There may be nothing more smalltown America than pulling into a grocery store parking lot on a sunny Saturday and seeing a litter of puppies tumbling and wrestling with small children in the grass. Your children see the sign PUPPIES FOR SALE, and you spend the next fifteen minutes staunching their tears with candy bars and soda pop after you say no.
But don’t kid yourself—you’re tempted, and you know it. Especially because the fuzzy white one with the brown patch over its left eye rolls around on its chubby body with boundless energy. Kids with beaming smiles and puppies wagging their tails so hard they can’t even walk in a straight line are scenes from the most nostalgic of movies.
However, after you leave the parking lot, it could turn into a horror flick. You never know what you’re going to get is not a good thing when buying puppies from a parking lot. It doesn’t matter how cute they are or how trustworthy the seller looks. What you never know is what’s lurking beneath the surface.
Well, why not?
Here’s a warning from the Texas Department of Health Services: “Local officials are trying to locate a potentially rabid puppy given to an unknown man April 14 in the parking lot of Joe’s Food Market on Highway 21 West in Bryan.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the incubation period of the rabies virus can take weeks to months before symptoms are evident. That cute little puppy you picked out of the cardboard box could have been bitten by an infected animal. That is not a risk you want to bring home to your own family.
Some communities have made it illegal to sell or give away puppies in parking lots. They hope to stem the increase in dogs that end up at shelters because the “puppy cuteness” has worn off. People in those communities fear that the animals may come from puppy mills where the care is not good quality.
What is the seller in the parking lot hiding?
When selecting a puppy, you need to focus on physical and behavioral health. Someone who is selling the puppies—or even giving them away—in a grocery store parking lot is not likely to have records that the puppy has been seen and given a good bill of health by a licensed veterinarian.
If that puppy spent the first few weeks of its life in horrid conditions like in a cage where it was not taken out to go to the bathroom, the behavioral problems that puppy is going to have for the rest of his life may be insurmountable for the family that welcomed him into the home.
Do you know what kind of temperament the parents had? Why are there so many puppies and where is the mother (or mothers)?
Puppies for sale
Puppies for sale out of the back of a pickup truck—maybe even with out-of-state tags—may be cute. They may be healthy. But you can’t be sure. The puppies you take home to your family should be raised in good and verifiable conditions. They should be sold by people who don’t disappear after the transaction.
Remember, no matter how tempted you are, please, avoid people selling puppies in a parking lot. You won’t regret it.