Dog Sellers & Shelters
Information for Consumers
New! You can now check online to see if the breeder, rescue, or other dog seller you're working with is licensed. Please note that breeders selling fewer than 25 dogs from less than four litters do not need to be licensed, and will not be listed.
Protecting consumers is part of the reason for Wisconsin’s law requiring licensing and inspection for many dog breeders and others who sell dogs or offer them for adoption for a fee.
Your protections as a consumer
Licensing and inspecting the facilities where puppies, rescue dogs, and other dogs offered to consumers helps ensure that pet dogs will arrive in their new homes healthy and well-socialized to people and other animals. Make sure of the following for your own protection and that of your new puppy:
- Puppies may not be sold without their mothers until they are at least 7 weeks old. Again, this helps ensure that the puppy will be healthy and well-adjusted.
- Dogs must be examined by a veterinarian before they are sold or adopted for a fee, and must come with a health certificate, also called a certificate of veterinary inspection or CVI. This document is a declaration that the dog is apparently healthy and free of communicable diseases, and is properly vaccinated (dogs 5 months and older must be vaccinated for rabies).
- Please note that the certificate of veterinary inspection is not a warranty. It only tells you about the dog’s health status when you adopt it. If the dog becomes ill or develops health problems after you bring it home, or if its behavior is unacceptable, we cannot help you under this law. You should ask the seller for a written health guarantee that specifies your options for return or exchange in such a case. (This is not likely to be a reasonable expectation when you adopt a dog from a shelter or a rescue operation.)
Your responsibilities as a consumer
- Do your homework before bringing a dog into your home. Know whether you are a good candidate for dog ownership and what kind of dog will fit best into your and your family’s life.
- Look for the seller’s license from the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (not the U.S. Department of Agriculture). Their current license should be posted at the place of business. If you’re buying from a breeder who sells fewer than 25 dogs a year, he/she is not required to be licensed under this program.
- Get it in writing – what happens if you’re not satisfied with the dog? There is no protection in Wisconsin law for you once you take the dog home. You should get a written health guarantee that spells out your options for return or exchange if the dog becomes ill or is otherwise unsatisfactory.
- Don’t reward bad behavior. If you see dogs in miserable conditions, you may feel compelled to get them out of those conditions. But you are only giving money to someone who will continue to abuse and neglect more animals. Instead, report those conditions to us (608-224-4888, email@example.com) and to local law enforcement.
Wisconsin’s new dog seller law: Protecting dogs and people (2 page PDF)
There has been some confusion about Wisconsin’s new law, and this flyer sets the record straight.
We help you do your research before you decide to get a dog, and about what kind of dog is best for you.
Keeping Your Adopted Pet Healthy (brochure)
The American Veterinary Medical Association explains how to give your shelter or rescue pet the best chance for a healthy, happy life.