Depending on what you intend on doing with your new pal, you can either go the rescue or registered breeder route. Please do not support pet shops or commercial mills - the animals live in misery and you are not helping by giving them your money!
If you are simply looking for a companion to spend time with, please consider the option of adopting a rescue, particularly if your budget is very small. However, if you are interested in showing, breeding or serious about competing in sports, the best way to go is with a registered, ethical breeder (of any species). For more information on how to identify an ethical breeder, please check out our other post.
Junior or Senior?
When it comes to very young animals - using the example of a puppy, you cannot be 100% sure about its personality (when it comes to mixes, even how it will turn out physiologically) as an adult. There are behavioural tests that can be performed if you know what you're doing (a better idea would be to ask the breeder or a trainer to do the evaluation for you) as well as indicators by ancestry, but this is no guarantee.
So, if this is a concern for you, for example, if you have very young children or if you are getting older and are less mobile yourself, it may be less stressful and more logical to opt for an older companion instead. For an senior or young adult, check out your local rescue and keep an eye out for breeder rehomes. Sometimes pups don't turn out for show or work after the evaluation period, and the breeder decides to place them in a companion home.
Adoption: Not Always Straightforward
One of the side effects of the pandemic is sadly booming demand for pets, and consequently an accompanying blackmarket. This is especially true in Berlin, where one can easily find pets of all kinds advertised online, often with heart-wrenching stories and dubious calls to action. It is of utmost importance to make sure that you are adopting your new pal from a genuine organization and that you are aware of the reality of the situation.
How to Tell: Is the Story / Organization Legitimate?
Some general red flags are where a private person wants to meet you on the street, refuses to let you see the mother, or has both parents and tells you it was unplanned and "an accident" (but upon closer examination, this seems to keep happening every 6 months). Often, they will use the story of living in the countryside, assuring you that this breeding was a one-time occurrence that they did in the comfort of their home, to allow their children to witness a live birth.
The fact is, however, unless you know these people personally and that story to be the truth, it may very well be a lie. There are many puppies and kittens (among other species) being peddled to Germany from Eastern Europe illegally, without the proper vaccinations or papers, travelling in overly packed vehicles to supply the demand as cheaply as possible. These animals are often taken away from their mother far too young and may be sickly or die shortly after arrival. There are nationally recognized animal rescue organizations, so these are the first route that you should go when considering adoption.
Some signs of a genuine and serious rescue organization include a thorough interview, mandatory home visit before adoption, a probation period and post-adoption check ups, to ensure that the new home is offering proper care.
Regulations in Berlin
Since this year, it is illegal for people living in Berlin to buy or adopt a puppy under one year of age unless it is from a registered breeder, recognized animal rescue organization or was purchased with the assistance of an "animal expert" such as registered vet or trainer. This also means that overseas adoptions or sales have to be facilitated by one of the aforementioned parties, otherwise the new owners risk having to pay a fine to the Ordnungsamt. It is thus very important to make sure that you have all of the proper paperwork in place, including pedigree, purchase contract and any other accompanying documents to prove the origin of your puppy and the legality of the transaction!