Photo/Illutration The owner of this cat in Nose, Osaka Prefecture, ended up giving it away due to a drop in income triggered by the novel coronavirus pandemic. The animal was one of four cats the owner kept. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

Buying a pet directly from a breeder generally goes one of two ways: The customer is delighted with the purchase or rues the day they met.

Complaints from the public about their dealings with breeders, instead of pet shops, have soared in recent years.

This prompted the National Consumer Affairs Center of Japan, a government-affiliated body, to advise prospective owners to meet with breeders in person to pepper them with questions about the health and bloodline of any pet that takes their fancy to avoid problems in the future.

In fiscal 2020, the number of complaints concerning breeders reported to each of the center’s prefectural arms rose to 324 cases, or 21.3 percent of the total of pet-related grievances, from 215 cases, or 15.3 percent of the total, in fiscal 2017.

“I bought a puppy for 800,000 yen ($7,060) from a breeder, but received no explanation about its health, nor documents verifying the purchase and sales contract,” one person complained. “Several days later, it was discovered that the puppy has a congenital heart problem.”

Another dissatisfied customer griped about not receiving a pedigree certificate that the breeder had promised to supply for the purchase of a kitten.

“And then all the information about the breeder that had appeared online was deleted and the listed telephone number was no longer connected.”

The law on the welfare and management of animals obliges retailers to present candidate pets in person to prospective customers and explain face-to-face an animal’s history of disease, vaccination status and other vital information.

The center blames the situation on the rising number of online sites that make it easier for breeders and customers to connect. 

With more breeders disseminating information via social media on the animals they offer, some unscrupulous individuals are failing to provide crucial details to customers at the time of purchase, culminating in all sorts of problems.

The center advises consumers to insist on seeing a pet before making a purchase and meet with breeders to get a full briefing on the animal’s history as well as the terms of service listed on breeders’ websites.