by Sam Mazzotta
DEAR PAW’S CORNER: This Christmas, we thought we bought the perfect puppy for our son. “Chipper” looked adorable and healthy at the pet store when we picked him out. However, a couple of days after we brought him home, Chipper got very ill; he was lethargic and vomiting. We took him to the vet right away, where he remains, recovering from several issues the vet said are typical of puppy-mill dogs. He also said that puppy-mill dogs can have behavioral problems as well. Now I’m not sure we should keep him. What should we do?
— Taken for a Ride in Pennsylvania
DEAR TAKEN: OK, first off, please keep Chipper. Even though he is not the perfectly healthy puppy you expected, it’s not his fault. Furthermore, you made a commitment to bring a pet into your home, and you should stick with that promise.
Second, you can complain about what happened. Complain to store management, write the corporate headquarters, if there is one, and complain to the Better Business Bureau.
Pet stores and breeders must be licensed by the USDA to sell pets, and are supposed to be inspected regularly. You can contact the local SPCA, the Humane Society of the United States (hsus.org) or the ASPCA (aspca.org) if you think Chipper came from a puppy mill.
Again, please keep him if at all possible. Too many puppy-mill dogs wind up in shelters, or are euthanized, due to health and behavioral problems that their owners didn’t want to deal with. If his health issues become overwhelming, talk to your vet about treatment and payment options. To head off potential behavioral problems, contact a dog trainer who has experience dealing with difficult dogs.