New research from the Kennel Club has found that one in three puppies bought online experience illness or death in their first year.
The Kennel Club said that an instant gratification culture is putting puppy welfare at risk as more than 1 million pups are bought before they’ve even seen by the buyer with half a million being ‘online deliveries.
The research, for the Kennel Club’s Puppy Awareness Week, shows that 18% of puppy buyers who went on to buy their puppy directly over the internet, after initially finding the advert online, say their puppy experienced sickness in their first year, which was then ongoing throughout its life, or sickness and eventual death – this compares to 7% who experienced this overall.
Amongst the most common conditions suffered by the pipes purchased this way were gastro-intestinal problems (14%), skin problems (19%), pneumonia (8%), kennel cough (10%) and deadly parvovirus (4%).
Far from being a happy experience, one in three people who bought online say their dog buying experience caused emotional hardship and over one in four financial hardship.
A quarter of puppies (25%) that were bought from the internet after initially seeing the advert online go on to die before their fifth birthday.
Despite Defra’s recently announced plans to crack down on puppy farms by banning the third-party sale of puppies, puppy farmers can still sell directly to the public – over the internet or through newspaper ads.
The research also highlighted that 20% of people don’t see the puppy with its mum or see it with a dog that they suspect was not the real mum.
One in three people admit that they would not know how to spot a rogue puppy breeder and 23% think that they could have bought from a puppy farm.
Worryingly, 12% of people pay for their puppy before they have seen it, amounting to an estimated one million dogs in the UK bought this way.
Caroline Kisko, Secretary of dog welfare organisation, the Kennel Club, said: “A shocking number of people are spending less than two hours researching their puppy purchase and this is leading to a serious welfare crisis. The internet is making it easier than ever before to buy things instantly, and this is having an alarming impact on the way people expect to buy a puppy.
“Whilst there is nothing wrong with seeing an advert for a puppy online, you should always then be looking to see the puppy’s home environment and the puppy with its mum. If a breeder is offering to deliver the pup to your house, asking to take money from you before you’ve even seen the pup or trying to flog the puppy as quickly as possible, alarm bells should be ringing.
“The government’s plans to ban the third-party sale of puppies through pet shops and the like is hugely welcome, but puppy buyers shouldn’t become complacent. Rogue dog breeders selling directly to puppy buyers can still be masking terrible conditions and the yawning gap in puppy buyer awareness about how to identify a good breeder leaves people – and dogs – very vulnerable.
“We are particularly concerned about so called ‘fashionable’ breeds such as French Bulldogs or designer cross breeds, such as Cockerpoos, being victims of this rogue trade. Wherever a breed explodes in popularity, and demand outstrips supply from responsible breeders, there will be a gap in the market to fill – and bad breeders will only be happy to fill it.
For more information about Puppy Awareness Week you can visit www.thekennelclub.org.uk/paw