More than one in three dog owners may have been duped into buying a puppy-farmed dog, many of which end up needing thousands of pounds of veterinary and behavioural treatment, according to new Kennel Club research.
It is thought that the internet and demand for trendy designer crossbreeds is fuelling the trade.
Nearly half of buyers did not see their puppy in its breeding environment, with puppy farmers commonly selling their puppies over the internet.
The research also found that 14% bought in pet shops, 10% picked their dog up from a motorway service station or other neutral location, and 2% received a ‘mail order pup’ delivered straight to their door.
More than half of puppy buyers did not receive a contract of sale or see relevant health test certificates for the puppy’s parents, which indicate how healthy the pup is likely to be.
Marc Abraham, Kennel Club veterinary advisor and narrator of the STOP Puppy Farming film, said: “There is now an alarming trend, which is seeing breeders view dogs just as commodities without any regard for their rights as living creatures.
“People wouldn’t buy from a car from a dodgy dealer, offering no MoT or service documents, but sadly people don’t ask for the similar assurances from a dog breeder. These pups will then most likely suffer terrible health and behavioural problems further down the line.”
The Kennel Club is campaigning for tougher legislation to clamp down on puppy farmers, which would see all breeders having to follow standards similar to those followed by members of the Kennel Club Assured Breeder Scheme. In the meantime it is urging puppy buyers to buy only from one of around 8,000 Kennel Club Assured Breeders across the UK.
Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary, said: “All too often, people walk blindly into buying a puppy without being aware of all the information available to them. Those people who buy pedigree dogs tend to use the information that the Kennel Club provides, such as that available via the Kennel Club’s Puppy Buying Guide app, which includes checking if their breeder is following responsible steps such as health testing.
“Because the industry lacks virtually any regulation, we urge people to go to a Kennel Club Assured Breeder since they follow all of the steps that we expect of the most reputable breeders and agree to have their premises checked by a Kennel Club inspector.
“Outside of this, all we can rely on is the local authority licensing system for those that breed large numbers of litters, and the Kennel Club will not register the pups of breeders without this licence. However, the licensing system is not 100% effective, which is why people should always report a suspected puppy farmer.”
To view the Kennel Club’s film STOP the Suffering, STOP Puppy Farming, visit www.thekennelclub.org.uk/stoppuppyfarming