A dog may be for life, but shockingly many people spend more time choosing a pair of shoes or their weekly supermarket shop than they do a puppy with devastating consequences.
Pups are more likely to get ill and their owners suffer financial and emotional hardship if chosen hastily, as people fall victim to puppy scams.
Almost a quarter (23 percent) of people will spend 5 minutes or less researching where to buy a puppy, but a similar percentage (22 per cent) will invest half an hour or more when choosing a new pair of shoes. Choosing a puppy will take 36 percent of people 20 minutes or less, compared to just 16 percent who are prepared to be so reckless with the time spent on their weekly supermarket shop.
And one in five (20 per cent) of people admit that they spent no time researching where to buy their puppy at all, compared to just 8 per cent who decide which shoes to buy on impulse, or 13 per cent who spontaneously decide what to watch on Netflix.
Our hasty and impulsive puppy buying habits are having dramatic consequences. Almost a sixth (15%) of pups got sick in the first six months, with some needing ongoing veterinary treatment or dying, if their owner had chosen them than 20 minutes or less. This is three times higher than those pups who experienced ill health, ongoing health problems or death if their owners had spent an hour or more researching where to buy.
Similarly, more than one fifth (21 per cent) of people claim to have suffered emotional hardship, and the same (21 per cent) claim financial hardship after buying a puppy if they spent between 20 minutes or less researching where to buy their puppy, compared to 7 per cent suffering emotional hardship and 8 per cent suffering financial hardship for those who spent an hour or more finding out where they should buy their puppy.
In total almost a quarter (22 per cent) who bought their puppy in 20 minutes or less think that they bought from a puppy farm, compared to just 7 percent who spent more than an hour researching where to buy.
Despite being prepared to buy their puppy with minimal research, one third (33 per cent) agree that they do not feel confident about how to spot the signs of a responsible breeder, with slightly more (34 per cent) agreeing they would not know how to find one.
The shocking portrait about the lack of consumer awareness when buying a puppy, and its implications, has been released by the Kennel Club for its Puppy Awareness Week, which aims to make people aware of the importance of buying a puppy from a responsible source.
Caroline Kisko, Secretary of the Kennel Club, which runs Puppy Awareness Week, said: “This research is a wake-up call for anybody who cares about dog welfare as a rather terrifying picture is emerging of a nation of people who are careless when it comes to choosing where and how to buy a dog, and who feel clueless about where they would begin, if they were to attempt to do this responsibly.
“The result is puppies with all manner of health and behavioural problems being sold via the internet, pet shops or social media to people who don’t know the true background of the pups and who pay the price in veterinary bills and heartache, as they watch their beloved pet suffer.
“There is a massive gap in consumer knowledge and we need to help people understand what a good dog breeder looks like. The research shows that just under three quarters (73 per cent) of people would like a scheme where breeders are already checked and approved for them by a UKAS approved body, which is why the Kennel Club developed its Assured Breeder Scheme. At the very least we urge people to make themselves aware of the scams and tricks of the trade, so that they can spot the people who are putting puppy welfare at risk.”
One of the most obvious signs of a puppy farmer is that they will not show the pup in its home environment or with its real mum. More than 2 in 5 (41 per cent) of those who suspect that they did not see the puppy with its real mum say that their pup suffered from serious health problems in the first six months, including problems that resulted in ongoing veterinary treatment or death, compared to 9 per cent overall. Similarly, 43 per cent experience financial or emotional hardship if they don’t see the mum, compared to 16 per cent overall.
Another signal of a bad breeder is to use words in adverts that are well known to be marketing scams, to increase interest in a puppy, when it is hiding something more sinister. Examples include the use of the word ‘guard dog’ or ‘security dog’ – which 12 per cent said would make them more likely to be interested in the dog – but which may be a disguise for a dog bred to be aggressive, or the use of the word ‘rare colour’ – which are often avoided by responsible breeders for health and welfare reasons – but which would make almost one in five (18 per cent) more likely to buy.
The Kennel Club has compiled the dos and don’ts of buying a puppy for its Puppy Awareness Week, which can be downloaded from the website www.thekennelclub.org.uk/paw.