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Animal lovers in Gedling borough warned ‘Petfishing’ could lead to puppies and kittens dying and big vet bills

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Purchasing a pet from a dodgy breeder could cost owners in Gedling borough an extra £5,000 in vet bills over just 12 months, a new government study has revealed. 

The stark new findings from a poll of vets revealed that poor conditions of puppy or kitten farms can lead to illnesses and complications which would incur treatment costs of over £1,500 in the first year of the animal’s life.

In some severe cases, the costs could rise to £5,000 or even result in the pet being euthanised.

The figures have been realeased to coincide with the launch of a new government campaign which urges the public to spot “red flags” in pet sellers before buying a puppy or kitten.

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The campaign launched today introduces a new phrase ‘Petfished’ – much like ‘Catfished’, when someone is lured into a relationship by a fictional online persona – and refers to online sellers using a similar tactic to trick people into buying mistreated animals, selling them at high-volume to line their pockets.

The government has already changed the law to ban commercial third party puppy and kitten sales, known as Lucy’s Law, and is going further to improve the lives of animals including supporting a Private Member’s Bill to raise the maximum penalty for animal cruelty from six months to five years, and consulting on tackling excessively long journeys for live animals.

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Today’s launch of a government campaign will call on the public to also play their part to tackle the cruel trade of puppies and kittens by encouraging prospective owners to be aware of illegal, low-welfare breeders and look for ‘red flags’ when buying a new pet. This will help to disrupt the demand for these animals and further suffocate the trade alongside the introduction of Lucy’s Law.

Christine Middlemiss, UK chief veterinary officer, said: “Vets see the tragic effects of ‘Petfishing’ first-hand but so too do the public who may be put through the pain and cost of looking after, and even losing, a sick puppy or kitten due to the conditions it was bred in.

It’s vital that prospective pet owners take responsibility for where they get their pets from and avoid puppy-farms and unscrupulous dealers. The campaign launched today sets out the simple steps that can be taken by the public to spot the warning signs and ensure their puppy or kitten is given the best start in life.”

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Animal Welfare Minister, Lord Goldsmith, said: “I am delighted that a ban on third party sales of puppies and kittens is coming into force – it is a crucial piece of legislation that will help us tackle the abhorrent and heart-breaking trade of pets.

“Our campaign will help raise awareness of the dangers associated with buying pets online and deceitful sellers. The animals reared on puppy farms are often in awful conditions which can lead to chronic health problems, behavioural issues, and, in the most tragic cases, death. This simply has to stop and the public can do its bit to help.

We urge anyone thinking about getting a pet to do the right thing. Do thorough research and ensure you go to a reputable breeder in the UK – don’t get ‘Petfished’.

The poor conditions suffered by puppies and kittens include early separation from their mothers, huge numbers of animals cramped in unhygienic spaces, and the likelihood of long journeys from the place they were bred to their new home. All of these can contribute to an increased risk of disease and behavioural issues.

Anyone looking to buy a pet can get tips and advice on the new website: getyourpetsafely.campaign.gov.uk

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People should follow these tips to help spot warning signs that a puppy or kitten has been raised in low welfare conditions:

  1. Research. Have a look at the seller’s profile and search their name online. If they are advertising many litters from different breeds, then this is a red flag.
  2. Check contact details. Copy and paste the phone number into a search engine. If the number is being used on lots of different adverts, sites and dates then this is likely a deceitful seller.
  3. Check the animal’s age. Puppies and kittens should never be sold under 8 weeks old – do not buy from anyone advertising a puppy or kitten younger than 8 weeks.
  4. Check the animal’s health records. Make sure the seller shares all records of vaccinations, flea and worm treatment and microchipping with you before sale.

Spotted something? Got a story? Email our newsdesk news@gedlingeye.co.uk

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