RSPCA warns on booming Lincolnshire 'puppy trade'
The RSPCA is warning people to think again about buying puppies from 'puppy farms' instead of a rescue shelter.
The animal welfare organisation says that reports in Lincolnshire about puppy farms have soared by 341% in the last decade.
Numbers rose from 34 to 150 in the county, while in Rutland, the number of calls it received relating to the 'puppy trade' increased from zero to six.
The charity says puppy farms continue to be a growing problem - with a 390% increase in complaints across England.
Last year, 2018, was "the worst yet for complaints about the puppy trade in England", according to the RSPCA’s 24-hour emergency hotline.
The RSPCA received 4,357 complaints last year - a 390% increase on 10 years ago when it took just 890 reports related to the underground industry. In Lincolnshire, the charity received 34 complaints in 2008 compared to 150 last year.
It reports a year-on-year increase in such complaints over the past decade as more and more unscrupulous breeders and dealers seek to cash in on a growing puppy market - where dogs of certain breeds can sell for hundreds or even thousands of pounds.
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.
“We know there’s a spike in people searching for puppies and buying dogs at the beginning of the school holidays but we’d 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’d 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’ll also save any potential heartache caused by unwittingly buying a dog from a puppy farm.”
Lisa added: “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.”
The RSPCA has issued what it calls 'Top tips for families buying a puppy this summer.'
1-Do lots of research and make sure you can commit to a new dog before looking for your new family member;
2-Adopt don’t shop - visit your local centre to see if you can offer a rescue dog a home;
3-Use The Puppy Contract - a guide to how to responsibly source a puppy which can help you find a happy, healthy dog;
4-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;
5- If you’re 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.
The RSPCA says there are lots of benefits to adopting a rescue dog from a reputable organisation. Giving a rescue pet a second chance is extremely rewarding, and all pets are fully assessed before being put up for rehoming so people can be sure they will be matched to the right dog for you.
Puppies and dogs will also be fully vet-checked, vaccinated, microchipped and - often - neutered so people needn’t worry about the costs of all of these extras. They may have also had some basic training already in kennels and prospective owners will receive ongoing support and advice if needed, while RSPCA centres also offer six weeks of free pet insurance.
To offer a rescue dog a new home visit www.rspca.org.uk/findapet.
To help the RSPCA continue investigating the puppy trade and rescuing dogs, donate by visiting www.rspca.org.uk/give.