I have a confession to make. In my spare time I am often known to sit on Gumtree and look at all the pictures of the adorable puppies. I know, this probably verges on the obsessive. I have no intention of buying one of these puppies and if I was to buy a puppy there would be no way it would be bought on Gumtree. Despite this, I still love flicking through and daydreaming of the possibility.
I think the key part here is that if I was to buy a puppy I would never buy it on the internet. However, despite being a doggy professional I am still pulled in by the allure of an online puppy database of sorts. Type in what you want, where you want it and within a few hours you could be bringing home your new best friend. Therefore I can see why so many take this route on such a serious purchase.
That is why I feel the need to write this post, inspired very much by the BBC Scotland Investigates Documentary ‘The Dog Factory’.: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b05qqf00. I highly recommend you watch it and share it far and wide.
That is because we all have a responsibility. Puppies are definitely something a commodity. In today’s society we want what we want and we want it now. This includes the living and breathing bundle of commitment that is a puppy. Puppies, like every other commodity works on simple supply and demand. We are the demand end of that formula. Unfortunately the supply side can be nothing short of horrific.
I feel that most people now know of the horror of so called ‘puppy farms’ and therefore I do not need to delve into the gory details. All that needs to be said is that the puppy farmer’s main motivation is profit, whatever the humane cost. However I also feel that the majority of the puppy buying society does not see the link to how this affects them.
In total 41% of people who bought a puppy in the last year did not see the puppy with its mother and 53% did not see its breeding environment, meaning those puppies are highly likely to have been bred by puppy farmers and sold by third parties (2014 Kennel Club PAW survey. 20% of puppies (four times more than the average) bought from pet shops or directly from the internet suffer from parvovirus, an often fatal disease which can cost up to £4,000 to treat (2014 Kennel Club PAW survey).
That means in practical terms that every other puppy you greet on the street was likely to have come from these dark and distant puppy farms, making them not so distant after all.
The answer is simple. When buying a puppy the breeder is the most important consideration. Do not buy a puppy unless you can see the mother and ideally the rest of the litter and the conditions in which they are kept. Normally, pedigree puppies will be registered with the Kennel Club so your puppy should come with a certificate. You are also entitled to ask for a pedigree history of your new puppy’s ancestors.
If in doubt, the kennel club operates the Kennel Club Assured Breeder Scheme. The Kennel Club provides the most comprehensive and up-to-date list of breeders and Kennel Club Assured Breeders with pedigree puppies currently available on the Find a Puppy service.
Never, ever buy a puppy from the back of a van or meet in a car park or other location most likely chosen so you cannot see the conditions in which the puppy has been born in and the mother is kept in.
Buying a puppy should be the start of an exciting new chapter and you want it to be as stress free as possible, so following these simple guidelines will keep things risk free. There is endless advice online from sites such as the Kennel Club. I always think that you would not spend a fortune on designer clothes without the label, so do not buy a pedigree puppy without the papers.
Of course, pedigree puppies are not the only option. Your local shelter will have a huge variety of dogs looking for their forever homes. Always consider if you could take on the challenge and reward that is a rescue dog before jumping to the decision that a pedigree puppy from a breeder is the best option for you. Near Nottingham there is the Dog’s Trust in Loughborough: https://www.dogstrust.org.uk/. There is also a RSPCA in Radcliffe: http://www.rspca-radcliffe.org.uk/contactpage along with a variety of local rescue shelters.