First of all, my hat off to any pet store that keeps their dragons, and in fact all of their animals, in good conditions and as they should, with proper husbandry. It is so important to continue encouraging proper husbandry in pet stores because the truth is, pet stores will likely always carry dragons because they're a money-maker and pet stores are about the cash, as with other types of retail stores. This isn't a slam, its just the way the business world operates. They know people attach to baby animals, including baby dragons, and use them as a selling point, in many cases. I've seen the ads with baby dragons and other literature. Let me explain a cycle to you, that takes place.
John Smith goes into "Dragons on the Fly" pet store and buys a baby dragon. Pet store employee Karen encourages John to buy a second baby at the same time. John agrees and has two bouncing bundles of dragon joy.
Dragons on the Fly now has two less in their current stock. Four more people come in and do the same. Dragons on the Fly now has to replace their stock, as they see that the babies are selling rapidly, so they put in their next order from Nastyville "breeders" to replenish their stock. The cycle then continues.
My best suggestion is that if you are in a pet store, whether its a chain pet store or a mom and pop type pet store, if they're in conditions that aren't correct, NICELY approach management and explain how it will impact their health. If the conditions are really smack-dab-amazing, compliment them on their care!
Let's have a serious talk about "rescuing" dragons. Going to a pet store to "rescue" a dragon isn't rescuing a dragon, you're buying a dragon and feeding to their profits, which then allows the pet store to restock their supply of live animals. "Saving" a dragon from sand/dirty cages/etc. at a pet store isn't rescuing, its called buying.
Now let's talk about legitimate, actual rescues. A rescued dragon isn't suitable, in my opinion, as a first dragon for someone. I can't tell you how many times I've heard people say to me, "I just rescued this dragon. How do I take care of him?" You're taking the dragon from a situation that's supposedly bad and putting them in a situation that's equally bad, and oftentimes worse. A rescue isn't the place to learn basic dragon care. A healthy dragon is where the foundation should be laid, for basic husbandry and care and "then" if you want to go into rescuing dragons. That would be the proper way to do it.
So now you've found a dragon that's a "rescue." People then often ask what the first thing is that they need. They need a vet. When you take a dragon as a rescue, you're taking responsibility for that dragon, and to provide proper care. This includes a vet checkup and any needed after-care. There's nothing more frustrating than to see someone say they have a rescue and can't afford to take them to the vet or ask people to help them pay for feeders for the dragon.
This is't to discourage rescuing dragons. Its to help people stop and think about what they're doing. If you're not in a position to financially afford a rescue dragon and want to help, encourage the current owner to turn the animal over to a rescue organization in their area, who will properly care for the animal.
I can't stress how important it is, to thoroughly research breeders before buying from them. There's a few reasons for this and I'll also explain why its not always as easy as it seems.
There are many breeders who are legitimate and who truly care about not only the animals they produce, but the species as a whole. They take their time. They don't continue to rehash pairings 458 billion times a year, just to see how many babies they can pump out into the market. They think about their pairings. They selectively breed. They understand genetics, what they're producing, and they hold back the new morphs that they haven't yet raised themselves. If you're a breeder who produces x new morph and you've never raised one yourself, how do you know, with any type of intelligence, how they grow? Genetics play a tremendous part in dragon growth. The best breeders aren't producing whatever morph and selling them off for thousands of dollars without growing one out first, to learn about the genetic. They're not money hungry.
The main problem with bad breeders is that they fill the market with sub-par quality dragons, the greater the threat becomes, to captive bred vitticeps. We've seen breeders actually completely fry out parts of lines before, due to inbreeding and also not selectively breeding. If a dragon has a defect it shouldn't be used for breeding and isn't breeder quality, in my opinion. If you're going to do something (such as breeding), why not strive to do it the right way and to produce the best, strongest babies you can?
For example, we know for a fact that breeding trans x trans (both visual trans) is a horrible practice. Its been proven time and time again that it results in defects, deformities, deaths, and slow growths, even if the issue isn't apparent at hatch. Why risk that, to living being? Yet breeders will continue to do so, all in the sake of money.
Breeders continue to edit their pictures to enhance yellows or other colors, like reds. I've gotten more than one dragon from a breeder that was yellow as ever in a picture and wasn't nearly the same color in person.
Now ... why is it hard to know who's legit? Because the problem is that people talk a good talk. You'll ask another breeder if breeder XXX is good, and the other breeder says yes, simply because they're all in that same circle and they'd never speak out against their friend, even though they've wanted to. They want to keep the peace in their circles. My best suggestion is that when you're looking to buy from a breeder, talk to MANY people. Talk to people in different groups or that you think are totally unrelated in the breeding community. That's honestly your best best. I don't want to see anyone with a sick, slow growing, or potentially deformed animal that a breeder. Also, all it does is encourage the horrible breeder instead of encouraging the true legit breeders.
If you're looking for a certain color or morph of dragon, you can always drop me a line and ask for a recommendation. I only currently buy from actual legit, upstanding breeders who are working towards common goals in the reptile community.
It is extremely hard to keep vet lists updated because many vets specialize in reptiles but may not advertise that they do, and vet offices open/close/relocate so frequently.
If you're in immediate need of a good reptile vet, I would suggest doing a quick Google search. You can also join my facebook dragon care group below, and search the keyword #vetfinder in the group search box, which will bring you to a list that one of my amazing admin's keeps regularly updated.