CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Christmas is the time of year for giving and being kind, but you may want to think twice before you buy or before you adopt an animal for the holiday.
With the festive season upon us, people are searching for that perfect gift. For many, the comfort and joy of a pet may seem like a great option, but it could be a mistake.
“We see those mistakes here in the hospital pretty frequently," said VCA Oso Creek Animal Hospital Veterinarian Dr. Wallace Graham. "Where puppies are adopted or purchased from a breeder, and the puppy is sick, or has parasites, or sometimes it is not even a purebred puppy even though that is what they have paid for."
If a breeder does not introduce you to the puppy’s mom and dad, or will not allow you to see the facility where the puppies were raised, then that is a big red flag.
“Where you get your puppy is really important, and I strongly encourage everyone to try and find a puppy suitable for their family at one of the local shelters," said Graham. "There are a lot of puppies that need homes.”
If you do get a pet, make sure to talk with your veterinarian to find out how best to protect your pet from diseases such as canine parvovirus.
“So the things you watch for in puppies are to make sure they don’t have runny noses, cough, look under their tail to make sure there is no evidence of diarrhea, and the puppy should feel good and be playful,” said Graham. "And if it is lethargic or not playful and just wants to lie around, I would be concerned about that."
Also keep in mind during the holidays to keep people food away from pets. It’s tempting to give your pets anything they want – even if it’s not good for them.
“I will tell you, we work at the emergency clinic here and every day after Thanksgiving day, after Christmas day, after New Year’s, we treat lots and lots of vomiting and diarrhea and that can be avoided,” said Graham.
Another great reason for going to a shelter or rescue is that the cost is low, and there are often discounts on spaying and neutering.
Know your rights if your new pet isn’t healthy. Pet lemon laws, commonly called puppy lemon laws or pet lemon laws, make it easier for pet purchasers to get their money back if a recently purchased pet becomes sick or dies.
Options usually include returning the animal for a refund, exchanging it, keeping it and receiving a partial refund and/or be reimbursed for veterinary costs associated with treating it.
To receive reimbursement for veterinary costs or the purchase price of the animal, seek medical attention for your new puppy if it gets sick. Retain all paperwork related to the purchase and the cost of care.
As of 2017, 22 states have enacted pet purchase protection acts. If you live in a state without puppy lemon laws, you might be able to get compensation from the breeder or seller if your new puppy becomes sick. While some states have laws specific to this transaction, Texas does not.