Shocking Research Reveals that Puppy ‘Impulse Buying’ is Rife

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.

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Extending your Wedding Guest List to Include Your Best Four-legged Friend

Animal charity Blue Cross has today revealed that one in 10 Brits have given pets a key role in their wedding ceremony.

When asked why, over a quarter (26%) said they did so because it helps them remain calm and overcome anxiety on the big day. Brits also said they involved their pets because they are such an important part of the family (20%) and some said they had to come along simply because they are so cute (12%).

When asked what important role their pets would be playing on the big day, a massive 92% of those in favour of pets’ involvement said they wanted to walk down the aisle with their pet as maid of honour. Over half wanted their pets to have a starring role in wedding photos and video (56%) and, although their dinner speeches may leave a lot to be desired, they’re clearly doing something right as a close third came best man (54%).

Ryan Neile, Senior Animal Behaviourist from Blue Cross said: “Whether they are, companions, our best friends, or our comforters, pets play a huge role in our lives and it isn’t surprising to see how many Brits want to involve them in such an important moment.

“Even without weather worries, dress disasters, late caterers or missing rings to worry about, your wedding day can be an incredibly nerve-wracking experience and having your pet by your side might just help settle some of those jitters, as long as you take steps to ensure that your pet is comfortable too.

“At Blue Cross we recognise that every pet we receive, rescue, rehabilitate and rehome is a pet that can enrich its new family’s life in return. Pets are just as much as part of the family as mums, dads and siblings and this is why Brits love them to be involved in important events like this.”

When Katia and her husband John got married on Valentine’s Day two years ago, their beautiful English springer spaniel cross Bingo, who was rehomed from a Blue Cross centre, played a special role on the big day when he ‘gave the bride away’ at the altar.

Katia said: “Bingo has become such an important part of our lives that there was never any doubt he would have to come to our wedding. He helped to make our big day even more special and he looked very handsome in his bow-tie! We’re so happy to have Bingo in our lives that we asked our guests to make a donation to Blue Cross instead of giving us gifts – it was lovely to be able to say thank you to them for helping us find Bingo and to make a difference for more pets like him.”

While it is great that pets are finding roles in their owner’s big days, it is important to remember that beyond the cute photos and special moments, their happiness and comfort is the most important thing whilst they’re there. Anyone considering involving a pet in their wedding day should follow the below tips to make sure that a stress-free day is had by all:

  • Your pet’s personality – when thinking about the role you want your pet to play, consider their personality. For example, you might want your dog to be maid of honour, but do they get stressed in crowds? Be sure not to put your pet through anything that will make them uncomfortable or scared;
  • Check the venue is pet friendly in advance – you would be incredibly disappointed if you turned up on the big day only to find out your beloved pet isn’t allowed inside – and yet, just under a third (32%) of Brits said they would not think to check to see if the venue was pet friendly;
  • Be treat conscious – although weddings are typically a time for you to overindulge on multiple courses of food, you should make sure that your pet isn’t doing the same. Give guests a heads up that treating your pet isn’t a good idea as they may not be aware what foods are safe for animal consumption;
  • Notify the photographer (and your pet!) – make sure your photographer/ videographer knows in advance that your pet will be involved in any shoots so they can think of some creative ideas of how to get them involved. Get your pet used to the camera too; give them a treat every time the camera makes a noise so they associate the sound with something positive and practice poses if you can;
  • Book a pet sitter – a wedding is tiring enough for a human and possibly even more so for your pet. Have someone familiar on hand that can take your pet home and away from the festivities after a couple of hours. The majority of those surveyed (62%) only allowed their pet at the wedding for two hours or less; this is a good rule of thumb.

Whether you are getting married or not, pets can make an exceptional addition to the family. If you would like to give a loving home to a homeless Blue Cross pet, visit bluecross.org.uk for more information.

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Fat Cats & Top Hats: Is Your Pretty Kitty Healthy?

Pets in the home are some of the best cures for stress and sadness. Having your cat curl on your lap for a snuggle and stroking them as their purr can bring your stress hormones right down and make you feel content.

However, owning a pet isn’t just about your health. You have to ensure that when you adopt an animal, you have their best interests and health at heart. Keeping your kitty well fed is as important as regular grooming, and you must keep on top of both of these things whether your cat is a spoiled house cat or an exploring outdoor one.

Your cat’s health matters a lot and not just to save you money on the vet bills! The needs of an outdoor cat compared to an indoor cat will vary, but not hugely. The biggest difference between the two is exercise, and there is actually indoor exercise equipment you can get for your exclusively indoor cat! You can find out more here about that and know that you are keeping your cat healthy, even if they do refuse to go outside and hunt.

Cats of all breeds have basic needs: clean water, the right food, litter box and the right bowls. Entertainment is also important as they need to stay active and alert. So, what specifics do you need to know to keep an eye on the health of your cat?

  • Appetite. The healthy cats always have a good appetite and feel healthy in their weight. Loss of appetite is always the first sign of illness in a pet and ideally, you will always be on the lookout for that. Some loss of appetite in pets is normal – especially if their regular food has changed or the ingredients have differed. If your cat starts putting on weight and becoming overweight, this is not healthy for them and you need to adjust their diet.
  • Eyes, Ears, Nose. You’ll be looking at your cat every day, so you should notice if their eyes have dulled in their sparkle. Any eye discharge should be looked into and if their eyes are no longer as clear as before, a visit to the vet is in order! If you notice your cat batting their ears or vigorously shaking its head, you need to search for mites.
  • Fur Coat. You may have noticed how meticulous your cat is about their coat, self-grooming and keeping it clean. Noticing flaking skin can indicate illness and if you have a long-haired cat, you should regular groom them to give them a helping hand in the long hair. Doing a check-up with your vet on a regular basis should help you tell the difference between a mild skin condition or a full-on issue.

The health of your animal at home is your responsibility and you should always endeavour to get them the best possible care from the right sources. Spend enough time with your cat to recognise their little perks and get to know their personality. They’re a part of the family now and should be treated as such.

 

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New Innovation to Help Dog Owners

Truckman, the UK’s largest manufacturer of 4×4 accessories and hardtops, has come up with a new innovation, which takes the hard work out of opening and closing the tailgate of a pick-up truck.

Ideal for dog owners as well as families and commercial users, the Tailgate Pro-Lift reduces the weight of a vehicle’s tailgate by 95 percent.

Using gas struts and a specially-designed spring system for easy operation, the Pro-Lift enables the tailgate to be opened and closed with one hand, letting you lift your dog into the boot or make sure he gets in more safely.

Quick and simple to install, Pro-Lift is available for and can be fitted to all UK pick-up truck models from Fiat, Ford, Isuzu, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Toyota and Volkswagen.

Pro-Lift is also available through Isuzu dealerships, having recently secured Approved Accessory status from the pick-up truck manufacturer.

Mike Wheeler, Executive Chairman of Truckman, said: “This is a great innovation that can make a huge difference to pick-up truck owners, particularly dog owners and families who will benefit from the controlled, gentle opening of the tailgate.

“As well as significantly reducing the effort required to open and close the tailgate, through the use of gas struts and springs, Pro-Lift’s operation offers additional safety benefits protecting the operator from the weight of the tailgate.”

The Tailgate Pro-Lift retails at £198 (including VAT), and is available to order by calling Truckman on 01384 485405 or emailing them on [email protected].

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Felines Needing Forever Homes on International Cat Day

Whether pouncing on their favourite toy or curling up on your lap and purring – we are a nation of cat lovers with over 10 million pet cats in the UK.

To celebrate International Cat Day (August 8) the RSPCA takes a look into the world of cats and kittens to help their rescue moggies find purr-fect homes.

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The RSPCA receives a call about cats on average every three minutes and answers more calls about cats than any other animal.

This means there are currently hundreds of cats in RSPCA centres – more than the number of dogs and rabbits combined – and a cat overpopulation crisis facing the UK in general.

Aneel Odhwani, animal care assistant at the RSPCA Southall Cattery in London said: “We are a nation of cat lovers and the huge numbers of us who have cats in our homes tells this story. On International Cat Day it’s a brilliant opportunity to showcase the unique and brilliant personalities of our cats who are looking for homes.”

Miriam, a one year old black cat, was found under a garden shed in Sutton with her three newly born kittens in April.

The member of the public who lived in the property brought them straight to the RSPCA Putney Animal Hospital where they were treated for conjunctivitis.

Her kittens were named Moses, Samson and Delilah and at four months old they each found their forever homes but mum, Miriam, is still patiently waiting for hers.

The young mum was only a kitten herself when she had her litter and was very confused and scared when brought into the hospital. Her kittens were also very small which could be because some growing kittens may struggle to get adequate nutrition to support both their own growth and that of a litter of kittens.

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Miriam is now at the Southall Cattery in London where the beautiful ex-mum has really come out of her shell and showed her affectionate nature.

She has become very trusting and loves nothing more than receiving lots of love and fuss.

Aneel continued: “Neutering cats from four months old could help solve the cat overpopulation crisis facing the UK today.

“Cats become sexually mature at a relatively young age and unless neutered can have a litter when they are really only kittens themselves, just like Miriam.”

Many people believe that a cat needs to have a first litter to be happy and healthy but this a common myth.WP_20170622_12_05_31_Pro.jpgWP_20170622_12_05_53_Pro.jpg

The reality of looking after and the cost of caring for kittens may not be what some owners’ expect and this is why so many unplanned litters end up in RSPCA centres.

These kittens [pictured] were found in a garden shed in Norpeth in Northumberland in June. They were just eight weeks old and without their mum.

Inspector Rowena Proctor collected them and brought them to safety. It is not known how they had got there but the kittens desperately needed care.

They were brought into the RSPCA Newcastle and North Northumberland branch where staff and volunteers have been working hard to look after and socialise the kittens.

They feared their rough start in life would mean they would not be able to learn to trust humans but over time the kittens have become much more friendly.

They were named Dusty, Annie and Lulu and are doing very well. When they are a bit older they will be available for rehoming.

Mark Lynn, rehoming manager at the Newcastle and North Northumberland branch, added: “Our centres are currently at breaking point with the influx of cats and kittens and a decline in adoptions. For the love of cats, why not adopt one of our rescue moggies.”

To help mark International Cat Day please consider rehoming a rescue moggy. To see the cats looking for homes today visit www.rspca.org.uk/findapet

To help the RSPCA continue rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming animals in desperate need of care please visit: www.rspca.org.uk/give or text LOVE to 87023 to give £3 (Text costs £3 + one standard network rate message).

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Pub Landlords Raise a Glass to the ‘Pooch Pound’

A survey across the UK’s hospitality industry has found that a staggering 98 per cent of pub managers with a dog friendly policy believe that allowing canine customers on to their premises has led to improved business.

When the pool of respondents was expanded to also include café and restaurant managers, 97 per cent of dog friendly establishments believed that welcoming dogs improves their business. These new figures have been released by the Kennel Club to mark the beginning of this year’s Be Dog Friendly Week, which runs from today (Monday 24th July) until Friday 28th July and aims to encourage more businesses to trial a dog friendly policy

Figures from CAMRA, which campaigns for quality real ale and thriving pubs in every community, show that 21 pubs in the UK are forced to close each week. With competition being so fierce across the pub and wider hospitality sector, allowing the nation’s 8.5 million dog owners to bring their companions with them for a pint or a bite to eat could now make all the difference to a venue’s survival, and the Kennel Club is urging landlords and pub owners to trial a dog friendly policy to see the positive effects it could have on their business.

The Kennel Club survey found that 82 per cent of all pub managers questioned stated that they noticed an increased level of social interaction between guests when dogs were on the premises, and 79 per cent also attributed an improved overall atmosphere to the presence of dogs. These are two key factors that may well encourage customers to stay longer and spend more per visit and therefore support their local pubs and cafes – possibly saving countless places from closure.

Colin Valentine, CAMRA’s National Chairman says: “CAMRA welcomes the Kennel Club’s research into the positive impact of dog-friendly pubs across the UK. Pubs play a vital part in many people’s lives, providing a place to meet and socialise and feel part of their community. It therefore makes sense that in many cases a dog-friendly policy will help attract footfall to a local, particularly when paired with some great walking routes nearby.

“There are a number of different factors forcing British pubs to close, ranging from high business rates to competition from supermarkets. We support any measures that help publicans remain in business, which can sometimes be achieved by diversifying a pub’s offering so that more people visit. There is, however, no simple solution to solving Britain’s pub crisis, and it is up to the individual publican to decide what the right business decision is for their pub.”

Many businesses within the hospitality industry that currently do not allow dogs (73 per cent) said that they would consider changing their stance on man’s best friend if owners could prove that their dogs had been trained to a certain standard. One such way this could be achieved is through the Kennel Club’s Good Citizen Dog Training Scheme (GCDS) silver award. The GCDS, the UK’s largest dog training scheme offers Puppy Foundation, bronze, silver and gold awards for dogs and their owners. In order to gain silver, dogs must complete a series of exercises including being around people eating food without reacting, not jumping up at people to greet them, and calmly mixing with other dogs and humans in a group setting; all very relevant tests for a dog hoping to become a regular at their local pub.

The Kennel Club also uses the Be Dog Friendly campaign to correct misconceptions about dogs in public spaces and premises. One of the most common of these myths is that health and safety laws do not permit dogs in to venues. When pub, café and restaurant managers were asked about this, an astonishing 76 per cent of respondents were under the impression that health regulations meant animals could not enter their premises (with the exception of assistance dogs). Fortunately for dogs and their owners, this is not the case at all. Only food preparation areas are out of bounds; dog access to everywhere else including where food is served and sold is at the management’s discretion.

Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary said: “This new research proves just how effective a dog friendly policy can be in ensuring a business’s survival. British pubs are an integral part of our society and whilst it is important that the public should support them, it is also essential that pub owners do everything within their power to make their venue the kind of place people will want to visit time and again. Dog owners and their pets are a key part of any community and as these statistics show, they have proven themselves to be an asset to many pubs across the country by spending their time and money as well as helping to create a nicer atmosphere.

“With one in four British households owning a dog, the general public will always be in need of places where their four legged friends are also made to feel welcome. The Kennel Club strongly encourages businesses across all industries to learn more about the benefits of being dog friendly and our Be Dog Friendly Week is the perfect time to give dogs a chance to prove they can be a great addition to any client base.”

The Kennel Club’s Be Dog Friendly campaign aims to break down barriers for dogs and their owners and encourage companies to learn more about the many ways they could benefit from allowing dogs on to their premises and sites. The long-running campaign includes the annual Be Dog Friendly Week where business owners are encouraged to discover the rewards of being dog friendly and to consider trialling a dog friendly policy so they can see the positive benefits for themselves, as well as supporting the annual DogFriendly Awards.

To find out more about the Be Dog Friendly campaign, visit the website www.thekennelclub.org.uk/be-dog-friendly.

 

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Dog Owners are Happier and Healthier

Dog owners are happier and healthier than people without a pooch, a study has found.

A poll, of 1,000 dog owners and 1,000 adults without a pet, found 80 per cent who have a pooch are ‘very happy’ or ‘happy’ with their life overall.

But just 70 per cent of people without a four-legged friend can say the same.

It also emerged 86 per cent of dog owners believe having a pooch can help to bring stress levels down, with 28 per cent going onto say they believe their mental health and well-being is above average.

John Davies, co-founder of leading manufacturer of premium pet supplements Lintbells, which commissioned the research, said: “The results of this survey highlight the many benefits of owning a dog, from health to happiness.

“Dogs are amazing companions, offering their owners much more than just a wag of their tail in the morning.

“They are often the first to greet anyone arriving home, they inspire us to spend more time outdoors and offer unconditional love to their owners.

“That said we owe it to them to take care of their needs – even those we can’t see.

“Natural supplements can aid your dog with their mobility, skin sensitivities, digestion and anxiety, helping them to be happier for longer.”

The study, carried out by OnePoll.com, found dog owners are also likely to be happier with their career with 63 per cent saying they are satisfied with their work life.

Just 44 per cent of those without a pet say the same.

And more dog owners put their general and physical health at above average levels than those who don’t have a dog, and also exercise on one more occasion each week.

Unsurprisingly, people with a pet pooch spend an hour and 12 minutes longer outdoors each week than those without a dog.

Dog owners’ hobbies are also more likely to be active and outdoor pursuits, with them being bigger fans of cycling, going for walks and gardening.

But those without a dog are more likely to enjoy reading, listening to music and watching TV.

In fact, it was found people without a pooch watch 14 hours more TV a month, averaging an extra 3.5 hours per week, than those with a four-legged friend.

And while non-dog owners are most likely to opt for a quiet night at home alone, people with a dog prefer a more social evening in with friends or a night at the pub.

Dog owners are also the biggest social media users with 80 per cent spending some time on social media each day compared to just 71 per cent of those without a dog.

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Scandal of Sedated Puppies with Umbilical Cords Still Attached Entering UK in Thousands

Dogs Trust is calling on the Government to take immediate action to address the illegal importation of puppies into Great Britain, after an undercover investigation discovered smugglers across Central and Eastern Europe continuing to abuse the system.

The UK’s largest dog welfare charity is urging people to contact their local MP via the Dogs Trust website to insist that the government revise inadequate legislation to put a stop to this horrific trade.

Undercover footage revealed a vet in Lithuania selling sedatives to allow puppies to be smuggled across the British border. Puppies as young as four weeks old were also transported with their umbilical cords still attached during a cramped 1,000 mile, 30-hour journey across Europe.

In another shocking case, puppies were observed vomiting and another eating their own faeces during a journey in a packed mini-van from Lithuania. Confined to pet carriers stacked amongst other packages in the back of the van with no air conditioning, and outside temperatures of 25 degrees, the puppies were given water just twice and not fed at all.

Vets in Poland and Lithuania were also filmed falsifying pet passports and faking rabies vaccination records, enabling underage puppies to slip through the net without the correct paperwork as part of the third undercover investigation by Dogs Trust.

Paula Boyden, veterinary director for Dogs Trust said: “These shocking cases clearly show that urgent action is needed to stop the puppy smuggling scandal. It remains as serious an issue for animal welfare and public health in 2017 as it did in 2014, when our first investigation highlighted the devastating effects of the 2012 changes to the Pet Travel Scheme, which effectively invited corrupt dealers to traffic underage puppies into Great Britain without the required treatments.

“The number of prosecutions is far too low and the lack of visual checks at ferry ports and borders is unacceptable. We want to see stronger deterrents including prison sentences for those caught trafficking puppies. To highlight the flaws in the system, we smuggled a fake dog ‘Charly’ though the border twice – once at Eurotunnel and once at Dover – after no visual checks were made.

“The government must revise pet travel legislation when the UK leaves the EU and ensure that puppies entering this country are healthy, not underage and are not being brought in to sell on to unsuspecting buyers via a scheme meant for non-commercial use.”

Puppies are bred in large numbers, often in horrific conditions in Central and Eastern Europe by corrupt breeders who are continuing to exploit the demand for these desirable breeds in Great Britain. They are  brought into the country illegally at a young age in order to appear ‘cuter’ to buyers, with desirable breeds such as Pugs, Dachshunds, English and French Bulldogs making up 82% of those intercepted at the border.

In 2016 alone, 275,876 dogs travelled to Great Britain on the Pet Travel Scheme; a non-commercial system allowing animals to travel easily between EU Member States without undergoing quarantine. The highest number of puppies intercepted as part of the Dogs Trust Puppy Pilot arrived from Hungary, Poland and Lithuania with Latvia, Slovakia and Romania also predominant. Of the puppies seized, more than 95% of puppies rescued by Dogs Trustwere deemed too young to travel and 6% sadly died due to poor health, malnutrition and dehydration.

Paula continues: “Following two previous investigations in 2014 and 2015, we launched our Puppy Pilot scheme. Through this, and with the help of APHA, Border Force and Kent Trading Standards, we have funded the quarantine costs of over 500 illegally imported puppies and found them new homes through our rehoming centres.

“Until Dogs Trust stepped in, seized puppies were at risk of being put to sleep or turned away at the borders.”

Dogs Trust has released an animation to highlight the plight of a smuggled puppy, Charly, as he undertakes the perilous journey to Great Britain. To watch and share the animation, as well as emailing your local MP to support DogsTrust’s campaign to help transform the lives of illegally imported puppies visit www.puppysmuggling.org.uk.

Television and radio presenter Dermot O’Leary is backing the campaign and says: “As a dog lover myself I was horrified to learn that puppies are being smuggled into Great Britain in such terrible condition. I fully support DogsTrust’s campaign to increase awareness of the puppy smuggling scandal.”

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French Bulldog Most Desired ‘Designer Dog’ to Buy Online…

French bulldogs are the most searched-for breed for sale online, new figures released today by Gumtree and the RSPCA reveal.

As new figures show there were more than 66,000 searches for the fashionable breed in just one month (February 2017) on the popular classified online marketplace, closely followed by Labradors and pugs, the RSPCA is highlighting the risks and realities of buying puppies on the internet.

The figures also reveal that the use of online websites to sell and rehome dogs has exploded within the last decade as Gumtree recorded a 785% increase in the number of dogs being listed on its site in Great Britain in the past 10 years (2007-2016)*.

Teaming up with Gumtree, the RSPCA has warned buyers to take care when looking for dogs online as the internet can provide the perfect marketplace for the unscrupulous puppy trade which puts profit over welfare.

“These figures are hugely concerning as they show the sheer number of people using the internet to buy and sell dogs. These are living, sentient creatures, which are being traded as easily as a second-hand car or a piece of furniture,” Justine Williams, from the RSPCA, said.

“While classified websites, if used responsibly, can be an effective method of advertising for responsible breeders and rescue organisations, sadly, far too many people abuse the internet and this has led to many animal welfare issues arising.

“The web provides the perfect marketplace for unscrupulous breeders and dealers to advertise puppies without arousing suspicion. And traders are finding clever and cunning ways to fool not only the buyers, but also the websites themselves.

“The RSPCA has found that 87% of calls it receives on puppy trade issues are those where the puppy was bought online.”

Gumtree’s research shows that in just one month (February 2017), almost 10,000 listings were posted on the site advertising dogs, while there were more than 286,000 searches by prospective buyers for ‘puppies for sale’. And over a year, 204,182 adverts for dogs were posted on the classified site.

“Whilst most people have safe and successful experiences rehoming dogs on Gumtree, there are a minority of unscrupulous breeders and dealers who put profit ahead of the health and welfare of the animals,” Morten Heuing, general manager at Gumtree UK, said.

“We take the welfare of animals very seriously and work hard to ensure our site is a safe place to find pets in need of rehoming. Our dedicated safety team takes steps to make it as hard as possible for illegal traders to operate on the site. For example, we do not allow ‘wanted’ ads in our ‘Pets’ category and we delete any ads we believe are encouraging or indicate signs of animal cruelty. If users have concerns about an ad on our site, they can use the ‘Report an Ad’ button on our website and our safety team will then investigate it.

“Furthermore, Gumtree works closely with the RSPCA and the Pet Advertising Advisory Group

(PAAG)*** to help educate users on how to buy pets safely and responsibly. Gumtree’s own Pet Advice Hub includes lots of useful advice for people looking to buy a new pet or find a home for a pet they already own.”

Top ten searched breeds

Based on data from Gumtree (February 2017)

Search term Number of searches
French bulldog 66,439
Labrador 57,771
Jack russell 55,013
Pug 48,296
German shepherd 47,406
Chihuahua 47,110
Dachshund 44,341
Pomeranian 37,690
Yorkshire terrier 35,829
Shih tzu 33,109

The most searched for breeds included pugs, chihuahuas, dachshunds, Pomeranians and Yorkshire terriers, each attracting more than 35,000 searches. The RSPCA fears the soaring demand for these fashionable breeds is fuelling the puppy trade as demand drastically outstrips the numbers coming to market via legitimate and responsible sources.

Last year, the UK’s largest and oldest animal welfare charity saw its busiest year tackling the underground puppy trade, receiving more calls than ever from people reporting questionable breeders and dealers.

The RSPCA is seeing a steady rise in the number of complaints coming in about the illegal puppy trade and, in 2016, dealt with 6% more calls than the previous year, and 132% more than five years before**.

RSPCA chief inspector Ian Briggs, who leads the charity’s special investigations into the puppy trade, said: “There’s huge demand for certain breeds of dogs that have been popularised and, as responsible breeders struggle to keep up with demand, underground breeders and traders are filling the gap in the market and are offering buyers the chance to buy puppies at cheaper prices and without waiting lists – often with disastrous consequences.

“This is the price of poor puppy breeding – buyers faced with sick and dying puppies who need intensive treatment or lifelong behavioural support; a surge in these breeds coming into the care of rescue centres from people who did not do their research before taking on a dog that requires a lot of time and commitment; and an increase in the number of these breeds being abandoned either because, as puppies, they didn’t sell or became poorly, or as breeding stock they couldn’t produce litters anymore. Organisations like the RSPCA are left picking up the pieces, and the animals are paying the ultimate price – often with their lives.

“That’s why we’re urging families considering getting a puppy over the summer holidays to be cautious when choosing who and where to buy from and – as hard as it may be – to walk away and contact the RSPCA or the local authority if something doesn’t seem right.

“Anyone looking to buy a puppy should use the Puppy Contract to help ensure they are buying a happy and healthy dog.”

If you’re concerned about a breeder, please contact the RSPCA’s 24-hour emergency hotline on 0300 1234 999. And to help the RSPCA continue investigating the illegal puppy trade and rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming dogs saved from puppy farms please visit: www.rspca.org.uk/give or text LOVE to 87023 to give £3 (Text costs £3 + one standard network rate message).

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England’s Puppy-buying and Puppy Dealing Hotspots Revealed

The RSPCA today reveals that the underground puppy trade is booming with more calls than ever before from people reporting questionable breeders and dealers.

The UK’s largest and oldest animal welfare charity is seeing a steady rise in the number of complaints* coming in about the underground puppy trade. In 2016, the RSPCA dealt with 6% more calls than the previous year, and 132% more than five years before – 87% of those calls came from people who purchased the puppy online.

“We urge anyone thinking of buying a puppy to be extremely careful when they’re choosing what type of dog to buy, where to buy from and who to buy from,” RSPCA dog welfare expert Lisa Richards explained.

“It’s so important to do lots of research not only into the type of dog you want and the kind of care he needs, but also into any potential breeder that you’re considering going to.

“Today, particularly with the rise of puppies being advertised and sold online, it’s becoming more and more difficult to tell the responsible breeders apart from the unscrupulous ones.

“We would encourage anyone who is thinking of getting a puppy to use the Puppy Contract to help ensure they buy a happy, healthy dog.”

New figures from the RSPCA reveal England’s puppy farming hotspots (based on the number of calls relating to the puppy trade in 2016), with Greater London coming out on top, closely followed by Greater Manchester.

  1. Greater London (7.6% of all calls = 280 calls)
  2. Greater Manchester (7.3% = 269)
  3. West Midlands (5.4% = 198)
  4. Kent (4.6% = 168)
  5. West Yorkshire (3.8% = 141)
  6. South Yorkshire (3.7% = 136)
  7. Essex (3.6% = 133)
  8. Staffordshire (3.2% = 119)
  9. Durham (3.2% = 117)
  10. Cheshire (3.1% = 115)

The charity – working alongside Gumtree – also looked into the areas with the highest number of online listings advertising dogs and puppies for sale – with the results painting a very similar picture to the RSPCA’s findings.

In 2016, 204,182** listings for dogs were posted on the online marketplace in Great Britain. Breaking the listings down regionally reveals the country’s puppy selling hotspots:

  1. London (7.4% of all listings = 15,052 ads)
  2. Manchester (5.1% = 10,414)
  3. West Midlands (4.6% = 9,428)
  4. West Yorkshire (4.1% = 8,388)
  5. County Durham (3.4% = 6,863)
  6. Tyne & Wear (3.1% = 6,398)
  7. Nottinghamshire (2.8% = 5,706)
  8. Kent (2.7% = 5,423)
  9. South Yorkshire (2.5% = 5,189)
  10. Essex (2.4% = 4,966)

“These statistics reveal the scale of the online puppy selling market and it’s very concerning,” Lisa added.

“We want all sellers to put the welfare of their dogs and puppies ahead of everything else but, unfortunately, there are many dealers who care only about their profits at the expense of the animals’ health and welfare.

“While classified websites, if used responsibly, can be an effective method of advertising for responsible breeders and rescue organisations, sadly, far too many people abuse the internet and this has led to many animal welfare issues arising.

“As well as the classified websites, like Gumtree, working with us to crackdown on these dealers, we also need the public’s help to stamp out this underground trade. So please take care when buying a puppy. We know it’s hard but if you’re concerned about anything when you visit a breeder, walk away and call the RSPCA and your local authority.”

“Whilst most people have safe and successful experiences rehoming dogs on Gumtree, there are a minority of unscrupulous breeders and dealers who put profit ahead of the health and welfare of the animals,” Morten Heuing, general manager at Gumtree UK, said.

“We take the welfare of animals very seriously and work hard to ensure our site is a safe place to find pets in need of rehoming. Our dedicated safety team takes steps to make it as hard as possible for illegal traders to operate on the site. For example, we do not allow ‘wanted’ ads in our ‘Pets’ category and we delete any ads we believe are encouraging or indicate signs of animal cruelty. If users have concerns about an ad on our site, they can use the ‘Report an Ad’ button on our website and our safety team will then investigate it.

“Furthermore, Gumtree works closely with the RSPCA and the Pet Advertising Advisory Group

(PAAG)*** to help educate users on how to buy pets safely and responsibly. Gumtree’s own Pet Advice Hub includes lots of useful advice for people looking to buy a new pet or find a home for a pet they already own.”

RSPCA stings on organised puppy selling networks have uncovered criminal gangs making up to £35,000 a week by selling dozens of puppies – often fashionable breeds and designer crossbreeds. And the charity has rescued more than 1,200 from puppy farms across the country in the past four years – but knows this is just the tip of the iceberg.

If you’re concerned about a breeder, please contact the RSPCA’s 24-hour emergency hotline on 0300 1234 999. And to help the RSPCA continue investigating the illegal puppy trade and rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming dogs saved from puppy farms please visit: www.rspca.org.uk/give or text LOVE to 87023 to give £3 (Text costs £3 + one standard network rate message).

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