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National Puppy Day – Adopt Don’t Buy & Avoid Puppy Mills

Wednesday 23 March is National Puppy Day – a day when we should stop and think about how to help save puppies waiting for their new life in shelters across New Zealand. It’s also an opportunity to raise awareness of the dark practices of local puppy mills.

If you’re thinking it’s a good time to buy an adorable fur kid for the family, consider adopting instead.

Taking in a puppy from an animal shelter means a happy home for the pup and reduced pressure on rescue and rehoming services, says Michelle Le Long, Chief Operating Officer at pet insurance specialist PD Insurance (

Sadly, many puppies bought or adopted during COVID lockdowns are now being put up for adoption. Veterinarian Dr Joanne Lonergan, of animal shelter HUHA, says “during lockdown shelters emptied as people acquired new pets, knowing they had weeks to play with and train them before returning to work.”

Le Long says, “Now, financial pressure from today’s cost-of-living crisis is forcing many Kiwis to surrender their pets. This is putting significant pressure on shelters again, so to recognise National Puppy Day we’re strongly encouraging people to consider adopting rather than purchasing.”

“And on any day of the year, adopting rather than buying helps ease demand for ‘purebred’ pups sold by breeders who focus on financial gain over the health of their breeding dogs and litters. While there are many professional breeders with quality operations, plenty of other dogs are bred in awful conditions.”

Where and which breed to adopt?

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OK, so you’ve decided to adopt (well done you!). Where do you look for your new fur baby? Shelters actively work to find homes and foster care for a multitude of abandoned, seized and abused animals. Lots of them have websites and social media pages listing their lovable charges, where you can refine your search to age, gender, ‘good with children’ and ‘good with other animals’, for example.

Identifying a good-natured puppy for your home can be made easier by researching traits and characteristics of the predominant breed of your potential adoptee, says Le Long.

“Each breed broadly behaves in a predictable way unless they’ve had a tough life. Beagles, for example, are friendly, loyal, gentle and even-tempered. However, they’re also wilful, playful and inquisitive to the point of being naughty. Knowing this in advance means you’re more aware of your pup’s needs.”

Keeping puppy safe

New parents have several things to be aware of in looking after their puppy’s health and safety, including:

· Vaccinations - these are essential, as they will protect pup from highly contagious diseases such as canine distemper, parvovirus and respiratory tract infections.

· Some common foods and substances are extremely toxic to dogs – for example, don’t be tempted to toss them a raisin or squares of chocolate, and check around for slug bait, rat bait, compost and Karaka tree berries, as these can all cause severe illness and even death.

· Desexing and microchipping are also key – both help support a dog’s health and welfare plus chipping allows them to be more easily returned to owners if they run off from their new home.

Socialising is key for fun and future

Dog obedience training is important for puppies’ and older dogs’ safety as they learn to respond to commands that keep them out of trouble. Training also promotes socialisation with other dogs so they can develop their happiness and confidence.

Puppy parties – what could be more fun?

Adopting a puppy? One of the best ways to socialise them in a fun and friendly environment is at puppy parties. Many vet clinics organise them from the time of first vaccinations, which is at about 8 weeks old. Once your puppy has had all their vaccinations, between 12 and 16 weeks old, they can progress from puppy parties to training classes.

Don’t forget to brush!

Keeping your new pup’s teeth and gums healthy is vital for their overall health, as dental disease can lead to major health issues including damage to the heart, lungs and kidneys. Regular brushing with a dog-specific toothbrush and toothpaste helps, as do toys and treats formulated to reduce bacteria in your puppy’s mouth.

Finally, taking out pet insurance will mitigate the cost of treatment for injuries or illnesses that befall the newest family member and help ensure vet bills don’t cloud the fun of joyful puppy antics. Getting in before conditions develop means your dog will likely have greater coverage throughout their lifetime. PD Insurance now provides two months of free insurance for kittens and puppies aged 6-52 weeks old.

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