March 23rd is National Puppy Day

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The excitement of bringing a puppy home is truly wondrous. That wriggling bundle of boundless energy will make anyone smile. The cuddles and wriggles will work magic on your heart and very soon you won’t be able to imagine life without your new family member.

What is National Puppy Day?

Puppy on National Puppy Day

Created by Colleen Paige, an American pet and lifestyle expert, National Puppy Day aims to highlight the benefits of adopting a puppy instead of buying one.

It is estimated that in Britain we purchase 800,000 puppies every year, and it is believed that around 400,000 of these puppies are bred in puppy farms1.

Isn’t buying from a puppy farm illegal?

In April 2020, a new law (Lucy’s Law) came into force that aims to tackle the low-welfare, high-volume supply of puppies and kittens, by banning their commercial third-party sale in England. Therefore, anyone wanting to buy a kitten or puppy in England must now buy direct from a breeder or consider adopting from an animal shelter.

Increased demand for puppies

During the pandemic, there has been a surge in demand for puppies. This is driven by those looking for companionship during the lockdown. Consequently, this has resulted in large price increases for those looking to buy a puppy.

The Dogs Trust2 reported in November 2020 that since March 2020, prices for the most sought-after breeds have increased by up to 134%!

Consequences of buying from a puppy farm

Adorable Puppies

There are many reasons why you shouldn’t buy from a puppy farm. These are just some of the more obvious:

To avoid the expense, unscrupulous dealers will often skip the health and genetic screening needed to ensure a happy healthy puppy. Intense breeding practices expose the puppies to viral, bacterial, parasitic, and genetic diseases. Often symptoms aren’t immediately obvious, leaving unsuspecting buyers with puppies that may have chronic or life-threatening conditions, which may result in the puppy’s death within the first few weeks.

In many instances, puppies are removed from their mother far too early and are then sent to a sales location. These puppies are exposed to infections and extreme stress which can also be life-threatening.

What about the mother?

In the pursuit of profit, unprincipled breeders expect the mothers to produce litter after litter. When she is no longer able to breed the mother dog is often abandoned.

Would you know how to spot an illegal puppy farm?

The massive price increases that we are seeing for a puppy makes illegal breeding more attractive. A lack of supply can lead well-meaning members of the public to turn a blind eye when they are looking for a puppy.

Most illegal breeders are careful to create an environment that makes it appear that they are operating legally.

Before you visit

Do your research on the seller before going to see any puppies. This is what you should look out for:

  • How many adverts has this seller posted? A reputable breeder is unlikely to have multiple litters ready for rehoming.
  • Use Google to search any telephone numbers used in the advert. Often dealers will use the same number on different adverts.
  • How many breeds of dog are available? Good breeders normally specialise in a single breed.
  • Does the advert sound vague? Often the text used in an advert is used many times. The advert may be copied and reused. Search the description to see if it has been used elsewhere.

When you visit

There are some warning signs you should look out for when visiting a litter of puppies. You should be able to see the whole litter interacting with their mother.

  • What is their interaction like?
  • Do the puppies seem bonded to the mother?
  • Does the mother seem nervous of her owner? Or of you?

A nervous or scared mother is a sign that you might be buying a puppy from a disreputable breeder.

Does the breeder seem knowledgeable about the breed? A reputable breeder is going to be passionate about their dogs. They should be able to answer any questions you may have, whereas a puppy farmer may only know the basics.

What are the benefits of adopting a dog?

Opening your house and heart to a puppy is, for many, the start of a wonderful relationship with their furry family member. For others, an older dog may be more suitable for the owner’s pace of life. Here are some of the benefits of adopting an older dog.

Close down puppy farms

As more people choose to either adopt or purchase their puppy from a reputable breeder the reduced demand will reduce the appeal for illegal puppy farms.

Save a life

By adopting you are giving a second chance to an animal that has been abandoned through no fault of its own.

Many rescue dogs are already trained

One of the most common reasons for a dog going into a shelter is a change in their owner’s situation and not behavioural issues. Many dogs adopted from a shelter will already be house trained and may know basic commands.

You will save money

Many of the expenses of buying a puppy can be avoided by adopting. Your new family member will already be microchipped, vaccinated, and neutered or spayed. You will also avoid the high prices that many puppies now command.

Older dogs may require less supervision

There is no doubt that puppies need a lot of supervision and exercise. They will also go through adolescence – which can be a challenging time as they test their owners’ boundaries. This can be avoided by adopting an older dog. An older dog won’t need as much exercise and is more likely to be content sharing a cuddle on the sofa.

In summary

The introduction of Lucy’s Law outlawing puppy farms is a big step in ensuring animal welfare is protected. We can all play our part in protecting puppies by knowing what to look for when choosing a puppy. We can also choose to adopt an older dog. One that may fit into our lifestyle more easily than a bouncing ball of fluff.

1 https://naturewatch.org/campaign/puppy-farming/overview-of-puppy-farming-in-the-uk

2 https://www.dogstrust.org.uk/news-events/news/2020/puppy-prices-at-all-time-high-since-lockdown-as-sellers-cash-in

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