IONIA, Iowa - Following the seizure of nearly 170 dogs from a Worth County breeding operation on Monday, you may be wondering what to look for in a dog breeder when adopting a new pet.
Joel and Penny Gray are licensed breeders with CaveInn Labradors, and have been breeding labs at their home near Ionia for 10 years. While they have other jobs, they're on call every day, with at least one person keeping an eye on the dogs at all times, and manage to take care of their dogs by regularly feeding and watering them, as well as letting them exercise, and staying up to date with yearly inspections. They share some hints as to what to look for in a breeding operation, such as asking the breeder to see their facilities.
"A professional dog breeder typically will breed one type of dog. If you have three or four different breeds, that could be a good inclination that they might be a puppy mill."
They add that while you may not be able to see puppies in the nursery for health and sanitary reasons, a breeder should be able to bring a puppy out to you.
"If you call and inquire about a puppy, and the breeder will not let you meet the parents, that might be a good indication, a red flag."
It's also important for the lines of communication to be open between the breeder and potential pet owners.
"Typically, a dog breeder is going to interview the parents as much as they will welcome the interview themselves."
Sybil Soukup with the Humane Society of North Iowa says that while each breeder is required to meet the minimal standards by the Department of Agriculture and the state's animal welfare code, some may only meet the bare minimum, which is something else to be aware of.
"A breeder only has to provide a cage space that is 6 inches larger in a circumference than a dog's body from nose to hind and not including tail. So those are very minimal standards. Access to clean water and access to a food supply, that's pretty much it."
So before you buy or adopt, the Grays say to do your research.
"Ask a lot of questions. Any breeder that is reputable should prompt you for those questions, and if you don't ask them, they should be asking them of you."
The Grays add that transparency and reputation can help determine reputable and unreputable breeders.
"We're very transparent. We offer a lot of education regardless if we're the right breeder for them or not. We want to make sure they have all the information that they need to make a good decision."
Soukup adds that in addition, adoption is always an option if you're looking for a four-legged friend.
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