorkie-Poos.” Not even “Champion” Yorki-Poos — which this person is purportedly selling. In case you’re wondering, a reverse dapple female Golden Doxie goes for $750. But they take credit cards and do layaway, so you’re good to go.
5. Some of the cute photos of actual doxies? Oops, she snurched those from someone else’s website. (See, what did I tell you about copying and pasting?) When called on it, she argued that they were on the interwebs and they came up in a Google search so of course it was all right to use those. And, you know, imply by their inclusion on her site that they were her dogs. As one does.
6. Oh, and it’s okay for her to write nasty emails to people when they call her on stealing photos and such, because “she’s a Christian.” Well, okay, then!
You guys, I am so grossed out. Not because I’m naive — I’m well aware that backyard breeders exist, and for the sole purpose of making money off of the unsuspecting. The best we can do is to continue to try and educate the puppy buying public, contact AKC in writing when we see something this egregious that uses AKC’s name and graphics, and do our best to offer buyers the better alternative.
Golden Doxies. Jeebus. *face-palm*