Officers from the Scottish SPCA’s Ayrshire branch have received 23 calls about concerns over puppy farming in the area since October, new figures show.
Now a warning has been flashed across the region to make sure dog lovers aren’t left heartbroken by buying one from unscrupulous criminals.
Since the introduction of the national UK lockdown in March last year, there’s been an explosion of dog and puppy sales.
Almost 1.2 million dogs were bought in the UK during lockdown, according to the Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association.
And it’s given rise to hardened criminals taking advantage by setting up illicit farms which don’t adhere to any animal welfare standards or regulation.
Now local officers are keen to make sure people are aware of dodgy sellers.
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Scottish SPCA chief superintendent Mike Flynn said: “The demand for animals, especially puppies, is incredibly high at the moment and unscrupulous breeders are taking advantage of this.
“Our figures from the Ayrshire area show we’ve had 23 calls about suspected puppy farms since October 2020.
“These breeders can hide their identity online and, in many cases, have no concern for the welfare of the animals they are selling.
“Anyone buying a pet online must visit the seller and see the pups with their mother.
“They should be able to see the living environment they have been reared in and they should be given a copy of the animal’s veterinary records which will detail the necessary vaccinations and health checks required from birth.
“There’s often a misconception that by purchasing the animal you are ‘saving’ it.
“As hard as it may be, if you are unhappy with the condition of the puppies for sale please walk away and contact us.
“By purchasing a puppy from a low-welfare breeder you are only continuing to fund the cycle of abuse and neglect.
“Please do your research before buying a dog online, otherwise you could be paying a great deal of money for a sick or poorly bred animal which could end up costing you even more in vet bills, not to mention heartbreak.
“If anyone has concerns about a low-welfare breeder or is struggling to care for an animal they can call our confidential animal helpline on 03000 999 999.”
Scottish SPCA Rescue & Rehoming Centre Ayrshire & Southwest operates out of Millview, Mainholm Road, Ayr.
The centre cared for 206 animals in total in 2020 and has cared for 57 animals so far in 2021.
In addition, staff managed to successfully rehome 129 animals in 2020- and has rehomed 31 animals so far in 2021.
Although the centre hasn’t seen a big increase in animals arriving at their door, it has welcomed 38 against 45 arriving over the same period in 2020.
Ch Supt Flynn added: “Many people aren’t aware of the commitment and time a pet involves. Often people get animals, especially smaller animals like rabbits, without researching their needs and are surprised to find out just how much care and cost is involved.
“Sadly, these animals often arrive in our care once people realise they don’t have the time, experience or ability to care for them properly.
“People often don’t realise how costly veterinary treatment is until something goes wrong and they’re faced with a large bill they were unprepared for. This is why we’d always recommend taking out pet insurance to cover your animal in case of an emergency.
“At present we’re also urging people to think very carefully about taking on an animal as we would strongly discourage anyone from rehoming a pet or buying an animal simply because they are bored or lonely during lockdown.
“As restrictions ease, people will return to work, school and socialising as normal and could find that an animal may not fit into their life as easily as before.”
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