Holiday warning on buying pets

December 9, 2008

12-week old Noodles is the newest addition to the Beswick family in Bensalem.

Tom and Tracy bought the Golden Doodle from /*Almost Heaven Kennels*/ in /*Emmaus*/, Lehigh County.

"I fell in love with him right away," Tracy said.

On November 22nd the kennel gave Noodles a clean bill of health. But two days later, the Beswick's vet noticed some problems.

"He has ear mites, he had a double ear infection, he had a skin infection," Tracy explained.

He was also diagnosed with an intestinal parasite and kennel cough. Several days later his condition worsened to pneumonia.

The Beswicks rushed Noodles to an emergency vet and he was hospitalized for 3 days.

Dr. Laura Tseng of Veterinary Specialty and Emergency Center said some of Noodles' illnesses could have been caused by an unkempt kennel.

"Any kind of parasite or ear mite or anything like that is spread from dog to dog."

And here's what the Beswick's didn't know about where they got Noodles the PSPCA called Almost Heaven a quote "Living Hell!"

Action News was there on October 1st when the /*PSPCA*/ raided the kennel and the district attorney told Action News that more than 750 animals were recovered. And investigators found the bodies of dozens of animals in a freezer!

The owner, Derbe Eckhart, is facing charges of cruelty to animals and failure to keep a kennel in sanitary and humane conditions. But right now the kennel is still open for business.

"His license was revoked but he is appealing so during the appeal he is allowed to operate," said George Bengal, lead investigator of the PSPCA.

Here's what Eckhart told us in response to the Beswick's case:

"On November 22nd, the Beswick's purchased a goldendoodle puppy. Ten days later, on December 1st the Beswicks faxed us a copy of the original examination form completed by their vet on November 24th. On December 3rd, they faxed us a partial copy of the veterinarian's findings from a December 2nd office visit.
In a follow-up conversation with Mr. Beswick on December 3rd, we requested they send us a complete copy of the veterinarian findings and an itemized bill. We also requested they have their veterinarian contact us so we can understand the puppy's present condition. Many veterinarians will not talk to a breeder without the owners consent.
Since December 3rd, we have not received any additional information. It's unfortunate the Beswicks waited to contact us or we could have addressed their issues earlier.
We are waiting on the Beswicks to supply this information.
Once we receive copy of an itemized bill and complete diagnosis from their veterinarian, we will be happy to process reimbursement."

Meantime, the PSPCA strongly urges anyone in the market for a pet to do their homework first. The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture puts all kennel inspections on its website.

"That's a good indicator to see if you're dealing with a reputable and decent kennel," Bengal said.

Also give any kennel a good once over to see if you notice anything wrong.

"The fact that they won't let you take you back and actually look at the dogs in the runs and in their actual living conditions, to me, is absolutely a red flag."

Consider an overwhelming stench of urine and feces a bad sign, too. And check that animals have water available and adequate space, if the kennel looks overcrowded to you, it probably is. Also look for obvious signs of physical problems.

"If you see an animal with hair loss you see parasites on the animal that should also be a tip off," Bengal advised.

As for Noodles, he is on the mend, and the Beswick's say a happy, healthy puppy would be the best gift this holiday season.

There is a puppy lemon law you should be aware of: you have 10 days after purchase to get a dog inspected by a vet. If there's a problem, you may be entitled to up to the price you paid for the dog.

Also there is new legislation that tightens the standards for kennels.

For more information:
PA Kennel Inspections
PA Puppy Lemon Law
NJ Puppy Lemon Law
DEL Puppy Lemon Law
New PA Kennel Legislation

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