I received an email the other day from a prospective buyer who asked if her family could come over to see my dogs before they put down a deposit to reserve one. She explained that her husband has never seen a Cockapoo and they thought it was a good idea to come and check one out first. I get requests for visits all the time from people for various reasons and over the years I have learned that I can allow some visits but there have to be some established rules so that everyone is on the same page and knows where I am coming from. Before I started writing this blog post I got online and read a few forums where other breeders brought up the topic of allowing visits and here is what one lady wrote to get the conversation started:
What are the arguments for and against a breeder allowing a prospective buyer to visit their kennel? If you're a breeder, would you allow it? If you're a buyer, would you expect it?
I hope this doesn't turn into a contentious topic, because I think there are good arguments to be made for both sides. A breeder recently told a friend that, no, she doesn't allow it because of the risk of introducing disease to her kennel. She doesn't know what dogs the prospective buyer has been around, and she refuses to take the chance.
On the flip side, how does a prospective buyer know if they're buying from a puppy mill or not without seeing the facilities?
No wrong answer here. I'd just like to see what people think.
I thought she wrote the questions very well because I am aware that there are very different ways to address this topic, both from the buyer's and seller's perspective.
Here are some of the answers that other people replied with:
1.) I am a breeder, I don't have a kennel, but I feel that people need to see where their puppies are coming from, as soon as my puppies get their first shot I allow prospective parents to visit with me and the pups, i keep the pups in an enclosed pen with mesh so they can see the puppies and watch them interact with each other. I feel is important for me to get to meet them in person and ask questions that we both have about the dogs.
2.) I do not allow it. I am not a commercial breeder with a "facility" or a "kennel"...this is my home, and I do not allow tours of my home any more than you would allow strangers into your home for tours. I have experienced people bringing parvo into my home when I USED to allow the buyers to come visit with puppies and walk around. There is not only a real and present danger from diseases being spread all over your property on shoes that have walked goodness knows where, there are personal safety issues! People come to case out your home, what you have, where it is located, and by questions asked, they can even determine who is home and when! THEY STEAL THESE DOGS RIGHT OUT OF YOUR ARMS!! They would have NO qualms doing home invasion and taking your dogs from your home! I establish a "close" relationship with my buyers and they can tell from the application interview, my visits with them, my relationship with my buyers - prepurchase, during purchase, and on going after purchase for the life of that baby, as well as what my babies look like, this is not a puppy mill operation. I only have 2-3 litters per year, I own the parents, and my babies are usually sold before they are born! Most (80%+)of my parents are referrals or repeat parents, back for a sibling for the baby they already have...my reputation is solid and I work VERY hard to maintain it. I will not jeopardize my safety, my family's safety, or the health and safety of any of my dogs, by allowing "facility tours"....I will stop breeding before I do that again! PARVO IS ALIVE AND WELL AND EVERY WHERE.....BUT NOT ON MY PROPERTY!!!!
3.) I hope breeders who are concerned about allowing strangers into their homes, get to know the people well enough and have plenty of references so that they are not "strangers". You wouldn't want to sell a puppy to someone who you didn't trust enough to have in your home. Also, there are precautions you can take so that the clients are not spreading disease. I know one breeder who makes people take off their shoes and wash their hands before they can touch a puppy. This is one of the best ways pet buyers can stop supporting puppy mills, if a breeder wouldn’t let me see her home, I’d guess she had something to hide, I might be wrong, but I wouldn’t take a chance. Closing down puppy mills should be a priority for all of us, pet owners and breeders alike.
4.) I would have to be able to see where my pup was born. I have to know what that person really feels about their dogs & one way to tell is to see the facilities with precautions taken to protect the dogs.
5.) My "parents" do come after the puppy is 10 weeks old and can see the babies, but they do not walk around my home. They come into my front room and that is as far as we go....since my home is an "open concept" style, they can see 4 rooms from their place in the dining room....but when people call and want to come see puppies that are available, no I do not do that at all. We have a relationship very well established before anyone comes to the house! When they enter the house, they walk on rugs that have been saturated with Virkon.
I thought everyone's answers were really good because they both addressed the goal of a breeder trying to keep their animals safe and healthy but also brought up the fact that some buyer's feel the need to see a place before they buy an animal to be sure that they are not supporting a puppy mill or bad breeder.
I have decided not to show the puppies before they are ready to go home for a number of reasons that I will explain. The majority of my customers have either adopted from me before, have met someone that has a puppy from me, or have spent lots of time on my website checking me out to be sure I am the right person to deal with so lots of them do not find it necessary for them to come over before their puppy is ready for home. Once in awhile I will have someone contact me that feels it is necessary to visit before they adopt and I can understand that so I have some set rules in place to help keep my animals safe. I do not allow visits before the puppies are vaccinated and ready to go home. I am sure the reason for this is obvious but some people don't understand how easy it is to come over to my house and get my puppies sick simply by having germs like the Parvo Virus on your hands, clothes, or shoes.
(What is Parvo: http://pets.webmd.com/dogs/parvo-parvovirus-dogs)
A young puppy does not have an established immune system so therefore it is vital that they are vaccinated, and to let that vaccine have some time to kick in, before you expose them to strange people, places, and things. I would be absolutely devastated if someone accidentally came to my house and made my puppies sick. So if someone wants to meet my puppies they first need to be vaccinated and ready to go home.
I do not allow visits if you are simply browsing and have visited other breeders that day. Please do not feel that it is a good idea to take a day to tour breeders to pick out a puppy or find a breed that you may possibly interested in, this is just asking for trouble in the form of potentially spreading diseases. I have had several people call me when they are 'in the area' looking at puppies and I absolutely will not let them come over! When visiting multiple breeders in one day you can pick up germs from one persons puppy and then accidentally spread them to the next persons puppy and cause major problems all around. If you call a breeder and they ask if you have visited another kennel that day or have plans to please be honest with them!
I work from home, live on a farm, and do not give people tours. If you do set up an appointment to visit my puppies you will be limited to one room I call the 'puppy playroom' where you can see and interact with only the puppies who are vaccinated and available for adoption. This is not because I have anything to hide, it is because I want to limit your exposure to my animals and once you have left I can thoroughly sterilize everything you have come into contact with. I've had people come over and ask to see my newborn puppies or want to walk around my farm and meet all of my puppy parents, etc. and that is just not going to happen. Again, it's not because I have things to hide, it's because I want to keep my animals safe. Also please keep in mind that this is where I raise my puppies but it's also my personal home and think how you would feel if someone came over to your house and wanted to take a tour. This is my business but I do deserve a level of privacy as well.
If all of my puppies are sold I do not make appointments to show them. Sometimes someone will call and want to come over to meet a Cockapoo before they buy one. I understand that if you are not familiar with a breed you will want to spend some time with one but I do not show puppies that are sold. Again, this is due to me wanting to protect them from potential germs and also potential harm. Once a puppy has been adopted they live at my home until they are old enough to leave, but are technically not my dogs anymore. If someone came over and spread a disease or accidentally hurt a puppy that was already sold I would be held responsible since I am the one raising and selling them.
Because of my rules it may be hard to view my puppies before they are adopted. It is pretty common for me to have a waiting list for puppies so they are sold as soon as they are born, or if I do post them online they are often sold before they are old enough to be shown. I realize this may be frustrating for someone who finds it necessary to see them before they buy them but I am not willing to jeopardize their health and my business for a showing. If you are interested in a Cockapoo but have not seen one or have not had any experience with one I would suggest asking around to see if you know of anyone who has one, or even find a friend of a friend who may have one that you can spend some time with. Maybe even call a vet or boarding facility in your area to see if there are customers who would be willing to let you meet their puppy.
Once in awhile I will have someone with allergies contact me to see if they can come over and see if they are allergic to my dogs- this is the last place to do such a thing! I live on a farm and I have cats, dogs, horses, cattle, chickens, guinea hens, peacocks, and peahens (at the moment, who knows what's next to arrive :) All of these animals means that there are all different kinds of fur, hair, and dander floating around so this place is a nightmare for those who have allergies.
Last but not least I've had families reserve a puppy several weeks before they are ready to go home and they request a visit before pick up day. I ask that you respect our policies on wanting to keep them as healthy as possible and wait until the babies are ready to be picked up. I really try hard to keep everyone safe and healthy and ask that you respect and understand that. Please do not be offended if I say no, it's my duty to be a good breeder and I have to do things as I see fit. On top of all of that I sometimes just don't have the time to entertain lots of visits. Taking care of the puppies, managing customers and my business as well as taking care of this farm keeps me on my toes so sometimes my schedule is just too busy. I only allow visits by appointment, I have set hours and I take Sundays off so that my family and I have one day to ourselves to catch up on all the things we didn't get done that week.
Rest assured, I am not a puppy mill, my family and I work really hard to raise our puppies the right way and that means that we won't always be willing to say 'yes' to all of our customers requests.