Puppy trafficking is big business. Puppies are bred in very large numbers often outside the UK. The puppies are taken from their mothers and may be transported long distances to be sold by pet shops, via the internet or through local adverts. Many puppies fall sick and sadly some die, very often once their new owner has paid out hundreds and in some cases, thousands of pounds. And that's on top of what they paid for the puppy.
Avoiding the trap
Make sure you do some research before buying a puppy and consider these points carefully:
- You should always see a puppy with its mother in the place where it was bred. Ideally you should see the father too, or at least a photo of him. If the breeder can’t show you the mother or father you should be suspicious. Get as much information as possible about where the puppy has come from and beware if the breeder is from outside the UK.
- If you are told the puppy has been vaccinated, ask to see the vaccination card. Beware that vaccination cards are easy to fake – if the vet’s contact details are not visible or have an address from outside the UK, the card may be fake. If the vets details are printed on the vaccination card, ring them and check if the puppy or litter of puppies were vaccinated on the corresponding date on the vaccination record.
- Bear in mind that pedigree certificates are never a guarantee for the condition of your puppy and may not even mean you are being sold a pure-bred dog. Again these can be a faked. If the seller has a Kennel Club certificate for the puppy, it is easy to check its authenticity by ringing the Kennel Club. They can verify whether the puppy is registered or not.
- Never buy from someone who offers to deliver your puppy or arranges to meet you somewhere.
- Never buy a puppy just because you feel sorry for it. If you are concerned about the health or welfare of a puppy, contact the RSPCA on: 0300 1234 999.
- If you are concerned about how you were sold the puppy, contact Consumer Direct: 08454 04 05 06 or the local authority responsible for the area you bought it from.
- If you suspect the puppy may have come from abroad and does not have a Pet Passport it may be in contravention of UK anti-rabies legislation. Please contact either the Trading Standards Service: www.tradingstandards.gov.uk Once again there should be information on the Passport that you can verify, check before taking on the puppy.
Integrating into your family
A tiny puppy may look cute and cuddly, but if it has not been exposed to a life outside of a breeding barn during its early weeks, it will not have been properly socialised for life in a family home. Such puppies can develop behavioural problems. A good breeder will make sure their puppies have been well socialised to prepare them for life in a new home. Make sure you ask where they were born and brought up. Puppies raised in the sellers home are more likely to be well socialised, getting to know all the sights, sounds and smells of a family life!
Finally don't feel awkward about asking questions and going away to think about buying the puppy or checking on any documentation which is shown to you or you have been told is available. If the puppy is being sold by a reputable source they will not mind you doing this. Would you really buy a car without checking its paperwork?!