The growing demand for dogs in the UK has caused a darker side effect, namely the growth of unregistered puppy farms or ‘backyard’ breeders which can have heart-wrenching repercussions for future owners.
Since late 2019, the UK’s dog population has grown by almost 50%, from 9.5 million dogs to 12.5 million according to a survey by the Association of Pet Food Manufacturers.
This is largely due to the fact that many people adopted or purchased dogs to keep them company during the Covid-19 pandemic, but this increase has also been correlated with greater demand for puppies, allowing puppy farms to prosper.
As the PDSA posted on their website: “A puppy farm is where several dogs are continuously bred and the puppies sold. They are kept in bad conditions because the “breeders” do not care about their health and their happiness.
“They are very different from reputable breeders. Usually reputable breeders will only breed one or two different breeds at a time and should put the health of their puppies and mothers above a quick profit.
“Puppy farms tend to have a lot more breeds than are available, and dogs on puppy farms can get sick, which can lead to heartache for unwitting owners who accept them.”
The RSPCA said it received 4,357 calls in 2018 warning it of potential cases in England, up from 890 in 2008, a number that has grown steadily since.
Several measures have been put in place to try to fight the crisis, but they are by no means final.
Lucy’s Law, which was introduced in April 2020, meant that all third-party sales of puppies six months of age or younger would be banned, in a bid to crack down on puppy farms and other unreliable sellers.
This law means that the puppies must be sold by the breeder, from the place where they were born with their mother.
However, that hasn’t stopped breeders from trying to take advantage of this market boom by continuing their illegal activities and fooling hopeful dog owners into buying puppies that have been bred in a contrary manner. ethical and even cruel, which can lead to health complications later.
Team Dogs have come up with a guide to spotting a potential unethical breeder and what to do when you think you’ve encountered one.
How to recognize a puppy farm
It isn’t always obvious to spot that you are potentially buying a dog from a puppy farm, so be on the lookout for some important signs every step of the way in purchasing your puppy.
First, where are the puppies advertised? If the ad is posted on social media, where is it shared? For example, if the ad is posted to a regulated group with moderators who did not remove the post, it might be considered more legitimate than if it was shared on someone’s personal page or on a ‘story. »On social networks.
However, generally speaking, all dogs advertised on social media that are not from a trusted breeder or rescue center are more likely to come from breeders with no relevant training or experience.
Also, see how often the breeder posts ads for the puppies – if they appear to have regular litters for sale, and many different breeds, that could be a bad sign as well.
When you visit the seller, you need to do a series of checks
If they ask to meet in a public place rather than their home or place, that can be a big red flag.
Also, if the house is dirty, there are a lot of other outbuildings, or areas are cordoned off with no explanation why.
Listen to the noises of many other dogs.
However, vendors can sometimes rent spaces to sell their puppies, so check that it looks like dogs live there and the animals are comfortable in their surroundings.
The RSPCA has practical advice for the right questions to ask a breeder, including seeing if their ID matches the listing, and showing their local authority license if they breed and sell pets as a business .
They should also be able to provide actual documents / certificates for puppy vaccinations, microchip – which is a legal requirement – dewormer and results of any health tests if applicable.
A good breeder should also ask you questions: If he cares about the welfare of his animals, he should hope that he puts them back in the right place.
They should also be happy to use The puppy contract if you both agree, this is a free toolkit developed by the AWP and RSPCA that helps protect both breeders and buyers.
Finally, the puppies themselves.
The dog’s health is paramount, so make sure he has a wet but not runny nose, clear shiny eyes and a healthy coat, and that he is not in visible distress.
The sellers should also be able to address any concerns you have regarding the health of the puppy and produce the relevant vaccination documents, if applicable.
Can you see the puppy with its mom, and with the rest of the litter? A common tactic of puppy breeders is to separate the puppy from its mother too early and only show one puppy at a time.
It should also be the same reach you saw on the ads.
The best advice is if it doesn’t, it probably is.
What should I do if I think it’s a puppy farm?
If you think the seller is unethical or is running a puppy farm, the first thing to do is to walk away, as difficult as that may be.
As tempting as it may be to save a dog from a potential situation, it is far better to leave and allow the proper authorities to deal with the breeder.
You can report the ad to the website on which it is located, for the purpose of removal, and report any license violation to your local council.
If you believe the dog’s welfare needs are not being met, you should report it directly to the RSPCA, but if you directly witness animal abuse, you can call the police to address the issue.
As The kennel club sums it up: “All puppies are cute, and unless the puppy itself is dirty or has a noticeable health problem, there is no way to tell from the dog’s appearance under what conditions it is. was raised or what it will look like when they grow up.
“Before handing over any money, make sure you are absolutely confident that you are dealing with a responsible breeder.
“Make sure you ask all the questions you need to be sure the breeder is trustworthy. “