Animal lovers are being warned to make sure they do not buy dogs which have been raised in inhumane conditions on puppy farms.
New research from the Kennel Club suggests that one in five people may have acquired a puppy-farmed pet without realising it.
The club says that such animals have a greater likelihood of ending up with health problems and behavioural issues as a result of the often dirty and cramped conditions in which they are raised.
Its report said that buyers were most likely to be sold farm-bred puppies if they bought via the internet, in response to classified ads in newspapers, or from a pet shop.
No idea of breeding environment
In many cases, sellers of puppies from farms delivered the dogs direct to the buyer’s door or arranged for the transaction to take place at neutral venues such as motorway service stations.
The Kennel Club said this approach was used to hide how the animals had been raised.
Its report found that more than a third of people who bought online or via a pet shop admitted they had bought puppies without seeing where they were brought up.
Overall, three in every 10 buyers did not see their puppy with its mother.
The report added: "Puppy farming is a poorly regulated and often cruel industry where puppies are bred in dirty, cramped conditions, from overused breeding bitches, without any regard for the health or wellbeing of the puppy or mother."
‘No questions asked’
Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary, said: "A shocking number of people treat buying a puppy the way they would if they were buying a car or a fridge – and have no idea what to ask to ensure they get a healthy, happy puppy, whether pedigree or cross breed.
"As a result puppy farmers are able trade on selling ‘fashionable’ cross breeds or pedigree pups with no questions asked.
"Buying a puppy online means that buyers have no idea of the often appalling conditions the puppies were born into."
Lack of laws for dog breeders
Celebrity vet Marc Abraham, who is supporting the Kennel Club’s campaign to end cruel puppy farming, said: "There are very few laws governing breeders and the sale of pups in this country.
"Selling pups on the internet or in pet shops and delivering them direct to your door is not illegal, but it rarely leads to a happy outcome because people are often scammed or end up with a poorly pup from a puppy farm.
"Only breeders who are part of the Kennel Club Assured Breeder Scheme follow a code of practice – so it makes sense to approach an assured breeder or recognised rescue home.
"The golden rule to remember is: see the puppy with its mum, in its home environment."
Kisko added: "Sadly, farmed puppies often grow up with health and behavioural problems, which can cost thousands of pounds to treat, or which lead to heartbreak if the problems cannot be overcome."
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