A Christmas puppy might be the perfect present for some, but the Local Government Association (LGA) is warning that criminal sellers could be taking advantage of the festive rush.
The LGA says potential dog owners should take care when choosing who to buy from, with animals advertised online posing particularly high risks.
The rise in the price of puppies during the pandemic and the profits that have come with it have attracted irresponsible sellers to the dog breeding market. They often treat the animals poorly which can lead to disease and malnourishment.
There are several key things to look out for to ensure puppies come from reputable breeders. These include:
- The breeder holding a local authority licence if they are selling the dogs as part of a business
- Presenting vaccination paperwork
- The seller being available for visits and conversations about the puppy.
The process of pretending a puppy is from a reputable breeder has been dubbed “petfishing” by the government.
Should suspicions be raised of petfishing, it is recommended that people contact the RSPCA, local council, or the police.
A spokesperson for the RSPCA said: “While some families looking for a pet this Christmas will take on loving rescue dogs or buy happy, healthy puppies from responsible breeders, we know that many will unknowingly fall victim to illicit and underground puppy breeders and sellers who prioritise profit over the health and welfare of their dogs.”
Local council teams work to prevent illegal sales, but when demand is high over the holidays, they face challenges to meet the threat.
Nesil Caliska, chair of the LGA’s safer and stronger communities board, said: “Councils need increased, specialist resources in this area to ensure illegal traders get caught before any animals are harmed.”