People planning to add a four-legged friend to the family this Christmas need to be wary of unscrupulous breeders and sellers, animal welfare Minister Lord Gardiner has warned today.
The UK is a nation of animal lovers, and each year thousands of us consider welcoming a pet into the family at Christmas time to add to the UK’s 8.5 million pet dogs and 7.4 million cats. However, puppy smugglers and unlicensed sellers are ready to take advantage of the high demand by illegally importing them into the country, neglecting their health and welfare and not properly vaccinating them – leading to steep vets’ bills and heartbreak for buyers when the puppies fall ill or in some cases, sadly die.
Minister for Animal Welfare, Lord Gardiner, said: “We all know that a dog is for life, not just for Christmas. But that life could be cruelly cut short if they haven’t been properly looked after by the breeder, bringing heartbreak to the family.
“We are a nation of animal lovers and buyers can do their bit to avoid the dishonest sellers by never buying a puppy younger than eight weeks old, seeing the puppy interact with its mother and checking on its health history.”
John Fishwick, president of the British Veterinary Association, added: “Vets see first-hand the tragic consequences that can result from poorly bred and illegally imported puppies. We’ve heard awful stories of people buying puppies only for their puppy to be dead 24 hours later because of the way it was bred and cared for in its early days.
“Owning a dog is a life-changing commitment and we’d advise anyone thinking about getting a dog to first speak to their local vet about the right breed for them and then use the free online Puppy Contract to ensure they get a happy, healthy and well-socialised puppy.”