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The hidden dangers of buying pets online

In a time when you can buy just about anything online – from a traditional clam bake from Maine to a shipping container pool for your back yard – you have to wonder . . . just because you can do something, should you? We’re so accustomed to buying things online that it’s become second nature. With a click of a Submit button (and a whole lot of convenience), it may be easy to see how the same thought process used to buy furniture could be applied to pets, but that logic is wrong on many levels.

Let’s talk about fiction versus reality and the Internet.

Maybe you’re poking around a few sites looking for a puppy, and you come across an adorable pup, bounding through a field, floppy ears bouncing in the breeze, paws mid-flight – you know, the kind of picture that causes you to break out in a smile, and your interest is immediately piqued. You see the puppy is for sale in another state through a breeder, scan glowing reviews of the seller, read the pet’s impeccable bio and think to yourself, “I have to have this dog, the breeder is reputable, and I’m buying him.”

Not so fast. While that puppy may look cute, healthy and happy, do you really know? The reality can be far from the idyllic pictures posted on that web site. Here are a few dangers to keep in mind.

While a picture can say a thousand words, there’s no way to know that the puppy actually exists and isn’t a stock photo of a random dog.

Just because an animal looks healthy, doesn’t mean he’s well. Worms, parasites, genetic diseases from inbreeding and certain injuries aren’t always visible, and the reality is that treating these conditions can be expensive and require treatment for the pet’s life.

A dog may have little to no socialization, which could make them anxious and fearful of people, sights, sounds and other animals. Aggression and other serious behavior problems could result, and you could be putting your family and community in danger.

Animals may not live in humane conditions and spend their days never receiving the care, nutritious food and exercise they need to thrive.

All breeders aren’t unethical, deceptive and cruel, but, unfortunately, by the time you find that out, it may be too late. (The Dumb Friends League, along with seven other organizations, rescued 102 dogs and puppies, living in disturbing conditions in Mesita, CO. Read more about this case.) Use the Internet to research possible additions to your family, but strongly consider adopting a pet from a local animal shelter like the Dumb Friends League where you can work with professionals who can speak to an animal’s personality and your lifestyle and provide post-adoption support should you need it. Go ahead and buy the Mercury Retrograde Protection candle online, but adopt (and, hopefully, a shelter pet) in person.

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