SAN ANTONIO – Animal Care Services is warning the public against giving pets as presents for Christmas since they are a big responsibility for their owners. But if you do get one for someone, the agency also warns about the dangers of purchasing from unlicensed breeders.
One family who bought a puppy from an unlicensed breeder learned the hard way.
“(The seller) was set up on the side of the road with puppies, and we just pulled over and just decided to get one,” said Shannon St. Cry.
The puppy, named Jack, was an impulse early Christmas present purchase for St. Cyr last year, but days after she took the dog home, it became sick.
“He was lying there, not moving or doing anything,” she said.
She was told the puppy she purchased from the side of the road had parvo, a highly contagious viral illness that can be fatal to dogs.
St. Cyr paid more than than $1,000 at the veterinarian's office, and the puppy itself also cost her hundreds of dollars.
“It’s not a money-making industry. Unless you’re cutting corners, you get underage puppies, puppies that are unvaccinated, puppies that have been exposed to parvovirus,” said Shannon Sims, assistant director of Animal Care Services.
Animal Care Services is warning people to steer away from buying dogs from unlicensed dog breeders that advertise on the side of the road or social media pages.
“If you think, ‘I'm getting this dog so much cheaper,’ you’re getting what you paid for, you’re getting a cut down version. The care hasn’t been as good,” Sims said.
The person St. Cyr purchased the dog from faced a Class C misdemeanor and was forced to pay the maximum fines for failing to provide adequate care for pets. ACS said he has continued his illegal practices elsewhere and he’s just one of many out there.
“We've dealt with about 25 to 30 different individuals. Many of them have multiple misdemeanors against them,” Sims said.
St. Cyr hopes to spare other's the hard lesson she learned.
“Definitely don’t buy them from the side of the road because they don’t care of any medical condition that the dogs have,” St. Cyr said.
Jack survived, but he cost St. Cyr more than heartache.
“It was for my granddaughter, and I was trying to save him because I couldn't imagine her being so upset about it,” St. Cyr said.
ACS said breeders need a seller’s permit. The agency said the best option is to adopt from a shelter.