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Puppy welfare crisis: one in five social media and internet pups die before six months old

03 September 2013    10:30
 

As the popularity of online pups continues to soar

  • Almost one in five pups bought on websites or social media die within six months
  • One in three buy online, in pet stores and via newspaper adverts - outlets often used by puppy farmers
  • Problem likely to grow as the younger generation favour mail order pups, and breeders of fashionable crossbreeds flout responsible steps
  • Kennel Club's Puppy Awareness Week 7-14 September and new online video aims to prevent welfare crisis

We are sleepwalking into a dog welfare and consumer crisis the Kennel Club warns, as new research shows that more and more people are buying their pups online or through pet shops, outlets often used by cruel puppy farmers, and are paying the price with their pups requiring long-term veterinary treatment or dying before six months old.

The Kennel Club's Puppy Awareness Week research shows that as many as one in three may have bought from a puppy farm after sourcing their puppy from the internet, social media, pet shops or newspaper ads - all outlets that are often used by puppy farmers. This has increased from one in five last year. Puppy farmers breed dogs purely for profit, without taking any of the responsible steps that they should to protect the breeding dogs' and puppies' health and welfare.

The increasing popularity of online pups is a particular concern. Of those who source their puppies online, half are going on to buy 'mail order pups' directly over the internet.

The research found that:

  • One third of people who bought their puppy online, over social media or in pet shops failed to experience 'overall good health'.
  • Almost one in five puppies bought via social media or the internet die before six months old.
  • 12 percent of puppies bought online or on social media end up with serious health problems that require expensive on-going veterinary treatment from a young age.
  • 94 percent of puppies bought direct from a breeder were reported as having good overall health.

Furthermore, only half of people who bought their pups online or via social media said their puppy had shown no behavioural problems. This is a big problem in puppy farmed pups, which can display itself through unsociability around other dogs or people, fear of their surroundings or aggressiveness.

There is currently very little regulation over dog breeders in the country so the Kennel Club established the Kennel Club Assured Breeder Scheme in 2004, which now has UKAS recognition, to ensure that its members always follow responsible steps when breeding and selling puppies.  However, the research has revealed that too many people are still going to unscrupulous breeders with:

  • One third of people failing to see the puppy with its mum
  • More than half not seeing the breeding environment
  • 70 percent receive no contract of sale
  • 82 percent were not offered post sales advice
  • 69 percent did not see any relevant health certificates for the puppy's parents, which indicate the likely health of the puppy.

These are all steps that Kennel Club Assured Breeders must take.

Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary, said: "More and more people are buying puppies from sources, such as the internet, which are often used by puppy farmers. Whilst there is nothing wrong with initially finding a puppy online, it is essential to then see the breeder and ensure that they are doing all of the right things. This research clearly shows that too many people are failing to do this, and the consequences can be seen in the shocking number of puppies that are becoming sick or dying. We have an extremely serious consumer protection and puppy welfare crisis on our hands.

"We urge people to always buy a puppy from a member of the Kennel Club Assured Breeder Scheme, who are the only breeders in the country whose membership is based upon their ability to show that the health and welfare of their pups comes first and foremost."

Worryingly, the research reveals that the problem is likely to get worse as mail order pups bought over the internet are the second most common way for the younger generation of 18-24 year olds to buy a puppy (31 percent buy in this way).

The research also found that the owners of cross and mixed breeds are less likely to see the puppy with the mum and where it was born, with half not seeing the mum and 72 percent not seeing its home environment, leading to concern that unscrupulous breeders are cashing in on the fashion for dogs such as the Labradoodle and the Puggle.

Marc Abraham, TV Vet and founder of the Pup Aid event taking place on the first day of Puppy Awareness Week on 7 September, said: "Sadly, if the 'buy it now' culture persists then this horrific situation will only get worse. There is nothing wrong with sourcing a puppy online but people need to be aware of what they should then expect from the breeder. For example, you should not buy a car without getting its service history and seeing it at its registered address, so you certainly shouldn't buy a puppy without the correct paperwork and health certificates and without seeing where it was bred. However, too many people are opting to buy directly from third parties such as the internet, pet shops, or from puppy dealers, where you cannot possibly know how or where the puppy was raised."

Not only are people buying sickly puppies but many people are being scammed into paying money for puppies that don't exist, as the research showed that seven percent of those who buy online were scammed in this way.

The Kennel Club has launched an online video and has a Find A Puppy app, to show the do's and don'ts of buying a puppy. View the video at www.thekennelclub.org.uk/paw.  

ENDS

1stSeptember 2013

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Notes to Editors

The Kennel Club is the largest organisation in the UK devoted to dog health, welfare and training. Its objective is to ensure that dogs live healthy, happy lives with responsible owners.          

It runs the country's largest registration database for both pedigree and crossbreed dogs and the Petlog database, which is the UK's biggest reunification service for microchipped animals. The Kennel Club Assured Breeder Scheme is the only scheme in the UK that monitors breeders, in order to protect the welfare of puppies and breeding bitches. It also runs the UK's largest dog training programme, the Good Citizen Dog Training Scheme and licenses shows and clubs across a wide range of activities, which help dog owners to bond and enjoy life with their dogs. The Kennel Club runs the world's greatest dog show, Crufts, and the Discover Dogs event at Earls Court, London, which is a fun family day out that educates people about how to buy responsibly and care for their dog.

The Kennel Club invests in welfare campaigns, dog training and education programmes and the Kennel Club Charitable Trust, which supports research into dog diseases and dog welfare charities, including Kennel Club Breed Rescue organisations that re-home dogs throughout the UK. The Kennel Club jointly runs health screening schemes with the British Veterinary Association and through the Charitable Trust, funds the Kennel Club Genetics Centre at the Animal Health Trust, which is at the forefront of pioneering research into dog health. The new Kennel Club Cancer Centre at the Animal Health Trust will contribute to the AHT's well-established cancer research programme, helping to further improve dog health.

ENDS


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Related Topics

Dog HealthPuppy Awareness WeekPuppy Farming

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