Families are being warned against fuelling the illegal sales of puppies – as many become tempted to welcome a new pet into their homes as the county enters the latest national lockdown.
And Staffordshire Police is continuing to investigate reports of ‘puppy farms’ and illicit trading of pets in the county with officers revealing prospective owners can be heading for heartache if their new addition is suffering from serious health conditions.
Now officers are urging residents considering getting a puppy to stick with reputable breeders or use established rescue centres.
Detective Sergeant Laura Agu said: “Ultimately we want people to avoid ending up with a poorly puppy and becoming the victims of fraud.
“During the last lockdown a lot of people decided to get a dog and as we are currently under national restrictions it may be more families make such a decision.
“Unfortunately, the force is aware of an ongoing illegal trade in puppy selling in Staffordshire where they are being sold on certain websites and sadly these young animals have significant health problems. Our investigations are ongoing into these matters.”
DS Agu has also revealed there have been cases where the puppy has to be put to sleep within days of being taken home due to the severity of the health issues.
She added: “Puppies are often being sold before they reach the required minimum age of eight weeks and being advertised as a certain breed and having a microchip along with the vaccinations. However, it transpires the breed is incorrect and the paperwork is fraudulent.
“We are urging anyone who wants a puppy to use a responsible breeder and do lots of research on the chosen breed to make sure it’s the right fit. Alternatively, there are many re-homing charities in the county who have dogs all looking for their forever home.”
Responsible breeders will be happy to do the following things:
Spend time chatting to you and arrange for you to meet the puppies - and their mother - in the place the litter was born and raised;
Allow you to have more than one meeting with the puppies to ensure you and the puppy are compatible;
Answer any of your questions and likely to ask you several to make sure the puppies are going to a good home;
Gladly show you their local authority license if they are breeding/selling pets as a business or to make a profit;
Provide genuine paperwork, which may include - certificates for vaccinations, microchipping, worming, and results of any health tests;
Agree to completing and signing a ‘Puppy Contract’ – this can be further researched on the RSPCA website.
It is vital to note that a responsible breeder won’t do the following:
Rush you in to parting with any money in exchange for a puppy;
Make excuses to stop you seeing the puppy’s mother by claiming she’s at the vets, asleep, or out walking. An absence of the mother generally indicates the puppies weren’t bred there;
Arrange to deliver the puppy to you at a random location;
Claim signs of health issues are normal such as snoring.
DS Agu added: “Always remember if something doesn’t feel right it usually isn’t.
“Although it may be tempting to rescue you the puppy from its current surroundings you will be financially supporting the offenders and a new puppy will soon take its place. The best thing you can do is to walk away and report your concerns immediately.
“There are lots of dogs who are in need of loving homes waiting to be adopted at rescue centres. Please consider these when adding a new addition in to your home”.
The RSPCA has backed the force’s stance. Chief Inspector James Lucas, of the RSPCA, said: “We whole-heartedly support the advice given by Staffordshire Police in relation to buying puppies and we often work with them and other agencies in these kinds of investigations.
“People who buy puppies from illegal puppy farms are potentially supporting an illicit, underground trade that promotes animal cruelty and neglect in order to make money, and they may end up with a puppy who is extremely sick with the potential for severe behaviour problems.
“The trafficking of puppies is big business in the UK and RSPCA investigations have uncovered gangs of sellers making millions of pounds by breeding their own dogs in poor conditions as well as importing puppies from overseas.
“While we’d always encourage people to rescue a dog we know that lots of families want to take on a puppy. To help them ensure they find a responsible breeder who prioritises the health and welfare of the dogs we believe it is incredibly important that they use a Puppy Contract.
“This will help prospective dog owners prepare to find their new pet and the contract provides a guide to the questions to ask to help identify responsible breeders and choose a happy, healthy puppy.”
Anyone with concerns over illegal puppy sales should contact Staffordshire Police using the online reporting method or calling 101. Concerns can also be reported to the RSPCA.