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Puppy Welfare Crisis: One in three pups bought online gets sick or dies in first year

How our instant gratification culture is putting puppies at risk

Shocking new research has shown that almost one in three puppies (31 per cent) bought online experience illness or death in their first year, as too many people buy puppies impulsively and get duped by rogue breeders.

The research, for the Kennel Club’s Puppy Awareness Week which runs from 3-9 September 2018, shows that 18 per cent of puppy buyers who went on to buy their puppy directly over the internet, after initially finding the advert online, say their puppy experienced sickness in their first year, which was then ongoing throughout its life, or sickness and eventual death – this compares to 7 per cent who experienced this overall. A further 13 per cent experienced sickness in the first year but then went on to recover.

Amongst the most common conditions suffered by pups purchased this way were gastro-intestinal problems (14 per cent), skin problems (19 per cent), pneumonia (8 per cent) kennel cough (10 per cent) and deadly parvovirus (4 per cent).

In total, 28 percent who bought from the internet, after initially seeing the advert online, claim they experienced financial hardship. One quarter (25 per cent) of pups bought this way go on to die before their fifth birthday.

Despite Defra’s recently announced plans to crack down puppy farms by banning the third party sale of puppies, puppy farmers can still sell directly to the public – over the internet or through newspaper ads - and too many people are not aware of the warning signs they should be looking out for. Amongst our common puppy faux pas uncovered by the research are:

Caroline Kisko, Secretary of dog welfare organisation, the Kennel Club, said: ““A shocking number of people are spending less than two hours researching their puppy purchase and this is leading to a serious welfare crisis. The internet is making it easier than ever before to buy things instantly, and this is having an alarming impact on the way people expect to buy a puppy.

“Whilst there is nothing wrong with seeing an advert for a puppy online, you should always then be looking to see the puppy’s home environment and the puppy with its mum. If a breeder is offering to deliver the pup to your house, asking to take money from you before you’ve even seen the pup, or trying to flog the puppy as quickly as possible, alarm bells should be ringing.”

She added: “Buying a puppy is meant to be a happy experience so it is extremely sad that so many people are experiencing emotional and financial hardship as a result.

“The government’s plans to ban the third party sale of puppies, through pet shops and the like, is hugely welcome but puppy buyers shouldn’t become complacent. Rogue dog breeders selling directly to puppy buyers can still be masking terrible conditions and the yawning gap in puppy buyer awareness about how to identify a good breeder leaves people – and dogs – very vulnerable.

 “We are particularly concerned about so called ‘fashionable’ breeds such as French Bulldogs, or designer cross breeds, such a Cockerpoos, being victims of this rogue trade. Wherever a breed explodes in popularity, and demand outstrips supply from responsible breeders, there will be a gap in the market to fill – and bad breeders will be only too happy to fill it.”

Jenny Campbell, from BBC’s Dragon’s Den and a Kennel Club Assured Breeder who is supporting the campaign, added: “People can hide behind the anonymity of the internet and you should avoid a breeder who isn’t prepared to be totally transparent with you when you come to meet the puppy. That is why it is so important that people go to a responsible breeder, such as a Kennel Club Assured Breeder, and know what to look out for, which includes seeing the puppy with its mum and in its actual breeding environment.

“Never be tempted to pay money online before you see your pup, to have it be delivered to your door, or to buy from a breeder who wants you to take the pup home on your very first visit, or who only lets you see one room in the house. Seeing an advert for a puppy online isn’t the problem, it is what happens after you contact the breeder about the ad that is important.”

Jenny Campbell and TV doctor from Embarrassing Bodies, Dr Dawn Harper have joined forces with the Kennel Club to create an awareness film about how to buy a puppy responsibly, which can be seen here.

For more information about Puppy Awareness Week, top tips and an infographic in how to buy a puppy visit #PuppyAwarenessWeek