KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- A Greeneville woman is in big trouble after a jury convicted her of seven charges involving selling sick dogs to buyers. The most serious charges Gina Price faced are two counts of wire and mail fraud from the puppy-selling business.
Customers complained they were misled to believe the dogs would be healthy, but most of them had genetic or contagious diseases, and they died after adoption.
Incidents like this one can leave the new pet owner footing a huge bill.
Adding a furry friend to your family is supposed to be a happy and exciting time, but more thought should go into picking a new puppy than you might think.
The Humane Society of the Tennessee Valley says even before you meet with a breeder, have a few things in mind.
"It's illegal for anyone to sell a puppy or kitten under 8 weeks of age that does not have a certificate of veterinary inspection."
if you decide on a breeder, Vicki Crosetti with the Humane Society says be prepared with questions.
"The first thing they should ask is has this animal been seen by a veterinarian, received vaccinations and gotten a clean bill of health."
If the seller can't provide you with these details, they may not be taking very good care of the animal, but if they do have paperwork, watch how the animal acts and moves.
Dr. Joe Bartges with the UT’s College of Veterinary Medicine says, "Are they playful, are they active, do they bark a lot, are they moving around?"
Also, look for unhealthy characteristics.
"Do they have discharge from their eyes or nose, are they sneezing or coughing? (These symptoms) might indicate that they have some disease going on."
Even if they seem healthy, have an appointment made with your own vet.
Dr. Bartges says, "Don't wait to take them somewhere to have them examined by the vet you can take them in the first week or two easily and still be within your right to return them if there is something found."
If you're still unsure where to purchase a pet, 30 percent of animals in shelters are pure bred.
Crosetti says, "Coming to a shelter and getting one that's already spayed or neutered, micro-chipped, vaccinated all of those types of things."
The Humane Society says be cautious of buying animals over the internet, they may not be selling what they say. Also, never meet a breeder in a parking lot, because it's illegal, and you should be able to see the location where the animal has been living.