Tips for Buying a Healthy Dog In Massachusetts

Key information when purchasing a dog from a pet shop or a breeder

Buying a Dog from a Pet Shop

Buying from a Pet Shop:
All Massachusetts pet shops must be licensed and must display their license in a location that is visible to customers.

All Massachusetts pet shops must display a sign listing the information available to customers on dogs being offered for sale.

At the time of sale, the pet shop must provide the customer with a copy of the dog's complete medical record and a notice of the 14-day warranty provided for under Massachusetts state law. The customer must sign a statement acknowledging receipt of these materials.

A veterinarian must have examined the dog within seven days prior to sale. Pet shops must not knowingly sell a sick dog, however, sometimes a dog becomes sick after it is purchased.

You should have the dog examined by a veterinarian within 14 days of sale. If the examination shows that the dog is diseased or has a congenital disorder, you may return the dog to the pet shop, with the veterinarian's written statement, for a replacement or refund of the purchase price within two business days of the examination.

Pet shops are NOT required, under Massachusetts state law, to pay veterinarian expenses after purchase.

Additional Resources

Buying a Dog from a Breeder

Buying from a Breeder:
Make sure that you are, in fact, dealing with a breeder. Sometimes it's hard to tell the difference between a pet shop and a breeder. Even if the facility looks like a home, it still may be a pet shop.

To find a reputable breeder, two suggestions are to attend dog shows and talk with the handlers or breeders directly or contact a local breed club for more information.

Ask if the business is a licensed pet shop and look for a pet shop license on display.

Ask to see the puppies' mother. It's especially important to see the mother interact with the puppies; look for signs that she is nursing. Many breeders advertise early, before the puppies are ready to be sold. This is the best time to see them interact.

Most breeders breed only one or two breeds. Be suspicious if there are many breeds present.

Do your homework. Research the breed you're interested in buying. This will not only help you find a breed that's right for your lifestyle, but will also help you determine if a breeder is reputable. A breeder should know a lot about the breeds he or she is raising. Ask the breeder about the breed's traits and health tendencies.

If you have any doubt about whether a breeder is reputable, whether their dogs are healthy, or whether it is in fact a pet shop, don't be afraid to walk out and shop around for a reputable breeder.

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