How to make sure your new dog didn’t come from a cruel puppy farm
There are very few people in this world who don’t love dogs.
They’re called ‘man’s best friend’ for a reason. They’re friendly, adorable, endlessly loving and they will protect you to the very end.
Another thing about dogs is that they’re very trusting – are because humans are sometimes total garbage, dogs get taken advantage of.
Nowhere is this truer than in the relentlessly cruel puppy farming industry.
Ruthless puppy farmers are taking advantage both of dogs’ trusting nature, and of people who love them and want to give the loving animals a home.
As a potential dog owner, it can be hard to spot straight away if a puppy you want to take home has been bred in a dodgy farm. But it’s not impossible.
Here’s what you need to know about the cruel puppy farming trade, and how you can make sure your new friend is healthy and happy.
What is a puppy farm?
A puppy farm is essentially a factory farm, but with dogs. Dogs are bred purely for profit, and are treated like nothing more than commodities.
The dogs are bred too often, with serious health issues. They usually live in horrifically poor conditions.
On top of that, the puppies are removed from their mothers far too early, meaning they have serious problems with trust and socialising.
The puppies are then often sent by van or train to so-called ‘puppy dealers’ or pet shops. Many are left severely traumatised, and some do not survive the journey.
‘Welfare problems are evident at every stage of the trade, including the choice and husbandry of breeding stock, the breeding and rearing of the puppies, transport to the markets, and the eventual sale of these animals.’
– RSPCA’s ‘Sold a Pup’ report
Estimated sources for puppies coming onto the market place in the UK every year
Rescue centres3,000Kennel Club235,000Imported from Europe30,000Licensed breeders70,000Unlicensed breeders400,000Imported from Ireland40,000
What kind of problems do farmed pups end up having?
Puppy farms give dogs the worst possible start in life, leaving them with health and potentially even temper problems for the rest of their lives.
Writing on the RSPCA’s Scrap the Puppy Trade blog, an undercover rescue officer said:
‘The cheapest puppies that make the highest profits come from Eastern Europe and Ireland. The disease risk associated with importing these puppies is very high – not only to the dogs themselves but to the public of the UK.
‘For example some of these puppies are brought in from Rabies endemic countries. Many carry zoonotic diseases such as Campylobacter and Giardia. Also skin conditions such mange and ringworm.
‘It’s a bitter pill for an RSPCA inspector to swallow to know that our animal centres are bursting at the seams with unwanted dogs yet these organised criminals are literally bringing these puppies in by the bucket load and making thousands of pounds a week exploiting them and the British public.’
Puppy farming only ever ends in tragedy
If your farmed puppy is one of the lucky ones, they will survive – but they will be plagued with mental and physical health issues for the rest of their lives.
If they’re not one of the lucky ones, like so many, then they will die within a few days – sometimes within a few hours.
‘One of the most upsetting stories I heard was one of a five-year-old little boy finding his beloved first pet dying in a pool of its own blood only 24 hours after purchase,’ the RSPCA officer said.
‘This little boy’s puppy died at the vets and he suffered night terrors as a result.’
How do you know if the puppy you want to take home has been farmed?
Are you being asked to pick up your puppy from some dodgy place, like a motorway service station or an airport car park? Do they want you to pay in cash?
Then it’s probably not legit.
But it’s not always so obvious. Sometimes dodgy puppy dealers can sell from a house that has been made up to look as regular as possible.
However, sometimes they will be keeping the mother in the back room, hiding her because she’s so visibly exhausted and poorly looked after.
Or, often, they are lying altogether when they say the mum is elsewhere in the house. Sometimes she is actually in a completely different country, because they’ve trafficked the puppies in from a farm abroad.
Another sign is that the advert lists more than one breed of puppy for sale. In this case, they are likely to be a dodgy dealer (although we should point out that this isn’t always the case).
So how can you avoid buying a puppy from a farmer or dodgy dealer?
There’s one simple litmus test – ask if you can see the mother with the puppies.
If they make an excuse about why you can’t see the mum, do not buy a puppy from them. It’s a bad sign.
Make sure you visit the breeder a couple of times before you take the puppy home, always insist on seeing the mother, and make sure they pass on the pup’s medical and dietary history.
Also, don’t buy puppies that are extremely young. If their eyes aren’t open yet, they need to be with their mums.
Is anything being done about this?
Fortunately, yes. The RSPCA ran a campaign last year calling for the puppy trade to be scrapped, with a petition that was signed by more than 100,000 people.
After that, the Government announced that it would introduce a new licensing scheme for anyone breeding or selling more than three litters of puppies a year.
They’ve also banned sale of puppies younger than eight weeks old.
Should this be properly upheld, it should be much easier for puppy buyers to be able to tell the difference between a responsible breeder and a dodgy one.
But the RSPCA is continuing its campaign – calling for a further ban on the sale of puppies by anyone other than the person who bred them.
Where should I get a puppy then?
If you are dead-set on adopting a Pedigree dog, make sure you go through licensed or Kennel Club-registered breeders.
If you’re more open to a loving companion who may not be a Pedigree but will give you lots of love, rescue centres across the country are overwhelmed with dogs waiting for a loving home.
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