Every year, the number of puppies being traded illegally increases, especially around Christmas when people buy pets as gifts. Often, they are shipped in from Europe and don’t have the proper documentation and haven’t been vaccinated, leading to serious health issues and heartbreak for their new owners.

Last year a Derby resident purchased a Chihuahua puppy via the Gumtree website. However, when she took it to her local vets at Pride Park, it was discovered that the puppy, named Bobby, had a Romanian microchip but no other formal documentation, such as a pedigree certificate or pet passport. A call was then made to Derby City Trading Standards and as a result Bobby was taken in to quarantine to ensure that he had received vaccinations for rabies and treatment for tapeworm. The puppy then had to be checked by the Veterinary Superintendent before he could be released back to his owner.

Doug Walkman, Team Leader of Derby City Trading Standards says:

“The trade in illegal puppy sales has been on the increase for a number of years and charities such as the RSPCA and Dogs Trust see significant increases in demands for their services, especially at Christmas. If you’re considering buying a puppy as a gift this Christmas, ensure you purchase from a reputable breeder. If you are concerned about a puppy you’ve bought or a breeder, you should contact the Citizens Advice Consumer helpline.”

Things to consider when buying a puppy:

  • Buying from Illegal puppy farmers and importers (often on the internet) means you are more likely to buy a sick puppy.
  • Have you seen the puppy at home with its mother? This gives you the chance to see how the puppy behaves. If you suspect the conditions are not right, then do not buy the puppy.
  • Are you buying from a Kennel Club Assured Breeder? These breeders must follow rules assuring the health of the puppies they sell.
  • Imported puppies must be at least 15 weeks old. Younger and they are illegal and could be taken from you if reported.
  • Be prepared to be put on a waiting list – a healthy puppy is well-worth waiting for.
  • Be suspicious of a breeder selling several different breeds, unless you are sure of their credentials.
  • Ask to see the relevant health test certificates for the puppy’s parents.
  • Always go to a reliable and reputable breeder.
  • Consider rehoming an older dog. Check out the Dogs Trust or your local animal rescue centre.
  • Never buy a puppy from a pet shop, carpark or service station.

Want more information and advice? Visit the Citizens Advice website or watch this video from the RSPCA

Published: Monday 12th December, 2016