You’ve made the decision to get a dog, and now you have to consider what kind of dog will fit you best, and where to obtain it. Pet stores do offer dogs for sale, but frequently these dogs are the products of puppy mill breeding tactics. By purchasing a dog from them, you could possibly be supporting both the puppy mill, and run the risk of obtaining a dog that may have a significant illness or genetic disease because of inbreeding tactics. So pet stores, unless they work in conjunction with a local shelter are not always the place to get a dog.
If you can, the best and most affordable place to get a dog is your local animal shelter. In large cities, thousands of abandoned animals are euthanized each year, and it has little to do with their behavior or adoptability, but more to do with funding and space issues. Only so many dogs can be kept alive in shelters. When you get a dog from a shelter, you are essentially rescuing it from an untimely death.
Many think that shelters only have dogs of unknown parentage, but statistics do not bear this out. Shelters across the US must routinely euthanize purebreds as well as mixed species. It is true that purebred dogs may be a little harder to obtain, but it is not impossible if you are prepared to be patient.
An alternative to shelters if you want to get a dog right away is to check with animal rescuers of specific breeds. Virtually every recognized breed of dog has a group of rescuers who care for the dogs if they are abandoned or need to be returned to the breeder. Fees are not high for obtaining a rescued dog, about the cost to get a dog at a shelter, between 50-200 US dollars (USD).
Purebred dogs become more difficult to obtain when people want a puppy. You might want to do a little thinking on this issue. Puppies are, of course, cute, but they also require training. If you get a dog that is a year old, it will essentially be full grown, and if it has been trained, much of your work is eliminated.
If you must have a puppy, it’s prudent to do your research on dog breeders with reputable breeding practices. When you go to get a dog, you should be able to inspect the parents, the site in which the dogs are kept, and the breeder should in no way evade questions about the animal you wish to obtain. You should not get a dog from people who offer to deliver because they may not want you to see the living conditions of the dog. If you can’t inspect the home, don’t get the animal. Also, by asking for and investigating references, you will get a dog that has been humanely treated.
If you want a puppy but don’t care about parentage, local animal shelters may still be your best option. Puppies are frequently available. Certain breeds, even when mixed may not be the best dogs for your living situation. As well, any dogs that have pit-bull parents are now subject to greater regulations. In 2006, San Francisco became one of the first cities in the US to actually require that all pit-bulls and half-cross pit-bulls be spayed or neutered. If you rent, you may also want to inquire with your landlord whether certain breeds or crossbreeds are not allowed. Sometimes landlords will disallow several terrier breeds, as well as larger breeds.
When you want to get a dog and a fairly young dog will be acceptable, it is important to inquire about the past behavior of the dog. Again, shelters often have information based on observation of the animal about what kind of home would best suit the dog. Often shelters will allow you to try out the dog to see how it fits with your family and home environment. By being able to have the dog for a visit, you can ensure that you get a dog that will best fit you.