Inspectors and the Puppy Marketplace, Part II

After reading the BBB report and having been to a puppy auction last summer where I actually spoke with a USDA inspector, I wanted to learn more about the people who are tasked with being the main players in the enforcement of USDA rules and regulations set forth in the Animal Welfare Act.

Interestingly, state inspectors in Missouri are paid more than inspectors surveyed who work in other states.  The former are paid $30,000 -$36,600 annually as compared to their counterparts, whose pay starts at $22,700- $30,000.  Why the discrepancy?  (1) Missouri state inspectors make twice as many inspections as other states.  (2) They also report that they do make a serious effort to locate non-licensed breeders as well.  An aside here: I really don’t know where they get the time to do this considering how many inspections they claim to do; that said, based on the report of states that cooperated in the BBB project, Missouri state inspectors only do inspections when there is a complaint, a new breeder/kennel seeks their license and, on a few occasions a year, a drop-in or unexpected visit.  If by chance you have bought a dog and would like to get some information on the breeder please click here to be directed to the APHIS website.

Zoey for Sale...but not really...she was already sold!

The BBB report also includes a lengthy discussion on marketplaces for puppies.  Where someone you get or buy a dog?  It turns out, just about anywhere.  The report indicates that the wide majority of puppies are purchased on the Internet, from classified ads, kennels, pet stores and auctions.  The report also mentions shelters as an inexpensive alternative but cautions that “these dogs may be older than the consumer is seeking.”  For our blog readers there will be a whole other post on this one.  But, as you all know I don’t agree as Abby was adopted at a young age and there were MANY choices that were all under one year old.

Baby Abby

Of the channels listed above, the BBB states that the Internet is clearly the “riskiest option” for consumers.  On the surface, I might be inclined to agree with this contention; it makes sense.  But I would also like to see the research involved.  More precisely, the BBB does not clearly define an “Internet seller.”  A person who is selling a puppy online could be a kennel owner, breeder, pet storeowner, or an unlicensed breeder whose dog just had pups.  The Internet is a large world: people on it behave responsibly and irresponsibly.  Some sell dozens of dogs continuously while others are one-offs.  Some charge usurious prices while still others simply want to recoup the cost of their animal and find a good home.  It’s simply a very wide range that in many ways defies a clear definition.

Part III of this series will include lemon laws, contracts and enforcement of violations.  I think you will be surprised by what they found.

Source:  The Puppy Industry in Missouri.  A Study of the Buyers, Sellers, Breeders and Enforcement of the Laws. Robert Teuscher.  March 2010

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