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The True Cost of Pet Ownership: Why Choosing a Responsible Breeder Matters

Pet ownership is a joyous and fulfilling experience, but it's also a long-term commitment with its share of responsibilities. One of the first and most crucial decisions a prospective pet owner faces is where to obtain their new furry friend. Should you choose a cheaper alternative or invest in a pet from a responsible breeder? In this blog, we'll delve deep into the benefits of choosing a responsible breeder and why this decision could save you both money and heartache in the long run.

The Financial and Emotional Rewards of Responsible Breeding

Lower upfront costs make it easy to be tempted, but cheaper options often have hidden long-term expenses and emotional tolls. Responsible breeders ensure their animals are genetically sound and offer lifetime support and other perks such as immediate health insurance and microchipping. These benefits can save you significant money over time by reducing the likelihood of genetic disorders and ongoing health issues.

A Detailed Case Study: The True Cost of Brinley the Chihuahua

At first glance, Brinley, a 10-year-old Chihuahua, seemed like a budget-friendly option, initially purchased for just $600. However, her life journey has become a cautionary tale that exemplifies the risks of forgoing a responsible breeder.

Initial Costs:

Purchase price: $600

Initial vaccinations and vet visit: $100

Spaying: $150

Total Initial Costs: $850

As Brinley aged, her medical issues began to surface, revealing the full extent of her "true cost."

Ongoing Health Issues and Costs:

Patellar luxation treatments: $2,500

Dental work: $1,200

Neurological disorder medications: $1,000

Emergency vet visits: $2,000

Regular check-ups and vaccinations: $2,500

X-rays, MRIs, and other diagnostics: $5,800

Cardiac Issues: $1,500

Collapsed Trachea with meds for life: $1,000

Total Medical Costs: $17,500

The costs of regular pet care, such as food, grooming, and boarding, are not included in this tally. These added another estimated $8,000 over her lifetime.

Total Lifetime Costs: $26,350

While Brinley's health problems have financially strained her family, the emotional toll has been even higher. The constant worry over her well-being, the difficult decisions surrounding her treatments, and the time spent on various vet visits have added stress and emotional fatigue. Tragically, despite being informed of these issues, Brinley's breeder has shown no signs of adopting more responsible practices, underscoring the urgent need for better breeding ethics.

The Fallacies of Breeder Excuses: Why DNA Screening Shouldn't Be Optional

Some breeders downplay the importance of comprehensive health testing with statements like, "If you look hard enough, you'll always find something wrong with a dog" or "I know my lines." Moreover, some label themselves "preservation breeders" or tout their "AKC Champion lines," frequently displaying AKC logos prominently on their websites.

Be wary of such breeders. These terms are often used more as marketing tools than evidence of responsible, ethical breeding. The use of these terms is not typically seen among genuinely responsible breeders. Genuine, responsible breeders should be able to provide links to their dogs' test results publicly available on the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) website. In addition, Embark links can be shared as proof of health testing.

The cost for proper health testing ranges from $665 to $1,500 per dog, depending on the breed. At the same time, this might seem like a significant investment, considering that the average puppy from a reputable breeder sells for $3,000 or more. If we break down the finances, the average breeding female has approximately three litters in her lifetime, each with an average of three puppies. That equates to nine puppies, bringing in a revenue of $27,000 at an average price of $3,000 per puppy.

Additional Breeding Expenses:

It's also important to consider the costs of equipping a breeding facility with all the essentials to whelp and raise a healthy litter. Expenses can include items like whelping boxes, puppy playpens, heat lamps, quality puppy food, toys, and even a dedicated space that is climate-controlled for the comfort of the mother and puppies. Not to mention the time spent on proper socialization and initial training. These costs can quickly add up to several thousand dollars, but they are crucial for ensuring the mother's and her offspring's well-being.

When you compare this potential revenue to the costs of health tests and proper equipment, it becomes clear that the tests and equipment are just a fraction of what could be earned. More importantly, these tests and facilities offer invaluable peace of mind that each puppy has the best chance at a healthy, long life. Failing to carry out these tests and invest in quality equipment not only jeopardizes the well-being

of the animals but also risks the emotional and financial stability of the adopting families.

The Illusion of a Bargain: When High Costs Don't Equate to High Standards

Not all breeders who charge premium prices offer premium care. Superficial credentials, customer testimonials, or even the 'purebred' status can mislead customers into thinking they are getting a good deal. Brinley's case shows that cutting corners on health tests and guarantees can result in long-term financial and emotional difficulties.

Recommendations for Prospective Pet Owners

  • Research Breeders Thoroughly: Don't settle for the first breeder you find. Make sure they are committed to ethical breeding.

  • Ask for Health Clearances: Always ask for the parent’s health clearances and any available genetic testing results.

  • Video Chat the Breeder: If possible, arrange a video visit to check the living conditions of the animals.

  • Consider the Long-term Commitment: Pet ownership involves long-term emotional and financial responsibilities.

The True Cost of Pet Ownership?

Pet ownership should never be viewed as a one-time transaction. It's a long-term investment in your pet's health and emotional well-being. While the initial cost of a pet from a responsible breeder might be higher, the 'true cost' encompasses much more than money. It includes peace of mind, emotional comfort, and a lifetime of support that you can't put a price on. Make an informed decision; the emotional and financial rewards will make your investment worthwhile.

By understanding the "true cost" of pet ownership and opting for a responsible breeder, you're making a wiser financial decision and an ethical one that could save you untold heartache and stress.


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