High demand for puppies and kittens is leaving Christmas shoppers across Gedling borough at risk of being duped by deceitful pet sellers, a top vet has warned.
Animal welfare experts say families in the borough should think twice before buying a pet in the coming weeks with a warning from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) that unscrupulous sellers are looking to exploit the festive season.
Defra launched its Christmas ‘Petfished’ campaign this week, warning the public of the dangers of purchasing puppies or kittens from low welfare breeding practices during the Christmas period.
A recent survey found that less than half of dog or cat owners questioned visited the seller in-person in the animal’s home when researching their recent pet purchase and more than 10% of pet buyers didn’t do any research before visiting their new pet for the first time.
The survey also found that most pet owners quizzed were unaware that the clinical and behavioural signs of their pet may be linked to low welfare breeding practices.
Christine Middlemiss, Defra’s chief veterinary officer, has warned household in Gedling borough to be careful.
She said: “Christmas can be a difficult time to settle a pet into a new home and it’s vitally important that people not only research the breed of animal they want, but also the person selling it to them.
“Puppies and kittens bred in low-welfare conditions can often be separated from their mother too soon which can lead to severe health and behavioural problems, heartache and high vet bills for their new family. We urge people to remain vigilant and to always thoroughly research pet sellers before getting in touch.”
To avoid being petfished, the public are being urged to spot vital red flags when researching sellers, with the help of the acronym S.P.O.T. They are:
1. Seller: Put the seller’s name and details including phone number into a search engine – avoid those with multiple adverts.
2. Parent: Make sure you see puppies and kittens in their home with their mother.
3. Old enough: Check puppies and kittens are at least eight weeks old before you take them home.
4. Treatment: Ask to see the animal’s health records and avoid sellers who can’t provide them.
Bill Lambert, Health and Welfare expert at The Kennel Club also issued a warning.
He said “Buying a puppy is a huge decision and all prospective owners should do the proper research and have all the facts available so that they can make an informed decision.
“We know there has been a surge in demand for puppies during the pandemic. The current mismatch between supply and demand can lead to more people being duped by rogue breeders and scammers, and inadvertently fuelling low-welfare breeders.