Nearly 100 dogs, along with several cats, chickens and horses, were seized from a kennel in the central Maine town of Solon late last month. State animal welfare officials say the animals were kept in poor conditions and were in urgent need of care.

No charges have been filed against the owner of R-N-D Kennels, and the owner has not commented publicly since the raid. But the scene described by authorities stands in stark contrast to the one described on the kennel’s website, since taken down, which emphasized the kennel’s 14-acre property and its care for the animals.

It’s just the latest warning that when dogs are sold online, the sales pitch doesn’t always match reality. And while federal and state regulators can step in when there’s a problem, it’s usually up to customers to figure out what their purchase is supporting.

First, people looking for a pet should know that rescue adoptions are available in a variety of forms. There are legitimate shelters and rescue organizations that save dogs from almost certain death and revel in connecting them with the right home. The dogs are vaccinated and examined, have reliable records, and treated well and socialized.

There are also many legitimate breeders who are both willing and able to properly care for their dogs. They don’t overwork their breeding dogs, and they keep clean, spacious quarters that they are happy to show off to customers. They are as worried about giving their dogs good homes as you are about getting a well-adjusted pet.

But there are also kennel owners who are greedy, or who are eventually overwhelmed by the operation around them. Some sell most or all of their puppies online, hoping no one will think about where they are coming from. Others operate in the open until authorities act.

And others are outright scams – in 2017 a Skowhegan woman was found guilty of selling dogs with false vaccination records while “pet flipping”: getting animals for free from people looking to re-home them, then selling them online.

In both cases, not only are dogs forced to endure constant breeding and poor living conditions, the puppies are often left prone to illness and behavioral problems.

Customers should consider that every dollar given to unethical or overwhelmed breeders perpetuates the misery. People in the market for a new pet should watch out who they are buying from.

And they should report breeders whose operation seems fishy; some may need help or advice, while others should be put out of business.

Authorities must have the resources to respond, too. A Solon town official said they have been aware of possible issues at R-N-D Kennels for more than 10 years. It’s reasonable to ask why it took that long to do something about it, and whether there are other kennels in the same situation.


Comments are not available on this story.