Lockdown has led to a big increase in the number of people purchasing puppies in the UK over the last few months.
The majority of people have been spending a lot more time at home and lots of families and individuals have opted to buy a new canine friend to keep them company.
However, results from a new study carried out by the dog welfare organisation The Kennel Club suggests one in four dog owners who bought their pup during the pandemic may have purchased them from a puppy farm.
"Our dogs are certainly helping us through the pandemic, providing a welcome and happy distraction as Covid-19 causes anxiety, suffering and disruption across the nation," said Bill Lambert, Head of Health and Welfare at the Kennel Club.
"However we do have concerns about those puppies which may have been bought on impulse, without owners doing their homework on how or where to get a dog responsibly, or fully realising a puppy is a new family member for life, not a short-term commodity."
More than 2600 dog owners took part in the survey. The research shows that two-thirds of the people asked believed lockdown was the perfect time to get a puppy and three quarters said their dog was the best thing about lockdown.
However, lots of new owners didn't do enough research before opting to get a dog, with 25% carrying out just two hours or less. Many also failed to spot issues that came up during the process of buying their dogs.
Of those surveyed, 27% purchased their pup without seeing it first, 42% didn't see where their dog was being bred either in real life or over a video call and a huge 83% of people who took the survey weren't asked questions from the dog breeder about how suitable they'd be as dog owners.
A puppy farm describes a place where, according to The Kennel Club, lots of dogs are bred, with "little or no regard for the health and welfare of the puppies or their parents".
There's a big difference between breeders you can trust and those whose practices are more questionable.
Breeders with a good reputation only tend to breed one to two different types of dog at a time and they always put the health of the animals first.
In comparison, puppy farms usually have lots more breeds available for purchase and the dogs can get sick as they're not always looked after properly, for example, The Kennel Club says specific health measures needed for specific dog breeds are ignored. This can have a knock on effect for owners who may end up taking on puppies with lots of health issues.
Puppy farms may also include dogs which have been illegally brought to the UK from other countries. These dogs are could bring diseases that aren't currently found in the UK if they haven't been vaccinated beforehand and they may also suffer from lots of stress because they've had to travel from one country to another.
There are lots of factors to consider when buying a dog.
Here are a few tips from the RSPCA on what people should think about when looking for a puppy:
- Pay attention to adverts - how many ads are up and how many breeds are available? If the seller has put up lots of ads showcasing lots of different breeds, this could be an indication that they're running a puppy farm.
- Find out if and when a puppy has been given a vaccination - a puppy shouldn't be given a vaccine before it's six-weeks-old. If a pup has been vaccinated earlier than this, it could be from a puppy farm.
- Does the seller ask the right questions - a breeder that puts the dog's welfare first will ask a potential buyer questions to make sure they're the right person or people to own a dog.