Cat and his owner

The Responsible Way to Acquiring a Pet

Where should you purchase your pet from? 


There are many ways where you can acquire a pet, make sure that you find the best solution for yourself and one where the animal’s welfare is put first.

This article is part of the Responsible Pet Ownership series

Adoption is the best choice 

Adoption of a pet from a shelter is the best way to find a new companion. There are many animals in shelters waiting for a new home to call their own, including a large variety of breeds, sizes, and ages of animals. Some shelters also rehome small mammals such as rabbits, guinea pigs and mice who are often sadly taken to shelters when the children they have been bought for have lost interest in caring for them. 

The benefit of rehoming from a reputable animal shelter is that the animals will have been assessed both in terms of their health and behaviourally and will have been vaccinated, microchipped and neutered ready for their new home. 

Cute cat

read more about the beauty of adoption



The pet trade is a big business, that is often exploited by unscrupulous breeders and dealers. 

Tips to help you find your pet and avoid buying from unscrupulous breeders and sellers


Find a Reputable Breeder

  • Take your time to find a reputable breeder that responsibly breeds healthy animals will increase your chances of ending up with a happy, healthy, and well socialised dog/cat. 
  • Take your time to research different breeders including looking at breed clubs and assured breeder schemes, where breeders are inspected by the kennel club. 
  • A responsible breeder will be happy to answer all your questions and ask you just as many to make sure that their puppies/kittens are going to a good home. They will also provide you with genuine paperwork/certificates for puppy vaccinations, microchipping, worming and results of any health tests where relevant. 
  • A responsible breeder will not rush you into parting with your cash in exchange for a puppy, they will not avoid showing you the mother dog/cat by saying she is not available, or offer to deliver the puppy/kitten to you or hand over the puppy/kitten in a random place such as a car park, they will also not try to cover up any apparent health issues such as runny eyes/nose and will be available for any questions you may have after buying your puppy/kitten.


What does the law say on the sale of companion animals in Australia?



Under NSW laws that came into force in 2019, all digital and print advertisements offering the sale of cats or dogs MUST contain one of the following numbers:

  • The microchip number of the animal or;
  • The breeder identification number or;
  • The rehoming/rescue organisation number
  • Advertisers carry responsibility for inaccurate ads and must remove them if they do not comply with the above or risk being penalised.

In Victoria (enacted in 2018)*

  • All cats and dogs must be microchipped before they are sold or given away.
  • All advertisements, digital or print, must contain the microchip number or registration number of premises, and a ‘source’ number which is obtained following registration.
  • Advertisers are responsible for ensuring ads are accurate and must remove them if they do not comply with the above or risk being penalised.
  • Pet stores can only give away or sell cats or dogs from shelters/pounds or registered foster carers.
  • Foster carers have to be registered to give animals to pet stores and there is an age limitation – dogs have to be over 6 months and cats over 8 weeks.


*Please note, the above information was accurate as of December 2020. 

Exercise caution when acquiring a pet  

  • Avoid buying from pet stores/markets: Animals sold in pet stores/markets often come from mass-production facilities such as puppy farms. Their health status is unknown as is their origin and the animals sold often have not been properly bred or socialised resulting in health and behavioural issues later in life.
  • Be very careful when buying online: it is very important to carry out thorough checks when buying from a breeder online such as on a classified ad site. There are many illegal and irresponsible dealers online who have bought animals from puppy farms to sell on for a profit, claiming that the puppies are ‘home bred’ when in fact they may have been imported from abroad. Often these puppies are bred in poor conditions, removed from their mothers far too young and transported hundreds of miles to be sold online.  Generally, they are advertised with very little information and no reference to the mother. The dealer may offer to deliver the puppy and will be reluctant to answer lots of questions. Be vigilant: dishonest online dealers have developed all sorts of clever ways to appear reputable to unsuspecting buyers. If you are not sure, step away from the purchase!
  • Avoid cross-border adoption: Adopting animals from abroad has become a trend lately however there are thousands of animals available for adoption in local shelters, who desperately need loving homes as well. Helping animals in other countries, while making a difference for the individual animal will not solve the problem in that country. If you are concerned about the stray animal issue in other countries, then it is best to support local animal welfare organisations that are lobbying for change in legislation and animal protection in those countries.
dogs in a shelter

the beauty of adoption

Giving a loving new home to a shelter animal

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