Prospective pet owners should speak out against dubious sellers, the UK’s leading veterinarian has suggested, as figures reveal practices are seeing increasing numbers of animals with conditions linked to suspected low-welfare breeding.
The Covid pandemic has fueled a boom in pet ownership. However, research from the Kennel Club has suggested that one in four pandemic puppy owners may have inadvertently purchased their pet from a puppy farm.
When asked if potential owners should report suspicious ads to trade standards officials, the UK’s chief veterinarian agreed.
“Although for some reason no direct action is taken in this matter, it is about building the intelligence we need to find out what is going on,” Christine Middlemiss told The Guardian. “And if people don’t tell us… it’s a lot harder to understand what’s going on so that we can build the case to have more enforcement or to refine the legislation further.”
Animal charity PDSA said that potential buyers seeing a suspicious ad online should report it to the accommodation website, alert the RSPCA if there are any welfare issues and report concern that the The breeder might not have a license – or not comply with his conditions – from the local authority.
According to a new survey, 88% of the 175 members of the British Veterinary Association and the British Veterinary Nursing Association reported an increase in the number of pets with problems related to low welfare breeding conditions. They also felt that many owners were unaware that their pet’s problems could be related to poor welfare husbandry practices.
Another survey – conducted by Opinion Matters – found that out of 1,009 UK respondents who have ever bought a cat or dog, only 31% said they would be very confident they could spot signs of bad practice. Meanwhile, 27% said they noticed a seller or a suspicious ad when purchasing their latest pet.
Middlemiss said it was important to educate potential buyers on what to look for, adding that there is often an increase in the number of people wanting to buy puppies and kittens around Christmas.
As part of these efforts, the Ministry of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has released a video warning prospective pet owners against unscrupulous sellers.
“Deceptive sellers known as Petfishers use all kinds of tricks to trick buyers into putting a lot of money ahead of animal welfare,” says a feathered-voiced ginger cat, while a long-haired feline – sitting on knees that appears to belong to Bond villain Ernst Blofeld – adds, “and I thought I was evil”.
The video, which is part of the government Petfished campaign, which is supported by organizations such as the RSPCA, Dogs Trust and Cats Protection, follows the introduction of Lucy’s Law in April, which prohibits third parties from selling puppies and kittens in England and, among other rules, requires breeders to have a license.
The campaign urges prospective owners to visit their potential pet at home with its mother, verify that the animals have at least eight weeks before they can be taken out, and enter the breeders’ name and phone number in a search engine. to make sure they don’t sell a lot of animals.
“If they’re a good breeder, they’ll ask you as many questions as you should be asking them because they should really care about the house the puppies or kittens go to,” Middlemiss said.
According to the Opinion Matters survey, 12% of pet buyers haven’t done any research before visiting their puppy or kitten for the first time.
Charities have already warned potential buyers that they should be prepared to steer clear of animals with suspicious histories.
“If you pay money for this puppy, he will only have one more litter and want to make more money with him,” Middlemiss said. “So that stops this demand. “