Number of puppy farm complaints prompts RSPCA warning

Two puppies laid asleep on a blue background

Two puppies laid asleep on a blue background - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

The number of puppy farms in Devon have doubled in the last decade.

The RSPCA is urging families thinking of getting a puppy over the summer holidays to consider adopting a rescue pet after new figures revealed that reports of puppy farms had soared by 219 per cent.

The charity is issuing advice to prospective dog owners.

New figures, released on Thursday, August 1, reveal that puppy farms continue to be a growing problem - with a 390 per cent increase in complaints across England. The warning comes as new figures show that last year (2018) was the worst yet for complaints about the puppy trade in England to the RSPCA's 24-hour emergency hotline.

The charity received 4,357 complaints last year - a 390 per cent increase on 10 years ago (2008) when it took just 890 reports related to the underground industry.

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In Devon, the charity received 27 complaints in 2008 compared to 86 last year.

RSPCA dog welfare expert Lisa Hens said: "It is distressing that we are still seeing so many reports about puppy farms but part of this increase is probably due to people being more savvy about what to look out for when getting a pet.

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"We know there is a spike in people searching for puppies and buying dogs at the beginning of the school holidays but we would urge families to carefully consider whether getting a dog is right for them. Dogs are a huge commitment and need lots of time and attention, even once summer is over and the kids are back at school.

"If you do have the time and money for a dog then we would urge you to consider rescuing instead of buying a puppy. Not only will this give a rescue dog a chance at finding his forever home but it will also save any potential heartache caused by unwittingly buying a dog from a puppy farm.

"After the RSPCA campaigned for years, the Government last year finally introduced tougher licensing regulations around the selling of animals - including breeding and selling dogs - which we hope will help crackdown on this multi-million pound industry.

"The Government has also committed to a ban on the third-party sales of puppies and kittens which, alongside tougher licensing conditions will also help to tackle puppy farms and dodgy dealers. However, we also need to educate the public to ensure that they only buy puppies from responsible breeders who prioritise the health and welfare of their dogs over profit."

Top tips for families buying a puppy this summer:

- Do lots of research and make sure you can commit to a new dog before looking for your new family member;

- Adopt, don't shop - visit your local centre to see if you can offer a rescue dog a home;

- Use The Puppy Contract - a guide to how to responsibly source a puppy which can help you find a happy, healthy dog;

- Always visit more than once and the see the mum and puppies interacting together. Be wary of any breeder who won't let you or pressures you into buying.

- If you are concerned about something you see at a breeder then walk away, do not buy the puppy and report your concerns to the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999, police on 101 or your local council.

Giving a rescue pet a second chance is extremely rewarding, and all pets are fully assessed before being put up for rehoming so you can be sure that you will be matched to the right dog for you.

Puppies and dogs will also be fully vet-checked, vaccinated, microchipped and - often - neutered so you need not worry about the costs of all of these extras. They may have also had some basic training already in kennels and you will receive ongoing support and advice if needed, while RSPCA centres offer six weeks of free pet insurance.

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