The RSPCA is urging families thinking of getting a puppy over the summer holidays to consider adopting a rescue pet.
The animal welfare charity is issuing advice to prospective dog owners as new figures reveal that reports about puppy farms have soared by 390% in the last decade.
RSPCA dog welfare expert Lisa Hens said: “It is distressing that we are still seeing so many reports about puppy farms, but part of this increase is probably due to people being savvier about what to look out for when getting a pet.
“We know there’s a spike in people searching for puppies and buying dogs at the beginning of the school holidays, but we’d urge families to carefully consider whether getting a dog is right for them. Dogs are a huge commitment and need lots of time and attention, even once summer is over and the kids are back at school.
“If you do have the time and money for a dog then we’d urge you to consider rescuing instead of buying a puppy. Not only will this give a rescue dog a chance at finding his forever home, but it’ll also save any potential heartache caused by unwittingly buying a dog from a puppy farm.”
The warning comes as new figures reveal that last year (2018) was the worst year for complaints about the puppy trade in England to RSPCA’s 24-hour emergency hotline.
The charity received 4,357 complaints last year – a 390% increase on 10 years ago (2008) when it took just 890 reports related to the underground industry.
There has been a year-on-year increase in these reports over the past decade as more and more unscrupulous breeders and dealers seek to cash in on a growing puppy market – where dogs of certain breeds or types can sell for hundreds or even thousands of pounds.
Lisa added: “After the RSPCA campaigned for years, the government last year finally introduced tougher licensing regulations around the selling of animals – including breeding and selling dogs – which we hope will help crackdown on this multi-million pond industry.
“The government has also committed to a ban on the third-party sales of puppies and kittens which, alongside tougher licensing conditions will also help to tackle puppy farms and dodgy dealers.
“However, we also need to educate the public to ensure that they only buy puppies from responsible breeders who prioritise the health and welfare of their dogs over profit.”
Top tips for families buying a puppy this summer:
- Do lots of research and make sure you can commit to a new dog before looking for your new family member.
- Adopt don’t shop – visit your local centre to see if you can offer a rescue dog a home.
- Use ‘The Puppy Contract’ – a guide to how to responsibly source a puppy which can help you find a happy, healthy dog;
- Always visit more than once and see the mum and puppies interacting together. Be wary of any breeder who won’t let you or pressures you into buying.
- If you’re concerned about something you see at a breeder then walk away, do not buy the puppy and report your concerns to the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999, police on 101 or your local council.
There are lots of benefits to adopting a rescue dog from a reputable organisation. Giving a rescue pet a second chance is extremely rewarding, and all pets are fully assessed before being put up for rehoming so you can be sure that you will be matched to the right dog.
Puppies and dogs will also be fully vet-checked, vaccinated, microchipped and -often- neutered so you needn’t worry about the costs of all of these extras. They may have also had some basic training already in kennels and you will receive ongoing support and advice if needed, while RSPCA centres also offer six weeks of free pet insurance.