Scottish campaign launched to tackle puppy farms
The Scottish government has launched a campaign highlighting the pitfalls of buying illegally bred puppies.
Buy a Puppy Safely will focus on raising awareness of the tactics used by illegal breeders to deceive buyers.
One in four of puppies bought online die before their fifth birthday, and one in three get sick or die in the first year.
The puppy trade in Scotland is estimated at £13m per year - a large proportion of these are illegally bred.
Most illegally bred puppies are sold online through social media or small ad sites, with only 24% of Scots buying from an approved breeder and 1 in 4 considering using an online advert or website to buy a puppy.
The Buy a Puppy Safely campaign was launched by the Minister for Rural Affairs and Natural Environment, Mairi Gougeon, in Edinburgh.
She said: "Illegal puppy farming only leads to misery - many suffer from congenital health problems or behavioural problems, causing distress to owners and leading to expensive vet bills that can cost thousands of pounds.
"We're working with animal welfare charities to raise awareness of the real consequences of buying illegally and highlighting how to spot the warning signs of an illegal dealer."
Ms Gougeon urges people to "do your homework" before considering purchasing a puppy for Christmas.
"The most important thing is to see the puppy with its mother, and to get the correct paperwork," she added.
"If there's no mum and no paperwork, then walk away and report your concerns to the Scottish SPCA helpline."
Illegal puppy dealers go to great lengths to deceive buyers. From renting fake houses to sell the puppies, to producing counterfeit paperwork and pretending the puppies' mother is at the vet or out for a walk.
Scottish SPCA Chief Superintendent Mike Flynn said: "The launch of the Buy a Puppy Safely campaign is a welcome step forward in the fight against puppy farming, which is having a devastating effect on animal welfare in Scotland.
"Over the past year we have also been raising public awareness of the barbaric puppy trade in Scotland through our collaborative #SayNoToPuppyDealers campaign, and we are proud to support the Scottish Government on the launch of Buy a Puppy Safely.
"It is our hope that this will make it easier for members of the public looking to buy a puppy to avoid falling victim of this cruel trade."
The buyapuppysafely website has information and advice about best practice.