Do You Know Where Your Dog Came From?

Of course you do! But can you be sure? How do you know, really know, your beloved dog wasn’t bred in terrible conditions on a puppy farm in the UK, or worse, abroad?

If you were silly enough to meet a guy at a service station or lay by and hand over a wad of cash, then, sorry, you strike out at this point.  You have almost certainly purchased a puppy farm puppy.

Similarly, if you visited a ‘puppy supermarket’, where many different breeds are available, all ready to take home immediately then yes, you have probably purchased one too. How do you think these places keep their stock coming in in such plentiful, reliable numbers?

What if you had read all the warnings and have more than a teaspoon of common sense and visited the breeder at their home? Foolproof!

Well, not entirely. Let’s think about it;

How did you find about about the litter? From the Kennel Club website, from a friend, or online, somewhere like Gum Tree, Preloved or FaceBook? Dodgy puppy dealers love those sites. They can set up an infinite number of fake profiles that are virtually untraceable once you realise your mistake.

There are no shortage of puppies for sale on line but how many are legitimate breeders?  Probably very few.

There are no shortage of puppies for sale on line but how many are legitimate breeders? Probably very few.

How did you contact the seller? Landline or a mobile? Obviously most people use mobiles but honest ones tend to keep the same number longer than a week. Have you still got it? What happens when you try to ring it again?

How did you find the house where the pups were? Did the breeder give you an address and directions, did you meet them locally so you could follow them in or were you just told; “It’s the one with the red car on the drive”? Puppy dealers commonly go to the effort of renting and kitting out a family home, but they don’t want you to go back and find it empty, so they will try to make it hard for you to find them again.

But you saw the bitch! She was there! Was she? Or was there an adult dog who looked a bit like the pups hanging around? Was she interested in the babies and keeping an eye on them when you were fussing them or could she have not cared less? Was she even a she? With some fluffy breeds it can be difficult to tell from a distance!

And finally, did the ‘breeder’ appear to care at all about the pups? I don’t mean having them vaccinated, wormed and deflea’d (given the profits dealers can make, the costs of these are small fry) but did they care about you? Good breeders want to know where their dogs are going, they will ask you to keep in touch, they may even offer to take the dog back if you can’t keep it any more. Dealers will take your cash and have you out of the door with a bundle of fluff before you can blink.

For puppy dealers, the effort of this pantomime is more that worth it. They are making profits running into several thousands of pounds a week from this elaborate, but depressingly easy, con.

But why does it matter anyway where your new puppy came from? It’s yours now, maybe you even feel that you ‘rescued’ it from these cruel dealers now you have realised the truth. Well, it matters. It matters a LOT.

Puppy farms are horrible places, where dogs are bred not for love, or quality, or the breed, but for money. Cold, hard cash. A minimal amount of effort is put into their health and wellbeing and if you feel smug that your new baby has escaped, then think about their mother, who is probably well on with her next litter already and will never get to leave.

Sure, your puppy has made it out and is safe but what about their mother?

Sure, your puppy has made it out and is safe but what about their mother?

Dogs from these places are at a high risk of suffering from all kinds of illnesses, some of which, like parvovirus, can be fatal but not before your family has fallen in love with them and you have paid out for the vets bills trying to save them. Also, the complete lack of human contact in their early weeks is probably contributing in no small way to the biggest killer of young dogs; aggression and behavioural problems.

It is not just puppy farms in the UK we have to worry about. Thanks to a recent change in EU laws, we are now seeing puppies flooding in from the continent. Bred in the most appalling conditions, transported hundreds of miles in cramped, hot vans and then flogged to unsuspecting families. Unfortunately, this where the real money is being made. Dogs purchased for only €50, can be sold for upwards £500 here.

Under the regulations they are supposed to be microchipped, wormed and, vitally, vaccinated against rabies but a huge proportion are travelling under falsified passports or, no identification at all, because the traffickers know they won’t get even a second glance from our hard pressed border staff.

Make no mistake, one day soon one of these pups will enter the UK carrying rabies and a huge public health scare will ensue. Do you want your family to be at the centre of that??

It turns out that buying a puppy is fraught with difficulty and danger, for you and the dogs. The puppy farms, importers and dealers, try very hard to make it seem easy but it isn’t and nor should it be.

How can you avoid them? How can you ensure your news family member was loved and cherished from the moment they were born? I can’t lie, it’s hard. The easiest way, probably, is to start with the Kennel Club but some puppy farms have managed to get themselves registered (which really needs sorting out!) or ask around friends and see if anyone you know and trust can make a recommendation.

Otherwise, I’m afraid, you will have to be suspicious, ask questions and if you are in ANY doubt, walk away. It is only by having your guard up you will avoid the pain and distress of buying a puppy farm puppy and help stop this despicable trade in it’s tracks.

You can follow me on Twitter; @cat_the_vet or find me on FaceBook;  Cat_The_Vet

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