Use caution when adopting pets | News

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Use caution when adopting pets

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- It's a big decision for so many families.  What type of pet to adopt?  One woman found out it may be even more important to know where to not buy them.

Sherry Mullins wanted to expand her family for years.  So a few months ago, she set out to adopt two cute little puppies.  "Right before Christmas my granddaughter wanted a puppy, so she went on Craigslist and found some puppies," Mullins said.

She found her two new adopted family members.  Two tiny Maltese Shih-Tzu's on Craigslist for $400 each.  Mullins adopted the puppies with no type of guarantee or warrantee of good health.  Benji and Ozzie.  A lady from South Carolina said she was in town selling these puppies at a hotel near Jacksonville International Airport.  "There was like 12 or 14 dogs, little puppies running crazy, all over," she explained.

Reportedly, she saw the first sign of trouble minutes after the adoption, when they got their new pets to the car.  "They were infested with fleas."  Mullins said those fleas were just the beginning of much more serious problems.  "Started throwing up, and diarrhea, and just like dry heaving and dry heaving," Mullins explained.

A trip to the vet shed more light on what was turning into a very dark situation.  Mullins said her vet diagnosed both puppies with two different types of worms and parvovirus, a serious sickness that can be a death sentence for dogs.  "Well then he was like lying literally dead."

Only one of the puppies survived.  Ozzie did not.  Mullins said, "And that dog suffered bad.  Really and truly bad."

There are certain state laws the Florida Department of Agriculture can enforce to protect pets and the people who adopt them.  But, those powers are limited to the use of a forged or counterfeit health certificate.  So in this case, the agency could offer mediation to help resolve the dispute, but no official enforcement action.  There is also no City ordinance that could help in this situation, because the seller is from another state.  So your best protection is to be proactive.

Denise Deisler of the Jacksonville Humane Society said, "They need to be doing the research about where they're going to acquire the pet, too."

That's why Deisler said one of the biggest decisions about getting a pet is where to adopt.  "Whether it's a shelter or an individual ask.  You know, what are your standards?  What medical care do you provide, what vaccinations do you provide?  Do you spay or neuter?  Do you do behavioral evaluations?"

Something Mullins said she has learned the hard way.  Still, trying to reason with the person who sold her two puppies she believes were too sick to adopt.  "I wouldn't even waste the time to go to court and fight her for the money.  It's not about that.  It's about breaking a little girl's heart and a dog suffering, I mean literally suffering."

Mullins said after repeated calls, the lady who sold her the puppies will not make things right.  We called the seller and have not heard back.



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