Pet adoption: Why adopting a pet requires an interview, application
Published On Thu Mar 8 2012 - The Toronto Star
Kerry Weiland, left, and Christina Sorbara with their Yorkshire terrier Pesto. They did a lot of research to find a healthy, portable, sociable dog who would suit their condo and active lifestyleCharla Jones/Charla Jones for the Toronto Star
Dale Greenlaw is feline frustrated.
Hoping to buy a pair of Siamese kittens, the Toronto nurse contacted an Ottawa breeder last fall. Copious questions later, she was instructed to send pictures of her house, personal references and a vet’s endorsement. She was also told she could only have same-sex kitties to prevent “accidents.”
“I thought ‘this is a ridiculous process, isn’t it?’” says Greenlaw. “I felt like I was adopting a child.”
Five months later, she’s still waiting for her cats.
If Greenlaw’s kitten quest had her jumping through hoops, canine fanciers have to be no less dogged. With waiting lists, lengthy applications, contracts and prices that have gone through the roof, acquiring a pet these days is no walk in the park.
A search of Kijiji turns up everything from $200 mutts to $700 Abyssinian cats and $4,000 teacup Yorkies. Even a rescue pooch can cost more than $300. And then there’s the question of where to find your new best friend.
In the past, “you saw a cute puppy in the pet store window and took it home without thinking where it came from,” says breeder Louise Sutherland, warning about puppy mills and disreputable sources.
Sutherland makes no bones about the fact that she wants a particular kind of home for the registered Australian Labradoodles she ships all over Canada and the U.S. from her Burlington business, Halton Hills Labradoodles (haltonhillslabradoodles.com).
“My biggest heartbreak is to let a puppy go to a home where it’s crated all day and crated all night,” she says. “It’s not a pair of shoes you’re buying; it’s a live animal with needs.”
So Sutherland has would be adopters fill out a 12-question application, which she follows up with a phone interview. Then she chooses a puppy for the adopter, matching its personality with their lifestyle and characteristics.
Her Labradoodles sell for $2,500, and clients line up to purchase a puppy from the eight to 10 litters her dogs produce each year. The pups are spayed or neutered before they are given away to control reproduction and ensure the health and quality of the breed, says Sutherland.
Sonny Allinson of the Canadian Kennel Club, the registry for 175 purebreds dogs, has three words of advice for puppy buyers: “research, research, research.”
That’s the most important part of any purchase, says the spokesperson for the kennel club which registers 60,000 pups a year.
“Thoroughly consider all aspects of dog ownership and be certain you are able to make the lifetime commitment to owning a dog,” Allinson cautions.
Pesto is one such lucky dog. Spoken for before he was even conceived, the 5.8-ounce Yorkshire terrier had a loving home waiting when he arrived last April 27.
“It was a monumental day in our life when he was born because we’d been waiting months,” Kerry Weiland says of the now 10-month-old pup. “It’s sort of like expecting a baby,” says Weiland, whose wife Christina Sorbara is pregnant with their first child.
As condo dwellers with an on-the-go lifestyle, the Toronto couple wanted a dog that was: small, healthy, non-allergenic, well-behaved, sociable and portable. After hours of research, meeting the breeder and canine parents-to-be, they signed up for first pick of the next litter.
“Hard work and preparation” paid off, says Weiland, a hockey instructor and former Olympian. Silky-haired Pesto, who arrived with a do-not-breed contract, is the dog of their dreams. “Overall, it was a wonderful experience.”
Karen Schut, a Hamilton-area Shih Tzu breeder, leaves nothing to chance when she places her “babies.” She lets buyers take their pup home for a test drive so they can return it if things don’t work out after a few days.
“The reason dogs end up in shelters is because people don’t know what they’re getting into,” says Schut, who worked for the Oakville Humane Society for years.
Martin Methot waited 50 years for his first dog — a miniature red Labradoodle that was his milestone birthday present last year.
The Ottawa resident and his partner lead an active life and wanted a four-legged companion with good social skills who was also smart, loyal, adaptable, allergy-friendly and a good traveller. Web searches and chats with dog lovers led them to Louise Sutherland and their “big investment” who’s now 22 pounds and 18 months old.
Rufus turned out to be “one of the best decisions of my life,” says Methot, who works for the federal government in international relations. “Because we did the research, we ended up with a fantastic puppy. Rufus brings us joy, laughter, new friends as well as new adventures.”
How to pick a pup
The Canadian Kennel Club offers these tips for choosing a dog:
• Be practical. Look at your lifestyle, energy level, time, size of home, family members, and any allergy issues. Then pick a dog that fits
• Do your homework. Talk to dog owners, breeders, clubs, trainers — anyone with firsthand experience
• A dog lives 10 to 15 years. Decide if you’re ready for that time and financial commitment
• Before you commit to a purchase, be clear on exactly what you’re getting and any guarantees or contracts that come with it
• If you have a bad feeling about the source of your new pup, walk away
• Consider an older dog if you can’t manage the responsibility of caring for a puppy
• Check out online resources, including www.ckc.ca and www.thepuppylist.ca