Recently, I have 2 clients who bought puppies from the internet. It is extremely difficult to sell puppies in Singapore nowadays. In the past, home-breeders and Seller sell using the Straits Times classified. Now I believe they use the internet.Using print advertisement is costly at least $33 for a daily 3-line advert while Facebook is free. There is the risk of the veterinary authorities imposing penalties for selling puppies without a pet shop licence. Pet shop operators must be approved to sell puppies, otherwise they can't open for business.
Sometimes the authorities impose expensive infrastructural requirements for selling puppies. A few years ago, new pet shops selling puppies must have large extractor vents like chimneys to suck out the air inside the kennels. Something seen in restaurants. I don't see them nowadays. The number of puppies permitted to be sold are restricted according to the floor area of the kennel space.
As for the 2 clients who brought puppies from the internet (Facebook), both of the puppies were poodles costing over $1,500. In the first case, the Buyer saw the puppy in the apartment. The Seller said he was selling for friends. The purchased puppy was coughing. "It is kennel cough," I declared while Dr Daniel was examining this puppy. I palpated the puppy's throat. The puppy gagged and coughed a few times.
The Buyer said she was purchasing from a home and so I assumed it would be one of those home-breeders who loves dogs but need to earn some money to maintain his hobby. "Did you bring your puppy to the public places?" I asked the mother and child. "No," she said. Home breeders' puppies seldom have kennel cough because the puppies are reared in a healthier environment.
"Were there other breeds in the apartment?" I asked.
"Yes," the mother said. "Three or four other breeds like Chihuahua".
This would account for the kennel cough micro-organisms being spread from other puppies consigned for sale by other breeders.
In the second case, the Seller would bring the puppy downstairs to show the prospective Buyer as he did not want the authorities to raid his premises. That was what the mother and teenaged daughter told me. This puppy did not have kennel cough. "How many puppies are present in the apartment?" I asked. The mother said: "Four puddings." The little girl, slim and around 12 years old, laughed: "It is four poodles, mum." Nowadays, children are too smart.
"Why do you name your poodle 'Pudding?'" I asked the mum. "Puddings sound like poodles and now your little girl laughed aloud at your mistake."
"My daughter gave this name," the mum confessed.
A few days ago, I met an experienced pet food supplier. He said to me: "Dr Sing, you are lucky that you no longer serve the dog breeders of Pasir Ris. Now there are at least seven vets soliciting for business. The vaccination price has dropped to $7.00/puppy vaccinated. They are mainly younger vets."
"I gave up serving the breeders and pet shop operators as I don't have time for my private clients," I said. "In any case, the breeders want to press down the vaccination price of $10/puppy and one bigger pet shop operator even demanded $9.00. Caesarean sections were $250. The whole business model was losing money and time and so I was glad that there were other vets providing the service.
"As for your statement that the vaccination is $7.00/puppy for the breeders, I remember a story told to me by one of those non-vet running a veterinary practice. He marketed cheap vaccinations to breeders for his practice. There were four vets including him doing the Pasir Ris breeders. He said to me he organised a meeting with the other 3 vets to set the price at $10.00. The next day, one of the vets under-priced by offering $7.00. So, your $7.00 vaccine cost to breeders is not a new issue!"
"Nowadays, few Singaporeans are buying puppies," he lamented. "The authorities ask them to adopt rescue puppies and not buy from puppy mills."
"Are you sure?" I asked. "The government should be impartial as it is incorruptible."
"You don't support the breeders as you sell your puppy food to them at high prices," I said. "You don't help them to promote the sale of puppies."
"I sell the puppy food to them at very low prices," he replied. "Some of them sell to pet shops. When my people went to the pet shop, we saw our products which we did not sell to them. So, I had the bags tagged and identified the breeders involved."
"Who are they?" I asked.
"Sorry, I can't tell you." "Is the big breeder XXX involved?" I asked. "No," he said.
Pet shop operators face cut-throat competition and so they sell the dog food are lower than the recommended retail prices or lose to others. There are an estimated 200 brands of pet food and the bigger pet shops seem to corner the market, as in most businesses in Singapore. There are now 55 veterinary practices with the latest two soon to open in the West Coast. I can understand the need of the newer vet practices to under price their services so that they can survive day to day. All new business do it. So, it is not a new issue for veterinary practices to do the same.