It didn’t take long after quarantine began: Millions of Americans thought, Let’s get a puppy! As everything else in our economy slowed down, demand for purebred puppies has surged. But if you’re like most breeders, placing puppies in their forever homes during COVID-19 has posed real challenges.
So we wanted to share with you some tools and tips to help you meet the moment, from professional breeder Laura Reeves.
How Laura Reeves is making it work
As an AKC Breeder of Merit, breeder of German Wirehaired Pointers, and the host of the Pure Dog Talk podcast, Laura’s committed to educating dog breeders about responsible breeding. And now, having placed two litters since March 2020, she’s sharing insights on safe breeding, too.
Lean on technology
“Technology is a breeder’s best friend, at the moment,” says Laura. “Phone calls, emails, Zoom: They all work fine for visiting with potential buyers. For folks who want a home visit, consider a virtual walking tour on a live video.”
- Complete required paperwork and registrations online.
- Video interview puppy buyers—and ask about COVID symptoms.
- Use online payment services like PayPal or Venmo.
Keep your distance
Laura suggests we “let only one person inside to do the paperwork.”
- Don’t restrict yourself to small, confined spaces.
- Designate an easy-to-clean area with outside access where visitors can maintain distance while they meet you and see the puppies.
- Limit the number of puppy buyers to one or two at a time.
Observe COVID hygiene
“Masks and meeting puppy buyers outdoors solve most of my concerns with people coming here for pick-up”, notes Laura.
- Require hand sanitizer or hand-washing before visiting the puppy area.
- Don’t hand the puppy to the customer; set the puppy down.
- If the customer does not take the puppy, immediately bathe him or clean with canine disinfecting wipes.
Plan transport carefully
According to Laura, “transport is really tough. Most airlines are not shipping cargo at all, and the few that are (notably Alaska) have severely curtailed routes due to fewer travelers, so non-stop flights are nearly impossible. Buyers should fly the puppy home in- cabin—but it’s a challenge.
- Make sure any pet transportation company has a current registration certificate with the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).
- Provide USDA/ APHIS ground transporters with a required health certificate signed by an accredited veterinarian.
- Read these AKC Breeder Guidelines for keeping puppy buyers safe.
Control the things you can
“The toughest part for me was having rough whelpings that really should have gone to C-section,” says Laura. “But not being allowed inside the clinic, I was deeply reluctant to go that route. We lost a puppy and had a couple with issues due to the over-long labor.”
- DNA test your breeding pair and follow your veterinarian’s recommendations for preventive care to keep your dogs as healthy as possible.
- Embark test your litter DNA test your litter to stay ahead of potential health issues (Embark now offers deeply discounted litter testing)
- Notify your veterinarian as early as possible about any signs of illness.
This pandemic is uncharted territory: No one can predict exactly what’s ahead for breeders or their buyers. As always, be sure you have a plan for how to handle emergency situations with your dogs. And stay on top of the CDC COVID recommendations for pet owners and breeders. Above all, follow Laura Reeves’ sage advice: “Showing patience, maintaining a sense of humor and extending a little bit of grace to each person makes everything go more smoothly.”